A question posed at lunch while in Barnes & Noble.
(Bookshops should not have food, though I enjoy the meals, eating in a bookshop destroys the essence and aesthetics of a Bookshop, but never mind…for now).
She suddenly looked up from her book and bowl of Mac & Cheese topped with crumbled Bacon and said, “Grandma, what happens to your imaginary friend when you stop talking to it?”
Taken aback, I sat back deep into my chair, rested my fork down but continued to chew on the Salmon that was already in my mouth. “Mmmhh, good question young one, a very good question”
Harking back to the moment, this is what I think I told her.
“They die”. Too blunt but couldn’t retreat. “They die, it’s what they do.”
It was her turn now to drop her fork and stretch her neck clear across the table into my face, “Grandma, no!! You can’t mean that, are you serious, Dragon is dead?
She turned away and I saw a mild form of horror-guilt filling her eyes and began creeping down her cheeks headed towards her mouth and God knows if I allowed the sentiment to proceed, her lips would quiver and she would begin to cry.(will she ever stop being so tender-hearted?) I must save my cub in a good and proper way. I recall cheerfully killing my imaginaries in bulk.
“But wait, wait a minute. It is not a willful death on your part, Dragon only faded because dragon always knew that he was temporary and once you became competent with language to inform your judgement, he would no longer be needed and would fade into some kind of wispy vapor and become a part of your memory. Even now that his name is mentioned, he might have given a wispy smile for times remembered.
You don’t need dragon anymore because you are now a thinking, reasonable being quite capable of making new language and understanding how to navigate new language as it comes to you from that secret place of all language, besides, you have me to tap into if you have a need for clarity”.
How am I doing so far? My eyes implored her Aunt who sat listening. Her look spoke volumes “you are such a criminal, however did you come up with that so readily” I shot back brazenly in a slow blink “whatever!”
Baby girl relaxed and picked up her fork and book.
“Okay, for a minute there I thought I killed such a good friend.”
Do you wish to start talking to him again?
Of course not, I left him watching Peppa Pig, Grandma, you know, I have moved on”. She giggled a girlish eleven year old giggle.
I went back to my lunch. I survived another language crisis, and yes, reading is fundamental.