The cave was massive… To a five year old.
It was the summer of 1989. A hurricane had apparently hit a surprised UK while they were away, which meant that down here in Portugal they’d had a week solid of being stuck in the hotel because of torrential rain. Finally, he’d woken up this morning and the sun had been out.
His parents had decided not to waste what might be their only chance of coming back home with a suntan, dunked him and his little brother in enough sun cream to shield an elephant and set off down towards the beach.
Once they arrived there was only one place he was heading; across a shallow pool of sea water was a seemingly monstrous cave. His young mind wondered what mysteries might be hidden within: a dragon? Pirate treasure perhaps? He was certainly going to find out… Even if his mother insisted that his little brother wanted to go too. So while she lay back and tried not to dwell on being held up at airport security because she’d been carrying her son’s favourite metal double-decker bus toy through the detectors, his Dad took the boys across the water to the mysterious cave.
There were some bigger boys playing noisily by the entrance, yelling in a language he didn’t understand, but he wasn’t about to be cheated of the treasure he was certain was hidden somewhere beyond in the dark. His Dad saw him dart away and told him to be careful while he himself was busy keeping his younger son from eating the sand, seaweed, or anything else that could be clasped in chubby fingers.
It took his eyes a few seconds to adjust to the relative darkness inside. The cool interior was a welcome respite from the Mediterranean sun beating mercilessly down on his fair skin. Time to explore, he thought to himself, and stood to his full height… Only to immediately regret it. What the small boy hadn’t noticed was that the overhanging rocks that he’d stooped under to gain entrance to the cave went on a lot further inside than one would think looking in from the outside.
He reappeared into the daylight, mere moments after his adventure had begun, clutching the top of his head and tears already streaming down his face. After a quick inspection of his “war wound” to make sure it wasn’t actually serious, his father scooped him up and took him and his brother back to their mother.
When asked about the cave later he only had one response.
The cave was stupid.