The Scientist

Sun“Dad,” she started, grasping my hand, “why does the sun follow us?”

“We follow it, Sweet Stuff.” I was distracted, working on a paper, and my scientific understanding of the universe was that of a first grader’s.

“But if we follow the sun, then why does it disappear?”

“Uh…well…look, Sweetness, we…uh…yeah, we follow the sun and it disappears. That’s a great question.”

She blinked, sifting through my evasion.

“But when it disappears, it gets cold.”

I turned to her. “Yes. Cold. That’s right. The sun is a hot star. So when it’s not around, it’s cold.”

“The sun is a star?”

“Yeah.”

“Why?”

“What do you mean, ‘why?’”

“Why?” She shrugged.

“It just is.”

“But stars twinkle.”

“True. That’s true.”

“I see.” Her eyes lit up. “The sun is hot and twinkling, like a star.”

“Not ‘like’ a star, it is a star.”

“Yes, twinkling.” She smiled. “And when it disappears, it’s cold.”

“That sounds right,” I said, before, in paternal glory, patting her on the head.

“So,” she drew herself up in summation, “the heat burns the cold and the cold burns the heat.”

“Yep.” I returned to my paper. “Wait…what?”

“The cold burns the heat.”

I rubbed my eyes in an effort to clear my head. “The cold doesn’t really—” I stopped. “Yep,” I decided to change directions. “See, the sun is a hot and twinkling star way up in the sky that burns the world. The cold, however, is a crystal dragon lumbering beneath the earth. They are at war.” I leaned in and whispered in her ear, “They’ve always been at war.”

Her eyes widened. “Does the cold dragon twinkle?”