Two little boys, according to Linda Colley, were preparing to embark on a journey to Africa from England in the early nineteenth century. Of course, this fact may be true, but Linda Colley did not share it, and yet, the pages were crisp and clearly printed in phantasmic creation. She continued to write how they had not known each other, but that they felt an immediate sense of fraternity and hatred for each other, as little boys are wont to do. They were frightened by the separation, as if they had known each other forever, and were now being separated by the circles of Hell. This immediate bond, the author was meant to have indicated, suggested the earlier consciousness of “Empire.” Although, this story appeared later than usual, the uncertainty of the Company’s newer acquisitions still caused formidable fear and loathing. Nonetheless, our boys were excited for the boat ride, but terrified at the uncertainty of their survival. They were not urchins, but they were also not quite aristocratic. Their behaviour seemed to suggest that they belonged more in suburbia, but that anachronism shouldn’t hold us back from our story…..
In a different time, and a newer world with older earth….
It is a lovely sunny day, t-ball practice is underway. The bright sun warms everyone from the inside out. It catches people in the eye making their eyes water in a cheerful reminder of the coldness of the winter months. Green luscious grass compresses and springs back, full with life, as the young children walk towards their t-ball pitch. The parents walk to the stands and there is no fence for protection. A subtle sense of fear grips everyone sitting, but the children are so small, what could possibly happen? I am there, attached to these young boys, but not knowing them. I recognize them. I am an observer with no true purpose. I watch them play, trying to remember just from where it is I know them. They are not my children, but I feel a historical sense of attachment to them. The two boys are arguing since separated by team. I can remember their past, the fight on the ship.
The boys from the ship stare at each other with childhood hatred, a hatred that seems to swell a young persons face to look like a small pug dog with the energy of a Pekinese. Their faces are alight with the moment of friendship that will soon pull them together in a true equality for the rest of their lives, but as of yet, they are still ready to feel at an advantage. The purple team is on the field, and it is the yellow team’s turn to bat. One of our boys is on the purple team in the place of back catcher, and the other boy, on the yellow team, is about to bat. Over some confusion the boys have a renewed opportunity to engage in the soft battle of youth. One batter remains ahead of our yellow batter, and while everyone is focused on preparing him to play, our Yellow starts to talk to our Purple.
Yellow feels somehow diminished compared to Purple now, perhaps it is the fear of batting. But he says to Purple, “I bet you I can find something in this tall grass faster than you can?”
Purple smiles and nods. They both search and search. Yellow finds a quarter, Purple finds a one dollar coin. Feeling dismayed as the game begins again, Yellow watches his team-mate go up to the base to bat. Beside the home plate is a large metal box, it rests there without any true sense of purpose but as an obstruction. Yellow’s mate successfully hits the ball and has avoided the metal box. Yellow walks past Purple, ready to bat. A sense of apprehension fills the stands as mothers, fathers, and younger siblings sense that it could be this time that a ball or bat comes flying into the audience. Somehow Yellow exudes a sense of foreboding in a wearying sort of way. Proudness compels him to prove them wrong. He walks up to the plate with an appropriate amount of youthful attitude, and swings his bat.
In the confusion he hits the metal box with the brunt of his force. The metal box booms open and chaos begins. The ball was knocked to the ground by the smallest tap of the bat, and the purple players are running to find the ball. Yet the box has opened and a sense of true jovial hilarity filters through the stands. The chaotic field becomes light-hearted once again. Yellow, more in tune to showing Purple up than the game, stays at the home-plate smiling. Like a mole he takes to the ground in search of objects. First he finds a two-dollar coin, and in an ‘AHA!” he glares mischievously at Purple. He then finds a pink handkerchief nestled in the ground, and he pulls it out for the laughing crowd to see. Still behind him the players on the field are running around in a ludicrous chaos that only results in crescendoed laughter.
In the stands I am laughing. Stomach hurting, eyes watering, mouth singing the lovely tunes of pure enjoyment. The two boys look at each other and begin to laugh as well. Soon the game of sides has ended, and parents and children do not feel a divide any longer. Joy has emancipated the day, and the gleeful sun sparkled as he got the joke too.
The boys never returned to the cold, foggy day on the boat. It was not a rejection of any paradigm or lifestyle. It was that they knew in this lifetime they would be friends. On the ship they would have set sail individually and lived a life that could have been captured magnificently in a tome between leather bounds, but somehow the leather gloves, smiling faces, and their dusty hair seemed to be the only true prize they could have ever wanted.