In the last few months of his life, Cayden Smith was asked by his good friend John Ocala to write the story of his life. This is that story.
My name is Cayden Thomas Smith and I was born June 15th 1981. I was born into a typical Australian family in a sleepy little town not that far away from Sydney. My parents, Caitlin and Eric Smith, already had a six year old daughter, Ava. And let’s just say, my dad was more than happy to finally have a son. Don’t get me wrong, he was proud of Ava but having a son meant he had someone to carry on the family name.
By the time I was four, I’d grown into quite the young gentleman. Sure, I climbed trees and ran around playing cops and robbers and shit like that with the other boys, but almost everyone commented on what a polite boy I was. That only served to make Dad even prouder of me. Ava was around ten by then and was too busy trying to persuade Mom to let her try on some make up to care about playing with her baby brother, so the hours spent without my friends were boring and somewhat lonely considering I’d spent the majority of my young life either playing with my friends or toddling around after my sister.
I sat on the couch on my own, swinging my legs a little. Mom and Dad had had to rush off without warning and I was waiting for my cousin Sarah to show up.
“How’s my favourite little cousin?” she smiled when she turned up, holding her arms out for a hug.
I threw myself at her thin frame, my small child’s hands scrabbling at the back of her shirt. I was a little scared, okay?
“Good to see you too, sport. What’s the matter?” she asked softly, stroking my hair as I buried my head in her neck.
“Did I hurt the baby? I was extra careful, I promise. I just wanted to feel it kicking” I sniffled out, my head still buried in her neck.
She chuckled. “The baby’s fine, sugar. Your folks just went for a little check up, is all. Now, has your daddy ever taken you fishing?”
I shook my head. Sure, there was a lake a couple miles from our house but we’d never gone. I’d asked a few times if we could go but I’d always been told “when you’re older”. Apparently four was old enough but then Mom got pregnant and all Dad’s attention was focused on this mysterious thing called a baby. I didn’t understand what all the fuss was about; I hadn’t even seen the thing.
Sarah stood up, clasping my hand in hers, and led me out to her car. The drive there was quiet but neither of us were bothered by it, both content to just listen to the sounds around us. Much was the same when we reached the lake. She handed me a fishing rod with a smile, picking up her own and all the other shit you need for fishing. We ambled over to the rickety old jetty in silence, perching on the edge. Sarah slid her shoes off and let her feet hang down into the cool water. I couldn’t even reach it if I stretched as far as I could go. I pouted at her and she laughed, ruffling my hair.
“Maybe you can go for a swim later”
After a few hours of neither of us catching anything, I finally had a bite. I half scared Sarah to death as I squealed at the top of my lungs, not quite sure how to catch the Leviathan I was convinced was on the end of my line. She showed me what to do and soon enough, I’d caught the beast. Considering I’d been convinced I’d caught a sea monster, it was a lot smaller than I’d imagined.
“Daddy said the baby was due soon” I said as I looked at the fish flopping around on the jetty. Sarah was busy filling a bucket with water for the fish but she sort of nodded in response. “Do you think the baby wants any presents?”
“It might do. It depends what you were thinking of”
Sarah put the bucket down by my feet and I carefully dropped the fish into the water inside it, watching as it filled up most of the bucket.
“Could I give it my fishie?” I asked after a while.
“Sorry, kiddo, you’ve gotta throw him back”
“But I caught him for the baby” I gave her the hugest puppy eyes I could muster.
“Alright” she sighed, smiling as I cheered and jumped into the water, apparently bored with fishing now that I’d caught something for the baby.