I don't believe you.
- 6 Posts
A wide, warm smile spills across your daughter’s face as she snuggles into the crook of your arm. The mirth of her giggle is infectious as she happily watches the cut to the credits of Frozen for the third time that week. While you admit you might not have been paying full attention during all three screenings (it had been a long week at work), the pure content on her face makes it all worth it. A small voice that all parents have also acknowledges that it’s a good way to get her tired enough for bed, considering the screeches of laughing and re-enactments during her favourite parts.
“Alright, alright time for bed.” You smile down at her.
Pre-empting the inevitable torrent of protests, you swipe up the DVD controller and switch the player off. The screen cuts to black, before it automatically switches back to the TV. The credits for another movie are scrolling down the screen of the TV station as your daughter laughs and wrestles you, begging you to let her stay up a little later. Throwing her over your shoulder, she squeals as you declare that even ice-queens must sleep.
The familiar sound of the news introduction music cuts through the air and you both freeze. You place her back on the couch as the pale face of the news anchor appears and the ominous music, promising another reason to fear, fades.
“Another tragedy in Syria today, as the death toll continues to rise from a bio-chemical attack. The small town of Khan Sheikum woke up to horror today as the weapons took their shocking tax on many. With fifty already confirmed dead, and another 34 in critical condition, no actor has yet taken responsibility for the act.”
You stare in shock as terrible images play across the screen, and then over and over again in your head. Figures writhing on the ground as people run to pour water over them. A parent, holding their terrified child in their arms, scream without understanding the awful scenes unfolding around them. Too late you remember you’re not alone in the room.
Shaken from your reverie you immediately turn the television off and silence fills the room. You feel a small hand enter your own, searching for comfort in a suddenly cold room. Looking down at your daughter, you find her already looking up at you. Her eyes are filled with tears, the laughter of only a few moments ago forgotten.
“Can we help them?” She says with a quiet voice. “I want to help them.”
Stirred, you look searchingly into her eyes. Tears fill your own as you look upon the innocence of the young. You incoherently mumble a weak apology, clear your throat, and try again.
“I’m sorry princess, there’s not much we can do.”
Taking her hand from yours, she stands and makes her way to her bedroom door. Turning back to you, four words cut through you.
“I don’t believe you.” She says, and crawls into bed.
You sigh loudly and put away your phone. The 4G connection is terrible here, and you can’t be bothered to wait for the ‘Cat Terrified by Zucchini’ video to load. Wrenching yourself from your plush office chair you declare to everyone that you’re going for lunch.
Can we help them?
As usual, it takes you ten minutes just to choose what you want. There’s just too much choice! You had Thai yesterday, so maybe Mexican today. No, you don’t feel like Mexican. Indian food it is. Walking into the shop, you spend another five minutes debating what you’ll get. Eventually you go with what you always do, a medium butter chicken with roti and a bottle of water.
Blaring on the wall is a daytime soap opera; bad acting enunciated by a worse script. As the blonde woman yells at the brunette man, a long strip of text begins rolling across the bottom of the screen:
SEVERE WEATHER WARNING. CATEGORY FIVE CYCLONE APPROACHING. IMMEDIATE EVACUATION EXPECTED FOR ALL RECEIVING TELEVISION SETS.
I want to help them.
The warning played out twice across the screen before the drama was cut short and an attractive but sombre news anchor replaced it. Repeating the warning, she made it clear what to expect in the next few hours.
“Once in a millennium storm … catastrophic damage expected … state of emergency declared.”
The tense knot of anxiousness makes its home in the deepest part of your stomach and you’re no longer hungry. Making your way back to work in a stupor, reality comes crashing down as the firm calls a staff meeting and tells everyone to go home.
Rushing to your daughters school, it takes an hour to pick her up as every other parent does the same. Hopping into the passenger seat next to you, she stares at you with those big, brown eyes.
You pull her in close for a hug before strapping on her seatbelt. Keeping your voice as steady as you can, you tell her everything will be fine.
I don’t believe you.
Your son is fast asleep in your lap. Even though he’s facing away from you, towards the television, his gentle breathing and loss of attention for the end of his favourite movie – Frozen – means the little one is out to the world. Before you turn the TV off, you flick through some of the other stations. It had been a damaging week for the country. Cyclone Rufus was over and the army had been called in to assist with the clean-up.
As you flick through the channels, you pause on the 24-hour news. A backdrop of destruction frames the reporter. Homes ripped from their foundations, trees torn from the ground, cars lying on their sides; a battleground in your own backyard. The camera swivels to the right and the reporter quickly introduces a parent and their child.
“We’ve lost everything.” The parent started, distress clear on his face. “Three days ago we were sitting at home watching movies. Now we have nothing. The armies doing everything they can, but it’s hard not to feel your world is ending when you have no home to go to. I just don’t know how we’re going to cope now.”
It was heartbreaking seeing this parent stare down at their stricken daughter, but what could you do?
“Can we help them?” Your son asks from the careful embrace of your arms.
Surprised he’s awake, you’re lost for words. He carefully turns around in your lap and looks up at you with inquisitiveness on his innocent face. Searching for words, you reply weakly.
“I don’t think so buddy. It’s ok they’ll get through it.” You attempt a weak smile.
Extricating himself from you, he pulls himself away and hops down from the couch. Yawning widely, he makes his way in his Toy Story pyjama’s to the family room doorway, where he pauses. Turning, he says,
“I don’t believe you.”