My name is Daniel and I am feeling very peaceful right now. No one around me. No phones, watches, nagging voices, deadlines or email clogging up my inbox. I don’t even have a pen on me right now.
This peace and quiet has gotten me thinking about things. Like my granny who used to tell me that every time you take out a memory to look at it, you change it somehow. She said the change might be miniscule or fundamental but you always change it in some way.
One memory comes back to me now. Now this is a memory I have taken out to look at more times than I could possibly count. I am going to tell you about it now but realise that by doing so I will have changed it yet again, won’t I? Oh well, so be it.
I am ten or eleven years old. I am up in my bedroom and I am playing with some of my toy soldiers and army vehicles. I hear a knock on the door and someone pushes to tries and come in. The door is heavy and hard to open as the carpet rubs against the bottom edges. There is another slight push and a portion of my aunt Ruth’s face appears through the small gap that has opened up between the door frame and the edge of the door.
‘Can you please let me in as there is something I wish to discuss with you.’
I reluctantly open the door and I notice that my heart is racing. As she comes in she immediately takes stock of my tiny room. When I say room, I guess it was more of a large broom cupboard the truth be told.
As she scans the room more closely her eyes stop at my tape rack which sits between my white remote controlled monster truck and my light up globe that I had gotten the previous Christmas. Like lightening she moved over and removed one particular tape and held it up in her left hand and made what looked like a half smile.
My heart sank as I knew exactly what this meant. She had found the tape I had taken from her house around eight weeks before. It was called Stars and was by a band called Simply Red. Now for reasons I can no longer explain, I adored this band and this album in particular. From the artwork on the cover to the music videos I had seen on MTV at a friend’s house, I was crazy for Simply Red’s Stars. I had already bought a cassette single of their hit single Something Got Me Started but at my aunt Ruth’s house I had found the entire album.
Every day of my six day stay with her I had listened to this cassette and when the time came to leave I nervously shoved the cassette into my deep jacket pocket just as my parents were calling me to leave in the car.
At first I hid the tape in my treasure chest wrapped in an old football strip. I refused to look at it much less play it. However as the days passed into weeks I gained confidence and eventually took it out and popped it into my Walkman. It felt wrong and yet wonderful to be listening to this tape that I had taken. By listening to it only in my Walkman, I was also able to keep secret what I was listening to. As the weeks passed by I thought less and less about how I had obtained this tape and began to think of the tape as both precious and crucially, mine.
‘I know what you did young man’ she said pronouncing each word carefully. As she said this she started hovering the cassette in front of my face.
‘What you did was very wrong and I want you to know that you are a nasty little boy. I am not going to tell you mum or dad don’t worry but I have my eye on you and trust me, I won’t forget this.’
I said nothing but simply looked at her and gulped loudly.
‘Do we understand one another?’ she asked as that horrible half smile appeared on her face once more. I had a very dry mouth so simply nodded in agreement. She kept her eyes fixed on me for a few extra moments before turning her back on me, tape still in hand. Just as she was going through the doorway I saw her start to put the tape in her left jeans pocket and I felt slight relief. She really wasn’t going to tell my parents.
Now I forget why I am telling you about this. Oh yes, now I remember. After she had left my room I remember feeling such a potent mixture of anger and humiliation. So much so that I distinctly recall speaking to myself and muttering something about getting my own back on my aunt. I oddly used the third person for myself rather than ‘I’ which was the first but by no means the last time I would do this. I told myself aloud that Daniel will do something much worse next time to my aunt Ruth. He would take something much more valuable and show her that he was not afraid. Now I never did take anything else but that rage and humiliation stayed with me. I guess it seeped right into my bones. Over the years I felt something of that same feeling when I took other things from other people. In some way, each object taken was a sort of indirect revenge on my evil aunt Ruth. A sort of payback for all the pain she had caused me. I never mentioned any of the horrible things she did to me before as I was so wrapped up in that one incident with the cassette but trust me when I tell you she was foul. She kick started all this and I put the blame firmly at her door.
Of course, I didn’t connect this event to my present situation until just now sitting here so peacefully, thinking so clearly. No in fact until this moment I could never understand why I kept taking things that weren’t mine. It has gotten me into so much bother and has caused me to lose a fair few good friends along the way as well, It was my aunt Ruth who created Daniel to become a distinct voice from me. Daniel started to take things that I didn’t approve of him taking. While I was behaving perfectly normally, Daniel would always be on and on at me to take yet another thing. I see now that he was only trying to get back at my aunt Ruth as I never managed to myself. No matter anyhow as now we are both here safe and sound. This room has nothing in it and finally Daniel has gone quiet. Maybe now we can both get some rest. Suddenly I feel sleepy and despite these hand-cuffs digging into my wrists, warm and at peace.
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