Sometimes I didn’t know what to do about it. The world was not supposed to be like this. The world was supposed to make sense. At least as far as what was there when I went to sleep at night would be there more or less the same the next morning. After all, that is what I learnt as I grew up. That was what my parents, my family assumed. That was what the schools taught me, and that was what the few friends I had expected.
That was the problem. At least that was why I had so few friends and those that did become my friends were always wary. They could – as children often can – sense there was something not quite right about me, that I was not normal.
Although, back then, back in those far less rigid and regulated times, and in such an out of the way place like our village, normal was not that common anyway. Some of the children I knew were far from normal. But even they would fall silent and watch as I passed by down the lanes between the long hedges that separated the fields from the roadways and the farms from each other.
Then, the world was changing and They appeared more and more often in our village. They were the government people, the tax inspectors, the NHS doctors, the qualified teachers, the councillors, the bureaucrats. The world was sidling closer to our village. Television and the telephones came creeping in and the outside world gained a foothold.
We began to see the world outside and we – most of us anyway – didn’t like it much. So we turned our backs on it, as much as it would let us, anyway.
We in the village were loners and I was a supreme loner. I was apart from the rest of the village in much the same way as the village was apart and separate from the rest of the country. It seemed that the world was getting closer to us, but I didn’t let anyone get too close to me.
In case what I had, somehow, spread to them.
I knew I was different and the world I lived in was different. It was not always separate from this one, but it was closer than most people ever realised. I could see this other world. A world of darkness and the creatures that haunted and hunted inside its darkest shadows. Those creatures would sometimes creep up and spilt over into this world.
There were places where that world and this world had edges that met and bled together. A bit like two colours in one of my watery paintings on the classroom wall that juxtaposed the two worlds I knew into one. ‘A marvellous feat of imagination’ as the art teacher – another outsider called it.
I remember my mother looking at me, rather than up at the painting. It was then that I realised she too knew something of that other world that edges up against this one. It was then too when I saw that she knew that one day she would lose me to that world lying outside and beyond this one.