Athena was sitting at a table with a wooden toy in her hands. Her mother was silently working at her own desk on some difficult project. She has been sitting there like that for quite a while now. Athena was looking around for something that would demand her attention, but around her were only white walls that offered no safe harbour for a child’s bored mind. Athena once again shifted her gaze to her toy, but she already did everything with it she could think of. And then, finally, she couldn’t bear this any longer.
“Mummy, I’m bored!” said Athena and started pouting. Her voice seemed to be on the verge of crying.
“Well, I’m sorry, but I am doing what I can,” her mother answered. “This thing is a bit of a puzzle, but once I crack it, I’m sure it will make you happy!” she added in an effort to cheer her up.
“I know, but this is sooo boring! Nothing is ever happening. It’s been like this for ages,” continued Athena and let out a loud sigh.
“Yeah, I know, but I’m out of ideas. I know it must be boring, believe me, I have been here longer than you have. But I’m sure that I will get it up and running at no time,” her mother answered with a smile and even chuckled at her last remark.
“What if this time you let me do what I want. I promise I won’t make a mess! I just need to do something, otherwise, I’m certain I will die of boredom!” responded Athena dramatically.
“But you are still so young. Are you sure you can handle it?” said her mother with concern.
“Yes, mummy, I’m sure. Just let me have it and I promise I won’t bother you again.”
“Oh… well… okay, just be careful, please!” finally said her mother and lifted her right hand. Suddenly, a giant glowing orb appeared on her palm. It stayed there for a bit, its light illuminating the empty room around. And then, as quickly as it appeared, it flew towards Athena. She looked at the light with her eyes full of joy that only children have when they receive a new toy. She let out a laugh and tried to jump and catch the light. The light moved about and playfully avoided her claps for a few moments until it came to a halt, silently hovering in the air, allowing itself to be caught. The light started to fade from the room until only a column remained with Athena in its centre, the same column that her mother always had around her.
“Thank you, mummy! I promise I will be very very careful!” said Athena cheerfully and ran out into the distance.
Her mother looked after her with a grim expression on her face, but eventually turned her head back and resumed her own work that was interrupted by Athena’s sulking. She couldn’t focus, though. She still hoped that Athena wouldn’t do some silliness when she didn’t keep her eyes on her. But she can’t be there for her all the time. And she’s a child. Of course, she got bored. There wasn’t much to do, and their life was fairly monotonous. It was actually surprising that she was able to entertain herself with her mind for this long. Maybe she’ll just do a few things she always pictured in her head, maybe even create a few things… do some improvements or maybe come up with some new colours to get rid of all the white monotony that surrounded them. Athena can surely think of a safe way to entertain herself, and who knows, maybe she will make their life less boring as a result. She doesn’t suffer from the intellectual drought like her mother. That’s why she got her. To be her more creative self. If that’s really supposed to work, she needs to let her be creative every now and then. She’s old enough, anyway. And with that final thought, Athena’s mother stopped thinking about her daughter and returned to her own project.
After some time passed, the mother started to wonder what her daughter was doing all that time. The moment she started to consider that maybe she really ought to check on Athena, the room around boomed with a giant explosion that occurred somewhere in the distance. Her heart almost stopped. She never heard anything so loud before. She instantly appeared next to her daughter who was lying on the ground with cinder smeared all over her face.
“Athena! Are you okay!?” A small cough sounded as her answer. Athena opened her grey eyes and sheepishly looked at her mother.
“I’m so sorry, mummy. I was playing and thinking and suddenly there was this giant bang, and it threw me away,” said Athena so quickly her mother almost didn’t understand her. Actually, when she overcame her first shock, she realized everything seemed a bit too quick. She stood up and looked around. How did she not notice this the moment she came? The white void that was their home was quickly turning black. She could still see some white at the distance, but the blackness was spreading quickly. She grabbed her daughter, took her into her arms and closed her eyes. When she opened them, they were once again encompassed by the familiar whiteness. She then turned towards her daughter.
“Athena, what have you done?! Have you seen what is going on? You have to immediately tell me what you did,” she said a bit more angrily than she intended.
Athena looked at her mother with tears in her eyes. She started to weep. The expression in her mother’s face softened and she knelt down. She hugged her daughter and wiped off her tears, cleaning her smudged face in the process.
“I’m sorry, love. I didn’t mean to make you cry. It’s okay, I got us out, but I really need you to tell me what happened.”
Athena calmed down and started recounting her story with her eyes aimed towards the ground.
“Well… I didn’t do much at first. I just jumped around and made some things and I was laughing, because it was really fun. I made many different useful things I had in my mind for a while. I just imagined them and here they were. It was really cool. But then I got bored again. There was only so much I could do, and it was really boring. So, I started thinking. I sat down, closed my eyes and imagined a great many things. I imagined small things at first and then I imagined that they joined together to make things that I couldn’t think of. I let them join in my head and as they joined together, they all acted in different ways. Some of them created air, some of them different coloured waters and some made hard things. They even started to make things on their own just like I did before that. And then I thought of how it would be lovely if all these things had a place to be at. I wanted to create a box where I could put them just so I could play with them later. And then I thought that maybe they would also need some boxes, because they were like me and they all did so many things and with me being just one but so many of them created so many different things, I thought that they would need so many boxes to put all of their toys there. But it would be awfully boring to have all the boxes the same, so I pictured different versions of the boxes. Some green, some blue, some square, some round and before I knew it I had so many different boxes in my head that I couldn’t keep count of them. And I couldn’t see them, because they were all in the dark, so I thought that maybe some of the things could create some light for every box there is. So, suddenly, there were so many different lights and so many boxes that I could never count them because I would always forget what I already counted and what I didn’t. And as I have been thinking and thinking I thought of you and how it would be just marvellous if we had more of us. It gets so lonely with just the two of us, so I thought of me and you and I didn’t want them to feel lonely, so I thought that maybe if they were lonely, they could just create more of them if they wanted. And I thought how funny it would be, if they had different shapes and sizes and personalities and so I thought of all of that and before I could stop myself, I just had all of that in my head and I didn’t want to forget it, so I just tried to put it in a box and when I opened my eyes the box was on my lap. I was afraid that something got lost and just wanted to make sure that everything was there because the box seemed rather small. So, I opened the lid and then the giant bang happened! I didn’t know that would happen, otherwise, I wouldn’t open it. I swear. But now I don’t even know if it is really there or if I forgot everything already. Do you think it’s still in the box? Are they okay? Do you think they blew up because there were so many of them in that small box?”
When it came to questions it was clear that this exhaustive report was over. The mother hugged her child and stroked her back. She knew she shouldn’t have let her with it alone. But she was so insistent and with those beautiful eyes, she just couldn’t say no to her. They were safe here. Isolated from the spread that was happening outside of the bounds. She thought that maybe she would just create a few things and be entertained but she should have known better. Luckily, she wasn’t hurt by her own imagination. But she unknowingly set things in motion. And what was done couldn’t have been stopped. Even she didn’t have the power to subvert what her daughter did when she let her access it. Athena might not know what she did, but there was no doubt in her mind. Athena succeeded with the most dangerous project she herself didn’t dare to create. Athena just created her own universe.