Day Three: Wild
We used to pretend we were orphans - there was always something so compelling and romantic about that idea (of being alone and wild). Without parents we had to be strong and clever and cunning and resourceful (how did we know that?) in order to survive. The landscape of the family farm was transformed into a savannah or rainforest or dense wood (there are beasts and creatures in such places, and this made our survival even more precarious). There might have really been coyotes and mountain lions (though I never saw one, there were only legendary rumours), but we traded them for lions and tigers and worse.
There was never a backstory to our being parentless mongrels and we weren’t necessarily siblings or cousins in this world we created. We were more like a band of comrades, urchins - no one could be a baby in this game, which I appreciated, because babies can’t run, and there was always a lot of running from things that were trying to get us.
We fought pirates and poachers and kidnappers (with sticks?) and built ramshackle forts and lean-to’s and sometimes we slept in the trees (this is usually where the youngest members of the group would fall away, unable to climb, and start their own band of misfits). Then we would be rivals - for stealing food from the kitchen and claiming territory (the younger ones were not as brave and they would stay near the house and make a fort out of towels in our play set, which was not very creative or resourceful).
As the hours passed, usually just three of us left, we would simply take to roaming the orchards, using our sticks to whack trees (instead of fight barbarians), and when our stomachs grumbled (when we’d had enough of picking currants and raspberries behind the strawberry patch) we would retreat, too, to the house, for popcorn on the living room floor, or a late afternoon swim in the pool.
Our mothers would stroke wet hair and rub aloe into sunburned shoulders. They would ask us where we’d been.
This was the first we knew of coming home again after being gone for a very long time.