The argument wasn't loud as such - nobody shouted. It was intense, though, and the pure anger in the air must have been what had woken Andy. He lay still, thinking that he should turn around and go back to sleep, but curiousness won. He got up and, careful not to make a noise, opened the door a fraction. The voices were still barely audible, so he crept along the hall towards the living room. As he passed by a window, Andy could see his grandparent's vehicle outside, the one of his father's parents, not his mother's. He made a face - they were not very nice, but at least he now knew who had caused the argument.
Few steps away from the half-closed living room door he stopped to listen to the voice of his grandmother Claire, high and sharp.
"This nonsense was abandoned with good reason. It's not even in the history books! And you let your son come in contact with it! I can't believe you let him talk to this, this..."
"Enough!" That was his mother. "'This, this...' just happens to be my grandfather, and I will not tolerate your scolding him! Andy had every right to see him before he passes away, he loves him!"
"But he will not be around to live with the consequences," replied Andy's grandfather. His voice always was deep and calm, that's what made it so scary sometimes. "My grandson shall never be told about religion, I thought we agreed on that."
His mother sniffed. "You did, yes."
"Now, dear," said his father. "The government banned religion from the public and from education. We shouldn't make exceptions."
"Fine. I know when I'm outnumbered."
Andy hurried into the kitchen just in time before his mother left the living room and locked herself in the bedroom.
When he had safely returned to his bed, only one question occupied his mind: What's religion?
The answer came a few days later, due to a lucky coincidence.
Both his parents had to work late, and since his mother was still angry with his father's parents, his grandma Elisabet came to keep an eye on him. She was Dan's daughter and a lot nicer than grandmother Claire.
During dinner, Andy asked about Dan and was told that he was getting worse.
"So he will see Lucy again soon?" he asked innocently.
Elisabet smiled at him. "Don't you try playing me, boy, your parents told me what happened when you visited father a few days ago. I have been warned."
Andy sighed. "Why does nobody want to tell me what this is all about?"
"Because it was decided for you, by the government, that you shouldn't know." Elisabet took his hand when she saw his expression. "Personally, I think it's nonsense, and I know your mother agrees. Still, you have to promise me that you'll tell nobody about this, OK?"
With a triumphant grin, he promised.
"When I was your age, the world population was split into different groups, believing in different gods."
"What's a god, grandma?"
"A supernatural entity which is said to have created the world."
"But, I know all about the big bang! There were never any gods mentioned."
Smiling, his grandmother shook her head. "No, dear, the belief in gods started before we knew about the big bang, or about science for that matter. Religion, the traditions around the belief in one or more gods, was something people invented to cope with the things they couldn't understand, like where the world came from, or thunderstorms, or even the seasons. That was a long, long time ago."
"And now we know better!"
"Exactly. But even so, people would wage wars on one another because of their different believes. That's why, before you were born, the government banned all religions. We don't need them any more, they say, and they bring only pain, so we're better off without them."
"But Dan grew up with religion?"
"Yes. He believes that there is a God, and that when he dies he will go to heaven, God's kingdom, and live there forever with his beloved Lucy."
"When I die, will I go there, too? Even if I'm not allowed to believe in a god?" Andy was suddenly filled with hope. Maybe you didn't loose people you loved forever, after all. Maybe death wasn't the end his teachers said it was.
"God's kingdom is open to everyone, even people who travel without a ticket," said his grandmother, giving his hand a squeeze. "If heaven exists and all people go there, you can be sure that Dan will be waiting for you when your time comes."