The Impossible Explanation

Terry was outraged. The kind of outraged that would have made an active volcano take a wary step back. They’d legalised gay marriage.

‘How the hell are we supposed to explain this to Furiosa?!’ In normal conversation it would have been a shout. In this conversation it was a sedate interlude.

Aubrey’s face was the kind of practiced calm perfected over years. ‘I shouldn’t have let you name our daughter.’

‘Furiosa is the greatest girl’s name ever conceived!’

Aubrey allowed herself a shrug. Even her husband was right occasionally. ‘We’re still not renaming our son Mad Max.’

‘It would be incredible!’

‘He’s twenty five.’

‘He’ll thank us when he’s twenty six!’

When Terry had calmed down enough to hold a glass of water without setting it on fire, they sat their daughter down. Furiosa was four, and looked pretty much like you’re already imagining.

‘Honey, your father has something to tell you,’ said Aubrey.

‘Something impossible to understand,’ said Terry. ‘Your brain will probably explode, but the government is forcing us to do this because apparently we’re now living under a fascist regime.’

‘Can I have some strawberry milk?’ said Furiosa.

‘Afterwards,’ said Aubrey.

Terry took a deep breath that seemed to inflate the veins in his face. ‘I want you to know that we love you, and we’re sorry we have to do this to you. Brace yourself.’

Furiosa guessed what bracing herself meant, and put her hands on her head.

Terry took a deep breath. How could he be expected to do this? How could he possibly explain this to a child? To a tiny mind to which everything was new and nothing was unnatural? At last, he spoke. ‘Men can marry men, and women can marry women.’

‘Okay,’ said Furiosa.

‘Aren’t you confused?’ said Terry.

‘About what?’ said Furiosa, looking at a bird on the window ledge.

‘You don’t have any questions?’

Furiosa considered this for a long, serious moment. ‘In The Incredibles, why does the man at the beginning jump off the building?’

Terry very carefully pretended not to have heard. ‘Any questions at all?’

‘If religion is true, why is there more than one?’

‘About marriage?’

‘After my milk, can I marry the dog next door? He’s very fluffy.’

‘Aha!’ cried Terry triumphantly.


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