Empath's personal journal, June 22.
It is the day that the Smurfs are supposed to have their annual Summer Solstice beach party — a day to celebrate the longest day of the year, a day of warm sun and cool waters and good times all around. Unfortunately, Tracker had predicted that the day would turn out to be rainy — and this smurf isn't very proud to say that his prediction wasn't wrong, for it had been raining since the day before. From what Tracker could tell, the rain will be among us for quite some time.
This smurf remembers hearing how, on the same day about six years ago, Handy had come up with a solution to deal with the inclement weather. He had actually built a weather-smurfing machine, which with the pull of a lever could control the climate in the region of the Smurf forest. Every Smurf was so impressed by this machine, though Papa Smurf had to wonder whether it was wise to have a machine that put the power of nature in a Smurf's hand. This was later proved when two Smurfs, Poet and Farmer, started fiddling around with the machine, trying to make it either rain to make Farmer's crops flourish or sunny so that Poet could finish his latest ode, when the machine suddenly went out of control, producing abrupt random weather changes that made being in the forest unsafe for any creature. When a log rolling down the flooded Smurf river destroyed the bridge, Papa Smurf had to lead his little Smurfs around another route until they had reached the weather-smurfing machine. Taking Brainy's umbrella and a piece of string, Handy had fashioned himself a kite and flew it into the suddenly stormy sky, attaching the other end of the string to the machine itself. Lightning then struck the kite, sending electricity down the string into the machine itself, destroying it and bringing climate control back to normal. Handy and the other Smurfs later realized that the power of nature belongs only in the hands of nature itself.
This year, however, there is a new invention that makes it possible for every Smurf to enjoy a day at the beach on Summer Solstice without having any serious effect on the environment. The Imaginarium has been damaged only once, which was when it was first used, and since then Papa Smurf and Handy have made improvements on it, one of them being the introduction of buffer crystals that prevent any Smurf from entering more than one fantasy world at a time. With the Imaginarium back up and running, Papa Smurf announced that the annual Summer Solstice beach party will be held in there, where no Smurf ever has to worry about problems with the weather. Then again, no Smurf ever had to worry about things like getting sunburned in the Imaginarium, since the sun produced in a fantasy setting never burns hot enough to cause any kind of skin damage.
This smurf does worry, however, about Polaris Psyche, for ever since he had left Psychelia he has been having trouble trying to fit in with life here in the Smurf Village. This smurf is doing everything possible to make Polaris feel right at home, and yet Polaris finds himself spending more time alone than with his fellow Smurfs. Perhaps a pleasant setting like the beach might help Polaris "break the ice", as some Smurfs are fond of saying.
The day started off very wet and rainy in the Smurf Village. Every Smurf ran as quickly as possible to the meeting house, wearing their rain gear. Once they were safely inside, they waited as patiently as possible for Papa Smurf to show up.
When Papa Smurf showed up, every Smurf was expecting that he would make a speech or something to start off the celebration of the Summer Solstice. But Empath sensed that it wasn't going to be a very long introduction.
"My little Smurfs," he announced, "there is only one thing I have to smurf at the beginning of our annual Summer Solstice party — let the fun begin!"
And as he said that part, the entire room had instantly changed into the beach scene that every Smurf was familiar with, complete with exotic music filling the air.
Every Smurf knew that it was time to party. "Last Smurf in is a rotten Smurf," Hefty called out as he and a few dozen other Smurfs removed their raincoats to reveal their swimtrunks underneath, and raced with Hefty toward the water.
Greedy had brought the chestnuts out from storage along with his village-famous barbecue smurfberry sauce which he had prepared the night before. He was already on the grill getting the chestnuts basted and baked along with some ground-up mushrooms made into burger patties. He also ate one of the chestnuts while he cooked the others. "Now that's the way chestnuts are smurfed!" he said with his mouth full, feeling satisfied.
Empath saw Smurfette reveal her latest swimsuit as she removed her raincoat right along with Empath. "Don't you think this looks absolutely smurftabulous on me?" she asked.
Empath couldn't keep his eyes off Smurfette when he saw her with the swimsuit. "You look absolutely beautiful no matter what you're wearing, Smurfette," he commented.
"And I see you're smurfing one of Tailor's new swimsuits yourself, Empath," Smurfette noted, laughing just a little. "You sure don't smurf as modest as you used to!"
Empath knew that he was wearing swimshorts that had a tiger-stripe design on it and was a bit more streamlined in design than what Empath was used to wearing. To him it almost felt like he was wearing underwear.
"Yes, well," Empath replied, trying to regain as much dignity as possible even in the face of embarrassment, "this smurf decided it was time to try out something new."
"Hey, smurf this out," Snappy shouted to his Smurfling buddies as he looked at Empath, "Empath's going to be smurfing the wild Smurf thing with Smurfette over here!"
"Snappy!" Smurfette snapped at him, sounding shocked to hear that comment coming from his mouth.
"Hey, can I help it if Empath's got the better swimsmurf on?" Snappy laughed. "And you don't smurf so bad yourself, Smurfette. Just makes me wish I was 100 smurfs older!" With that thought, he joined Slouchy and Nat by the water's edge.
Smurfette sighed. "Now I wonder who's been smurfing those Smurflings about things they're too young to smurf about?" She looked suspiciously at Empath.
Empath looked like he was ready to plead innocent. "Well, as one of their teachers, this smurf tries to answer their questions about what the birds and the bees do...I mean, Nat already knows about what the birds and the bees do, so this smurf just tries to answer their questions about what Smurfs do."
"Uh-huh," Smurfette nodded, sounding like she's heard this many times before. "You sure seem like an ideal role model to those young Smurflings when you're wearing that swimsmurf on."
Empath felt like this was going to be the last time that he would ever wear those swim shorts in public. "Maybe this smurf would be better off in the forest swinging on vines and talking to the animals," he muttered under his breath as he turned away from her.
"And maybe this Smurf might take you up on that, Empath," Smurfette hinted, wrapping her hands around Empath's belly from behind and giggling, seeing him react to her touch. "I just might be interested in smurfing whatever's in your treehouse!"
"This smurf is sensing that you are getting somewhat naughty, Smurfette," Empath warned a bit playfully, wincing slightly as Smurfette lightly brushed a forefinger over his belly.
"My, my, aren't we so sensitive," Smurfette quipped, not letting go. "I never thought that a Smurf like you would even have a spot that tickles!"
"Am I interrupting something smurfing on here?" Papa Smurf chimed in as he carried Baby Smurf to the water's edge and then put him down with his pail and shovel. Smurfette immediately stood back and let go of Empath. "I see that you too are still smurfing at it again with each other — not that I wish to pry into other Smurfs' businesses, mind you. But it really seems that you've been smurfing a lot of time with each other lately."
"Oh, Papa Smurf, we're just being good friends here," Smurfette moaned. "Can't two Smurfs like us have a little fun together?"
"Well, Smurfette, as long as you don't let that fun smurf out of hand here," Papa Smurf told her, though not as if he was seriously reprimanding her. "And the same goes for you too, Empath."
“You’re not feeling jealous of us being together like this again, are you, Papa Smurf?” Empath asked, not really meaning what he said.
“Please don’t remind me of that, Empath,” Papa Smurf warned him, remembering that time he had turned into a lovesick musclebound giant who was after Smurfette. He decided to change the subject a bit. “Where’s your friend, Polaris Psyche? I thought he was so interested in smurfing out the life of a Smurf when he smurfed here.”
Empath realized that he hadn’t seen Polaris come into the Imaginarium at all when the beach party had started. He looked around the environment until he spotted him far from the crowd, looking as if he was meditating with some kind of floating orb in front of him.
“What’s he smurfing over there all by himself, Empath?” Smurfette asked.
Empath got a better look at the floating orb and saw pieces of a puzzle being placed and removed while the orb rotated this way and that. He knew what it was.
“It’s a Psychelisphere puzzle game, Smurfette,” he answered. “It is used as a mental training exercise to help us control our thoughts and feelings.”
“It looks like he’s trying to avoid his feelings rather than control them,” Papa Smurf observed. “Why don’t you go and ask him to join us, Empath? He may not be a Smurf, but I still don't like smurfing anyone being by themsmurfs on days like this.”
"This smurf will try inviting him to participate, Papa Smurf," Empath replied, "though he may not be willing to accept it." With that, he left Smurfette and Papa Smurf talking with each other and made his way through the crowd until he reached the spot where Polaris was sitting, underneath a mushroom-shaped umbrella.
"Salutations, fellow Polaris," Empath greeted pleasantly.
Polaris heard the greeting and looked away from his Psychelisphere puzzle game only for a second to see who it was. "Salutations, fellow Empath," he responded as he turned his attention back to the game.
"It's good to see you wish to participate in the Summer Solstice celebration, Polaris," Empath commented, unfazed by the fact that his friend hadn't noticed his choice of swimwear. "However, the way you wished to participate in the event is raising some concern with some of your fellow Smurfs as well as Papa Smurf."
"This one was under the impression that the Smurf community is more open about letting anyone do whatever it is they feel like here," Polaris remarked, sounding like he didn't wish to be questioned about his choice of activity. "Grouchy and a few other Smurfs keep to themselves a good deal of the time, and no other Smurf bothers them about it."
"We are an open community, Polaris, but we are still a community, and as a community we try to share our company with each other as much as we can. Even Grouchy here doesn't like being by himself all the time."
"It's how your fellow Smurfs share their company that concerns this one, Empath," Polaris noted. "For years this one has tried to understand your people's need to live in a state of constant half-dress, but this one still feels uncomfortable being around your fellow Smurfs interacting with each other this way." Empath noticed that Polaris was starting to scratch his chest, as if what he was wearing was already starting to irritate him. This one feels like this one is already transforming into a savage being, with this hair growing everywhere besides on my head, Polaris told Empath through telepathy. It is a very embarrassing development that this one does not wish to display to anyone else.
Empath sounded only a little surprised to hear that, since he had pretty much seen his share of rather unusual and embarrassing transformations with his fellow Smurfs. At one time Empath felt pretty embarrassed when his belly started to bulge out a bit more than the average Psyche's, only to realize that it was the natural part of a young Smurfling growing into a young adult Smurf. But he had never heard of a Psyche undergoing something like this. Apparently, Polaris was not used to dealing with something like slight physical changes.
If this is embarrassing you so much, Polaris, then why don't you ask Papa Smurf to help you control this…problem? Empath asked, also using telepathy.
This one would rather much leave Papa Smurf out of a problem this one would rather not display for his curiosity, Polaris insisted. The thought of him even touching this one is beyond this one's ability to tolerate.
"Polaris," Empath groaned out loud, feeling like everything he ever told his friend about the Smurf Village had never really been listened to, "you've got to stop thinking of the Smurfs as being a primitive group of perverted savage primates. Nobody here is going to do anything to hurt you in any way. Part of being a Smurf is trusting each other enough to know that they can never touch you the wrong way. Put all that serious Psychelian stuff and this…problem behind you and just have fun."
"Just like that…simply have fun?" Polaris asked, disbelieving.
"Exactly, Polaris. Show them how to play the Psychelisphere, if that's what interests you. This smurf is certain that Brainy here would love to play a challenging game like that. But at the very least, just interact with someone here."
"This one doubts that Brainy even comprehends the concept of total silence half the time, Empath," Polaris observed. "And this one still does not feel comfortable enough to even ask for his company yet." With that, Polaris suddenly turned himself and his Psychelisphere away from Empath and the scene at the beachfront.
Empath sighed. Sometimes it felt like his friend was too much of a Psyche to really put any effort into overcoming his worst fears about being around "savage beings" like Smurfs.
He rejoined Papa Smurf and Smurfette by the water's edge. "Apparently, Polaris feels too uncomfortable being around any Smurf to even ask for company," he reported.
"Oh, dear," Smurfette sighed, feeling her heart going out to him. "Maybe I should smurf a talk with him to see if he would rather have a female Smurf to be with him for the day."
"This smurf is not certain that would be a good idea, Smurfette," Empath warned.
"I would have to agree with Empath," Papa Smurf added. "Polaris must find it in himsmurf that he can trust us well enough to have any Smurf besides Empath accompanying him."
Polaris Psyche focused all his attention on the Psychelisphere puzzle game, lining up colors with symbols carefully to remove each individual layer and hopefully reach the core of the puzzle's orb. So far he had penetrated through a hundred layers with ease, but there were still 899 layers left, and each one presented a new level of difficulty as he progressed further into the game.
Soon he found himself scratching his chest again, feeling how itchy his body was becoming. He had never experienced anything like this before. Was this something the Psyche Master had cursed every Psyche with if they ever were exiled from Psychelia — to be physically turned into the very savage beings that they had scorned? At this point, he wished he was anywhere other than here in the Imaginarium, where he could suffer this problem without any onlookers.
"You look like you're not having a very good time in here, are you?" a friendly female voice spoke out, breaking the silence.
Polaris turned his attention toward what appeared to be a friendly female humanoid being with the same pale skin tone who just happened to walk up toward him. She had a very slender figure with slight curved features and a pleasant face framed with light brown hair.
"Who are you?" Polaris asked. "And how did you get inside the Imaginarium?"
"My name is Elatia," the female answered, "and I've been here the whole time since this little get-together with your blue friends started."
"You mean…that some Smurf created you from his imagination?" Polaris guessed.
"No, I mean that I have been here the whole time," Elatia insisted, breaking off into laughter afterward. "I'm sorry…I suppose you want to continue playing your game by yourself, then."
Polaris somehow felt he didn't want Elatia, whoever she was or wherever she came from, to leave him yet. "Please entertain this one's company if you wish, Elatia," he offered.
Elatia sat cross-legged style across from Polaris. Her eyes were on the rotating orb with the many kinds of interlocking pieces that constantly shifted and changed color. "That is the most fascinating game I have ever seen anyone play," she commented. "What do they call this game?"
"It is called a Pyschelisphere puzzle, and it is more of a meditational exercise than it is a game," Polaris answered. "The object is to find all the matching pieces on each layer of the Psychelisphere and match them up to remove them. The trick is to sort out all the different colors and symbols by switching them around until they join with each other. There are a total of 999 layers within a Psychelisphere puzzle, and when all the pieces of a single layer have been removed, the next layer underneath is revealed and the puzzle becomes slightly more challenging."
"What happens when you complete all 999 layers?" Elatia asked, curious about the game.
"Nothing that this one knows as any form of reward happens," Polaris answered. "However, a Psyche doesn't reach too far into this puzzle to make it an initiative to find out. As this one said earlier, it is a meditational exercise." He then realized that the entire time he was talking to Elatia, he had not even introduced himself. "This one's name is…!"
"I know who you are," Elatia interrupted, as if she was reading the very thought he had in mind. "You are Polaris Psyche, the one who calls Empath Smurf your friend."
"You know about Empath Smurf?" Polaris asked, caught off guard by her unexpected perceptiveness.
"I know about every Smurf who comes into the Imaginarium, Polaris," Elatia replied. "But I know you are not like any of them. You're very…private about how you share your feelings with anybody. You're not angry like Grouchy is, you're just…very controlled."
"That's how Psyches should act, Elatia," Polaris explained. "Psyches are trained at a very early age to suppress all emotions that we feel, and we are not given any knowledge as to what emotions are, except that it is forbidden for us to express them in any manner. Psyches have lived like that for generations in Psychelia, which is where this one came from."
"You must been…comfortable living like that back in Psychelia," Elatia guessed.
"This one was, for a time," Polaris responded. "However, Empath had shown this one how his people, the Smurfs, learn how to express emotions without hurting anyone, even though mistakes can happen." He looked toward Empath playing around with Smurfette in the water. "Empath had also learned how to not be afraid of his own physical appearance…a behavior that this one still does not feel comfortable with."
"I don't see anything wrong with how the Smurfs present themselves, Polaris," Elatia commented. "They seem to enjoy displaying themselves as who they are, while you on the other hand wish to keep your own body out of sight from everybody. I understand how you must feel, trying to live with such a proud group of people day in and day out, unsure of what to do."
"You seem very empathetic to this one's situation, Elatia," Polaris stated.
Elatia smiled. "I'll take that as a compliment! Although I would still wish to learn how to play your Psychelisphere puzzle game, if you would allow a demonstration."
Polaris felt comfortable enough in Elatia's presence to consider showing her.