It all began when I was invited to the school disco. I was about 8 years, still in junior school when the class room was told that we would be holding a disco for the pupils last day before high school. I wasn’t exactly the most social person in the world, and found these situations awkward, which would lead to me being the class clown. In an attempt to try and overcome the overwhelming pressures of doing something wrong and becoming socially rejected. But the idea of a disco excited me, of course we all get these thoughts in our head on how it will play out. This no doubt helps drive a person on the decision to break normal routine and try something new. Though it never really seems to play out the way you thought in your head.
So it goes without question that I quickly told my parents and let them know that I wanted to go. We went through all the basic parent child procedures of mother choosing clothes that make you feel like an idiot. While spending the entire time embarrassing you by constantly telling you how smart and handsome you look. At the time I couldn’t wait to get away and felt worried about looking like a fool. But in hindsight, her playing a large part in what I wore probably saved me from a few choice jobs made on my behalf. I would of probably turned up in a jumper with action man plastered all over it, which would no doubt give me an unwanted nickname for the rest of my junior year.
I was lucky enough to avoid my mother smothering me with aftershaves or any other types of smellies. By over exaggerating my disgust at each of the smells that she forced me to inhale. At first she ignored my obvious disgust and continued through all the smells until she had finished going through her entire shelf. Only recognizing my mediocre attempts for freedom upon spraying the last one on her wrist before forcing it into my face. She then looked deep into my eyes and seemed to come to terms with the situation, she probably realised that I was still only a child and my interest for girls was pretty much none existent yet. She then took a step back to admire her work, and maybe a second to allow the nostalgia to have its way with her, until she finally turned away.
At the time I thought nothing of it, but I’m sure many mothers can associate themselves with that vital moment of motherhood. So at the time I simply made my way into the front room and began watching cartoons while I waited for my mother to drop me off back at the school.
The time soon came for us to leave and get into the car. The school was only a 15 minute walk at most, but I believe my mother had other things to do. So we took the car and I was dropped of outside, I began to feel a little uneasy because I was unable to spot any friends walking into the school. So I decided to stand outside like a pillock until I spotted someone I knew. My mother then closed the car door and more or less dragged me towards the school, completely embarrassing me in the process. Luckily for me no one really seemed to pay any notice, it was possible many others faced the same treatment. God knows how long I would of waited outside until I met one of my small handful of friends.
She walked along with me until we were directly outside of the hall where the disco was being held, where she quickly made her escape before she was dragged into conversation with any of the parents that recognised her. I turned to watch her scarper away, feeling a sense of relief as I was able to protect my pride. But also a sense of panic as I was about to make the final step into something new… Alone.
I remained outside for a couple more minutes in a desperate plea for one of my friends to arrive and walk in with me. But I had already turned up somewhat late, probably as a ploy for my mother to escape the small crowd of parents that would be gathered outside. Then suddenly I spotted a parent and child making their way over to me from the distant gate. Though as they began to approach I realised that it wasn't someone that I knew. Which left me with a small dilemma, should I remain outside and risk the possibility that they my notice me alone. Or even worse, that they may try to speak with me and even try to speak with me! After a quick decision in my head, I realised the safest move was to head on inside. But just before I was able to talk myself out of walking in I noticed they had approached much quicker than I expected. I cursed their speed under my breath, as if it was a valid reason to place the blame on someone else for. And quickly shot through the entrance of the hall and made my way inside.
The hall had a smooth wooden floor, with long colourful tape laid along the floor to signify areas for certain types of sports games. The ceiling stood tall, which made me wonder how they had managed to get the large disco ball up there in the centre. They had also managed to get some spot lights scattered around the hall with gave off large colourful circles of light that slowly drifted about the hall. While the good old favourites were being played on a reasonable volume by an unknown DJ making his first debut at the school. All this would of felt amazing if not for the main lights of the hall being left on the whole time. I assume they chose to do this because kids are dangerous even in the best of situations, and they were simply choosing to prevent the worst from happening.
There was more than enough room in the hall for everyone to be dancing freely, though the first people I spotted had placed themselves on one of the many benches that surrounded the room. It didn’t take me too long to spot my friends as they quickly stood up and made their way over to me. I found myself chatting for a while with the group, but soon began to feel uncomfortable as I began to run out of things to say. Finding myself slowly get pushed out of the conversation and standing there staring aimlessly at the talented social members who managed to keep their conversations going. It wasn’t too long before I began to make an idiot of myself, whether it was for attention or out of panic I cant say for sure. All I do know is I made my way into a free space and started flinging my arms around like an idiot in an attempt to be funny.
Luckily for me, the group did begin to laugh quite a bit, and others started to participate too. Though it wasn’t long before the more popular people began to grow tired of it, and made the others aware that I was an idiot. Though it was only a bit of fun really, the reaction of the grow after that hit me pretty hard and I found myself sitting down for the rest of the night punished for trying to fit in and make others laugh. I learnt a lot from that moment, and it definitely changed me into something I was not. But from that day on I was no longer the clown, but I was the fool that preferred to be alone while the last of my confidence and desire to be funny trickled away for good. I never been the same.
The night ended on a bit of a downer for me, though I felt driven to become the opposite of what I was, and that was to become mature. To stop being scared and to work on being confident and being reliable so others can trust in me. And today I was given the chance to do so, I was finally going to show my mother how mature I was!
I was the last of a handful of children still waiting for their parents, as it dawned to me that my mother was probably still busy as she had taken the car earlier rather than walk. I was also certain that I had told her when it was due to end at least 3 or more times, so I did the unthinkable. Driven mainly by my desire to be mature, I began to take my steps outside of the hall and towards my home.
The teacher left on duty seemed to be distracted by more pressing matters at the time, which meant I was able to leave the school unquestioned by any responsible adult. By the time she had realised I had gone, it was too late, which meant she probably assumed I had joined my parent in the car park and decided not to inform anyone. So no one was able to inform me how stupid this decision was…
I stepped foot out onto a small pathway by the rear fence of the school, and marched along a dimly lit passage along a small open field, dimly lit by the schools lights and street lamps nearby. I had travelled this path many times before with an adult, so I knew it was only a short way onto the down hill slope of a street that lead almost directly to my house. Meaning this would be simple and truly prove that I was ready to grow up, though as I passed through the gate into the sloping street it soon began to dawn on me why we were told to not walk home alone.
The road was long, and dark... Though there was many lights scattered along the way leading towards my house. Many of them either shone dimly as they grasped onto their last hopes, while others had already fallen to their fates, giving off faint flickers every now and then as they desperately tried to come back to life.
You could easily see the end of the street peering down from where I stood. Which meant beyond that, it would only be one right turn and 2 more houses before I was home. It also appeared that the road was more or less clear, as I had been scouring it with my eyes the entire time. On the lookout for anyone who appeared to be suspicious or some sort of threat. So I begun to make my journey down the road and past the flickering lights.
But as I travelled along the road, I was unable to prevent the looming fears from slowly creeping into my thoughts. There were many pitch black alleyways that connected with the street along the way, which meant that there were some areas I could not see. Areas which would make it simply for strange people to hide away ready to pounce on unsuspecting victims. Each time I passed an alleyway I would stop and glare down the alleys to spot if anything was coming. For some reason it made more sense to stop and see a threat rather than ignore it and get jumped from behind. I never once considered what I would do if someone actually came out of it. Each alleyway I managed to survive only added to the sense of fear that I had already began to cultivate.
Luckily for me at the time, the alleys were only on one side of the street the entire way home, meaning I was always a streets distance away from it by staying on the opposite side. After I managed to pass the second to last alley way, something happened that I was not expecting.
I looked up and my eye were drawn to another's, who was slowly making their way up the hill towards where I was standing. At first I considered the fact that it was just a normal person making their way home late at night. But as we grew closer to each other I could not help but ignore the sense of urgency from deep within, screaming to me. “It’s time to cross the road”. To which I finally caved and made my way across as casually as possible as to not draw attention from the other man. I knew that he had already seen me, but I didn’t want him to find a reason to ask me if I wanted any help. As that my of lead to something else that every child my age is constantly made aware of.
Once I reach the other side I decided to glance across the road to see if I needed to begin running. But it appeared the man cared to little to even give me a second glance. I began to indulge myself in a sense of pride as I began to go over what had happened in my head. Each time I ran through it always lead to the same conclusion that I had done everything an adult should do. And it appeared that I was only a few houses away from the right turn before my house was completely in view.
It soon became painfully apparent that I had forgotten one last thing. I turned my head slightly to the right directly down the final alleyway, only to connect my eyes with something I cannot explain. The creature stood almost 5 foot tall with large looming eyes, which each returned the light they had stolen from a nearby light and shone it directly back at me. I quickly snapped my eyes forwards and peered directly at the end of the road, and began to jog down the road. I knew that what I saw only meant one thing… Danger. But for some reason I remains in a jog as if I was trying to disbelieve in what I had saw. That was until I started hearing a loud pounding of synchronized feet slamming on the floor as it grew closer and closer. My insides began to flail in all directions, twisting and turning begging my body to react to the incoming threat. My legs swiftly grew a mind of their own and took control of themselves. Turning themselves into what felt like jelly, though they forced me to run faster then I ever had before. Each step felt like I would tumble to the ground, but I somehow managed to remain on my feet.
The sound of the feet began to draw closer and closer, though I dared not look behind me. For I knew if I did then I would have to slow down, and I had already placed too much faith into my legs already. I managed to turn the corner at the bottom of the street, and could see the dim shine of the light that’s shone near the front door. Just as soon as my body began to rejoice over the glimmer of hope, something reached out and touched my shoulder. My body reacted almost immediately breaking out of the faith hold that the creature had of me with a quick uncontrollable shake of my upper body. I stumbled forward, trying to go faster and faster while focusing now entirely on speed rather than balance. My body fell forward as I reached out for the gate of my front garden, and threw myself into it while my hands unconsciously dealt with the lock. That is when I turned my body to slam the gate closed on my pursuer, and what I saw… Was nothing.
My mind wished to stay behind and glare into the abyss while it tried to find reason in what had just occurred. But my body did the only intelligent thing left to do, and it dragged me out to the door of my house while gasping for air.
My mum scolded me that day for leaving the school on my own, which made me choose not to tell her what had happened on my walk home. All I said was that it wasn’t a problem and that I had got home safely. Though deep inside I had already decided, maybe I should wait just a couple more years, before I decide to become and adult.
I learnt 2 lessons that day, being a child is hard, you always have to be careful not to become a laughing stock... But being an adult was worse, I never did like growing up.