Gideon woke up alone in the backseat of the car. I had taken him with me on my evening drive into the mountains and he had fallen asleep almost instantly. I heard him stir and blink out the window when we were already most of the way back home.
“Oh, hi!” I said, smiling briefly in the rearview mirror.
He replied with a half-smile, and then yawned and chewed the air. “Daddy,” he said finally. “I have some bad news.”
“Oh no. Really? It’s such a beautiful evening, I can’t imagine what bad news you possibly could have discovered in the backseat of the car that could ruin this.” I grinned at him confidently. “Tell me your news.”
His head tilted back and forth a few times like an upsidedown pendulum and he made a “tick-tock” sound as his little brain formed the headline. Then he looked at me and said, “Sometimes, in this world, people bamish.”
I glanced back and forth between the road and the boy. “I’m sorry, what? Bamish?”
“No no. BAMish!” he clarified. “Like…” he made a strange gesture with his hands in the air, a motion like fireworks going off and his little cheeks puffed out, “Poof.”
“Poof?” I furrowed my eyebrows and then suddenly I realized what he was saying, “Oh wait! Poof? You mean sometimes people VANish?”
“Yes,” he confirmed with a nod. “They bamish.”
“Oh wow. Yeah, that is bad news I guess. Like, who do you mean? You mean, like, sometimes people move away or something?”
“No. They bamish.” He made the hand motions again.
“Right, right. Poof. I remember. But like, who though? Who are you talking about?”
He just shrugged. “Me not know. When peoples bamish no one remembers them. They just not here anymore and we don’t know it.”
Suddenly the sun passed behind a thick cloud and the world turned very dark. “Wait… what?”
He turned to look back out the window. “It’s bad news.” he rested his chin in his hand, “Sometimes in this world people bamish and we don’t remember them.”
The tiny oracle yawned again and then shut his glowing eyes. His prophecy had been declared, his words spoken, now he must rest. There would be no further discussion of the fact. It was now up to us mortals to deal with this terrible truth about life, to find a way to keep on living with the sword of bamishment handing over our heads, every moment under threat, knowing that someday we too might “poof” and no one will even remember that we had ever existed.
I quickly pulled into a McDonald’s drive-thru. This was a revelation I would have to face with some french fries.