A FOSTER child in the bush of the mid-north coast of New South Wales sits in his room on an October afternoon, 2001. There’s a painted drawing of Jigglypuff over the child’s bedside wall. A tear in the fly screen window as if someone has recently tried to climb through it. Toys grouped in various reenactments across the drawers and dressing table and book shelf.
This 11-year-old’s name is Chris. And Chris decides to make a time capsule. In a red container he puts all his Pokemon cards and a message to his future self. “Nice meeting you in the future,” he wrote.
The boy thinks it would be the coolest thing if future-Chris could travel back to his time and look out for him. He’d basically have a cool older brother. He would the centre of future-Chris’s attention.
And he wouldn’t feel so lonely.
It’s 14 years later. A man older than an 11-year-old boy anticipated sits in the history section of a library. It is the week before Christmas, 2014.
He is at the Mount Isa writer’s group Christmas gathering. It’s a small affair. Seven writers tops. Each writer is tasked to read something about Christmas.
It’s the man’s turn. He did not bring anything to read. “I have something from my blog,” he said, and browses the internet while others read. He then reads from Christmas Domestics. After the man finishes, the writers praise the piece.
“I could sense the fear in the child,” a senior poet commented. “When you read it. Even though you never mentioned it.”
And another writer asked; “were you in many foster homes? Because I heard they are moved around a lot.”
And the man – who am I kidding? It’s me and I want out of this third person pretentiousness – said “no, only two foster homes.”
I’ve never mentioned in the blog the first home I lived at.
Future Chris needs to go back.
He needs to travel past the boy who wrote a note for the time capsule he emptied the next day because he missed his rare surfing Pikachu card too much.
I need to go earlier than that and talk about the first home. I can do it now.