You’ve been to the edge of childhood, haven’t you? It’s a few streets from home, at the corner of Saturn and The Milky Way, where the stars become trinkets and shower down in a haze. There is a great big tree there; it bears a million leaves each year. Today if you were to climb up a branch and shake it lightly, little pearls might rain down still.
Your bicycle could have well been your stallion, for you were known to use your sheets as capes. There is a plastic cricket stump in your attic that has seen the blood of many a dragon. What about the Math teacher who wanted you to add things in your head, and the midgets who wouldn’t let you? If you had the foresight then, you’d have fed the midgets to the dragons and done well in math too. Your first math lesson wasn’t even math. The kid next door held up two hands and began counting backwards on his fingers “ten, nine, eight, seven, six and add the five from the other hand and it makes eleven” he said and ruined your entire week.
Remember the trusting toad you put in a box and carried to school for your science project? You let him live after all, and it is a story the frogs will never forget. Your name signed all over the neighborhood with the talented direction-control of piss; you had named it and claimed it and owned it. Those bumbling neighbors who spoke of your mom slyly would have known better if they had cared to smell their walls. Summer nights spent sneaking into the smuggler’s house down the road to check if he was storing gold biscuits in the garage.
Some little kid was run over by a truck and you had to play carom for weeks, no one cycled in the streets, you sang movie songs in the night and when someone mentioned the kid’s name there was silence all around. You saw him once or twice after that, always waking up in the middle of the night and seeing the tree make scary shadows on the window pane. You had to try many times to blow off all the candles lined up on the cake that year, and your cousin said it was bad luck.
That year you also learnt that fathers sometimes leave and go away without even dying, that sometimes the lies people tell about your family have a way of coming true. Zeroes made their way into you report cards and somehow, inexplicably, at the same time teachers became friendlier. Dragons became scarcer; the shadows on the window became scarier. You punched a boy in the street because he said something about your parents. He got up and screamed something nastier, you rushed at him screaming and teeth barred. Tell me, when you went home that evening, were you consoled or punished? Tell me. You’ve been to the edge of childhood, haven’t you?