Tales of Nostalgia: A Childhood Misspent

The fog came upon us in soft waves, mildly resembling sea foam on a shore.

We remained seated in the cold, dewy lawns of the resort’s grounds, with a tastefully built fire pit lending us warmth. An eventful three days had come to an end, and here we were, sharing our collective experiences amidst laughter and coffee being passed around.

The night had taken a turn for the melancholic, as silence prevailed until only one person was speaking at a time and the rest would animatedly, but silently hear their tale. I suppose in the silence lay the contemplative nature of human existence. While we had been lost in the moment, living every second of every minute wholeheartedly without paying mind to the world outside, we were now facing the reality of our own mortal flesh and the future.

However, where there is the talk of the future, the past is never left too far behind.

The fire illuminated their faces in the dark – and growing darker still – night. Friends; I never thought I’d feel the comfort of being surrounded by friends again, yet here I was. Says a lot about the way we presume our futures to be lonely after one little happenstance that we might not give importance to in say, two or three more years. We were a closely knit circle, quite literally in this sense.

“…so, when he brought home the black kitten, I was disappointed. I said, “Daddy, that’s too small to be a panther,” and in answer, he told me, “That’s because it’s not. Sorry, kiddo, but they ran all out of black panthers, so we’ll have to make do with this. Maybe, if you take extra care, it’ll grow as big as one.” I spent the next five years trying to grow the poor cat into a panther, carrying on that memory of my father and me bonding over the chunky creature our cat had become. Nyx was my first cat, and I don’t think I’ll ever forget the feeling of her fur against my chin.”

The monologue pulled me back into the fold. Meena was talking about her cat again. The story never changed, despite the times she reminisced about it with me. I didn’t know if that asserted its truthfulness, or a lie that had been perfected. I admonished myself quickly recalling how she’d shown me that picture with Nyx and her father.

Before breaking free of my own suspicious mind, the storytelling job was upon me. They’d all been sharing stories from their childhoods, and I was expected to follow the theme. An odd feeling settled over me, much like the fog that was coming down slower than before…was it envy? After a pregnant pause, I began to tell my tale.

“The only memory I have of my parents is seeing their names on my birth certificate,” glancing up quickly to gauge their reaction, I directed my gaze back to the fire pit before I could make sense of the emotions flitting across their dimly lit faces, “and it wasn’t a smart decision on my behalf.

Got me a hard spanking for cheating my way into that certain drawer, and let’s face it: I didn’t really want to know the people who hadn’t taken a chance to know me.

It was a time of being passed from relative to relative, all of whom remained tight-lipped about my birth parents. Later, I found out that the two hadn’t died in some remote accident no one seemed to care about. They had run off together with their second child, my sibling. I was born out of wedlock, an illegitimate child before they married each other,” if you could call me a child, “Never had much of a chance with those people, or a childhood. I feel as if I’ve always been alienated in the sense that I’ve never felt much like a child. Unable to act like those my own age, yet always considered inferior by the adults that so praised my quiet obedience despite the illegitimacy of my impure blood,” I had gone on a bitter rant again, but I wasn’t sure it was worth suppressing anymore, “It was an oddity, what you’d call childhood, I would call an era of hopelessness and no control over my life. I don’t miss being a kid.”

Once again, silence fell over us like the curtain of fog, the flames sputtering to their imminent death. Meena’s hand clutched my own, as a collective sigh was let out.

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