"Trolls aren't real, Uncle Leonard. You're making that up."
Thus spoke my nephew Uriel, with all the assurance and authority that a very smart 7-year-old can put into his voice. But as he said it, he cast an inquiring glance at his father, which I noticed with secret amusement. We were biking down a woodsy path which I knew well, and which I had always named Troll Woods to my kids when they were little. I would always say things like, "We shouldn't tarry in this place too long, for sunset is not far off. You know, that's when the trolls start to get active. Those big stones over there: those are trolls that got caught when the sun was rising, luckily for us."
It always made the ride more interesting.
When my wife was along, these stories would never work too well. She would start to fume with indignation, and I would have to leave off what she considered my fantasies, until another time. But in this instance when I was retelling these stories to my nephew Uriel, to my surprise, his father Steven had a much better sense of play than his sister. He responded to Uriel's questioning glance by saying, "Well, we don't really know for certain what may be out here. We'd better keep our eyes open."
This remark heightened the tension as we rode our bikes down the path, as the sun was starting to sink in a red glow to the west. But it was just enough tension for us to experience an agreeable sense of adventure, without the annoying disadvantage of having any real danger.
I could be confident of this, since I was familiar with the path; I knew that if we were brisk, we would certainly be out of there before sunset.
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