Tonight the kids and I finished reading Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wind in the Door (the sequel to A Wrinkle in Time). In the final chapters, our protagonists are fighting Evil itself. The life of young Charles Wallace hangs in the balance, but so too does the future of all living things, all forces of good and rightness.
The kids snuggled up, one on either side of me, and Chickadee kept interrupting. “I don’t like this,” she would say, “this is scary and I’m afraid Charles Wallace is going to die.”
“Mama!” Monkey would add, “what if this story was REAL?”
I did not—could not—tell them that this morning as they romped around, thrilled that school was closed due to flooding, I had joked to a friend that this weather is surely a sign of the Apocalypse, and what’s next, locusts? Frogs? Pestilence? And then later came the news that had me hunched over my keyboard, trying not to cry, trying not to let on that anything was wrong.
What if it was real? What if evil truly exists and we are set forth to fight it even though we barely understand the tasks at hand? L’Engle just shapes it into a good story. I’m not convinced it’s fiction.
Nights like tonight, my children go to bed with nothing more on their minds than whether I might let them eat banana bread for breakfast and whether school will reopen tomorrow. And I am left to grapple with insomnia and weep for their safety, even though they’re sleeping just down the hall.