Empath entered the Imaginarium and noticed that the crystals were fully charged, indicating that somebody was using it. “Please take me to where Papa Smurf is,” he requested.
“Access to that particular environment has been restricted,” a voice responded.
Empath had a feeling that Papa Smurf activated the privacy feature for some reason. “Override privacy feature, authorization Empath, one-one-three-seven-k,” he commanded, eager to find out where Papa Smurf is.
“Privacy feature override engaged,” the voice reported. Soon the view of the Imaginarium room changed to that of the Smurf Village on a winter’s night, similar to how it appeared outside the meeting room. All the houses in this environment were dark except for one in the southeast corner of the village. Empath sensed that that house would be the one in which Papa Smurf was in – and he wasn’t alone in that house, either, though he couldn’t tell who was in the house with him. He decided to head in that direction to find out.
As Empath made his way through the Imaginarium-created Smurf Village of Papa Smurf’s fantasy, he accidentally ran into some Smurf that was carrying a lantern while turning a corner, knocking each other to the ground.
“Are you all right, fellow Smurf?” the other Smurf asked as he and Empath picked themselves up. “You smurf to be in a hurry smurfing somewhere in the middle of the night.”
“This smurf is functioning normally,” Empath replied, shaking himself off, partly unaware that the voice of the Smurf speaking to him was rather identical to his own.
“You know, you should really be careful to smurf where you’re smurfing,” the other Smurf chided, holding up his lantern to see who it was he ran into. “There’s no smurfing who you might…smurf into…”
It was then Empath saw who it was that he himself ran into – and was stunned by what he saw. Other than wearing just a white hat and pants, the Smurf bore a yellow star mark on his forehead, and had certain facial features that Empath had recognized as his own. Empath then realized that he ran into himself – or rather, a version of himself created from Papa Smurf’s own imagination. “Great Ancestors…who are you?” he asked.
“I’m Empathy Smurf, the village sentinel,” the other Smurf who looked like Empath answered, also looking like he was seeing an altered reflection of himself in a mirror. “Have I smurfed you from somewhere before?”
Empath wasn’t sure how to respond to an Imaginarium version of himself, but he wasn’t going to waste his time trying to reason with a creation. “Remove Empathy Smurf character from this scenario,” he told the Imaginarium.
“Access to characters in this environment have been restricted,” the same voice from the meeting house warned Empath.
“I can smurf you must have important smurfness to smurf with my Papa Smurf,” Empathy stated, as if he was actually reading Empath’s thoughts. “He’s rather busy with smurfthing important of his own tonight, and doesn’t wish to be dissmurfed. You should smurf back here tomorrow morning.”
“This smurf’s village has immediate need of his presence, Empathy,” Empath tried to tell his Imaginarium self. “It is imperative that this smurf contacts him right now or else everything in that village will be in great danger.”
Empathy looked at Empath as if he was determining the truthfulness of the visitor’s claim. “I will smurf what I can do for you, my friend,” he responded. “Smurf here until I smurf him forth to you.” He started to head in the direction of the lighted house in the Imaginarium village.
“This smurf would rather join you and bring the message to him myself,” Empath stated as he tried to follow Empathy toward where he was going.
“I am smurfectly capable of smurfing my job,” Empathy objected. “My Papa Smurf wouldn’t want you to smurf him as he is at this smurf of night without enough time to prepare himsmurf.”
“This smurf isn’t concerned about his appearance, Empathy,” Empath persisted. “This smurf just wants to deliver the message to him personally and to make sure he knows its importance.”
Empathy sighed. It seemed to Empath that his Imaginarium self as the village sentinel named Empathy was personally created by Papa Smurf to help hide something that he didn’t even want his own son to know about. That made it all the more important for Empath to figure out what Papa Smurf was and had been doing in the Imaginarium for the past several nights. He let Empathy lead the way to where Papa Smurf was.
Meanwhile, in the lighted house of the Imaginarium village, Papa Smurf was lying on a furry rug with a female Smurf with short brown hair that resembled his late wife Lillithina, looking at each other while lying next to a warm fire in the fireplace, sipping glasses of smurfberry wine and enjoying each other’s company. Papa Smurf’s beard noticeably had turned brown to match the youthful look of his wife in this Imaginarium setting he had created for himself. Instead of physically dyeing his hair brown like he did some years ago when Flowerbell the woodnymph visited the village and became the love of his life for the brief time she was there, Papa Smurf used a feature of the Imaginarium that altered his physical appearance, making his white beard appear brown within this particular setting. Though the both of them were rather dressed down to very light night clothes, neither of them felt cold by the surrounding environment.
“Another year is passing by, and another year is smurfing upon us, my sweet Lilly,” Papa Smurf told the Imaginarium-created version of his wife. “Do you ever regret one moment of being married to me?”
“Never, my dear Cully,” Lillithina responded sincerely, touching her husband’s face. “Every day smurfing with you by my side has always been the greatest thing in my life. I don’t know what I ever smurfed to deserve such a wonderful Smurf like you, one with such a caring heart behind such a whiskery face like yours.”
“I don’t know what I would smurf if I ever have to smurf my life without you, Lilly,” Papa Smurf declared sincerely, gently caressing her. “The thought of ever having to lose you is one I don’t want to think about.”
“You would carry me in your heart, just as you always have smurfed,” Lillithina reminded her husband, placing her finger on his lips to try keeping him from talking too much about it. “That’s where I will always live, even when you’re the only Smurf left in the village. You know that’s where I will always love you.”
Papa Smurf never felt happier being with his wife – or at least a replica of his wife created by his imagination – like this one more time, the way he used to be with her even before Empath came into his life. He closed his eyes and leaned his face closer to Lillithina’s to kiss her when he heard knocking on the door.
“Papa Smurf! Papa Smurf!” the voice of his son – the Imaginarium-created version of him – cried out.
Papa Smurf felt instantly annoyed at this interruption. “Empathy, I thought I wanted to not be dissmurfed by anything until morning,” he shouted back to the person at the door.
“I’m sorry, Papa Smurf, but there’s a visitor who says there’s smurfthing urgent in his village that smurfs your immediate attention,” Empathy explained.
A visitor? Papa Smurf thought. He realized that the real version of his son, Empath, must have overridden the privacy feature of this particular fantasy setting he created. He then turned to the Imaginarium version of his wife and touched her face. "Please stay where you are, and I will be right back after I smurf with our 'visitor'," he said.
"I'll wait right here for you, my dear," she said, smiling back at him as she continued to lay there on the rug and watched the fire burn on while Papa Smurf covered himself in a bathrobe and went to answer the door.
Surely enough, as Papa Smurf opened the door, he saw both versions of his son – the Imaginarium-created version, and the real version, who was surprised to see Papa Smurf appear as he was in a setting that was rather intimate. "Papa Smurf, this one insists that he wants to smurf with you right away," the Imaginarium version of Empath said.
"Thank you, Empathy, I'll smurf it from here," Papa Smurf said. He waited until the Imaginarium version of Empath had left the location before he spoke. “Is there really an emergency smurfing on in the village tonight, Empath?” he asked insistently, not enjoying having his real son intrude upon something he would rather keep private.
“As a matter of fact, Papa Smurf, there is,” Empath answered. “Smurfette came to this smurf wondering where you were at this moment, because Baby Smurf is having trouble falling asleep again, and Baby refuses to go back to sleep unless you were there to help him go back to sleep. This smurf just didn’t expect you to be spending your nights inside the Imaginarium recreating your relationship with this smurf’s Mama Smurf. Are you really starting to feel the need for such companionship again?”
“That really isn’t any of your smurfness, Empath,” Papa Smurf shot back, a bit agitated.
Just then, Lillithina joined him at the door. "Cully, who is this Smurf who's visiting us at this hour?" she asked. "He looks very familiar, like the smurfing image of our own dear son."
“Remove all characters in here,” Papa Smurf commanded rather tersely, "and resmurf my original appearance". Immediately, both Empathy and Lillithina vanished from the setting, leaving just Empath and Papa Smurf standing there outside his Imaginarium-created house. Papa Smurf’s beard color also changed back to white, and his bathrobe and slippers were replaced with his normal red pants and a beige turtleneck sweater.
“It’s not this smurf’s intention to purposely intrude upon your private matters, Papa Smurf,” Empath said, not wishing to get into an argument with his father. “But all this spending your nights here reliving something from the past with a fantasy version of your wife just isn’t a healthy pastime for you. You’ve got a much bigger family to take care of who all think of you as their Papa Smurf, and they need you to be there for them right now, not hiding away in yesterday.”
“You don’t know how much it hurts smurfing that father figure when you’re the only one of that generation who’s still smurfing, Empath,” Papa Smurf responded, finding himself breaking into tears. “Sometimes it feels like I would smurf anything to have that one more moment with my sweet Lillithina, if it could even smurf away the pain of being the sole parent of a hundred young Smurfs. I know it’s smurfthing that nature can’t smurf me back, but at least here I could imagine that Lillithina is still smurfing and loving me with all her heart.”
Empath sighed, putting his hand on Papa Smurf’s shoulder to show his empathy. “This smurf wishes to have known my Mama Smurf as well, Papa Smurf. Sometimes this smurf wishes that she was still living and that she herself could tell this smurf how much she loves me and all, despite how this smurf has turned out. But it’s not something that this smurf could ever make happen, not even if this smurf could generate a hundred versions of her in the Imaginarium just for the sake of her doing that.”
Papa Smurf nodded, seeming to agree with Empath on that. “Let’s see if we can help smurf Baby Smurf back to sleep, Empath,” he stated as he regained control of his emotions.
Instantly the Imaginarium village vanished, bringing both of them back to reality.
Soon Papa Smurf was in Smurfette’s house, walking around holding Baby Smurf in his arms, singing a lullaby to him and watching as the infant Smurf slowly closed his eyes and drifted off to sleep before gently placing him inside the crib that was set up in her house. Empath was also present.
“There,” Papa Smurf said, smiling. “I don’t think he will smurf you anymore trouble tonight, Smurfette.”
“Thanks, Papa Smurf,” Smurfette said, letting out a sigh of relief. “I just wish he would grow out of smurfing so dependent on you to smurf him back to sleep.”
“That will happen in good time, Smurfette,” Papa Smurf responded. “Baby Smurfs do need to know that there will be someone who is always there to smurf for their needs. I’m sorry I wasn’t there at my house to answer your smurf for help. I’ve been smurfing most of my nights in the Imaginarium with smurfthing…personal.”
“I won’t ask you what you’ve been smurfing, Papa Smurf,” Smurfette promised, noting that she could smell a hint of perfume coming from Papa Smurf. “I’ll smurf you and Empath tomorrow morning.”
“This smurf will make certain of that, Smurfette,” Empath stated as he and Papa Smurf headed out the door.
As they walked away from Smurfette’s house, Empath sensed that Papa Smurf’s thoughts were on Baby Smurf. Then before Empath could even ask about those thoughts, Papa Smurf began to speak. “You know, Empath, every time I smurf at Baby Smurf, smurfing him in my arms, smurfing him baths, smurfing him how to speak, playing with him and all, it feels like I’m smurfing out a part of my life that I never smurfed the chance to smurf with you when you were a baby Smurf. Granted, Baby Smurf may not have the same kind of powers that you smurf, but there’s just smurfthing about him that just smurfs me back to those yesteryears when it was just you, me, and Lillithina as a family. I just hope that I don’t smurf the same kind of mistake with him that I had smurfed with you around his age.”
“This smurf knows you care about Baby Smurf enough to keep yourself from repeating that mistake, Papa Smurf,” Empath reassured him. “His own parents would have been proud to know that he at least has a Papa Smurf that will make sure he grows in the Smurf Village into an excellent adult Smurf, just as you have done so for all this smurf’s fellow Smurfs, and just as you will also do for the Smurflings.”
“If that’s all I will ever hope to achieve, Empath, then I'll be a happy Smurf in the end when all is smurfed and done,” Papa Smurf remarked, finding himself yawning. “Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to smurf off to sleep.”
“Papa Smurf, maybe you should take a break from engaging in this private fantasy of yours in the Imaginarium, so you can spend some time with your real family in the real world,” Empath suggested.
Papa Smurf sighed, realizing that Empath may be right. “Maybe tonight I should be smurfing in my own real bed, Empath,” he muttered, not liking the suggestion but knowing it was for his own good.
Empath escorted Papa Smurf back to his father’s house and watched him head upstairs to his bedroom before returning back home to his own. Before Empath left, he saw a single teardrop fall from the village leader’s closed eyes as he drifted off to sleep. He could feel the weight of Papa Smurf’s loneliness because none of his fellow Smurfs, including his wife Lillithina, were still living. He hoped that in time his father's connecting himself again with the family he now has in the Smurf Village at present will make a good deal of that loneliness go away.