When I was smaller, around the size of a street bin, I remember walking to school with my older brother and two younger siblings. My brother, head of the litter, would tell us that the school had disappeared; that it had been swallowed up by the mist and fog. This would make our stomachs bubble explosively in the kind of excitement that encouraged the morning’s porridge to erupt out of our mouths. “The school’s disappeared, the school’s disappeared,” we would bounce and shout and scream, our minds insane on freedom. We’d walk through the haze, pirouetting and skipping out of sight of one another. “I can’t see you. Where have you gone? You’ve disappeared!”
The world had been veiled from our eyes in a cloak of ethereal white air. We played with the limitless possibilities it offered; ran and zig-zagged like young pups. We grasped the untouchable cloak of fog in search of one another. “Come back, it’s not funny,” the younger ones might shriek after a minor silence; to which we, the wise elders, would respond before their distress got out of hand. Sometimes.
But, alas, the blazing fires of our passion were put out at the sight of the school building as we approached it. The mist, we then learned, was not as magic as it seemed. My big brother, already versed in the ways of the real world, would look at us apologetically, as though he knew how it felt to have lofty dreams crumble. But his game was worth playing, worth believing in; even if it only lasted a few dewy minutes.
In a child’s life, a few minutes of magic moments live forever. To this day, when I open my curtains and see a heavy mist, I wonder if the real world, with all its responsibilities and chores, has disappeared.
I hope children still play that game.