By the time Arthur got out of school the next day, the sun was almost ready to set. The sky was a rich deep blue but it was still bright enough out to call it afternoon. Like yesterday, like most days, he would wait at school with some of the other kids until his mom would come and walk him home after work. The school provided activities for the kids who had to stay behind while their parents worked. Many played soccer together in the gym, others stayed in a classroom to play games or do their homework. About a dozen, Arthur among them, donned their snowsuits and went outside with one of the teachers to play in the snow.
The suburban elementary school was next to the park Arthur and his mom had walked by the night before, and so the kids were lucky to have lots of green space to play in. Of course the supervising teachers always made sure nobody wandered too far from the school. Soon, they were told, the district would pay for a fence, but for now they did their best.
Arthur’s friends were busy building forts out of the snow — small constructions barely providing any shelter from the onslaught of snowballs from their friendly rivals — but he went off on his own, content to play by himself by the trees in the snow.
“Hey Artie,” came a voice, “still wondering where the light goes?”
“Who’s that?” Arthur said, surprised. He thought of running back to the his friends, but he wanted to know who it was.
He was sitting against a tree not far away. To Arthur he looked friendly enough in his big winter coat and bright red toque. To an adult he looked like he might have been homeless, a thirty- or forty-something year old man who spent the nights on park benches and kept everything he owned in a backpack, but at least still in control of his mental faculties.
“Come here,” he called, and Arthur came closer. “Where does the light go?”
“Anywhere it wants, right?” said Arthur.
The man chuckled, and nodded. “Ah, you remember. I can show you if you want.”
“What do you mean?”
“Look,” he said, pointing back towards the school. Arthur sat down beside him, the snow crunching beneath him, and looked back to where he was pointing. “See that? Those spotlights on the outside of your school light up the park where your friends are playing, but the light goes other places too, up into the sky. They say it moves faster than anything else in the world.”
“People who think they can say things like that. They almost know what they’re talking about but not quite. What do you think?”
“I don’t know. How fast does it go?”
“Faster than cars, faster than jets and rocketships. It races along as fast as time can move, and so it never grows old. That’s why it can go wherever it wants. Time can never catch it. I can show you.”
“How? Do you have a rocketship? I always wanted to go in one. I have a book about them.”
“We don’t need one. You have a sled, right? A toboggan? Bring it here to the park tomorrow. I’ll be here, and I’ll show you where the light goes.”