I started building forts when I was very small, my grandmother had these mattresses that would bend double and two of them created a perfect square when put on their sides, I covered them with a sheet, dragged as many pillows as I could fit inside and sometimes the cat.
I read books, I read books and comics about animals who could talk and I ate my snacks one bite at a time pretending I could live here forever.
That there would be days before anyone came to look for me.
Look how I survive on my own. I say to the cat; lets play wolves, I am lost in the forest and you find me.
But the cat grew tired of my games and just lied there while I skipped around on all fours wild at heart.
I refused to eat dinner, but I had a small pink chair a table for myself that fit my small form inside my room.
Sometimes I dragged the cat’s bowl of fish to the opposite side and sat him down on the chair to dine with me.
I held conversations for hours in small mewls and when it grew dark out I pretended I had claws.
When I was no longer so small I hunched down between library shelves with shakespeare and Ibsen in hand, the library had these small wooden tables with lamps hanging over them, but I preferred to sit on the floor, on the rolled up coat and under my scarf.
I brought pieces of bread and crisps in my bag and I ate small pieces at the time.
I fell in love with Nora and followed her out the door,
I read midsummer nights dreams all over again and pretended again that I was lost in the woods and Oberon and Titania found me.
And Titania gives me fur and lets me stay in her forest for as long as I wish, leaving me fairies to feed me dew and wipe my cheeks.
We decide to stay there, for hours, for years.
But the sun doesn’t shine too long in the winter and I needed to walk home in the snow far away from forests.
And in the darkness I pretended I had sharp teeth.
When I was older than a child, yet younger than a adult I went up to the mountains.
I was being taught how to make myself a small cabin out of snow and ice so I could survive the night.
Along with others I trekked, slowly, so slowly through the snow and the ice to the top.
I stood on a plateau with nothing but snow and mountains on either side of me for miles and remembering fairy tales.
The ones with trolls that takes children to their castle under the mountains.
The ones where I would be slave then queen, then something else entirely and I laughed against the wind.
We dug out small igloos and I dug mine out alone not in groups of three.
Eating my bonfire meals in small bites and thinking, they could take me, I could wander to the mountains while no one saw and live in the forest.
I almost started walking, but crept into my small sleeping area instead, preferring to sit there and read.
When the darkness came upon the camp I heard laughter from the other igloos and I pretended my face had skin of stone.
(He told me I shouldn’t read books like that, I would grow up thinking that is how love was supposed to be.
And when darkness came I pretended I knew what love was supposed to be,
I pretended I had a heart.)
When I was almost an adult I claimed a room for my own near the forest, I paid it with money that were my own and I decorated it in magazine clippings.
But I spent my days on someone else’s sofa and I hoarded her books and read about a girl who were raised by wolves in the forest and dragged into the city.
I closed my eyes and thought I could find her, I could break her out and I could get her to teach me how to run.
But I had a friend who taught me how to run amongst the raindrops and lie quietly on the grass.
I learnt how to want and how to make my own meals that I ate in small bites and to drink peach drinks that tastes like fairy dew.
And once I ran to the forest and I took of my shoes and I thought maybe, maybe I don’t want them to claim me just yet.
Maybe the forest being near my walls was enough.
I talked of Gods and how we create them, I read of devils that control their lust and have forked tongues.
And when it got dark out I crept into bed and I pretended I had horns.
I started building forts when I was very small, with two small mattresses, sheets and pillows.
I walked through libraries as though they were the cities I would come to visit, with a sense of awe and an air of belonging.
There are no mountains or forests here and I am an adult who never grew up, but I read of women who love monsters and I read of fairies who steal them away in the night and I never stop closing my eyes and imagine.
And I imagine a universe where I had choice and love comes not so easily, but are won with wars of words and swords alike.
It is never taken for granted.
I build my forts with sheets on the walls, with shelves of books and tables of papers.
I build the forest in my mind I have big cats and foxes there, I have owls in my trees and bats in the nights,
I have swamps with mushrooms and big murky waters where spiky things live.
I build my space in this house with mugs because I need to cradle in my hand something that is my own,
and I eat my food in big bites but too seldom still.
And when it gets dark, when the moon shines through my window I drag myself to bed and I curl around someone’s spine.
And I pretend I am lost in a forest and they find me, I pretend I spent years with fairies who gave me to trolls who crowned me queen in my own right.
I pretend I have known love that have pierced through physical shields and saved me, I pretend I have run through the wilderness alongside a girl with fur like my own.
I pretend this was my childhood.