Secret Kingdom

I was unpacking some new printers at work, and for some reason I felt enraptured. I had no idea why, as these printers were nothing exceptional...

Yet I could not deny the feeling of wonder that kept sweeping over me in waves. Then, the gentle crumpling sound of the packing bags (so similar to the sound of the ocean meeting the land) recalled a beloved childhood game- Secret Kingdom!!!

I suppose I must have been a very demanding child, but my parents never denied me affection, even when they were very busy. They would always ask me to wait for a short while, but if I was insistent and refused all bribes, they would sigh and say

"Very well Alex, would you like to go visit the Secret Kingdom?"

"Oh yes Mummy and Daddy! May I?!?"

How I trembled with excitement as one of them would lead me to a closet. I would close my eyes and wait for the sound of waves that told me the Secret Kingdom was only moments away. When I felt the bag going over my head, the excitement was unbearable. I realize now I must have been hyperventilating, but the speed of my breathing would decrease as the roaring in my ears became louder and deafeningly louder until I had entered the Promised Land.

There I would see strange, misty visions I could only half-recall after I had returned. Even more elusive than a dream were those blessed times I spent in the Secret Kingdom! A world filled with strange music and wild colors of love and ecstasy, as I felt myself floating away into an event horizon where peace and turmoil embraced and became one.

Hours later, I would be thrashing about in the tender arms of my parents. Eventually, I would realize they had brought me back from my magical world. No matter how much I'd beg them to return, they would kindly remind me that when I was blue, I was no longer allowed to stay in the Secret Kingdom.

I was usually too weak to protest overmuch. Indeed, I was so exhausted, even speaking a few words brought on a fit of coughing. With loving care, they would leave me lying half-out of the closet and return to what they were doing. As I would recall my adventures, I would sometimes hear one remark to the other how much they preferred my company after a trip to the Secret Kingdom.

Many friends have remarked about how jealous they were of their younger siblings, and how they were afraid their parents no longer loved them as much. I had no such fears. My parents were quick to reassure me of their love. If anything, they were more eager than ever to let me spend an afternoon in the Secret Kingdom.

It turned out to be my sister who was jealous. Although I suppose it was very short-sighted of me not to expect her to be curious about where I would go, or to be jealous when she could not tag along, it never once occurred to me that it was open to anyone else but me. My parents patiently explained to her, time and time again, that little girls could not go to the Secret Kingdom, any more that a little boy could stay there after he'd turned blue. And if I couldn't foresee her jealousy, I could never have guessed how spiteful she would eventually become.

After years of temper tantrums, she turned to tactics of stealth and low cunning. She tried desperately to convince me that there was no Secret Kingdom, and that it was dangerous to have a bag over my head. She was even so hateful as to drag me out of the closet and pull the bag from my head after I was too weakened to prevent her, but before I had fully entered the Secret Kingdom.

Then, on one dark day, she brought some men to the house. These wicked men were as jealous as my hateful sister, and made me promise never to go to the Secret Kingdom again. They threatened to take my beloved parents away if I ever did.

So, it is not surprising that I must have chosen to block away all those happy memories to spare myself the pain of living in a world without a Secret Kingdom. I feel as if I have been released from a wrongful imprisonment that lasted for a time beyond measure. I can even forgive my sister's pettiness now. You see, she can no longer keep me away from my birthright- I have a special bag that I will bring home from work. I will go home and then the prodigal son will return to the Secret Kingdom!

©1998 Alex Ledante