Sometimes, when I head back to the island, I take myself off to visit the stone barn on McClintocks land. It has stood in the shadow of Ben More over a hundred years, and the dark, dank smell of stone is reminiscent of the years passing. Cobwebs display themselves in grotesque mysteries in the corners of those walls left standing, but the roof finally gave in, now a rotting mass of wood under moss and slate. I can hear myself shouting as I stand here; can smell the dampness on my fingers. A mixture of soil, and the secret scent of eroticism. It would be easier to write this reverie in the third person, thereby being aloof to offending my better morals, but I take the blame for what I’ve done and each tender, misguided, sortie my mind explored back then is what I am today.
I was still a virgin child after my fun in the ruins of the old barn. Back then, being thirteen, I’d go there alone, but one time took a girl. She lived at the far end of the village, the daughter of a policeman, and the school girlfriend of Billy Harrison, the class bully. A couple of the boys at school had told me Susan wore no panties under her skirt. Such silly indiscretions were then, and probably still today, the mindless occupation of a boy’s thought. It wasn’t true on the day I took her to the barn. Then, with the sun’s fingers stretching though the holes in the roof, we rolled in the soil. It’s not that my life was so depraved. It’s hard to remember how I learned about girls, or even if this particular girl was learning about me, but there in the soil we searched for answers.
One wonders now if thirteen was just a little too tender age to learn very much at all. In my innocence I considered it a journey into my own courage. Were I to be caught the world would surely have ended. She roughly pulled my zipper down and grabbed at my teenage penis. Even in this height of excitement I wondered why her eyes never opened wider, and why the blue in them never looked at me for longer than a few seconds of desire. It was rough play, lasting a couple of minutes for fear of being caught by a passer by. It just seemed, well, exciting and mysterious. Susan left the village a year later though I never touched her again.
I had taken my place among the sexually aware! Even back then I was a daydreamer. It was the time of raging hormones, and a growing awareness for the sculpture of the breast. The boys I grew up with knew nothing of the things I knew. I went to church with my parents on Sunday mornings and listen to the preacher tell me about sins and other intriguing possibilities. After church we were free to roam until lunch, which was always mid-day. I had to make the promise not to dirty my ‘church’ clothes and be on time for lunch and, when promised, was set free. It’s hard to describe freedom. For me it was the fields of wheat beside the yellow lanes that turned and buckled and disappeared round curves on the way to my beloved ocean. Come December the pale days and falling snow hid the lane, but I knew every inch of it by the twigs of life visibly poking through the white sheet of winter. The barn on the top of the hill stands today like a gravestone against the sky, the cabbage-colored moss spreading itself between the cracks of its stone walls. I did eventually find the love I searched hopelessly for there in that soil, but she, too, left my life in ruins, half built, finished.