It’d been a normal afternoon.
We’d built an extension to The Den. Painstakingly and painfully we’d removed long cables of thorns from the wasteland and wrapped them around our central base. This provided extra protection from the enemies we imagined we had. Inside our den was luxury unheard of. A soiled mattress, a bucket full of rotten apples, even a prison cell barred on three sides and blocked by a curtain of strong nettles. This was a stronghold with feeling…. our feelings.
We’d been lying on the dry earth of the ‘lounge’ area, peering out through a gap between the leaves where the sunlight beamed down, giving us unparalleled views of this quiet avenue. I hacked away at a stick with my penknife, hoping to turn it into a spear. She had climbed on top of The Den; supposedly to check how we could secure an attack from above. But she just sat up there for an hour, not moving or speaking, just thinking so hard that I felt the grass and turf around our base might strip itself and fly into the air.
After a while something felt wrong. I realised she wasn’t in her spot anymore, but she’d silently crept away. Leaving the base, I saw her further up the hill, arms wrapped around a tree, tears waterfalling down her cheeks. She told me she feared the end. It took me thirty years to realise – it wasn’t the end of us she feared, but the end of imagination.