Menana: A Story from my Childhood

Once upon a time, I came to Earth from another planet.

This is a true story of a slantedly true story.

Time pulls apart like taffy and then is wadded back together into a ball, so my understanding of my childhood timeline distorts with the more distance I gain between then and now. I rely mostly on my instinct alone to place my memories from an era when I never minded time or schedules, and when in doubt, I use my mother as a timekeeper, a guardian of what I could not remember for myself during my youth.

With my gut as a compass, I deem this is a story from my eighth year of life.

When we were kids, we rewrote our tales to what we wanted to be truth. Imagination was laced with fact because anything that happened in our minds was real and indisputable; our brains surpassed physics, a lawless realm of creative activity. It was in this prehistoric cerebral environment in which Menana was molded, discovered.

Perhaps nothing else points to my privilege quite so much as my childhood desire to suffer. I thought my life was boring, and as I watched kids shoved in lockers on television and nerdy girls ridiculed by football players in movies, I identified with the martyrs even though I never faced such adversity myself. In reality, I was granted little attention by my peers, not beloved nor scorned (a blessing, though I didn’t realize it), but I wanted trauma to show me I was special. Now I understand why my childhood friend once called me a brat. I was a foolish, spoiled girl with the audacity to long for the burdens other people would have given anything to relieve.

Nevertheless, I invented myself, a fable of strife. Though my red hair is an echo of my mother’s, it wouldn’t do to be an earthling. No, I wielded the truth like a writer.

Menana was a jungle world, home to monkeys and non-human primates, a sort of planet of the apes. There, among the lush rubber green leaves and misting air, I was born in my true form, a type of chimpanzee unknown to Earth. I dreamt of this faraway home like a heaven, its pure greenlands and ripe flora.

But these primate-adjacent creatures, my kin, intelligent enough to elude human detection, knew that Earth needed to be monitored, and so as a youngling I was chosen to infiltrate the planet disguised as their own flesh, to report observations of the human society to Menana. To people, I seemed seamless, but in my heart I knew I was only a temporary occupant of their diseased and polluted globe, a beautiful though lesser version of whence I came. I played their rules as my duty to Menana. Treading through this existence in pink feeble flesh, dreaming of the teeming homeland.

Though inherently never belonging.

I clasped this creation story like I could will it to fulfillment. Having my own origin tale, I felt established and sure, and with this inscrutable devotion, Menana actualized in the cosmos. Even as the years trickled and Menana slid back into the space of my mind, the magic receding, the mission now fleeting, I could never scorn my younger self by saying it was all pretend. That would have been cruel.

Menana was not made up. A makeshift myth, but not mock. A mental home, a memory of my heart.

I still honor this truth today, hold it near. Even when the realms have folded and been shook taut, and the dissonance leaks across versions of myself, I believe in the lore of my younger self and her mystified Menana.

My slanted truth.

To read short stories by Slanted Spines, check out this page.

To read poetry by Slanted Spines, check out this page.

To read blog posts from Slanted Spines, check out this page.


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