- Episode 8 -
The rest of the day went by fairly quick for Jack, he even managed to keep from getting into any more trouble from Mr. Graves. Although, Mr. Graves did make sure he kept his eye on Jack at several times in class - just in case. At the end of the day he handed everyone a paper that described they're homework as they walked past his desk. He even made sure to smile as he reminded Jack that he couldn't wait to see his work in the morning.
As Jack walked out of school he was still really worried about what to do. How could he do his homework tonight if he had to go outside after dark? It was all just too scary to even think about.
Waiting for him just outside was Dad, smiling as usual and doing his best not to be too goofy. "So how was your first day?" he asked while they started to head for the sidewalk together. At first Jack thought about just being quiet but before he knew it the words just slipped out. "Dad," he said as quietly as he could so none of the other kids would hear. "Can I ask you a question?"
"Sure you can buddy," his Dad replied before stopping to chuckle. "Just as long as it isn't a hard one like, well, anything involving math." Jack couldn't help but grin at his Dad, he knew he could do lots of math and stuff but liked to joke about how math had to be the hardest thing ever. "No, Dad," Jack continued, "it isn't math." His Dad made a funny face and said 'whew' like he had been worried it might of in fact been about math.
"I have some homework to do, but to do it I have to go outside," Jack had to pause for a second before he could finish, "after dark." Immediately his Dad didn't look nearly as silly as he tried to make a joke. "Isn't it illegal to give out homework on the first day?" After taking a deep breath he paused and stopped to bend down and look Jack right in the eyes.
This time when he spoke his voice was different, it was like thunder declaring lightning had just struck. "Son, everyone is afraid of something," he began to explain. "Being afraid of the dark is something normal but the trick is to remember one simple thing." If there was a secret, then Jack had to know it. "What is that?" he asked his Dad. "The dark is kind of like a bully," his Dad answered. "And how do we deal with a bully?"
Jack already knew that answer, it was an easy one. "We stand up to it!" he said full of certainty. "Exactly," his Dad said with a quick nod. "The only way a bully has any power is by making you scared. Secretly every bully is afraid of people they can't scare. So when we stand up to them they learn that we aren't afraid of them and they lose that power."
Jack was really trying to understand how this would help him with being afraid of the dark. His Dad must of been able to tell because he tried to explain it some more. "The dark is just like a bully, it can't do anything to us unless we allow it. If you are afraid of it then it can make you imagine all kinds of scary things." He was really right on that one Jack thought to himself. "But, if we're brave we can stand up to it just like we do a bully. Then, if it can see just how brave we are in our heart it will know it can't touch us."
His Dad took a moment to stand back up before he looked back down at Jack. "Don't worry son," he whispered. "You have one of the brightest and bravest hearts I have ever seen." Was Dad right about him, Jack wondered as they finished walking home. Could he really stand up to the dark by not being afraid of it? He was sure going to try, but not until after dinner.