Childhood Bliss

Childhood Bliss

A long time ago, I wrote the prologue for what I hope will one day be Rose’s story. I really liked the concept at the time so I’ve kept it squirreled away on my hard drive. You may have noticed that a little while back I went digging and found a bunch of old writing. I still really like the concept of the prologue, but the writing was rough. Terribly rough. So I cleaned it up a bit. This would probably need more work to actually start off a novel, but I like the spit-polished version enough to share.
. . .

I remember much of my childhood. There are times I am certain, if I could return to any period of my life, it would be to those carefree, sun-filled days. I have other nostalgias, of course. Times of romance. Even moments of solitude that I recall with fondness. Still, it is the blissful ignorance of youth I long for most.

I am not an old woman, even among humans – who age at twice the rate of my kind. In many ways, I still retain my youthful vitality, regenerating energy in the same limitless fashion all young women do. But I no longer feel young. Youth, you see, is an idea, a feeling, an experience. In our older years, reaching back across the ages, we can access only faded memories, dull echoes of what it is like to be a child. The essence is lost long before we understand what it means. Mine was stolen sooner than most.

Children see the beauty that resides in all things and purity adds intensity to their experiences. The warmth of the sun on their faces, the soft squish of grass beneath their feet, the cheerful babble of running water. The endless joy of singing, dancing and spinning about with your arms spread wide until gravity, or nausea, drives you from your feet. To lie beneath the sky for hours, staring at the clouds as they drift by, wondering what sort of creatures might reside there. Scraping your knee every summer as you scale the highest branches of the tallest tree. Catching fireflies between your fingers because you think they may just be stars, floating in the lazy spring breeze.

By the time we understand what it means to splash in mud puddles while walking home from market, to chase butterflies across the garden, or weave wreaths from the first flowers to bloom in the spring, we have lost that sweet innocence. As we grow, we forget the sweet surprise of discovering something new. We become hopelessly entangled in pointless matters until they become the very center of our universe. Will he dance with me if I ask? Who is that twirling about the floor with him instead of me? What dress should I wear? Which war do I fight? And how much will it cost me to avoid the bloodshed? Whose side do I take in the current conflict? And how will it haunt me later?

As our picture of the world grows wider, and our understanding deeper, we lose those first, oh so important flavors of life. By the time we realize what we have lost, it’s far too late to get it back. Many a day can be spent staring at the rain as it runs in miniature rivers down the window panes, grasping at the faded remains of how we spent rainy days in our youth, but we can no more feel that divine bliss than we could understand it when we first experienced it.

It is, perhaps, for that very reason I wish to return to that short period of my life when the only things which mattered were the endless hours spent at play between rising from sweet dreams and descending back into them. Though, admittedly, there are more selfish reasons to long for that period of my life than the poetic dream of rediscovering pure, undiminished joy. I can no longer remember a time when my head did not lay heavy upon the pillow each night, troubled by the burdens of the day, dreading the worries of the morrow and wishing all these troubles would find other shoulders on which to settle. If I could pass but one day without having to make a decision which affects thousands of lives, I would breathe my first breath of relief in many years.

There are no soft places anymore. Every bed and cushion meant to easy my weariness feels hard as mountain rocks. All the heat has faded from the sun; though it brings light each morning, it no longer warms me. I am cold and tired. When I sleep it is restless. My dreams haunt me even after I wake. Though my body does not ache, my heart and soul do. It is a physical pain, beyond reason and understanding, that I cannot put into words. These are sad realities I try to hide from every day. I am not so noble as I may seem. I would run, I would hide, if I could.

I speak as though I am devoid of the ability to feel joy. I shouldn’t allow myself to paint such an ugly picture. I have experienced joy many times. For every horror and sadness I have endured, there are a dozen moments of joy blazing like the sun’s rays at midsummer to pierce the darkness. Mine has not been a simple life, nor an easy life, but it has been worthwhile. At least, I should like to think it has been. Though I cannot recapture the pure bliss of my childhood, there are any number of memories I can summon at a moment’s notice and retrace with crystal clarity. In this way, I find my escape.

Memories are powerful things. The memories we leave behind become our legacy. But it is rare for those memories to be our own. The remembrances carried by others determine what the future thinks of us. Perhaps that is why I write these thoughts down. Someday – perhaps sooner rather than later, for I may never know what it means to truly grow old – I will pass out of this world and the events of my life will be recounted for future generations. I don’t dare hope I will pass into obscurity. It is unlikely the events of my past will soon be forgotten. So I must record my own memories, my own thoughts and feelings about what has transpired, so they may serve as a record when I am gone.

Perhaps it is arrogant and vain to attempt to lay out one’s legacy. But even if the future is for others to decide, there are things I cannot leave to chance. Those who have survived these events will no doubt have their own versions to record. I do not assume my account will be widely regarded as truth. But there are secrets that must be told if anyone is ever to understand the things I have done.

My only regret is taking up the pen so late, so close to the end of the tale. I can only hope I will be able to recall those earliest of days; for the beginning of my tale is as important as the middle and the end. An ending which has not yet been written.

Ironically, the beginning  has yet to be fixed in written form either, but I digress.

Let these writings serve as my memory, as clear and detailed an account as I can summon from the depths of my mind. Whether my legacy is forged by my hand, or that of others, I must make the attempt. If I cannot recapture the fondest days of my youth, let this be my deepest wish; that I live to pen the final chapter.

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