Out There

“How do you say, “Dancing Queen,” in Martian?”

The world is dangerous, my eldest daughter tells me. She is relaying to me what she’s learned about the March 11 earthquake and tsunami in Japan, what her third-grade schoolmates have told her, all rather shocking and scary for the eight-year-old. She tells me that she remembers the earthquake and tsunami last year in Chile, much closer to our home in Argentina.

Then she dashes off to fetch her picture encyclopedia on the ocean and takes it to Mum, who sits down with her to read the page about tsunamis. I listen in. Our daughter looks disturbed. It’s best to be at sea, then, she says after hearing that a tsunami can go virtually undetected under a boat as it races by as only a ripple in the ocean compared to the devastating size and power when it hits shore.

I think that what if you tried to escape a tsunami not by running to higher ground but by racing out to sea to get to deeper water before the waves started to break. How far would you have to go out before you were safe? What if you didn’t make it in time?

I am still thinking about this when my daughter’s face turns from disturbed pale to pondering rosy. Is she thinking the same as me?

Not quite.

“I think we should all move to outer space. It’s safer up there,” she says.

She may be right.

Of course, then my mind wanders to tales of aliens in books and movies, from Ray Bradbury to the “Aliens” series. Is it really safe up there?

My face darkens.

Her face doesn’t.

So I decide to look on the bright side and up to space because you never know.

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