In telling other people's stories, names have been changed to protect their privacy, except for a few who were willing to be identified.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Other Lives?

Beverley's son, Nicholas, was two and a half years old when he began talking about 'when I was a daddy'.

'He always referred to himself as the man,' Beverley said. ' "I'm not Nicholas," he would say. "I'm the man."

'That was possibly the way he started off,' she said, 'But I didn't take any notice really. Then one day we were driving in Melbourne and we passed a car. He pointed and said, "I had a car like that, but mine was red." '

Great imagination, Beverley thought. So, to amuse him, she said, 'What happened to that car?'

'He said, "It got crashed."

"What happened after it got crashed?"

'He said, "I was no more."

"And what happened after you were no more?"

"Then I was Nicholas."

'That really got me thinking,' Beverley said. 'He used to say there were things in his room and that he was frightened. The floor boards creak right outside the room and sometimes they squeaked when no-one was walking on them. You could hear it in the bedroom.'

She thought that might have frightened him and could be the cause of triggering something off in his imagination, when he said that there were people in his bedroom.

One night Nicholas was going to his bedroom and he said to Beverley, 'Will you come with me, Mummy?'

'Why don't you want to go there on your own?' she asked him.

'Because it scares me.'

'Why does it scare you?'

'Because it's frightening.'

'Why is it frightening?'

'Because it just is.'

Then she asked, 'Are the people still there?'

'Yes they are.'

'What are they like?'

'I don't know. I don't want to look at them.'

Beverley said, 'We used to live in another house and I asked Nicholas if the bedroom in the previous house frightened him. And he said, "Oh no. I liked that one. That one was good." '

Later they were driving past a church in St Kilda, on the corner of Alma and Barclay Roads, and Nicholas pointed and said. 'You're buried over there, Mummy.'

Beverley by now was used to Nicholas's imaginings so she said, 'How can I be buried if I'm here?'

Nicholas said, 'Because you just can.'

'But I'm here. I'm sitting here. How can I be buried in the ground if I'm sitting here?'

'Because you just can.'

'How many times have I been buried, then?' Beverley asked, thinking she might as well pursue the conversation to its end. Nicholas thought for a moment, counted on his fingers and said, 'Six.'

'I didn't know what to say to him so I left it.'

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