Kid In America
I’m awake and think about the early influences in my life. My parents met when Dad was a University student. They married young. Big brother, Marky, was born in Scotland and, two years later, I was born in London. Not long afterwards, Dad landed a job in the USA, so we upped sticks across the water. First, we lived in New York State and then moved over to Massachusetts. Home was a town called Plainville and, in time, I went to kindergarten there. My recollections are hazy.
I had a basic introduction to gravity when I was about four. Playing in our front garden, I picked up a rock about thirty centimetres across and threw it in the air with both hands. I was wondering where it had gone when SMACK, it hit me on the head and I was face down on the ground with blood pouring from my head. A bunch of kids took me to Mum, who got a neighbour to drive me to hospital. I remember bleeding all over the leather seats and a blur of shouts and panic. At the hospital, medical staff pinned me down and stitched my head up. Afterwards, I kept on taking the gauze off my head until the hospital assigned an enormous, stern nurse to watch over me. The gauze stayed on and I was eventually discharged.
One hot day, in our back garden on Elizabeth Street, I looked at the woods where Marky and I went exploring and tree climbing. I walked inside and took my terrapin out of its tank. Placing it in a bowl of water, I brought the terrapin outside. I lay on the patio watching it in the heat. After a while, I went in for a drink of water but, when I came back outside, the terrapin wasn’t in the bowl. I followed the wet footprints until they stopped on the concrete. I looked around and there was no sign of my pet. As I stared, the remaining prints evaporated and I thought a bird probably got it. I sat on the ground, crossed my legs and felt really sad.
At the age of five, I decided to leave home and begin a new life. I went to the kitchen and made a peanut butter sandwich. I packed a bag with the sandwich and my favourite toy, a white polar bear. Clicking the front door shut, I walked to the end of our leafy road and turned left down West Street. Not many houses along there and it was quiet enough. Taking a right on Broadway, I walked for a long time. Eventually, I got to an intersection with the High Street. This was a busy road and there were lots of cars. I sat down and ate my sandwich. I was just too little to get over the road, so I stayed there in frustration. After a couple of hours or so, some neighbours turned up and bundled me into their car. I was delivered back to where I didn’t want to be.