We're still waiting to see who's the best Pinnochio of the group so I can't tell you which of these is true and which isn't... You're welcome to guess though.
The Summer House.
I grew up simply. On a piece of land that had been in my family since my great-grandparents’ had left India to make their home in South Africa. The original building had been built in the 1800s and added to over the years. It had its fair share of secrets and mysteries. Dark places in which to hide. Rooms with no discernible purpose. There wasn't enough money to renovate the house fully, so we never saw it in its full splendour.
I grew up, far enough away from town to not have friends that I could see outside of school. The neighbours were elderly or their kids were much older. I adapted - I lived in books. They were portable friends. I took them into the hidden alcoves and hidey holes. I spent my childhood with my books, hiding in bramble caves, nesting in reeds, in the middle of a mulberry tree and up coral trees. I built my world in words and secrecy.
My favourite place to read was in the remains of a summer house, under arches of white roses and wild brambles. On one side was a rock garden with cacti and tumbling petunias. I was warned to never climb the rocks. They were unsafe. I was seven when I finally succumbed to the temptation and climbed to the top. As my foot caught in the rocks and I fell, grazing my knee and cutting my hands, I remembered the story of the Lady of the Rocks. The story of how she had died in a smallpox outbreak and had been buried near the summer house with her young child.
In the lifting of the bottle,
the downing of a bitter-sweet liquid,
the taste, the feel of the cold,
a memory rises to the surface.
In that moment, the room dims,
the cigarette smoke brings a tear to her eyes,
the drunken laughter surrounds her,
taking her back to that night.
In the darkened room, a boy,
a broken boy with a sad smile,
looking for a way out through the bottom of another bottle
losing his way with each gulp, breaking more.
In the doorway, she stood,
torn between duty and compassion,
hesitant, unsure of how to proceed,
dimly aware of impropriety, yet unable to watch him hurt himself.
Into the room she stepped,
the thought to comfort foremost on her mind,
stumbling slightly, too much wine, too little food,
she held him close, ignoring wandering thoughts.
In the murk of that night, a dull feeling of invincibility,
the recklessness of youth meted out comfort;
the desire to be a reminder of a life worth living,
the memory tainted with regret and could-have-beens.
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