On 23 hour plane trips, it's always good to have something to do, even if the end product is, well…this. Whatever 'this' actually is.
2: Suspense, Or a Moral Code of Fish: age 7 and 1/2
Every night, the book snapped shut.
For 'suspense', Father said, always smiling. Myles liked the smile. It made hiseyes crinkle up in the corners, and showed-off a funny gap in his teeth at the front. Though 'funny' was possibly the wrong word. There were other, better words, he knew. Father liked him to try and look them up in the big dictionary in his room. The one with the gold edging.
Myles had looked up suspense one day, after a week where Father had snapped shut the covers on the big book particularly hard and often, because it had come up to the story of Lady Harsye and he wanted to make it last for long time. Especially when it was time for the Virtuous Lady to have her Honour Bravely Defended by the Veritable Knight, Sir Queenscove. Father made his words big and proud when he read these pages, and would always stop dramatically just before Doom was about to be had. This was how suspense was made.
But Myles didn't understand, not really. It had taken him a long time to get up high enough to fetch down Father's book—even longer to find the page, and then the part of the page, where 'suspense' was kept; he couldn't get the letters to fit together for a while—and when he'd finally managed to work it out Myles still thought something was wrong. The book told him, in black lettering that he knew had been carved by a printer who placed everything backward so it could be read forward, what 'suspense' was, and it didn't fit with Father's idea of it at all, and this was worrying.
Especially because he thought that he agreed with the dictionary more than Father, just a little. It made him feel uncomfortable. He couldn't find a single thing that was suspenseful in Father's stories. He knew them. He'd listened to them every night since….since before he could think confusing things like this, and he didn't like them. Not because he felt scared for the characters, but because he thought they were stupid. Silly. Not interesting. All those things. He didn't know why yet, but he was sure.
Father said that these bedtime stories were meant to lay down the 'Foundations of His Life and Work', because Myles was going to be a knight some day. Some day ever sooner, in fact, so he decided to not tell Father about all the thoughts in his head whilehe hoped—oh yes, he hoped—that becoming a knight did not mean that he had to turn into somebody like the Sir Queenscove from his bedtime book. It would be too messy and embarrassing, and full of…daft things. Like Mortal Peril.
Every night, Myles listened to his father read, enjoying Father's funny—no! Peculiar. That was it!—smiles more than the words.
Every night, the book snapped shut, and Father put it carefully away on Myles' little shelf so that the title would flash silvery in the candlelight. Even the title was silly. There were gaps where letters were meant to be. One day soon, Myles knew he wouldn't be able to stand the silliness of it all any more, and he knew that would make Father sad.
Every night, Myles secretly poked out his tongue at The Cod of Chi lry.