Authors: Moya Simons
For Suzy and Tam with love
I’ve decided that you must get a bit lonely up there, so I thought I might have a chat with you each night. When I curl up in bed. I’ll snuggle under my blankets and whisper or speak to you in my head. It makes no difference how, because you’ll know it’s me talking.
Hey, how does it feel to know everything? Do you ever suffer from brain meltdown? Sometimes our computer breaks down. Dad says there’s too much information in it. That we have to delete the old information we don’t need. A press of the
button and that’s it. Do you do the same? How do you decide what’s important and what isn’t?
In case you’ve deleted any of my files, my name is Kate. No, it’s not short for Katherine or Katrina. I’m just Kate. My parents say it’s a strong and wonderful name, like me, but I don’t feel strong or wonderful a lot of the time.
I have short, brown curly hair and blue/green eyes. If you saw me in a crowd I wouldn’t stand out, though you might notice that I have a nice smile. Everyone says so.
I live in a house near the beach. We have a big, bushy garden and Mum plants sweet native trees, so lorikeets can come and eat the nectar. The lorikeets are brightly coloured, and perch on the branches. It’s
as if bits of rainbow have fallen into our garden and landed on our bottlebrush tree.
Our house is a bit of a mess. Mum and Dad say the heart of the family goes into the house, so I think this might mean we have a muddled family. We have books everywhere—on couches, on beds, some even on bookshelves! Our kitchen has a lot of pots and pans, and they sometimes fill up the sink because Mum is busy reading and Dad’s in his office thinking great thoughts. Mum is a collector. She says proudly, ‘Our home is filled with knick-knacks.’
Do you know what knick-knacks are, God? Well, of course you do. You’re God. Our knick-knacks are lots of brick-red pottery and ornaments of clowns and old houses, and plates that have pictures of small cottages with gardens of roses and lavender painted on them. We also have a collection of small elephants. They are black and white and grey and we have a baby one beside his mother. Our knick-knacks sit on shelves in the
lounge room. We have miniature ceramic toilets on the bathroom shelf, seven dwarfs on the kitchen window ledge, and every spare corner of space in our house is filled with bits and pieces.
My school is just at the end of the street, so even if my schoolbag is full of books and really heavy, it doesn’t matter because I get there in no time at all.
My dad is an astronomer. That’s a space scientist. Scientists are people who try to find out why things happen. Like how the stars and the moon came to be, and why deep down in the Earth it’s nearly as hot as the sun, and yet our feet don’t get burnt at all. You’d like Dad. You made all this and he’s trying to find out how and why. So you have a lot in common really.
Mum works in a library. I keep forgetting that you know everything, but just in case you’re busy and her file isn’t up to date, let me tell you. It’s the big library at the shopping centre. Mum’s the Children’s Librarian. She likes everything about
books. She says that when you read, your mind becomes a movie set and all the faces and actions of the book characters become real. They frown at you, smile, climb mountains, fly spaceships, and can have green slimy skin. She even likes the way books smell, especially the old, old ones. She says that when you sniff an old, old book, you smell a bit of each person who has borrowed and read it. I’m not sure I feel happy about that. So I sometimes check the books I borrow from the school library to make sure that I like the person who has been reading the book. Some of the kids I know stink, so it makes sense, God.
I get told a lot by Mum and Dad that I’m lucky. Lucky to be born in a wonderful country, and to live near the beach and especially lucky to have a mum who tells me about all the new books coming into the library.
But sometimes there’s this business of being a kid, wanting to be liked, worrying about how you look, having the feeling that you’re all alone even when your family is around you. This gets in the way of feeling lucky.
School is a heap of brick buildings stuck together with bunches of trees around them. School is a teacher blowing a whistle. School is a lot of kids standing in lines, waiting for instructions, then one following the other into classrooms. School is about learning maths and English, reading and writing. School is a battleground sometimes. Some kids punch. Others use bad language. Some are just annoying.
A new girl has come into our class. Nobody really likes her. Her name is Stephanie. She tries to
make us like her by offering us cucumber sandwiches. Cucumber sandwiches? If you’ve ever tasted them you’d understand. But I suppose you don’t need to eat. Do you? You’re missing out on some good stuff like chocolate ice-cream.
So, you’re probably wondering what’s wrong with Stephanie. School life in the playground is like playing snakes and ladders. (The board game—you’ve got that name on file, haven’t you?) If you are one of the
kids then you just keep climbing up the ladders. If you are not
, and there’s a kid in every class who isn’t
then you just keep sliding down the snakes.
Stephanie has a small mouse-like face and little lips. She has thin, straight brown hair, and she never smiles. She always does her homework, and when the teacher asks a question she holds her hand up straight. She never waves it. She knows all the answers, too. She’s quiet. She’s different. She also eats weird sandwiches.
She wears glasses, so we call her
That’s teasing. I think, God, it’s something you must want us to do, otherwise why would we do it? The thing is that she follows us around. Danielle, Stacey and me. Particularly me.
What do I do? I want to tell her to buzz off. She’s one of those dorky kids and if I’m seen with her I’ll be a dork too. Then the other kids will pick on me. I don’t want that to happen. I’ve never been really picked on, but I don’t think it would be fun.
I understand that you’re busy and there must be lots of kids like me telling you their problems. So send me a sign, or something, huh, just so I know you’ve heard me.
Dad went to a conference in Canberra
yesterday where famous scientists talked about pollution. Dad doesn’t just care about the rest of the galaxy, he cares about Earth as well. I thought I’d tell you about that because I know that must worry you a lot.
I asked Mum today why people do bad things like mess up the planet. After all, Earth is our home. I asked her about you, too. ‘Why doesn’t God fix things up? Why does he leave a lot of the important things to us?’
Mum said, ‘Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.’ She sipped her cup of tea for the longest time. Then she said, ‘People have free will. That means they can make up their own minds.’ She said that she believes that you gave people choices, maybe for reasons that we can’t understand, but that you always hoped that we’d make good choices.
Well, now I’m wondering why you’d give
people the right to make up their own minds and stand back with your arms folded (that’s if you have arms) while we mess things up. Wouldn’t it just be easier if you did the thinking for us?