children and ages

The Dead Father p14

What’s that? Thomas interrupted. He was pointing to the side of the road.
Two children. One male. One female. Not too big. Not too small. Holding hands.
Children in love, said Julie.
In love? How do you know?
I have an eye for love, she said, and there it is. A clear instance.
Children, said teh Dead Father. Whippersnappers.
What is that? the children asked, pointing to the Dead Father.
That is a Dead Father, Thomas told them.
The children hugged each other tightly.
He doesn’t look dead to us, said the girl.
He is walking, said the boy. Or standing up, anyhow.
He is dead only in a sense, Thomas said.
The children kissed each other, on the lips.
They don’t seem very impressed, said the Dead Father. Where is the awe?
They are lost in each other, said Julie. Soaks up all the available awe.
Dont seem old enough, Thomas said. How old are you? He asked.
We are twenty, said the girl. I am ten and he is ten. Old enough. We are going to live together all our lives and love each other all our lives until we die. We know it. But don’t tell anyone because we’ll be beaten, if the knowledge becomes general.
Aren’t they supposed to be throwing rocks at each other at this age? Thomas asked?
Always magnificent exceptions, Julie said.
We have cut our fingers with an X-acto knife and mingled our bloods, the boy said.
Two tiny forefingers with short crusty cuts exhibited.
Did you sterilize the knife? I hope? Julie asked.
We dangled it in the vodka bottle, said the girl, I judged that sufficient.
That would do it, Thomas said.
We will never be parted. I am Hilda and he is Lars. When he is eighteen he is going to refuse to do his military service and I am going to do something so I can be put in the same jail with him, I haven’t thought it up yet.
Admirable, Julie said.
We are together, said Hilda, and will always be. You are too old to know how it is.
I am?
You must be about twenty-six.
And he is even older, she said, indicating Thomas.
Considerably, Thomas admitted.
And HE, she pointed to the Dead Father, must be, I can’t imagine. Maybe a hundred.
Wrong, the Dead Father said gaily. Wrong, but close. Even older than that, but also younger. Having it both ways is a thing I like.
All this age fills up yourr heads, Hilda said. So you cannot remember what it was like, being a child. Probably you do’nt even remember the fear. So much of the IT. So little of you. The lunge under the blanket.
There is still more of the it than there is of me, said Thomas. But one gets along reasonably well.
Reasonably, said the girl, what a word.
The children began caressing each other, with hands and cheeks and hair.
Do we have to witness this? asked the Dead Father. This gross physicality?
You are in a new world, Thomas said. Nine-year-olds are arrested for rape. This is not that. Be grateful.
Dyscrasia, the Dead Father said, that is what I think of it. Pathological. I shall issue a ukase against it.


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Keep me away from the wisdom which does not cry, the philosophy which does not laugh and the greatness which does not bow before children.
-Kahlil Gibran

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