Modest yet tastefully tidy, 2 bedrooms, 1 bath, kitchen/dining room and spacious living room in which I now waited, upon request. The owner, a female childhood friend, turned distant acquaintance and evolving into a damned near stranger. Until a chance concourse called for a casual catching-up cup of coffee conversation.
There was an aesthetic quality to the room. We conversed through the walls, whilst I perused her décor, when something caught the eye. One item that seemed wholly out of place amidst the trendy artistry she’d created, and it drew me in.
On a corner table, surrounded by farm animal figurines, sat a white over green, beat to s***, rusted out toy truck. The yellowed windshield was cracked, the decals just residue and it was missing a front wheel. Tonka… no Nylint, according to what remained of the plastic front grill. Involuntarily my hand reached forward.
“Please don’t.” I turned to find her standing there. The face above the steaming mugs was reminiscent, with a trace of self-loathing.
Taking the offered cup, we sat. I waited patiently. Not certain what would come, but knowing something would. Perhaps, for her sake, it had to.
Years before our meeting she was an only child. Not just in the family, but in their neighborhood. Her working-class folks had little time for play and sparse funds for toys. So, she was oft left alone to her own devices and happily made do.
The truck had come on her 5th Christmas, as part of a family farm set. And though she adored the tiny plastic animals and folk that accompanied it, the truck was something special. Soon it became the center of her play, constant companion and recipient of many a one-sided conversation. Time passed. With it came local developments, new neighbors and other children. Among them there were no other “onlys” but several sets of siblings and she welcomed them to her world with unconditionally open arms. Fast friends, ready playmates and yet none of them could fathom the unyielding devotion held for her first “friend” the truck. Nor comprehend her belief that, in its own way, the truck was alive, and that if she were good and kind to the world, the magics that worked within it would allow her to see and share that life someday.
Perhaps it was jealousy of something incomprehensible. Or maybe convenient maliciousness. That accounted for what happened next.
One afternoon she excused herself from a game of hide-n-seek. Going inside for a potty break, she left the truck by the backdoor. When she returned the truck had vanished. There was a moment of profound panic, until she noticed a small set of tire tracks leading from the stoop into the backyard. Eagerly she followed to find the truck hidden away beneath a hydrangea bush.
Eyes widening, her heart filled with great elation. Immediately she ran to bring her “friends” to see the miracle. They all came and as she excitedly explained what had happened, how all her hopes, wishes and dreams had finally come true, they couldn’t keep holding their laughter. Confusion followed by horrific heartache when they revealed they had moved the truck… just to see what she would do.
With nary a word she scooped up her truck and ran inside. Hot tears dripped onto the truck’s hood as it sat cradled in her lap. Questions of why came as a piece of her world crumbled.
The emotional scarring had faded to painful memory. Her ability to trust others with her more intimate thoughts was still fractured. She concluded that above all a lesson, which teachings remained a mystery to her, was learned: people can be cruel for no other reason than their own amusement.
There was no argument to be had at or on this point. It seems that whether children or adults, those who’ve never known the coping mechanisms born in the unspoken desperation of loneliness lack the comprehension to understand them. So grounded in how they define things they are unable to accept little else. And so, through words or actions, lash out with little thought of consequence.
If you can’t understand, accept or respect another’s world, stay the hell out of it. You won’t gain admittance or satisfaction from destroying it. Let them be happy without you in it.
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