Daily, I would get on my bike and ride through streets filled with ghosts and invisible houses, on past where the tarmac turned to dust and would find myself in fields of stone. My parents had bought the house as it was cheap and it was cheap as it was nowhere. Cast out past the civilized world, it was a suburban paradise in the making and we were one of its first building blocks. My parents had embarked on the great adventure, had brought their two boys (myself being the youngest) twelve and a half thousand miles to the lucky country and this was our bounty.
It had all been farmland not too long ago, before the council planners came in and zoned out the plots and carved great scars of road through it all. The roads were intact, for the most part, the pavements laid yet there were no people, no houses, just ours. It felt post-apocalyptic, like the end of the world, like living on an unfinished movie set. I felt unnerved riding those streets, as if dead eyes were watching me.
Every day I would ride the two hour bike ride to school and every day I would ride it back to my kingdom. I would rest, momentarily in the little box we now called home, before riding again up and on into the stone fields. Not a metaphor, not a stroke of ‘Game of Thrones–esque’ whimsy, but acres of acres or the stuff. They would truck it down from the mountain that encircled the area, a great gash developing through its centre from afar as they pulled at its core in the sake of developing more kingdom’s like ours. They left it in the fields for ease of future transport and I would ride along the chipped rock and shattered stone on my bike, in between the Graders and machinery of imposing yellow, which had been abandoned for the day.
Absent of friends due to my being young, human and of peculiar accent I had nothing but time to divulge my more insular traits, and I did, in a most accomplished manner. I put my hands to work, sculpting and carving from the raped and broken resources at my feet. The chipped stone would mix with the mud and clay beneath it, gelling it together so that it became malleable and workable between my hands. I could pile it upon itself and it would stay, hold in place like some Neanderthal modeling clay. The field was my table and I built a world in which I might have preferred to live.
At first I was guided by my adolescent mind, which lead me to attempt childish pursuits, such as the modelling of robots; figures of heroism and menace. Then vehicles of dubious authenticity and warped and broken figures, of a malevolent nature. I pushed on, night after night, working on my craft. I pushed past my own knowledge, my own realm of influence, on, on into something else. I exhausted my ability but continued, constructing walls around me, isolating areas, arranging seated partitions and doorways through which I could pass. It all stood about knee high on my developing frame but after a week of bloodied labour, my hands cut and my forearms bloody from the stones wicked edges, I found myself stood within a house of my mind and hands own design.
There was the entrance and within a foyer where you would sign your name to gain entry or be cast out if it did not appeal to me. There was a training room beyond where the less obvious of ninja skills could be taught and beyond that a library of rare and immaculate conception. Within its shelves were books by dead authors, notebooks of ideas never used by the greatest of minds and ideas that would topple governments. There was also a comic section. Guard rooms, populated by invisible agents (I found human, or even inhuman proportions for that matter too unwieldly to make from my strange and pointed mix) punctuated the property and my mind cast a moat, in its imaginings where my hands could not.
In the centre of this world sat my throne room, resplendent in its blunt and magnificent simplicity, it held, of course, my throne. On this I laboured the longest, smoothing its seat, crafting its tiers and ornate turrets. It had taken me the full week to construct it all, to mould it until I felt it was done. It made me feel even smaller than life did at the time when I nestled my young, awkward body onto it. I had positioned it to face down upon my family home, down onto the invisible suburbs below. It made me feel tired, that view, as if I suspected the long, difficult crawl of adolescence to come and recognised that sight to be the tableau upon which it would be played out.
I rode home, bloodied, filthy and exhausted as night fully asserted itself. Walking untouched through scoffs and prodding from my parents and my drunken brother about where I had been and what I had been doing to earn such layering of dirt, I excused myself to the shower where I sat upon its floor and let the water have its way with me.
When I rode up the next evening, it had all been destroyed. The Graders and machinery of imposing yellow had come to life and had wiped out all I had created. In its place were smooth roads of pressed stone, un-ambitious and dull. I looked down upon the streets I had just travelled upon, down to my family home from the place where my throne once stood and I saw the same.
Over the next year, even those fields of stone disappeared, replaced by houses and people this time; schools, post offices and lives of little conviction. They still mine stone from the mountain, it now resembling a zit that has been squeezed too hard and with badly utilised technique. My parents still live there amongst it all, though I long ago moved on.
I can still see where my throne once sat though, from the front door of my parents home. Its ghost sits within another’s house now, an indiscernible house, devoid of character or meaning. I would imagine that the family who dwell within sit in their evening’s pleasure and watch reality shows and eat snacks from plastic bags, unaware that between them, once upon a time sat a king upon his throne.