One time, when I was ten or eleven years old, for a holiday or something my uncle bought me a model set of a scale V-8 engine. He knew I was into cars, but without kids himself, had no idea that this kind of gift was worlds beyond my preteen intellectual abilities. It fell to the wayside that year, useless in comparison to the easy to open, assemble and operate toys my parents bought me instead.
I had completely forgotten about this model until one night in college when I couldn’t sleep because I was too wrapped up in my own existential crises of the time and too nostalgic looking at all the old car posters in my room. I remembered the V-8 engine, and how even at 21 I couldn’t name a single part in a car engine, let alone assemble one, which was sad because I had been driving them five years at that time. So, with some sort of unexplained sense of unfinished accomplishment, I felt a need to finish it. Or really, to start it.
I got out of bed and started to tear apart my closet, piece by piece, coming across old articles of clothing I never wore, a few aging airsoft guns and even a few smaller models I never assembled, but alas, no V-8 engine. With my labors unyielding, I grabbed a flashlight and headed quietly to the attic, hoping that would be lend a more fruitful search. It took me a little digging and a lot of splinter avoiding in my bare feet, but finally I found it. I blew most of the dust off the box, removing more with my hands, and held the box in my hands like a treasure. It was smaller than I remembered, and the age on the box said 12+, which now looking back on it means I should have been easily able to complete it when I got it.
I worked these thoughts out of my mind, instead turning my attention to the plastic wrap around the box which came off with ease. I pried the color-aged box top off to find a colony of loose parts, of all colors, alongside a small screwdriver, which at that moment gave me a sense of Excalibur in it’s placement. I touched the blue handle lightly, almost afraid to accept its reality at first. Then I just stared at the parts for a good five minutes before I remembered there was an instruction manual. I opened it to page one, and I began to build.
I must have worked on that model for five hours, by the light of my flashlight and the streaks of full moonlight that snuck in through the skylight above. Hours of part maneuvering and placing, losing, then replacing small screws and setting them into place with a tool made for hands half the size of mine word my fingers out. By the time I was finished, my fingers were a little sore and my flashlight was running low on batteries which didn’t matter because the sun was beginning to peer it’s eyes over the horizon. I looked at my creation before me, a lot smaller than I thought it would have been when I first received the box, and felt a sense of nostalgic victory. For years, this project taunted me from the dust piles and cobwebs of my attic, and now, too distant from my childhood to remember anything all too vividly, I completed a milestone that was meant for years prior. I thought about how, at age eleven, I would have proudly shown my father to gain his five minutes of fame for the day, and he’d ask me the name of a few parts of the engine as a quiz before asking me to grab him another beer and I’d feel like I was on top of the world. He’d tell me I could be a mechanic someday, or better year, a car designer. I’d smile and walk away accomplished.
That’s what I would have done then. Now, ten years later, I folded the pieces of the box and put them in the trash can, with the plastic wrap on top. I took my finely tuned engine, my product of nostalgic victory, and brought it back to the confines of the attic. I turned my flashlight back on, moving past splinters and upturned nails to the back, farthest corner, where a lonely black shadow kept all light from entering. I took my prized engine, which seemed even small now in my hands, and wiping away some of the cobwebs, placed it into that dark corner, displacing a slumbering daddy longlegs in the process. I placed the small blue screwdriver next to it, then thought better of it and wedged the sharp end into the wood in between two planks, with the crystalline blue handle glowing in the light of my flashlight, sticking straight out like the tool of Excalibur that it truly was to me.
I took one last look at my creation, then turned and left, knowing that, like my childhood, I’d never return to it. I locked the attic door on my way out and checked the floor for loose parts, covering up any traces of my journey back into one of the aspects of my childhood that I forgot to partake in.
It's really a short story, but I wanted to share it nonetheless, and have no other way to.