He and I would make a stage from the empty cornflakes boxes his family donated to our pantomime; a family full of hungry sons and space – a place to stay, where time and paper flew from shelves into our games and future selves.
We’d craft characters and scenes, tables full of painted feasts, wrestle facts from unsolved crimes, add romantic story-lines, resolve all conflicts mise en scene, applaud at curtain-call, the end.
But afterwards, and privately, the epilogue allowed us to enact a wrathful God’s omnipotence and un-write all,
swinging a pendulum’s wrecking ball,
watching our creations fall.
Gone with little trace at all; tidied up, and after supper, put to bed, stories in our sleepless heads turned philosophers to ask:
What if all we’ve ever said, or dreamt, and lived and made seem real, were wiped out by a wrecking-ball? Or a monster killed us all? Raspberries tried to get their own back? Cows revolted over milk, boats all sank just suddenly? If poles reversed polarities and earth had a moonlike gravity?
What if a great big god-like fist smashed right through what it created? What if we’ve just imagined it?
What if a virus froze the planet and everything we knew, and all the minute practices that make my-me-your-you were suspended, suddenly? What if we slept for a century?
What if when we wake up next all of this is history? What if it’s all just a list of mistakes?
And what if a force field fell between our houses and we could only look towards each other’s homes, drifting through dreams of all the things we used to be, or think we were, or could have been one day maybe? And what if we lost the magic key to allow us us our release; what if the lock got stuck?
What if they let us make life up: build the set; imagine rules – nobody has to go to school – could choose just what and how to play, imagine a different sort of thing?
What if all of it’s just a dream?