I remember once, a long time ago when I was still very little, I got in trouble with my parents for defacing their wallpaper. See, at that time I was very impressionable, and we had a pet cat. KITTy, she was rather imaginatively named (my mum had wanted a dog but dad insisted on getting a pet with power steering), and she had at least as much impact on me during my formative years as either of my other siblings. I swore and got mardy like I'd seen Paul do, ate too much candy like Kerri and of course, like Kitty I made it my goal in life to destroy any expensive components of the interior that could conceivably be used as a scratching post.
Anyway, that's why my parents found me stretched out halfway up the stairs, mewling and slashing at the wall.
I remember a long lecture and a couple of bright red, steamed beetroot faces, probably constructed from all the cartoons I watched as much as the actual events. A recurring theme in it was money, I couldn't understand this so much as to my mind paper had always been something that was free, that I was even encouraged to take. Nonetheless I wanted to make things right, drain all the hot blood out of their faces and make them pink and friendly again, every week they gave me a pound to spend, with it I'd buy the latest copy of The Beano and a 20p bag of sweets, (there seemed so much more in them then, I can't decide whether that's more to do with price gouging newsagents or that when you're small a licorice cable is as long as your arm) that left me 45p each week that I saved up to buy action figures, (I had no real concept of the permanency of time's passage, 10 weeks seemed a long time to wait until I'd be able to buy a thing I wanted, but nothing more. I didn't think of time as moving towards anywhere, didn't notice myself getting older, it never occurred to me that once a moment had passed I would never be able to see it again because it never occurred to me that I might want to. I was immortal until the age of 11) I felt particularly rich that particularly morning, having saved up well over a pound and offered up my fortune with enthusiasm, as the "lots of money" they would need to put things right.
I remember their scorn, thinking I was trying to bribe my way out of punishment rather than atone for the damage I had done. They explained without sympathy that my riches were not enough. I was horrified, their income consisted of a single pound every week which, as I said, they immediately passed on to me. Exiled then to my room, I glared at the tired winter sky and considered the dilemma, there did exist larger hoards than my own, buried in my brother's red bank treasure chest bank, the twin of my own in every respect but its contents. I wasted little time in making the switch, my burning fingers did not sweat as I twisted my key in another person's lock and pooled their healing power with my own (awareness of privacy and property only comes later in life, bringing with it covetousness. To a child the only general law is that everything they can see belongs to them).
Then, I don't remember... I was caught somehow, not especially surprising as I made no attempt to conceal my actions, not perceiving myself to be at fault. There followed another lecture, worse than the one before. Stealing was wrong I was told, had I been in the habit of using a dictionary at that time I would have looked the word up on the spot.
The next thing I remember clearly is lying in the bath that night, surrounded by disapproving eyes. It was especially hot, scalding in terms of pre-teen hyperbole. The whole scene was biblical, myself slowly boiling in the lake of sulphur (and again, back then it was really was a lake, it seems so strange now that I ever wondered what the headrest in our bath was for) while the holy looked down from their self-righteous, grown-up heaven. I didn't tell them why I had done what I did, shame had completely muted my shrill little voice, I didn't telntil years later, (I was surprised to find they still remembered too) I just laid and cried until the water level had risen a few more inches and was creeping dangerously close to my mouth and nose.
I never stole anything again, though I couldn't quite tell you why. My mother came into my room later and hugged me goodnight.