Little Toddler Lies by Carl DeVere
The Perfect Lie contest entry
After the end of World War Two, the first place that I can remember living was this rustic little trailer park next to the Inland Waterway in West Palm Beach, Florida. My parents and my grandparents on my mother's side both lived here as they began their new lives in the post-war era. I first started walking and talking in this setting. How many stories have you heard about finding two-year-olds in unbelievable places that you can't imagine how they did it, or that they could do it-- or what was on their mind?
There was far more freedom for young toddlers in those more innocent times and I began to expand my explorations around the trailer park camp. My grandparents' trailer was just a few spaces away from my parents. But I was curious. Grandparents trailer was OK and maybe even the general store down next to the docks where my grandfather's fishing boat was docked. But not the docks themselves as I might fall in and drown. I had no idea what drowning was at all at this time because I was still adapting to understanding things.
One day, my mom had some errands to run and I was supposed to stay with my grandmother who, I noticed, did not pay as much attention to me as my mother. I told "Gramma" that I was just going outside a little. I already knew that I was not telling the truth--a conflict that I easily assumed when I wanted to get my way and knew it would be met with disapproval--the "adapting" phase of life. About 50 yards away from the little trailer camp was the huge port of Palm Beach, where all the big ships pulled in with cargo and passengers. In those days, there was a wooden building built out over the water where the biggest ships would pull in to dock.
There was a very narrow walkway all the way around the outside of this ship port building. I suppose that it was there to enable the one window on each side to be washed. You could enter the walkway from the shore, but once you got over the water it was probably thirty or forty feet in the air or big enough for a large cargo or passenger ship to sail under. There were no such things as safety railings for these kinds of walkways then.
I would get into a lot of trouble if I got caught walking out on that walkway, but that did not stop me, and my curiosity ruled over any better sense that I probably did not have much of anyway. With my toddler size, I could squeeze under the security gate that led to the entrance of the walkway. Out I crept with my back against the wall, hoping to be better hidden somehow enough to reach my objective--the big opening in front where all the huge ships sailed into the building. Was I not afraid simply because I still thought that, if I slipped, I would simply float down onto the big ship?
There was a big ship coming this time every day, I was certain of it. I wanted to watch it roll underneath me from the walkway which continued along above the big opening. Sure enough, I succeeded, with no one on the ship even noticing that this two-year-old was risking his life for just this one thrill. And what a thrill it was! It was like watching a big building gliding smoothly through the water with all the tiny little people on deck waving at the shore. There was even a swimming pool on this one, a luxury liner packed with well-dressed passengers. It was a fascinating world floating by...much different than my own. The boat was the stuff of dreams--I was dreaming while awake. It was also the curiosity of the bird's eye view. Florida was flat and there were no elevated views otherwise.
After the ship passed into the building, I eased myself back the way I came, being careful and small enough to duck underneath the one washable window where someone might see me. Squeezing back underneath the security gate, I ran back to Gramma's trailer because I knew I had been missing for some time. She had not noticed, but she might have suspected. When I went inside to chat with her she asked me where I had been. I told her that I was just walking around the camp down near the store. She looked at me with one of her patented "mean" looks especially in the eyes that was meant to intimidate me. But I held my ground and maintained my innocence. I'd gotten away with it entirely!
I suppose that I was mastering the art of guile at a very early age. I was certain that I could never have gotten permission to do such a thing and I had no misgivings about taking independent action to achieve what I wanted. I was throwing off the yoke of authority and willing to risk the punishment--a possible good spanking in those unenlightened times. I was a precocious little toddler. I was learning Earth ways fast.
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