Jared's dad sat down and pushed it closer.
"I see you're beginning to look at colleges?" his dad asked
"Grandpa went there," Jared said. "I thought I'd take a look."
Jared pulled the envelope toward him, lifted the lip and tore into its contents. He dumped out a glossy booklet, bright and inviting. The white steeple of the Memorial Church caught his eye. He tried to envision a young version of his grandfather walking in front of the historic building.
"It's not an easy school to get into," Jared's dad said.
"Thank you for extinguishing my dreams so quickly," Jared snapped.
Jared's dad got up from the table and walked out of the room. Jared, now alone, opened the booklet and flipped through the glossy pages, trying to picture himself surrounded by the renowned edifices of the stately university. He was one of the top students in his class. Getting in wouldn't be such a challenge, he thought, but the cost? He wasn't sure about the price tag for a school like Harvard -- money was going to be the challenge.
"What if there was another school in the New England?" his father said, sitting back down. He presented a photo album of dark blue leather.
"What, like Yale?" Jared said.
"Not quite like Yale," Jared's dad said. He opened the album and flipped through a few pages, stopping at the one he wanted. He rotated the book to face Jared, and then pointed at a black and white photo of a young man, dressed up in a light suit. It was unbuttoned, showing off a vest and slim tie, and his hands were in his pockets. His right leg kicked over his left foot in pride, his white teeth exposed an excessive grin, and he leaned against a sign.
"What's the Academy of Amusing?" Jared asked.
"It's where your grandfather went to college," his dad said. He flipped back a couple of pages to a letter that was stuck inside the album. The cream paper was in almost perfect condition, minus the two creases from being folded and placed in an envelope. At the very top of the letter was an etching of nine different women, all dressed in Grecian robes, striking various poses. Typed across the etching were the words: The Academy of Amusing.
The letter started: "Dear Gregory. It is with great pleasure we extend an invitation to join our tremendous university. Within the walls of the Academy, great efforts are in constant execution to enhance and drive our future creators. We think you would be a great addition to the work we are doing here on campus..."
"But...Grandpa went to Harvard," Jared whispered, looking at the letter.
"Grandpa said he went to Harvard," Jared's dad said. "Where he really went was a school called The Academy of Amusing."
"I don't understand," Jared said. "Why would you all lie about where Grandpa went to school? If he was a lawyer."
"We never said he was a lawyer," his father said, smiling. This had to be a trick. If he were still alive, Jared would've gotten up right then and called his Grandfather. Right now he was stuck in disbelief.
"There was always talk about his work at a firm," Jared said. "Lawyers work at firms."
"Well, yes," Jared's dad said, "and we let you believe that because it was safer, for when you were younger."
"Then, if he wasn't a lawyer, what was he?"
Jared snorted. "A muse? What? He was a Greek god?"
"Not quite," his father said. "He was a muse for architects. It was his job to help feed their creativity. Without him, some of the most interesting buildings around the country wouldn't have been built."
"I don't understand," Jared said. "How do you muse someone?"
"I believe the correct term is amuse," his father said.
"Why did you all lie to me about all this?" Jared asked, opening his hands to the album.
"Because it was your grandfather's dying wish that you apply to the Academy like he did. You see, your grandfather had a strange ability, much like you, that allowed him to become a muse."
Strange ability? His weird dreams?
"But my dreams don't always come true," Jared said.
His father was well attuned to Jared's dreams, and Jared had always thought it strange how accepting his parents were about them, especially when they did come true to them or others around them.
"Not to you or us, but you still see the future -- you just see many other people's futures. People you haven't ever met, just like your grandfather."
Jared opened up to other pages in the photo album to see old pictures of his grandfather, sometimes with a cigarette or pipe, sitting with friends, around great fireplaces and outdoors, all the pictures looked like normal photos -- the type he'd always seen of his grandparents.
"But this all looks so normal," Jared said.
"It is normal."