My Earliest Memory

I don’t recall being scared, at least initially. Why would I? Mum was with me and the nice boy opposite had a toy helicopter he wanted to show me. I was a young girl with no concept of gender appropriate play; I simply thought this was a great toy. Mum sat on the small chair next to the bed and we whirled and twirled the ‘copter around. It was fun.

Then Mum had to leave. I don’t know how I felt at that point, but I do remember when the nurse came in to put us all to bed. The bars on the side of my cot felt strange because at the age of three or so, I was in an open sided bed at home. The confinement was not the not the worst of it, though, this came when she closed the blinds.

I remember this very clearly. We were in two rows of cots, lining the sides of a long room. At one end of this room, on the short wall, was a large window which shed a comforting light along the narrow space between the beds. I didn’t know where this light came from; perhaps outside lights, other rooms in the hospital or even daylight. This really did not matter to me, the important thing was that the horizontal metal blinds on the window were open and the light could enter. When a nurse approached the window and reached for the pull cord, I am sure I must have held my breath. I willed her not to close the blinds, but this wish went unheeded. They clattered shut.

There was finality to that noise and the darkness that accompanied it. It terrified me.

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