In My Leisure

Joel 'Cop' Furches
In my leisure I am so affected BY my leisure that it wins me wholly to itself, excluding all profitable activity.
-Mio's Laments

Father comes wearily home most evenings and lies exhausted in a chair. As the hours wane to twilight he usually revives enough to talk of the days activities, weaving endless tales of the woes of men's souls. He usually refuses food, choosing instead to talk his tension out.

I used to question mother as to why he was so weary in the evenings, when all he did during the day was to sit in a big chair and listen to people. She would laugh, tussle my hair, and say that there was more to it than that.

Mother tells me that Father is a psychoanalyst, but I like the way Father tells it best. He says that he is a soul-surgeon. When I ask him what a soul-surgeon does, he tells me that people have a parasite in their soul, and a soul-surgeon opens up their soul and probes around until he finds the parasite.

"And then you get rid of it?" I ask.

"Only if they want me to," my Father replies sadly. "You see," he continues, "the parasite weakens people's minds. It teases them with dreams of pleasure, all the while enslaving them to itself. In the end the victim has two minds. One of their minds hates the parasite and would do anything to get rid of it, and the other mind loves the parasite and would do anything to keep it."

"Can people get rid of it without your help?" I ask.

"No, Mio, they cannot," my Father replies. "No human is strong enough to overcome the parasite. They fall to it once and they are enslaved for life. They can resist it, bury it deep inside so no one can see it, give themselves totally over to it until their soul dies and the parasite is all that remains, or wage war on it all their lives, but no human can overcome it without my help."

"But you CAN help them, right Father?" I ask in concern.

"Yes, Mio," Father smiles, "I CAN help them."

> My Father reads me a story at night, and I go to sleep secure, knowing my Father is there. He can do anything. When I grow up, I want to be just like my Father.

Then a voice speaks to me.

"Come with me, Mio," it says, "Come with me, and I will show you fun and frolic and freedom."

"Who are you?" I ask.

"I am dreams-come-true. I am freedom. Will you come with me?"

"Why should I come with you?" I ask, suspicious, "I am happy, and free."

"Is that what you believe?" the voice says laughingly, and leaves.

The next day my father wakes me early.

"You're a big boy now, Mio," he says, "I have some chores for you to do."

He gives me a list, and Mother shows me how to do the jobs. As the days go by, the work increases, and with every job I do right, another one is added.

The voice comes to me again.

"Mio, how are you enjoying yourself these days?"

"I-I'm fine,"

"So good to hear. Father has you doing a few jobs?"


"And you like those, do you?"

"I don't mind them."

"You cannot lie to me," it says, and once again, it disappears.

I watch, and see, and suddenly am surprised. My Father demands a great deal of me. I was always happy to do any task for him before, but now I begin to see that the work I do for him is difficult. It consumes a great deal of my time, and it never seems to end. I wish he would allow me time to do things I want to do rather than he wants of me. More and more I want my own leisure. Every night the voice comes to me in my leisure. It reminds me how much I do for my Father, and how little he does for me, and every night it makes more sense. And I begin to see it is not my father, but I that have changed.

Tonight it comes to me and asks, "Will you come with me Mio?"

I try to think about it, but it is so hard to think now.

"Yes," I reply, "I will come with you."

It is glorious and fun, and all that the voice promised.

In the morning, I try to avoid my Father. I look at his eyes and feel guilty. I know I cannot tell him. The days become agony, as I try to hide from my Father. At every moment I attempt to flee away to my own leisure, and then: Oh! What joy! The nights are always full of fun and frolic.

When I work, I become a zombie, my movements mechanical, slow, and inefficient. My mind is muddled, focused only on my leisure, and how slowly it comes.

Strangely, my Father seems to know that I do not want to be around him, and he makes no attempt to intrude on me. This hurts me more. If only he would pursue me. If only he would question my freedom. Then I could lash out at him, and be happy. But now he allows me my leisure. And I begin to miss him.

And suddenly I begin to realize what true freedom is. My Father allows me to help him when I am eager to do so, but he does not force his will upon me.

At night there is no longer any choice, I MUST go with the voice. And the fun and frolic is less enjoyable.

At length I find I MUST have my leisure. I cannot do without it. My Father could force me to work, could forbid me my leisure, and I almost wish he would. And it is no longer leisure: it is the purest form of slavery.

The days are pure torture. I miss my Father terribly, but I cannot talk to him because when I try, his eyes sear into my soul and I KNOW that he knows. I cannot stand him knowing. I have a parasite in my soul.

Oh, I could not come to that conclusion immediately. I denied it as much as I could, but I see now that this is true.

"Come with me, Mio," the parasite demands.

"NO! You are a parasite, I hate you!"

It answers with a careless laugh, "I never pretended to be otherwise. Your own desire to be 'free' blinded you. Now you cannot do without me. You are mine, and you know it. You MUST come with me."

"But why did you choose ME?" I ask, sobbing.

"You silly, foolish child," it mocks though I cannot resist, "everyone has a soul parasite. EVERYONE. You think you are special because your father is a healer? Because he overcame HIS soul-parasite?"

"You lie!"

"Do I?"

"Father never had a soul parasite. He said no human could overcome one."

"No HUMAN can."

And so night after night I go with it. The worst part is that, day after day, my Father is there, and yet I cannot truly be with him. We are together but separate.

I remember how the parasite made me hate the work I did for my Father. Now I wish that that is all I could ever do. I love the work my Father gave me, and now he leaves me alone, while still his eyes plead for me. I am miserable. My vision is clouded, I cannot see beyond myself. The world that I see is a strange and ugly place because it holds me yet. Still, I see it in Fathers eyes. He knows. He knows that I know that he knows. He can help if I let him. Why don't I let him?


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