A short story by my much younger self

The Tunnel

Once upon a time, in a magical village, there was a long tunnel. There were lots of families and two of the children were very famous. There was a little scaredy boy, and a tall brave girl. Everybody was taking the mick out of the boy. So he went into the tunnel. It was really dark in there, and whoever went in never came out.

 There are also lots of doors in there. And they each lead to something. One of them leads back to the village again. When the little boy opened the first door, he found a beautiful garden. And he played and played in it. But then he found a bomb! So he ran out of the garden as quickly as possible. Then, he found a unicorn in the tunnel, and it helped him find the door that led out of the tunnel. But the unicorn was quite slow.

Meanwhile, back in the village, everybody was getting worried about the little boy. So, the tall girl went into the tunnel to find him. She searched and searched - after a couple of hours she found him. And they both went looking for the door back to the village. The unicorn had forgotten which door it was. It took four days to find the right one. When he came out, everybody was really happy. They have the unicorn a rosette, and the boy and girl a medal each.

The End.

I found this when I was searching through some old school reports at the weekend. Rereading this alongside my reports was odd. They both present a version of myself which is acutely similar to the person I am now, yet seem to tell a different story to the one I remember, or at least perceived to have occurred. I wasn't an unhappy child, and certainly I had (and still do) a lovely home life. But I never had stable friendship groups during primary school - I always, as many of us do, felt like a constant outsider and never felt particularly (eurgh, to quote Willy Loman) well-liked. So it was weird to read that I was apparently a 'popular' child.

 Then there is all the psychoanalysis you can do on this story. On Sunday, the story struck me as a metaphor for depression. Typing it now, in some ways writing it alongside my former self, it still has that tone, I began to notice other things. Firstly, that the presentation of the girl as the savior means it's quite clearly feminist (woooo!). Secondly, that it centres on a sibling relationship. As much as I hate to admit it, my relationship with my older brother has been one of the biggest influences on me. Namely, it's made me into the slightly too competitive young woman that is writing this post. I wasn't imaginative enough as a child to not be writing this about me and him, and in that context it's interesting that our relationship to each other is completely reversed: I'm older and taller, and I'm the one who is brave and saves the day. Then depressingly at the end, it is not the actions of saving her brother that makes the story worth telling, but rather being given medals. It's this desire for award that I need to get out of my system, and this again ties into my competitiveness. But I am getting much better.


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