This week Michael challenges us to write about a wall.
As a child, he had hundreds if not thousands of building blocks in various sizes and colours. For hours, he would sit on his play mat and build straight lines, towers, corners, squares, some even materialized into circles. He was content, his fingers nimble and his parents proud as he was an undemanding infant.
By the time he was six, he had a baby sister. Completely different to him, she was fussy and commanded all her parents attention. So wrapped up were they in their newborn, they didn’t notice the subtle changes to their son’s building techniques.
He asked for more building blocks, and cocooned himself in his room. At first his parents weren’t too concerned, but when he asked for real bricks and mortar with which to build, they grew anxious.
Their daughter still consumed the majority of their time, but the lad continued to build his walls, and rather than risk upsetting the status quo as he seemed happy in his world, they left him to his own devices. Before long, the layout of their modest home was completely transformed to open plan, the only room being the one belonging to their son.
They once sought professional advice as he seemed obsessed with building walls that were disjointed and erratic. They were told that it was simply a phase he would grow out of.
His room was a maze of short, tall, low, or long walls leading nowhere, yet he said each had its special place in his master plan.
When asked, he said it was for his protection. Nothing could penetrate his walls, and now a teenager, it was very rare he ventured outside them.
He became reclusive within the parental home, his mother took him meals, leaving them outside his door, and his toileting needs were catered for by the small bathroom he had established within his sanctuary.
The daughter continued to be clingy to such an extent that it made her parents age prematurely. Neighbours had forgotten they also had a son, some thinking he had died years before.
One day, there was a commotion in the street, and the neighbours came out to watch as the house was reduced to rubble.
Some said it was a gas explosion, others a weakening of the footings and foundations.
The only survivor was the boy, now a young man, contentedly building walls within his self-made prison which had indeed protected him from harm.