When I was three, four at the most, I would climb a tree at the bottom of the garden (more a wasteland really, as I was born in Zimbabwe), straddle a branch and argue the merits of flinging myself into the prickly shrubbery below. Why? Because the fairies had promised to reward my bravery with a little red suitcase if I did.
I didn’t have any particular need for a suitcase, red or otherwise. I’m not sure I even wanted one. But every day, I’d climb that damn tree and the argument would commence.
‘Wow, a red suitcase. From the fairies. Just gotta jump.’
‘Hmmm. It’s a long way down. It’s gonna hurt.”
“No pain, no gain.”
“I don’t want to die.”
“The fairies won’t let you die.”
“They might if they find out, I’d much rather have a pair of red shoes than a stupid suitcase.”
“Careful. They can probably read your mind. Quick jump before they reach up and drag you down.”
I never did make that jump and to this day, I wonder regularly what would have happened if I had. Would the existence of fairies have been irrefutably proven? Was I demented even at that tender age? Would the fairies have been offended if I’d asked for twinkly red heels instead? Did I fail some kind of divine test by not jumping? What the hell was it about a bloody red suitcase?
Being me, I’ve got plenty of other little memories like this that tease and torment but this remains the strongest and I revisit it a couple of times a year in search of some answers. To date without much luck.
So what’s your earliest memory, does it haunt you still? Feel free to share, I just have.
Hark, is that knocking I hear? Men in white coats you say? Okay I’m outta here. You lot be brave.