TITLE: My Kingdom
By Russ Atter
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Though this is written in a way that seems to be fiction, it is actually how I viewed things as a child.
The advent of this story or writing has be painstakingly difficult. A lot of memories, thoughts, dreams, avoidance, and a variety of emotions has prevented me from writing it thus far.
The big red oak tree in the woods was a site to see. It had huge branches, some bigger than trunks of normal size trees. In my perspective, this was the largest tree in the world. I could not imagine a tree any bigger. I remember climbing up the tree, on to the big branches. The crooks in the branches were so large, that I could sleep in them, and not worry about falling out of the tree. This was a special place for me. It was a place of peace and tranquility.
The tree was so tall, when I climbed to the top, it towered over the rest of the trees in the woods. When I was in the tree, looking over the vast woods and fields, I felt free as ever. It was as if the world stood still, and I was the king, the king of the land as far as I could see. The cows in the fields were my servants, they were working hard keeping the grass cut in my kingdom. The birds that flew in and out of the kingdom were keeping the land clean, by picking up dead grass and a variety of other debris that littered the land. The squirrels meticulously picked up all the acorns that had fallen from the big tree, my castle.
The feeling of freedom and peace which I felt in my castle is indescribable. I was young; maybe 9 or 10 years old. I was small, the castle was huge, and the kingdom was more than I could fathom. I felt in full control of my surroundings; though the cows, birds and squirrels did as they please. The breeze that came through the branches, the windows of the castle, were refreshing and clean. Then one day, the king, the castle, and the kingdom were violated. The world darkened, the beauty faded, and all seemed to be lost.
The land, tree, or animals had not changed. Though that is what they became to me. They were no longer a castle, a kingdom, or servants. They were just a tree, woods, fields, and animals living their lives as they did before I became the king. My special place became a place I eventually despised. It became a place of hurt, fear, and many tears. A river of tears. I wonder if that river still flows there today. There were so many tears, that I could never imagine the river to ever dry up. There would be enough tears to last an eternity.
As time went by, the fear and pain became worse and unimaginable. I lived only to survive these horrific events and feelings. Still today, I find myself reliving the tormenting memories. I only pray that God will continue to lesson the effect these memories have on my mind and soul.
The day was warm, it was sometime in August. I remember that day. It is a day that was completely erased from my memory for many years…decades.
I went to my kingdom like most other days. HE came along with me. (I am not choosing to use a name, so I will refer to this person as 'HE', 'HIM', and 'HIS') HE would come with me many times to the castle, we would talk, and dream. Many of our conversations were mind opening and enjoyable. This day, things were different. This is the day when the kingdom fell.
We were outside the castle, beside the large tree. I was expressing how hot and tired I was. HE agreed with me. I took off my shirt to let the breeze blow across my skin, carrying the sweat away in its wake. HE did the same. It was not unusual for us to take off our shirts and dream together, it was a hot day.
It is unclear to me what the conversation was about at that time. I remember HIM talking about being grown up. HE was older than me, I was envious to some extent that HE could do grown up things. We talked about cars, girls, and other things that grown-ups had or did.
Sometime during the conversation, I remember HIM asking me if I knew about sex. I was embarrassed, not about the topic, I had no idea about it and felt like a kid not a grown-up. HE told me about sex, and that it was a very good thing. I later learned that HIS version of sex was warped and far from reality. Also, it was far from a good thing, it was the thing that tore my kingdom to the ground. The kingdom that would never be rebuilt again.
HE took off the rest of his clothes. I have seen HIM this way before. I was always intrigued by the differences in our bodies. HE had a grown up body, there were many differences in HIS body than mine. I could not wait to have a grown up body. Sometime later, I was cursed by a grown up body, a body that brought pain and shame.
HE asked me to take off my cloths, it was hot, and HE was concerned about me staying cool. I took off my cloths, and HE was right. The breeze cooled the rest of my body. We laid down in the emerald cool grass. We were looking at the large fluffy white clouds, imagining what they were. I remember seeing a lion and other animals. I was amazed at how the lion changed to a dog, then to a shape that was unique and unidentifiable.
I remember the day that I watched the clouds with HIM. I recall the warm air cooling my body… This was the moment that light evolved into darkness. I did not realize at the time that my life changed. After this time, I was full of guilt and shame. HE taught me about what HE called 'the routine', by violating me for the first time. It felt good, it was a new experience for me. Initially, I felt privileged and grown up.
Shortly after, HE got dressed and left me there, under my castle. I stayed there for quite some time. I was overwhelmed with many feelings. I experienced an extensive range of feelings of fear, shame, and guilt to honored, complete, hungry for more. The sun was vanishing behind darker clouds, with out shape and form. As the sky darkened, I cried. I was not sure why I was crying. The tears rolled down my cheeks, feeling the emotions slowly leaving me.
I did not want to get up. I began to lose emotion and feeling as emptiness began to set in. What had happened? Why did I feel this way? It began to rain, and the tears of feeling were washed from my face. I quickly got dressed and climbed the big tree. The broad branches of the tree became a canopy. I sat in my castle, watching the rain fall. As the rain was pounding on my canopy I looked out at my kingdom. It had changed, as I lost my emotions and feelings, the kingdom looked simple. I no longer felt like a king. The servants of my kingdom appeared to be working for themselves. They no longer worked for me.
What happened? When HE was there the sensation I felt was novel. I was not familiar with the new feeling, it was good. I did not understand why such an excellent feeling caused me to feel unfilled. This was the day, the day my life began to change, it was if my soul and my spirit were no longer mine.
Time after time HE when I was alone with HIM, I would live the same feeling. I began to long for the pleasure that I felt. When I was alone, I would do 'the routine' renewing that delight in my body. Each time that I was with HIM or alone doing the 'routine, the emptiness slowly overcame me. HE would take me to the tree; the crumbling castle which overlooked a fallen kingdom. My soul felt emptier and vacant. The feeling of pleasure was good, but the emptiness was overwhelmingly powerful. Many times when HE would leave me the tears would come. I did not understand.
I began to think and search my soul. I was wounded as I evaluated my decaying soul. I felt as if the darkness of the sky that first day began to enter me. Many people would share with me things that saddened them. It affected them to a point of nonredeemable depression. Nonredeemable depression became a familiar environment for me. The effects of 'the routine' would initiate an aching reaction the worsened over that summer.
The emptiness in my soul began to envelop me to a point of deficiency. I began to avoid being alone with HIM. The pleasure that HE brought only made my soul darker. The enjoyment of doing 'the routine' myself seemed to put out the light inside me.
A black hole is so powerful that nothing, not even light can escape its grasp. My soul was my source of light, feeling and life. The black hole that I felt deep inside me grew stronger. It began to pull all emotion into it. There was no emotion anymore. I longed to feel alive again. I was unable to experience the same joy I felt before my kingdom fell. I did not understand what was happening to me. I had fallen like my kingdom.
HE made me believe that experiencing the thrilling feeling of 'the routine' made me more grown up. HE shared with me a part of life that only mature people would know. I was not sure that I wanted to be a grown up. I did not like the things that came with it. Did all mature people feel this way?
I would still go to my castle and view my kingdom. It as if the enemy came and conquered the kingdom. I began to see how dirty my cow servants were. The green grass was full of weeds and thistles. The squirrels were running and panicking to prepare for the cold winter. The birds were not cleaning my kingdom, they were ripping it apart, taking pieces of life with them as they flew away...
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