She, the whisper fairy, was against merriment of the exciting unethical kind, not that I generally minded. Some days I reflect how it was Mother that put gave her sustenance, the mental extension of a past filled with morals and virtue, the pretend goody-goody Godliness of preachy nostalgic quotes beginning with, “Back when I was a child.”
Those parents, especially the masculine brand, thought we couldn’t use deduction. We secretly thought, “Do you think we believe your entire childhood was innocent, virtuous, and mischief-free? Do you think you look sober in that old picture of you smirking guiltily while leaning precariously on the old Chevy? Did you throw out the next one, where you’re lying flat faced on the ground, that pretty girl, later to be known as my Mother, hovering over you in loving, yet disgraced concern? Do you think we believe all those stories of saintliness when outside, over past the regular garbage dump, is that other one filled with old tonic bottles – the one we’re not supposed to know of. Sure you were in the navy, upholding democracy, but we can read. We know of sailor’s delights, of ports of call, of those wondrous songs. Did you think we’d believe it when you said you stayed on board those three days in Singapore?”
Not wanting to have sons follow in those hidden footsteps, Mother slowly added to the fairy, one wisp, (or whisper, if you prefer) at a time. Every single time you decided to enjoy childhood beyond the box of limitations – with fire, with pitchforks, with neighbour girls in old sloughs made into dugouts, with borrowed hunting guns and jerry cans of stolen gas, with cars on thin-iced lakes, with stolen cigarettes. Every single time! Right beside the ear, Mother moulded that wispy Girl, a reflection of what she wanted you to be – and Conscience was her name.