Will got his father’s attention, alright, his insistent climbing and clambering at Einar’s knee unsteadying him to the point that he very nearly tipped over before catching himself.
“What is it, little one? You after my stew? Want a taste or two? Fine with me, but your mother…well, we’d have to ask her, wouldn’t we?”
Apparently by way of answer—no, no asking needed—a little hand shot up and into Einar’s bowl, coming away with a bit of rabbit meat and a lot of dripping broth which inevitably ended up all over the floor.
“In trouble now, aren’t we?” Einar growled, mopping at the spilled stew and taking a sidelong glance at Liz, but Will only smiled, rolling the rabbit meat around in his mouth as he tried to figure out what to do with it and patting his hands in the little patch of dampness on the floor. Exploring. Wondering, perhaps, what he might be able to build given time and free access to that bit of mud. Wonderful things, Einar had no doubt, but he mustn’t be allowed to do it, not in the house and with bits of broth which he was never supposed to have. Wanting to remedy the situation before it got out of hand—or ended up being noticed by Liz who at the moment still appeared not to have observed the little incident—he scooped Will up in one hand, jabbing with the other at the raven on his perch so that Muninn turned to face him, already hopping down and across the floor by the time Will realized he had been taken from his latest project.
In this way, raven expectantly tilting his head at father and son as if asking where he might find his portion of the recent meal and Will’s attention grabbed by the shimmering iridescence of the bird’s wing and tail feathers, Einar was able to keep the peace all around for the moment. A good thing, too, as he’d seen how loud things could get when his son was pulled prematurely from one project or another, and he—though fortunately he did not actually scream and wail when thus interrupted—certainly knew how the little guy felt. Sometimes, a fellow just needs to be left to whatever he’s got in front of him until the thing’s finished, and any undue interruption tends to be a cause for major distress.
You’ll learn, Snorri. As you get older and out on your own just a little more, you’ll find places where you can work undisturbed, a favorite spruce, maybe, that can be a quiet refuge where you’ll spend hours at a time out of sight of others, even if those others are just Mom and Dad and maybe someday a little brother or sister or two…yeah, I had a bunch of places like that as a kid. Those, and a little cubby under the eaves upstairs in the log house where I grew up. Place was supposed to be for storage, just two and a half, three feet high at the front and of course tapering to the floor at the back, they’d put up a lightweight wall of wood siding boards to hide the boxes and stuff they planned to keep in there, but when I got to be six, seven years old I moved the boxes all down to one end of it and claimed the other as my own little place. Spent hours in there reading by candlelight and later with a flashlight, studying books on history and war and the animals and the wild plants we had in the area, taking apart radios and lamps and once my Dad’s rifle and hiding them in there until I’d got them put back together better than I’d found them… And then there was the time when I assembled an entire porcupine skeleton once, pieced it together and held it with wrapped wires after I’d boiled it to get some of the stink off of the bones, since I’d found it when the critter still had some old, rotten meat and skin fragments on it…surprised they didn’t catch me at that one! But it sure was fascinating, seeing how the critter was put together, how it worked. Yeah, you’ll find your own little hidden spots like that, I have no doubt, and I’ll try to make sure you have plenty of time to think and contemplate and dream, if it’s possible. Everybody needs that. We just need a little more space that some others, don’t we, kid? Space and quiet.
As if having heard his father’s words—really ought to try speaking aloud to him, Einar, because if he’s anything like you were, he can comprehend an awful lot more than most adults will give him credit for, even at this age. Remember hiding under the kitchen table when you were two or three and listening to Dad debate philosophy and theology with two or three friends, and understanding the conversation well enough to have a strong opinion? Yeah. No reason to think he won’t be the same way—Will turned momentarily away from the raven and gave him a sharp, penetrating glance as if to say, I hear you thinking about me, and I don’t like it…
Einar grinned, nodded, looked the other direction. “I know it. I don’t like that either, when people do that to me. They always think we can’t tell, but we can, can’t we? Ok. Turning my thoughts another way, and you can get back to inspecting the raven.”
Liz had been watching, looking puzzled. “Don’t like when people do what? What are you talking about?”
“Was talking with Will. We two just had a great conversation.”
“He looks pretty absorbed in counting raven feathers about now. He wasn’t even looking at you.”
Einar shrugged. “Is that supposed to be necessary?”
“Supposedly.” And they both laughed, Einar because of the play on words and Liz because he could be so genuinely oblivious at times to the things most people took for granted when it came to human communication and interaction, yet could instantly hear and interpret a distant crow caw or shift in the wind or detect an approaching helicopter several miles away with such uncanny perception and accuracy that at times she had been quite sure he must be somehow sensing, rather than hearing. And you’re going to be just like him in that way, aren’t you Will? I can see it already. Could see it in your first month of life. Well. I can just hope you got the best from both of us. That it’ll all balance out, more or less.
Ha! She rose, shaking her head and taking Will with her, raven, though patiently bearing the little one’s inspection, clearly wishing for a break from such attention. Not much chance of that, is there? Of balance? You’re your father’s son, and that’s alright.