Chapter 27: Words of a father

"Arvid? Can we talk?" "Sure thing, dad. Well, at least I can talk. Not sure about you, but you may improve with training." "Your mother says that you've been very tired these last mornings." "Mornings? I am tired all day. I'm tired right now."

"Arvid, I know that it's not easy to be young..." "Actually, I think it beats being old. I mean, I can dress and undress myself. I can go on the potty without help. I don't need to get up several times a night to pee. That ought to count for something." "Yes. It is good to see that you are thankful for these blessings. It is too easy to ignore a good thing until it is lost." "Isn't it though?" "But what I was thinking of was the temptations."

This discussion was already bordering on the surreal from the start. Arvid was used to his father coming home from work late, eating his dinner, and retiring to study the newspaper and then perhaps the Bible, especially if there was a meeting coming up. When was the last time they actually talked together? He could not remember, but it must have been years and years ago. Something strange must have happened to force the man out of his shell.

"To be honest, I don't know what temptations old people have. It's probably related to their bowels or something." "I was thinking about the youthful lusts." "Oh. Those." "Arvid, I don't know how to say this ..." "Then perhaps you should think it over first. I'm here every day." "You're not making this easier for me." "To be honest, I can't see what interest you would have in youthful lusts at all, at your age." "I haven't always been this old, you know. When I ... when I was your age, I too was tempted to think about young girls ..."

"Good thing you were only tempted then" Arvid cut him off. "Because I can't stand the thought of you burning in lakes of fire and brimstone for all of eternity, screaming in vain at the top of your lungs for mercy, while the saints gather around the rim of the Pit and laugh their heads off at the sight." "Well, to be honest ..." "Don't!"

"Don't be honest, dad. It does not become you. If there is one single thing in the universe that I do not want to know, it is what you did with your lusts when you were a teenager. Really. It is too much information. Just let it be, OK? I don't want to know who you thought about or what you did about it. Trust me. Whatever you can say, I will prefer not to know. You're my Dad and that's how I want to remember you."

"Okay, son. If that is how you want it. But I am worried about your lack of sleep. There may be things to do about it, if you would just open up and tell about it." "Oh, that. That's another matter entirely. You see, I dream all night. From the moment I close my eyes, till the morning. Every night, all night. Dream, dream, dream. I wake up as tired as I went to bed, as if I had not slept at all. That's the whole thing. Youthful lusts have nothing to do with it."

Arvid could see that his father didn't really believe him. That was hardly a surprise - he had been suspect for years now. He even knew how they thought: How can you trust anyone who does not pray loudly?

And so it all boiled down to some fatherly advice about not eating before bedtime, and getting enough fresh air and using his body to exhaustion. Cold showers in the morning was also recommended. Good advice, certainly, for the average easily excited teenager. But powerless against the magic of another world, a magic strong enough to span entire universes. A magic Arvid could no longer deny, because he had felt it. Already, he was waiting for the night to come so he could return to his magic kingdom.


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