A Child

A Child

A Story by Byron Patterson

Don't you wish you could be a child again?


I remember going camping with my friend James. His family is a riot. We woke up Monday morning and began our adventure at 8:00 AM. James' father was shirtless, as he usually was, and his long, brunette hair was tied back in a pony tail. He had a beard and mustache that made me look at him with respect and admiration, but also humor and warmth at the same time. We were at James' house loading a pickup truck that was easily 20 years old and had no earthly business being anywhere other than a junk yard. This was the monstrosity that we road in for 2 and a half hours all the while carrying 3 small kayaks, a large canoe, and crates of camping supplies. It would later dawn on us (while we were already well on our way) that the air conditioning worked about as well as you'd expect it to work. Thank God all 6 of us didn't have to go in that clunker. We had a second car that would be responsible for transporting James' mother, sister, and his sister's friend. This left just the men in the burly pickup truck.

I can remember the excitement I felt as we quickly loaded the truck and car with everything we could possibly need on a four-day camping trip. I knew from the moment I was invited that this was going to be a trip to remember.

I was 16 at the time and I was quite mature for my age. However, I felt like a kid again. Board games with the family, sports with friends, running around eager and full of energy, much like a monkey who's had his first banana in months. I didn't have to search for a job, I didn't have to get my summer work done for next semester, I didn't even have to worry about taking a shower. It was bliss...

The campsite was managed by rangers, so we weren't alone out in the middle of the woods. It was like a community...a community that shared a common interest in camping but never dared to interact with each other. It was a common campsite: rocks and pine cones everywhere, towering trees, beautiful greenery, a stunning view, a fire pit that served as a gathering place for all who dwelt in its presence, and a table where meals were not only enjoyed, but devoured.

We enjoyed each other's company immensely, but the most memorable moment came the very first night, when I was listening to the beautiful music of the world around me. James and I shared a tent and, just like everybody else, James was preoccupied with slumber. Meanwhile, my mind was racing around one subject: childhood.

I knew that at the age of 16 my childhood had frankly passed and I was less than 2 short years from becoming a man. As I sat staring up at the night sky dancing with gorgeous stars, I realized that I had spent so much of my childhood and teenage years trying to be older. When I was a baby I wanted to walk. When I was 8 I wanted to be trusted enough to be left home alone. When I was 11 I wanted to see PG-13 movies. When I was 15 I wanted to get a job and drive a car. When I was 16 I wanted to go to college. This night was different...for the first moment that I can ever remember I wanted time to stand still...no...I wanted time to rewind.

For the first time I realized that exactly two years from that date I would be leaving any job I had, saying goodbye to my closest relatives, parting ways with my dearest of friends, and setting off on my own. Goodbye childhood...goodbye high school...goodbye low expectations...goodbye to the one thing I had been up to that point: a child. My carefree ways would be no more. Responsibility was at the doorstep. Knock knock...the sound of the future here to destroy what's left of the past.

A quick snore from James interrupted my thoughts and I cursed him for ruining the moment. Of course I smiled knowing how that was vintage James. I rolled over in my sleeping bag and considered the future. The future is indefinite, unwritten, and extremely bright. The smile that cracked across my face was a passing fancy, because of course there was much more to the situation than just that. If that were the case, then why was I so upset? If the future was truly as bright as I was saying, how could my past be so influential on my current mood? Simply put, I determined that while there was still much to come and my life certainly did not end there, the past is just...more important. Without a past there cannot be a future, in the same way that a book requires a writer; if the writer were to suddenly be erased from history, then so would the book, because it was simply never written.

Being pretty confident that I had correctly identified the cause of my discomfort, I began to fade. Past is needed for a future, so I had to let time's side effects take hold. Am I always going to look back fondly on my choices? No. Am I going to wish for a second chance? Quite possibly. Will I want to relive it? Of course. However, this would render my future...well...nonexistent. With this final thought, sleep overtook me and I drifted into a dream world separate from the one I came to know.

As irony would have it, I would later discover that this entire conversation with my brain was utterly childish and naive. In the end, the past and the future don't matter. Neither can be directly altered in any way, so any extended period of time spent on them is just wasted. However, the past and future constitute 99.9% of all time, so how can we possibly ignore it? This is where the .1% comes into play. The .1% is extremely elusive and rarely ever recognized, or even thought about. It's shifty and seems just out of our sites, especially when it needs to be at the epicenter of our lives. The thing that most people don't realize is that it is and always will be just right under our noses. Future and past may make up the large majority of time, but without the .1% there is no future or past. It's so unique and fascinating, but we as humans have a tendency to take it for granted...

There is simply no time like the present.

© 2017 Byron Patterson

Author's Note

Byron Patterson
Any all feedback is not only welcomed, but very much appreciated! Thank you!

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great story. Good grammar.

Posted 1 Year Ago

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Added on July 2, 2017
Last Updated on July 2, 2017