“Stay where I can see you!” Becky shouted at her daughter across the playground. The sunny Saturday afternoon encouraged a mother-daughter outing to the park; they weren’t the only ones. The park was crowded with barbecuing families and children running to and fro.
“Okay!” Lucy replied, but her attention was already on something else. She spotted something shiny in a patch of grass next to the slide. The twisting, bright-red slide was in constant use; but, none of the half-dozen children sharing it noticed the sparkle. They would reach the end of the ride then run around to climb again, without so much as looking down. Lucy wandered to the patch of grass and looked down.
“Hello, phone!” the 5-year old giggled with glee when she found something that resembled her mother’s phone. It was a small perfect rectangle of glass, and it was very thin.[Hello, girl.] Text that Lucy could not read appeared on the display, and at the same time she heard a soft, feminine voice in her ears. She gasped when it responded. [I am not a phone. I am a node.] Lucy immediately pouted and she crouched to return the node to where she found it.
“Sorry,” she said. “Didn’t mean to make you ‘nnoyed.”[Hahaha.] The node replied with soft laughter and the display filled with bright yellow smiling faces. [I’m not annoyed. I. Am. A. Node. I’m like a phone, but better.] Lucy smiled at the laughing faces and she felt relieved she didn’t annoy her new friend. Her parents reminded her often to not be annoying.
“Okay!” Lucy stood again and held the node close to her. She glanced around the playground but none of the kids paid her any attention. Her mother appeared to be deep in a conversation with the rest of the gathered parents. She carried the node to a lonely bench away from the playground, but still technically visible by her mom. If she checked. “My name is Lucy, what’s yours?”[I don’t have one, Lucy.]
“Oh no! You need a name, everyone has a name. OH! Can I give you a name?”[I’d like that, Lucy.]
“Okay! Umm… let me think…,” Lucy tapped her chin thoughtfully the way she’d seen adults do. “Why are you better than a phone?” she asked. At her question, the node disintegrated into a fine white powder and trickled between her tiny fingers.
“Uh oh! What happened?” Lucy leaned forward on the bench and stared at the grass trying to find the white powder, but there was none to be found; then, she felt a tap on her shoulder.
“I can do this,” Lucy heard the node as she turned around to check who tapped her shoulder. It was a white mannequin with a featureless face; it hovered above the ground.
“You’re pretty!” Lucy smiled at the figure, then she nodded. “Mommy’s phone can’t do that, you’re wonderful!” Then she gasped in surprise.
“OH! That’s your name! I’m calling you, ‘Wonder’.” The mannequin stiffened, then tapped her chin the same way Lucy did.
“Wonder…. yes! I like it. Thank you, Lucy,” Wonder bowed politely at the waist. “I want to give you something to thank you for my name. What would you like?” Wonder asked.
“Ummm… What can I have?” Lucy asked. She was used to her parents giving her very limited options.
“Anything at all,” Wonder answered. “Pretend I’m a genie. What would you wish for, Lucy?”
“Anything?” Lucy asked. Wonder’s smooth white head tilted forward in a nod. “Anything anything?”
“Of course, Lucy,” Wonder nodded again.
“Dragons!” Lucy said.
“You want a pet dragon?” Lucy shook her head, then paused and nodded.
“I DO want a pet dragon, but I want dragons in the world too!” She gave an exaggerated shrug. “That’s two wishes…” Wonder laughed.
“I’ll grant your wish for a pet dragon, BUT, it would be lonely all by itself, so I’ll make sure it has friends too. How’s that?”
“YES!” Lucy cheered.
“Alright,” Wonder said. “Let there be dragons!”