We write as children; we read as adults

You say it is to understand but you don’t understand and suspect you never will. You suspect you will never understand. There was a child once who said it: I want to be a writer. The child is the father of the man. So you write.

You remember that child scribbling stories and playing for hours alone in her bedroom. She plays with her dolls or her stuffed animals and they are her best friends in a kingdom that only they can access. You remember the boy who fought skeletons, dispatching them to the worlds out of which they broke into your own. You remember the comic books you drew and the barely disguised plagiarism of your science fictions world.

You remember being a small and insignificant thing lost in the world of those giants upon whom you depended. They knew things you did not and time seemed to pass for them in a way entirely alien to you. They were constricted and mutilated beings who loved you but couldn’t enter the worlds you lived inside.

They might say to you at the dinner table to speak only if you have something productive to say; they told you they didn’t have time for nonsense talk, being tired from this thing called work that they seemed to hold in equal measures of hatred and reverence. They listened to their friends, other giants who unnerved you with their threatening proximity, and told you that listen it really is time for bed now. You remember being vanquished to bedrooms and to children’s tables and to stultifying hours of lonely play.

You remember the ease and casualness with which they crushed you. That little girl only wanted to be talked to; the little boy to be heard. There was never time for it.

You are that frightened and abandoned child, somehow awakened to itself in the body of one of those giants, the sex organs aching and that prison house work now your most familiar escape. You still want to be heard. To be told you are a good little boy or a clever little girl.

So you write. And you hope to be read. It is a hope. A perversity. You hope the parents will speak to you at last about your inner world. All you want is for someone to say: what a clever little child you are.

And you have no interest in what they have to say beyond that.


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