There are moments and events in our lives that define us. We don’t know it at the time however, life gets in the way of allowing us time to assess what happened, or overt what is happening now.
As humans we have a moral right to share our experiences whether they are good or bad. Why? Because what sort of people would we be if we didn’t do the right thing.
Whatever is right for one person, may be wrong for another. But as humans we are given the greatest tools that any living creature could ever hope for, and that is our voice.
‘Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me’
Who came up with such a nonsense phase? A person with a voice has the power to drag your humanity into the depths of depression. To make you feel that your whole being is not worth the breath you are inhaling. Why do we allow this to happen?
On the other side of the coin a person with a voice has the power to uplift the human spirit, to raise the core of a persons spiritual embodiment, to give them the tools to succeed, to give them their power. Why would you not want to pass this power on?
Our voices are just reverberations and frequencies of sound, generated by the tools and organs in our bodies. With every breath we create sound, we expell sound, our body makes sounds randomly. Why would we ever want to keep silent? We owe it to each other, ‘it’s good to talk’. 😉
There was a time I was silent.
The year was 1992. I was eight or nine years old. I had the long bedroom at the front of my childhood home. I loved this bedroom. It was shaped like the letter L. You would walk in through the door, the carpet, oh my god the carpet! A monstrocity of a carpet, it was primary blue with thin red stripes running through it. YUK!… The layout, if you take one long stride forward, turn left, and take 4 long strides and that was the geography of the room. I believe I had ‘The Simpsons’ wallpaper on the farthest wall at the end of the galley. I loved those yellow people. The rest of the room, and house for that matter, was covered in ‘Artex’.
My dad had built my single four foot bed up on legs, not as high as a bunk bed would be, but at least to above my shoulders, and for an 8 year old Kris, this was high, I had to jump to get on it, and If I sat on the side, my feet wouldn’t touch the floor.
Underneath my bed was my camp, my den, my hiding space, my first man cave. My dad boxed it all in with chipwood and built me a door. No door handle just a little screw on the inside of the door where I can pull it shut. I did just about everything under this bed. Usually naughty things that I shouldn’t be doing. I think this is the first place I smoked my first cigarette after finding a full packet of ’20 Superking Black’ behind the TV unit in the living room.
Next to my bed was the family Amstrad CPC 464 home computer. This had been bought the year after I was born. It was one of the first british made, home computers on the market back in the early 80’s. It had survived 8 years so far and it was still going strong. It was a big chunky piece of plastic, it had a tape deck where you would insert a classic cassette tape, press play and wait 15-20 mins for a game to load while listening to the screeching sounds of the data being loaded into the memory of the computer. Line by line the loading screen will be built on the glass screen CRT monitor. Comparing it to the computing standards today, it was painfully slow. At the time, we knew no different, it was the norm.
This day was a day that was not out of the ordinary, as ordinary in this home was always extraordinary anyway. We were preparing for the arrival of family visiting from Australia. By preparing, I mean, I was dutied to hoover the house, do the dishes, bring in coal from the shed, chop the wood, clean out the avaries, clean out the bird cages, clean the dog shit up in the back yard, hang out the washing, bring in the washing, put the clean washing in the airing cupboard, put on more washing in the machine, brush the dog and so on, and on and on. Love and affection was given in our household by this economic system of slave labour.
By the time the guests had arrived in the late afternoon early evening, the house was at least acceptable.
I had never heard or met these ‘relatives’ before, I say it like that because I don’t even know if they were my real relatives. Everyone was given a family prefix growing up. Uncle John, Aunty Val, Cousin Todd. It was the norm. I believe these were members of my family from my fathers side.
I remember being stood on the stairs as they entered my home. The normal niceties of waving at them and saying ‘hello’ as they were ushered into the living room. There was three people, two ladies and a young adult male. I cannot remember their names but for this, they are not needed.. One of the ladies had a big beautiful head of blonde hair, a tan ‘ST Tropez’ will be proud of, followed by a big red blazer with massive shoulder pads. Ahhhh 80’s fashion. Neon 90’s had clearly not made it’s way to Australia yet.
“Kris!, put the kettle on for your mother.” my father said.
Everything I was always asked to do by my father, was for the purpose of my mother. Like that made a jot of difference in my reluctancy to carry out these demands. Maybe it worked on my siblings previously as my dad was not their dad. Maybe a habbit he found hard to break.
After going to the kitchen and turning the kettle on, I made my way into the living room.
“Kris, go to your room and show Todd your computer.” my mum vocalised as she pointed Todd and I to the door.
I remember Todd being tall, I don’t know if that was his actual name, but it will suffice. Todd was tall. For an eight year old Kris, this man was a giant. He had dark black hair, a bum fluff of a moustache, very clearly much older than I was. He could have been anywhere between the ages of eighteen to twenty five. He was wearing blue denim jeans and a dark grey jumper, with colourful geometric triangles.
“Have you ever played Chuckie Egg? It’s my favourite game, I got to level 48 once, what games do you play?”
I excitedly said to him as we walked to my bedroom.
Having someone over to our house and allowing them into my bedroom was a rare event growing up. This was a deluxe treat for me. I wasn’t allowed friends over to play in my room. It was just something that never happened. I’d asked a million times before, but the answer was always ‘No’, so you just stopped asking in the end.
‘This is my Simpsons wallpaper” I said as I jumped up on my bed. Todd sat down next to me.
“I like The Simpsons, my favourite episode is the one where Homer’s brother Herb comes over and makes the walkie talkie where you can understand what Maggie and other babies are saying, do you watch The Simpsons?”
I’d relay all this without taking a breath, waffling on like any normal eight year old child does. I cannot for the life of me remember what his answers were, they don’t matter.
I loaded in the worn out and battered cassette of Chuckie Egg, rewound the cassette tape, pressed play, typed in ‘RUN’ and hit the big green enter key as I had done a million times before.
I froze….. Time had suddenly stood still. I stopped yapping. I was as still as I could be. I had stopped breathing. I have never, ever been so scared. I couldn’t move for fear. A million freezing cold needles had just been stabbed into every part of my body. Rigamortis of the muscles. My heart had jumped from my chest to the back of my throat. I couldn’t talk. I couldn’t breathe. In that moment, I don’t think I could have moved even if I wanted to. I could not make sense of what I was seeing.
As the glass CRT screen of my Amstrad changed from the blue home screen to a black loading screen, the reflection put the fear of god into me. I saw that Todd had un-buttoned his denim washed jeans taken out his erect penis.
‘I can’t move, I’m frozen, what can I do, I want to scream but I can’t, why is he showing me his willy! why! Why! WHY!!! ARRRRRGH, this isn’t right, this isn’t real, what shall I do.’
A million questions rushed past me, thoughts of dread and fear while frozen in time, scared to death about what was going to happen next.
‘…. ….. ..What do I do? … …Why can’t I move? …. … I need to run… but I can’t move!!’
“Kris?” Todd said, with an inflection in his voice that suggested he had a gift for me. I stayed silent and rigidly still. I could still see his reflection in the monitor.
“Kris!” he said, as he placed his hand on my shoulder and pulling me to turn in his direction.
‘Oh my god, what is going to happen to me?…. Why has he got his willy out? This is wrong. Why can’t I move?….. …… What shall I do?… … Run!! … …. I can’t move.’
He tried pulling on my shoulder a few times, but I was not turning my head, I did not want to see the reality of what was going on next to me. I don’t believe I breathed for what felt like an eternity.
After what seemed like an eon, Todd got up and walked to the toilet, which was across the landing directly opposite my bedroom.
As soon as he left my room, I jumped down from my bed. The sound of ‘Chuckie Egg’ still loading on the Amstrad. The noise of the data loading ringing in my ears.
‘What should I do? where should I go? I need to run and hide!’
As quickly as I had said these things to myself I had opened the door to the den under my bed. I folded the makeshift door shut, pulling on the cross headed screw.
‘If I just stay here and hide, he can’t find me here.’
Luckily I hadn’t given him the full tour of my bedroom when we entered. Through the cracks in the wooden frame of my bed I saw him enter my bedroom.
“Kris?”, Todd called out as he realised I wasn’t there.
Todd sat back down on the bed. Calling my name numerous times. Every time he spoke my heart skipped a beat through pure fear.
With my tiny eight year old fingers, I forced every ounce of my being into keeping hold of the screw, holding the make shift door shut.
‘He won’t be able to get me here’, I thought to myself.
I was scared beyond comprehension. This feeling of dread, utter terror, despair, trembling at the fear of not knowing what was going to happen next.
Todd got up and started to look for me.
“Kris!?” he yelled!
But only loud enough that the upper floor of my house could hear. Everyone else was in the sitting room. Sipping cups of tea from the water of the kettle I had not long boiled for them. They did not have a clue as to the horror of the events going on above them.
He found the door to my safe place.
Again the fear of terror took over my body. A million wasps were stinging every inch of my skin. The nightmare of what was happening was too much to take. Silent tears streamed down my face while every morsel of strength that the eight year old me had, held on to that screw as if my life depended on it. My life did depend on it.
Luckily there was not a handle on the outside. Luckily you had to lift the mattress ever so slightly to grab the lip of the door and pull to open it. Luckily the join of the door, just looked like that, a join. After a few failed pulls at the door, Todd gave up and started searching the rest of the room.
I kept my strength on that door for what felt like an eternity. It could have been anywhere from thirty to ninety minutes.
“T-odd!”, a voice shouted.
Finally muffled voices were travelling up the stairs and finally these so called relatives were leaving.
“Where’s Kris?” my dad had asked Todd as I heard his footsteps go down the fourteen steps towards the front door. Todd did not answer.
“Kriiiiis!”, my dad shouted up to me.
Finally a sense of alleviation.
Relief was blessed upon my body after hearing my fathers voice. I could finally breathe. I could finally let go of the screw. It’s indentations embedded into my skin, causing my tiny fingers to bleed. I didn’t feel this pain during the horror I had just endured.
As the familiar sound of the front door was closed, I stood on the landing at the top of the stairs. My father instantly knew something had happened. I could see the fear in his eyes.
“Wat’s the matter son?” he said as the tears streamed down my face.
Our voices, our words, our methods of expression are the pure fundamentals of humanity. When you are silent, they have won.
Without that little voice in your head you would not be able to read this, trust it, it’s probably telling you more truths than you know just yet.
May the force be with you. Always.