Long before I learned other children were falling down rabbit holes and finding magical worlds in wardrobes I inhabited up my own magical island. The setting was our backyard. A large square property dotted with fruit trees (my favourite being a silver-limbed fig tree), dug up flower beds (we had two dogs and two cats) and an empty swimming pool. Each day I went out on a quest with my younger sister and a pet or two in tow to find something extraordinary. No matter the weather or the time of day. I loved cool, foggy mornings – a rarity where I grew up – when the trees like spectres beckoned with bony fingers and you could imagine something sinister lurking in the depths of that concrete pool or something magical leaping in the branches.
We believed there was pirate treasure buried in our backyard; this despite the fact that the city we lived in was well over 3000 miles away from the ocean. We drew a map. Our dry pool became the Great Sea, the patch of fruit trees became the Great Forest and the flower beds transformed into lethal swampland. We had tiny paper boats to sail in the murky puddle at the bottom of the pool; galleons filled with treasure.
We buried the map. We dug holes with garden shovels and on finding doll body parts decided they were victims of a terrible hex and the dogs’ bones we kept uncovering irrefutable proof of cannibal activity. (The broken dolls were all in fact victims of my sister’s infamous temper).
I grew up to share this imaginary world with my sons and they had a lot of fun populating my island with dinosaurs and wand-waving wizards while they dug up our backyard.
Did you have an imaginary world or an imaginary friend as a child?