I was already running late, and as it happens when you are late, traffic was worse than ever. Perhaps it was because I had left my home ten minutes later than usual, or maybe there was an accident, but there was no way I was going to make it to work on time. Anyway, me being late that day wasn’t that bad, my boss was upset, but soon forgot all about it. However, because I was late, I was able to hear the story I will tell you. The bus was full, and a pair of old men sat behind me. They seemed as if they had been talking for a while, maybe some years, and had no final destination. When I realized they were behind me, and started paying attention to their conversation, only one of them spoke, he was telling the other one a story. Here is the story as he told it:
You are right, times were different then. I guess all past times are always different, you are also correct pointing that out, but all I can say for certain is that when we were young times were different, as if the world moved slower, or as if the days were longer. Maybe childhood can only be played in our memories in slow motion, and the memories become slower and slower as we get older.
We played on the street all day, as I’m sure you did with your childhood friends, and as every neighborhood where children play on the street, we had a special toy we all played with. We had found it in the trash, one of those days there was nothing to do, and we just walked around, and we saw it laying on the street. It was a tessellated bone camel sculpture, old but still in one piece. We thought it looked comical, with its neck turned back and its head looking up, with an open mouth and his tongue out that made it look surprised or scared. Since that day we played with it all the time, and always hid it in the same spot, it was our secret toy.
One day we went to look for it, and it wasn’t there anymore. No one knew where it had gone, we made everyone swear they hadn’t taken it, and everyone did. We never found it, and sometimes I believe that is when my childhood ended. Perhaps that is when we are not children anymore, when the last of our toys disappears.
The old man telling the story stopped, and they were both quiet for a while. My bus stopped came up shortly after, and I had to get out. Walking to work, even later than I thought, I wondered when had my last toy disappeared, and where did my childhood go.