When I was Nine…

[This is the earliest piece of my own writing I have on record. I think it was first written at age 10, but has since been edited by my early teenage self.]

My early childhood was like a dream. When I was nine, I drowned a bumblebee with a watering can. I remember it vividly. It’s one of the few things I remember from my early days. They say that harming animals and insects is the first sign of a serial killer. Fools, I say. Serial killers don’t usually tend to be frequent gardeners. I remember that insect more than anyone or anything else that has touched my life. I remember very little about my mother. I just barely remember my brother Jake. Jake and I didn’t always get along. Not just because we were siblings but because we were completely different people. We might as well been from different planets. There was only two years between us but the two year head start I had must have been comparable to a decades.

We never really played together and we didn’t see each other much while he was in reception and year one. We hardly ever spoke outside of the house in fact, and even if we did it was only about something that affected us both.

“What’s for tea?”

“How’s your day been?”

You know general small talk like that.

I used to be quite good at all the small talk business. My Dad still says that if I was the same young lad I was at 7 I’d have been a prime minister or a lawyer, something more highly regarded than my position now.

People always give a lot of stick to older siblings. They always tell you that you should look after them and teach them and they blame you if they’ve done something wrong. After the accident, people only ever told me it wasn’t my fault; that I shouldn’t blame myself. Even though I never thought it was, they just told me over and over and over again that there was nothing I could do. If anything that made me feel worse about it. What they were basically saying, whether they meant it in this way or not, was that no matter who you were, who you are or who you will ever be, you are to powerless to bring them back, or to have saved them in any way.

It was Mid July when it had happened. It was an odd day from the off. It rained between the early hours of 6 and 8 and then continued on in natural July fashion. A Cockerel crowed at 2pm. There was no traffic on the M1. Then it came the time of Wednesday afternoon’s weekly shop. I wasn’t feeling well that day (because I had eaten 4 Mars bars and 6 packets of Pombears for lunch) so I stayed home with my Uncle Douglas, who was staying with us at the time.

My Uncle Douglas was also very odd. He had perfectly white teeth except for his front two, which he did not have at all. He smoked a pipe on weeknights and drank whiskey every Sunday morning. He was quiet too. Thinking back, I don’t actually think I ever heard him speak. Nevertheless, some say that he was never the same after his wife and son died in a car crash 5 years before this recalled time. They said he had ‘gone mute’. At the time I had never understood the term. I first thought it was an insult. I thought it was a similar sort of insult as a couch potato. It was like they were saying: “he watched so much tele that it was like he had put the rest of the world on mute.” Looking back that was fairly silly of me. Of course now I am far more familiar with the term.

All strange Uncles and furniture vegetables aside, I had been left in the house with him. I didn’t see him for the duration that we were alone in the house, as I was in bed beside a sick bowl and a cup of water, but I knew he never left the house. I could smell him. He always smelt like Quavers and spearmint gum. I never found out which he would eat first, but due to his strange habits I can only assume he would chose the more unconventional order to dine on such things.

My father was late getting home that day. Usually he would go shopping too but he was oddly late home from his work. He was very strangely behind. You must understand that my father was always the most organised of men, and yet he was late. By the time he had returned home, my mother and brother were long gone. They had been plotting out a shopping list for the hour prior to their leaving. I had reminded them to get some Fruit Winders as they always forgot them for our lunch boxes regardless of whether we were midterm or not. My mother had added them to the very top of the list. That’s what I remember most about her. I don’t remember much about her character, so that was what I had most in the world to go on. She had promised me that she would make my wants her first priority and that showed me that she must have been a loving mother. What tore that belief from me was that she forgot them, but I won’t hold that against her.

By the time my father, my uncle Douglas and I reached the accident scene, they had already taken the bodies away. The shopping was scattered across the floor like shrapnel alongside the debris of my mother’s Peugeot and Mr Clarkson’s Toyota. I never saw my mother again after that promise she had made to me, nor my brother. They had been taken away from the world faster than it took me to identify my Uncle’s smell from upstairs.

People said I took after my Uncle. I didn’t know whether they meant that I was smelly or that I chose a very strange diet. He is now behind bars, my Uncle. It turns out that he had caused his wife and sons death, according to the English legal system. They say it was his guilt that drove him mute.

Given the hopelessness of my mother and brother’s death, and the constant reminder to the fact that there was nothing I could do, I suppose it is only natural that I should feel bad for them. It wasn’t my fault like it was my Uncle’s, but that doesn’t mean that I can’t feel guilty about it. My guilt shows that I couldn’t be a serial killer or anything of the sort. It takes too much humanity to sympathise and to feel sorrow. My father didn’t seem immediately sad at the time. Upon every anniversary of that day he would remind me of my mother’s name prior to their marriage, Hope Destiny. Its fucking stupid I know but my Grandparents were really very soppy, and blessed with the opportune surname.

When I was nine, I drowned a bumblebee with a watering can. I guess I did it because I could. I guess I did it because there was something I could do to save it, I just chose not to. I guess helplessness leads to a hunger and thirst for power. I wonder if it even knew what was happening before it was too late.


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