Arnie is worried about the end of the world. He is changing out of his Batman suit and into his Spiderman pajamas. He has just brushed his teeth. Mini is already in her bed in Arnie’s room although she is not yet asleep. They are sharing because Grandad is sleeping in Mini’s room. Ray is in his room painting models of fighting men from the year 40,000. Granddad is downstairs watching the news.
“The end of the world is not for a long time, is it?” Arnie asks. He holds my hand. I connect the question with finding Grandad prostrate on the floor yesterday. This must be it.
“Nothing for you to worry about,” I say briskly.
“But when will it be?”
“Never,” I lie.
Downstairs, I tell husband. I say I thought the kids were enjoying having Grandad here. I wonder if they are worried about him too. They know he has changed. He used to play ball with them in the garden or push the swing. He would draw pictures of cats for Mini and make playdough superheroes for Arnie. He used to read “We’re going on a Bear Hunt.” Perhaps Arnie senses that it might be an end of an era. He is our emotional, intuitive boy. The one on whom our hopes of a great future rest. The one who will take us in when we are old, unlike Mini who will say, “I want my house back,” or Ray, “Sorry mum, too busy with warhammer to feed you…”
It isn’t until sometime later, that husband looks at me and says, “Oh. When Arnie was eating dinner, he spilled a bit and I said, ‘it isn’t the end of the world...do you think it’s that?”