Please read “About this project and the Author” for more information on my project. In this excerpt, Daryl talks about friendship.
“Welcome to the next chapter of tonight’s story titled Citizen of Ville Joie. For those of you just joining us, Ville Joie means Happy Town and it was also the name of an orphanage where I spent time when I was as a child. When I was an orphan.
Orphan. Sounds like a word we could use instead of the word loneliness, doesn’t it? But get a few children together somewhere, anywhere and it won’t take long for alliances to take form and quickly grow into something stronger. Given the right circumstances, a bond can happen almost instantly. The fire that is friendship is sparked by something shared by people. An interest, a passion, a situation or even an object, as inconsequential as it may seem, is enough to get a flame going. The bigger the spark, the bigger the fire.
I am not the only orphan living in Happy Town and my best friend’s name is Allan. We met on the first day I woke up at the orphanage and we have been inseparable ever since, except of course for the time we spend apart when we are sent to live with families. Allan was already at the orphanage when I got there, so he knew his way around and taught everything I needed to know about the place. He also taught me how to play marbles, the best way to spend time with a friend or to settle differences with an enemy. Allan and I spent each of the four seasons together at Ville Joie. This may sound like an odd thing to say but it is a rare thing. Every day has the potential of being our last together. We see kids come and go on a regular basis without warning. Maybe it is this sense of urgency that drives our friendship to be what it is. Each day we spend together is another flame in the fire of our friendship. The kind of friendship that makes you do silly things.
On a cold day of late winter or very early spring, Allan and I decide we have had just about enough of this whole orphanage business and we decide to escape this evil place. I don’t know what it is exactly that triggered this firm decision of ours to leave, but damn it, we are determined to leave and no one is going to stand in our way. Ville Joie is an orphanage and not an institution where we are committed, we are therefore free to come and go as we please, so long as we are reasonable and careful. And so just before dinner, we put on our coats and our not so warm, kids astronaut winter boots and the rest of our winter clothes and off we are. That is pretty much the whole plan.
Allan and I walk, no parade, in front of the educators and speak to each other loud enough for them to hear us say that we have had it with this place and we are leaving, knowing for sure the educators will rush to stop us, and beg us to reconsider. No response. No reaction. I guess all there is left to do is actually leave. We exit through the side door and walk down the driveway leading to the street in front of the orphanage with the snow so cold, we can hear it crack under our feet. Once we reach the end of the driveway, we turn around to look at the orphanage one last time and begin our escape in the freezing dusk.
About fifteen long, interminable and gut wrenching…steps later, Allan and I realize we haven’t had dinner yet. We decide it would be best to eat first, this way we will have more strength and will travel a much greater distance with food in our stomachs. We run back to Ville Joie and, because it is so cold, enter the building through the front entrance which is much closer than the door we used to escape. We sit down in our seats in the mess hall, still fully dressed and still very much determined to leave immediately after our meal. A meal which turns out to be quite good and during which we remove our coats, followed by a sweet dessert we ate while taking off our boots, the whole thing washed down with a rich hot chocolate by the last sip of which, our whole winter attire is lying on the floor by the table. The subject of our escape was never to be mentioned again. Thank God for friendship, it has this way of washing away the embarrassment that should follow doing silly things because the silliness is shared….”
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