Written for the Tipsy Lit Prompted Challenge: Risky Business.
All that I had growing up were my books. When my parents decided to go back to nature they didn’t consider the impact it would have on me, how messed up I would feel when I encountered anyone outside of their world.
Sure I could survive in the wild. I knew how to forage for food, trap and prepare an animal for cooking over an open fire. Most of the world isn’t wild though, and I’d had more than enough of the parts that are before I reached my teens.
Dad would travel to town a few times a year for ammunition, tools and the second-hand clothes that Mum altered for us to wear. From the moment I learned to read I would beg him to bring me books. He would pick them up second-hand, an eclectic mix of fact and fiction that I devoured over and over until I knew them by heart.
My birth was never registered, to keep me safe they said. My entry into the world had nearly killed my mum, which perhaps explains my lack of siblings. The blame was unspoken, I wasn’t the child they wanted and I hated our life.
When I asked if I could go to the schools I read about they felt betrayed. They wanted us all to live in balance with nature, said we were warriors against consumerism and government indoctrination. I was encouraged to think for myself and then silently reproached when my thoughts did not blend with theirs.
I had been planning my escape for years. I considered the gun, my bow, but I was always more skilled with traps. I didn’t mean for him to die. I expected Mum to decipher the clues I left, find him quickly and set him free. Turns out life doesn’t happen as in books.
Social Services took me in, tried to mend me with therapy. I wanted to make a go of it in town but they called me feral, backward. The skills I had were feared. When they found the bodies it was as if they thought I might do it to them.
They told me Mum must have searched for weeks before she came across what remained of Dad. The animals had taken most of him by then. She hung herself from that same tree.
So I ran away, moved south, lived wild in the urban jungle. There are more of us here than you might realise, doing what is necessary to survive. All these invisible kids, trying to make a different life from the ones our parents gave us, avoiding the adults who messed us up and think it is in our best interests to do so again.