Interview with a Child The Master hasn’t been among us long. That’s why he lies in wait in every corner. Covers his eyes and peeks through the cracks. Faces the wall, then suddenly turns around.
The Master rejects outright the ridiculous thought that a table out of sight goes on being a table nonstop, that a chair behind our backs stays stuck in chairlike bounds and doesn’t even try to fly the coop.
True, it’s hard to catch the world being different. The apple tree slips back under the window before you can blink. Incandescent sparrows always grow dim just in time. Little pitchers have big ears and pick up every sound. The nighttime closet acts as dull as its daytime twin. The drawer does its best to assure the Master it holds only what it’s been given. And no matter how fast you open the Brothers Grimm, the princess always manages to take her seat again.
“They sense I’m a stranger here, ” the Master sighs, “they won’t let a new kid play their private games.”
Since how can it be that whatever exists can only exist in one way, an awful situation, for there’s no escaping yourself, no pause, no transformation? In a humble from-here-to-here? A fly caught in a fly? A mouse trapped in a mouse? A dog never let off its latent chain? A fire that can’t come up with anything better than burning the Master’s trustful finger one more time? Is this the definitive, actual world: scattered wealth that can’t be gathered, useless luxuries, forbidden options?
“No, ” the Master cries, and stomps all the feet he can muster—for such great despair that beetle’s six legs wouldn’t be enough.
The Master’s persistent rejection that things are only what they seem is refreshing. It’s preposterous to him that there isn’t more to it—that chairs and tables don’t dance the night away when he’s not looking. Of course he’s never seen it, but that doesn’t mean a thing. Once they warm up to him, he thinks, when he’s no longer the “new kid, ” they’ll let him play their behind-the-back games.
Of course, you know and I know that when he’s no longer the new kid, it’s not that these inanimate objects will welcome his participation. Rather, he’ll see through familiar eyes. He’ll be perceived as an adult and dismiss such thoughts as childish fantasy. Grownups, most times, have any propensity to see behind the veil matured out of us.
But what if we give the Master a moment or two to be heard? What if we believe for just the next few moments that it cannot be true that things are simply as they seem? I have but two feet, not the beetle’s six. But maybe it’s worth stomping around on them now and again, in protest of a world that stops short at the edge of what we see. If we see things as the young Master does (stay with me on this), then when things are truly what they seem, perhaps they would also be nothing like what they seem at all.