“Fond” wouldn’t be the word to describe it, really.
No, “despised” would most likely be a better fit. But still, as a place, it became firmly enmeshed in my soul as the years wore on. My experiences within it built upon themselves to create in my mind, not only a place, but also a metaphorical landscape for all my nightmares to play out. A stage, so to speak, for my mind to desperately sift through all its fears, anxiety and desires.
As such, it is fond to me. Or it was, at any rate.
Years of physically attending both the church and the school, I was well acquainted with each nook and corner by the time I graduated from the 8th grade and altar boy servitude. I knew of every hidden closet, every community-less community room, every darkened corner behind the school gymnasium stage. In short, I knew every portion of both buildings where an overtly shy little boy could go to get lost from the rest of the large, loud and scary world. A world that would surely eat such a boy who was so weak, demure and unsubstantial, destroying him well before it would ever accept him.
True, that boy did grow, becoming a man. Maybe not a strong man, but a man none the less. And while he left that place, the place never left him. No, the place returned every night, serving as the previously mentioned backdrop to his annoyingly trivial nightmares. Every. Damned. Night.
It didn’t take me too long before I realized, in order for the nightmares to end, the buildings had to end first. Of course! They needed to be removed from this world all together. Hell, maybe it was even a mission from God, a way that I could help other shy little boys to also escape.
So I burned them down.
Right down to the very last kneeler. Right down till every stage drape and Formica-covered desk top were mere bubbling puddles. Right down till the roof above the pass-through between the two buildings was lying forlorn between two dead piles of ash and soot.
I burned those mothers all the way down.
Sadly, the nightmares haven’t stopped yet. And now, their backdrop is new; one of smoke and ash, instead of brick and mortar. One where my little mind no longer has anywhere to hide. Outside of my dream world, I too now have a new backdrop. I’m not sure why, but it never once dawned on me that what I was doing would be deemed in any way wrong or illegal. I mean, I was just saving myself and other scared boys from suffering through years of dreams of dread.
As it turns out, the Roman Catholic Church and the State of New York disagree.
I’m not very fond of this new place either. A place I guess I’ll be spending quite a number of years at. A place, I fear, that won’t come down nearly as easily as the first one did.
Quickly spying Daily Prompt’s “Ode to a Playground,” the above story came about in short order. It wasn’t until I went back to the prompt to create a link, that I realized the instructions asked for a memorial to be written. As such, I was getting ready to dump this altogether. But reading it once again, it occurred to me, I like it. And much like “fondness” can have several definitions, I suppose “memorial” can as well.