It was dark outside. A desk light remained on in Wilhelm’s room as his father, Miles, came in. “You should be asleep.” Miles’ voice was gentle as he knelt beside the boy, kissing his forehead. There was a smile, though tired, on his face.
“Read to me?” The child furrowed his brow and crunched his nose. It made his father laugh a little.
“Which book were you thinking? The Wizard of Oz, Gilgamesh, the Bible? There are many great heroes in the Bible. Maybe that’s what we’ll read tonight.” Miles reached for the Bible on his son’s bookshelf. There was a bookmark in Judges, where they last left off.
But Wilhelm shook his head. “No. I don’t want those. I want your books.”
There was a pause. Miles reflected on this request. His son was only seven, though finally old enough for his own room as his younger sister and brother now shared a room. “My books?” He put the Bible back. “I don’t think your mom would approve of you hearing my stories, Will.” It didn’t stop Miles from thumbing the books on the top shelf. There was a pride in his chest, a warmth that spread through him. It was obviously pride, obviously a stroked ego becoming weak to the beckoning of his legacy’s request. “Sands of the North. How about it?”
It was a hard covered book with a dust jacket. There was a bright sun looking over dunes. Camels wandered with merchants guiding them. “No.”
Miles picked at his teeth with his tongue and growled. “No?” A headache started and he rubbed his temples, wincing. “Then you have one in mind?”
“The first one.” He pointed, though to no particular book. It was just a little finger connected to a little hand, which pointed in a general direction.
“My first book? That’s a story about love. You’re sure it won’t bore you?”
“No.” Wilhelm curled up with his pound puppy, Whitey. It wasn’t so white anymore, with dirt stains and thinning fabric, but it still wore the same name.
Miles picked the book from the shelf and sat down beside his son’s bed. Wilhelm rested his head on his dad’s shoulder and watched the words as his father read. As the words continued, a beautiful lilting of syllables on the boy’s ears, his eyes became heavy and shut. Soon his breathing became shallow, and not long after he began to snore. Miles kissed his nose, and moved the boy’s head to the pillow. “You snore like your father,” he whispered, kissing Wilhelm’s forehead and turning out the light. Miles went downstairs to his study and spent the night reading the rest of his first novel.