"O Lord most holy, Who dwelleth in glory! We implore of Thee, in Thy boundless mercy, to soften the heart of our son, Arvid, who we begat for the sake of Thy name! Grant him repentance from the evil sins of his heart, and lead him to Thy grace! May he wake up and see the evil of his fallen ways, before Thy time of grace has run out and his soul must perish forever in unceasing fire and brimstone!"

Arvid didn't mind his parents praying, or even praying for his rotten soul - they might have a point there - and he did not mind them getting up early to pray either. Still, he'd prefer not to wake up from their wailing when he needed what little sleep he could get. Not that he was all that late to bed last night, but those two weird dreams left him wide awake, as if he had not been sleeping at all.

Oh well, at least he had time for some breakfast before running for the bus.

High school was a whole different world. It was hard to even believe he was on the same planet, when he stepped through the doors and saw the collection of youngsters in weird clothes and equally weird haircuts. And there certainly wasn't much prayer going on here. Flirting, banter, teasing, insults and veiled threats ... pretty much the same mix that had followed this gang since the sandbox. OK, the flirting was more serious now than it was in first grade. But overall, it seemed hard to believe that these people would soon go to college or even to work.

School had always been this other world for Arvid. When he was just a kid, it scared him. He kept to a corner and the bullies had a field day while he tried to turn the other cheek. Whether he succeeded or not, he lost. But after a while he sort of became two different boys. One at home, saying grace in a loud voice, and one at school, fighting with the best of them. But the parting was never complete, and now he felt like a stranger in both places.

It bites to always have to hide some part of yourself. Even if it's not the same part all of the time.

"Hiya Arvid! Had any good prayers lately?" "Burn in Hell, you godless heathen you!" Well, there was always Dag-Helge. But even he was so over the top. They used to play together, back when they both grew up in The Last True Church Of The Prophets On Earth. But then there was some kind of scuffle between the grownups, and Dag-Helge's father was thrown out of the Church. From that day on they were godless heathens, and pretty soon started to act accordingly. Arvid still found it hard to believe that his old friend smoked pot every week and had slept with dozens of girls - even if most of them were drunk. Dag-Helge on the other hand found it hard to believe that Arvid could still be a virgin at 18, and each day brought a new idea to rescue his old friend from the clutches of the sect. But at least they were still friends, of a sort.

"You do look a bit dispirited" noticed Dag-Helge. "Has Jesus run off with another guy?" "You know I'm not into it like that." "Then why can't you just party?" "No, the reason I'm a bit off is that I did not sleep too well last night." "Careful, sonny, it could break! Give it a rest now and then." "You sicko. No, I had these strange dreams." "That's normal. The abnormal thing is to not live them out." "No, I mean really strange. It was like I was wide awake - just in a dream. I could think and I knew I was dreaming, but it was all so real, just as if I were there. And there was this girl..." "Told ya!" "... and her old father ..." "Bummer!" "... and they were, like, speaking with me and calling me The Genius and stuff." "Well, duh. You are, you know. You just can't do anything with it. You must be the unluckiest genius in the world."


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