Nothing can really prepare you for the depth and suddenness of a child’s mind. It’s like living in a dunk tank, sitting on a narrow shelf that can disappear at any moment. One second your driving circles around the Walmart parking lot waiting for your wife on a lazy Sunday afternoon, and then the next, you are an Alka-Seltzer pill bubbling at the bottom of a lukewarm glass of water. Such is the life of a father.
I thought they were all sleeping in the back seat when I rounded the corner for the fifth time in my continual circuit around the building. A crowd of shoppers crossed in front of us, coats and hats pulled tight as a gust of wind streaked across the parking lot. Our van rocked softly. An eddy of trash swirled up in the corner of an alcove and was scattered along the wall as we drove on.
“Daddy.” My daughter’s voice came from the back seat. “The way the wind is blowing that plastic bag across the parking lot reminds me of the time Adam and Eve were thrown out of the Garden of Eden.”
My brain bagan to fizz. “What?” I asked.
“The naked people.” She responded softly.
Distracted by the thought I had to brake suddenly as another family of shoppers crossed in front of me. “Clara, I know who Adam and Eve were, but what do they have to do with a plastic bag?” I looked in the rear-view mirror, but the child had already drifted back to sleep, smuggling her secret riddles along with her. My brain bubbled itself to powder in an attempt to find some sort of connection, but my mind vanished before an answer could be found.