A laughing stock as I walked the earth I knew my only chance of survival was to return underground. Not underground like in Futurama where the rejects of society live, underground to the cellar in which I’d grown up in all those years before.’
Like a caged animal that can see freedom through the bars I could see the outside world and I just wanted out. If I used my bed to climb on the tallboy then used the tallboy to climb on top of the cupboard I could look out the single window of my underground cell. If I was lucky with my timing through the dark triple thick glass I could look out along the front yard. Because the window was so small I’d often only see the feet and legs of the other children, but I knew they were there, imagined what they looked like, wondered if they could ever be my friends.
Of course I asked my parents if I could be like the other kids, I asked them so many times I lost count, but the answer was always variations of the same thing. “There is no place for you out there.” It got to the point where I just accepted it and stopped asking.
By the time I was a teenager I’d stopped asking for anything. Rejection was my best friend and I hearing the word ‘No’ more than a few times a day just made my heart ache. The one thing that I didn’t lack was an education, I had nothing better to do and reading, writing, learning from books which were often replaced and renewed was my only entertainment. It was this education that led me to believe I could handle life on the outside. But of course it would to a person who had never seen it before.
It was just after my 24th birthday during a brief period of household grief that I finally escaped. My first surprise as I entered the world beyond my cell was that the locks which had been keeping me in were not physical. My second surprise was that no matter what I’d seen in my books the real world was a lot bigger than any picture could show.
I spent the next 20 years roaming from town to town, house to house, job to job, nothing seemed to fit, nothing seemed to feel right. Any interaction I had with people whether they were work colleagues, acquaintances or just strangers fell apart, some before they’d even started. While this behaviour might have been strange, even concerning for other people I still had no real concept of strange or concerning because everything for me was new.
What I didn’t realise was that beyond the facade of peoples outward faces they were laughing at me. It wasn’t because of the way I looked, I looked like them, well some of them. It wasn’t the way I sounded, I quickly worked out that while we all sounded different we all spoke the same. It was because I had no idea how to act around them and I had no idea how to interact with them. In 20 years I had managed some interaction, even close interaction, but each time it broke down because of my inability to see and understand how one is expected to act.
So after 20 years I finally became sick of the ridicule, sick if the laughter and sick of it all. My parents are long gone but with their words, “There is no place for you out there”, ringing in my ears like an ancient proverb I am on my way back to the dark underground cell that was my childhood. It may not be the happiest place in the world but the rest of the world is not the happiest place for me.