When you were a child, you used to keep snails in your pockets. You wanted to give them warm safe houses. Often, they’d end up crushed - an accident of course, you were never one to hurt - lying broken in the dark hole of some one’s jeans.
You cried when you saw them, couldn’t understand why they were broken.
Together, we buried each and every one of them. Tiny graves for tiny friends. A daisy lay at each head of the grave, a reminder of life.
When you were a child, you used to lick your ice lolly so that the sweet stickiness dribbled down to your chin. You were like a dog lapping up the last savored drops of water in the cool, metal bowl. Sticky chins. Sticky fingers. You didn’t care.
When I was a child, I’d watch you play, take in your every game of spinning dragonflies and rebellious princes. I’d sit in the shadows and let you live the life of a child when I was secretly an adult in a child’s body. How I longed to play with you. Longed to play any game at all. But I liked to watch, imagine that I could do those things too.
That’s what you taught me, that life without a childhood, isn’t any kind of life at all.