This week's Sunday Scribblings is ...earliest memory.
My earliest memory might not be. It's possible that the half-formed images in my mind occurred earlier than the event that stands out as my earliest memory. But this is the one I can follow through with a describable image.
An apartment kitchen, clean and neat, with turquoise appliances. I'm somewhere younger than four, and it's either very late or very early, because I'm supposed to be in bed. I know my parents are asleep.
That's why I'm here in the kitchen. The cookies I crave, the ones my parents would say "no" about, are in there somewhere. But where? Not on the counter. Mommy always puts things away. The cabinet over the counter. That must be it. But it's up high. Too high for a little girl to reach. Fortunately, this particular little girl is resourceful. Also fortunately (in my opinion at the time), nobody's come up with the idea of cabinet locks yet.
I open the lower cabinet door, slowly and carefully. It squeaks. I freeze and look toward the kitchen entrance. Somehow, the parents who seem to know everything I do, all the time, don't come running to see what I've gotten myself into. Feeling rather one-up on them, I put my foot inside the cabinet and brace little fingers on the counter. The other foot braces on the top of the cabinet door for a boost. Looking back, that probably explains the squeaky hinge.
There! I'm on the counter. I can reach anything from here. But the only thing I want to reach is the cupboard door that holds those tempting, forbidden cookies. I know Mommy said they're not good for me, but they taste good.
I found it! The yellow and red box with the cookies inside! It's open, with the tab tucked neatly into the slot. Not for long. My greedy fingers dive in, folding the flaps into the box in my haste. Delicious! Even more so because I'm not supposed to have it. Yum yum yum, chocolate chip cookies. I sneak a peak at the kitchen entry again, when something catches my attention. It's bright yellow and orange, and dancing on top of the stove.
That can't really be fire, can it? Maybe I'm having a dream, like the one about the monsters. But if it's a dream, then I didn't really have cookies, and that's no fun. And that fire looks awfully real. Real enough to be scary.
I'm gonna get in big trouble if Mommy and Daddy find out about these cookies. Tentatively, I call out, "fire!" Normally, Mommy and Daddy would be there right away. Any time I'm scared, they're always right there to take care of me. Not this time. As my eyes widen, the fire seems to get bigger.
"Fire," I call a bit more loudly before finally panicking and shrieking as only a frightened four-year-old can: "Fire! Fiiiiire!" By the fourth time I shout it, I'm crying and absolutely sure that I'll have to put it out myself. But then suddenly, there's the scuffle of running feet, and I'm scooped off the counter and into Mommy's arms. Daddy's at the stove, putting the fire out. And nobody's mad about cookies at all.
I have no recollection of what came next, or what caused the fire. I'll have to ask my parents about it one of these times. I do know that the coveted chocolate chip cookies were off-limits not only because they're not appropriate breakfast food, but I was being tested for chocolate allergies at the time. I consider myself very fortunate that it turned out to be a false alarm.