Attic, part 67

“OK,” Jenny said, “Let’s take this slow. When you say ‘riddle’, what exactly do you mean?”

“Well,” Mr. Symarian said, looking somewhat abashed, “Were I to tell you, in some explicit way, then it wouldn’t be a riddle, would it?”

“Are you for real?” Josh said. “I mean, is there some kind of script we don’t get to read or something?”

“No, nothing like that,” the teacher said. “It’s more of a quest sort of thing. One requires a certain purity, as it were, to pierce the veil of space-time. It wouldn’t do to provide a cheat sheet.”

“So you’re saying,” Jenny jumped in, “If I’m getting this, that if I want to get my grandmother back, I don’t just need to solve the riddle, I need to figure out what the riddle is in the first place.”

“Well, yes,” Mr. Symarian said. “That is the essence of it.”

“Damn,” said Josh. “This is harsh. It’s like when you’re supposed to know that ‘Lord of the Rings’ is all about Sam versus Gollum, and the rest, Aragorn and whatever, is just noise. They don’t tell you that going in.”

“Right,” Jenny said, warming to the theme. “Or that Harry, Hermione, Ron and all those other annoying kids are just window dressing, because Snape is really the only important character. The stuff that you don’t figure out until maybe the third book.”

“Exactly,” Mr. Symarian said. “Or, to revisit the classics, that fact that the entire narrative arc of Buffy is merely background for the passion of Giles.”

The two teenagers stared at him. “You’re, um, joking, right?” Jenny said.

Mr. Symarian sniffed. “You children will understand when you are older.”

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