“Grandad,” said Jessica. “Can we have the Hoovid story, again?”
Her hazel eyes, wise beyond their five years, twinkled at him. He put down the book of the forest, with its fold-out leaves and simulated bark, and smiled at her.
“Okay,” he said. “Of course we can…ready?” He bounced her up and down on his knee: their chosen method for settling in for a story. She squealed. Her curls shook as she shouted,“ Story…story…stor–“
“Once,” Grandad said, capturing the silence. “there was a good bacteria named Hoovid.”
“Are all bacteria good, Grandad?” The earnest young voice asked.
“Well, no… lots of them are bad, but only to us humans. The bad ones can be very good for other forms of life… but Hoovid was good… and very special.”
“Why was he special?”
“Because he had been born very small, and he could see the nasty ghost organisms that were too tiny for even the good bacteria to worry about.”
“Were they ghosts because they were tiny bacteria?” Jessica asked. Then added, “And you could hardly see them?”
“No,” said Grandad. “They were ghosts because they weren’t actually a creature at all, but a chemical that was clever, and could invade the bodies of other creatures and take them over, turning them into bad ghosts, too!”
“Did Hoovid save the world?” asked Jessica, remembering.
“He saved a lot of the world, yes.”
“How did he do it, Grandad?”
“One very special day,” he said, “Hoovid was hungry and he came upon a group of ghost chemicals that were called viruses.
“Are there any good viruses, Grandad?”
“All things have their place and purpose, Jessica, or they wouldn’t be here on the Earth.” He paused, remembering. His eyes turned misty – something he didn’t want Jessica to see – so he pretended to cough.
“Did Hoovid do something else?”Jessica asked. Filling the silence.
Grandad cleared his throat and continued. “He ate the bad viruses…”
“All of them?” asked Jessica, bouncing, again, and swinging her arms.
“All of them,” said Grandad, emphatically.
“All of them in the world?” Jessica said, her tone rising in wonder.
“No… just the ones he’d found… but then, something remarkable happened!”
Jessica’s joy could barely fit on his knee…
Grandad continued. “The good bacteria can do a wonderful thing.”
Jessica had stopped all movement; she knew how important the next bit was.
“When they have learned something, the tiny coils of who they are can adapt to hold that learning… and automatically share it with all their relatives.”
“So all the other bacteria could eat the nasty viruses, too?” she shouted in wonder and excitement.
“Yes… and they did.”
“All of them?”
“All of them!”
A few minutes later he was tucking her into bed.
“Grandad, was Grandma a microbogist?”
“A microbiologist, darling, yes she was. She was the one that discovered and encouraged Hoovid, but not in time to save herself…”
Can I be a micro…biol…gist, Grandad.”
“That would have been your Grandma’s deepest wish, Jessica,” he said, turning out the light. “Sweet dreams.”
As he walked across the landing, he heard the little voice whisper into the gentle darkness. “Night, grandma…”
©Stephen Tanham 2020
Stephen Tanham is a Director of the Silent Eye School of Consciousness, a not-for-profit teaching school of modern mysticism that helps people find a personal path to a deeper place within their internal and external lives.
The Silent Eye provides home-based, practical courses which are low-cost and personally supervised. The course materials and corresponding supervision are provided month by month without further commitment.