Ask My Imagination About Labor Day
The imagination that lives inside the mind of a child is a speeding train that travels down a route towards mischief, chaos, and sometimes danger, considering the fact that many are often thrown aboard whether they want to be or not. I discovered this fact one Labor Day about ten years back. The memories of fear and triumph from that day still linger in the depths of my mind where I revisit them from time to time. I can recall this experience that still lives with me as a memory of the greatest fear and victory I have ever known in my childhood adventures. It was on this late summer day that my imagination managed to inflict fear and absolute belief into all those who listened to it, including myself.
There were six of us cousins, all ranging in age from three to seven. I was the oldest, which was a title I carried with great pride. The others treated me as their leader because of my age, and I enjoyed the fact that they often treated my opinion with more honor than they gave to the opinions of their parents. Every summer that I could remember, our parents had brought us up to the small, quiet town of Nisswa, Minnesota to stay with our grandmother for weeks at a time. Each of us treated her cabin as our second home, feeling as though we could run wild up there without a care in the world. We felt as if we owned the place, knowing every part of our grandmother’s property like the back of our hand. The cabin itself was small and yellow, with a small living area, kitchen, two bedrooms, and a screened porch. However, because our time was rarely spent inside, the outdoors proved to be much more valuable to us. Straight out from the porch was the lake and a fire pit located about five feet from the shore that often served as our excuse to avoid going to bed at a reasonable hour. Out back, the driveway curled up a hill that stopped at a dirt road, which took you to and from the neighborhood.
Near here, was the garage and the shack, which was a small out building used for extra sleeping space. Beyond this road was the untouched and un-owned woods, which were only ever used by us cousins to build forts and have our battles. Since my grandmother’s neighborhood was a dead end strangers were rarely seen and the road was only used by those coming and going from their own cabins, which did not occur often. Everybody knew everybody, which is exactly where, one day, my imagination let loose with a curiosity and creativity that I could not control.
It was Labor Day weekend and the chill of fall had already set in, early for August. All of us cousins arrived at my grandma’s cabin on that Friday night, and our excitement filled the air all throughout the next day until we stopped from our fort building to take a break. This moment is where my imagination began to run wild.
“Who lives in that green cabin on the end of the road?” my six-year old cousin, Avery, asked me. Avery was my closest companion out of all the cousins. This was primarily because, like me, she was a dare devil and would try anything for adventure.
“That cabin has been abandoned for as long as I can remember,” Clay answered for me. Other than being the same age, Clay was the complete opposite of Avery in every way. He was a blonde haired blue-eyed scaredy cat, with his three main fears able to be summed up in three words: thunderstorms, ghosts, and dogfish. He avoided anything that could bring about risk, which was saying a lot for a six-year old.
The cabin that my cousin referred to, did certainly seem to be abandoned. Like Clay, I had never seen anybody there and the only decoration of some sort was a medium sized stone statue sitting in the back yard. The wheels in my child sized brain began to turn vigorously as I analyzed the cabin, creating a story that I simply could not resist telling to my band of loyal subjects who would cling to every word I said with terror and trust in their eyes. “Let’s go to the shack,” I commanded them excitedly, “I’ll tell you the truth about that green cabin.” With that, we all sprinted eagerly to the shack, entered, and climbed the ladder to the sleeping loft where we all sat with silence and anticipation
making the air feel heavy and tense. I began to share with them all that my mind had managed to create, which was quite a large
amount for having only two minutes to think. “There used to be an old witch living in that cabin,” I started, lowering my voice to a whisper for effect. “At first, the witch lived all alone in the neighborhood and could cast her spells whenever she pleased. However, over time, people began to move in and the witch had to be more careful or else she would be discovered.” I paused for a second to create suspense and survey their faces as they absorbed the information. Clay, who was already cowering in a corner, covered his ears and whimpered, as I continued. “The witch was forced to only cast her spells at night when people were asleep. So, she decided that she must hide during the day and took the form of a statue in the back yard of the cabin. At night,” I explained, “she comes around and casts her spells on all the innocent people she can find because she is angry with them for moving in here.”
“How do people know this if everybody is asleep?” Avery asked, her face being the only one not paralyzed by fear.
“The only evidence is the loud, piercing scream of a witch as she leaves the statue,” I finished, with my voice trailing off at the end. A heavy silence filled with fear hung over the room as we all sat, thinking our thoughts.
Finally, Avery spoke, “We should go move the statue,” she announced with confidence, already climbing down the ladder. At this thought Clay began to cry and the others, aside from my five-year old sister who insisted on following me everywhere, appeared to be staying behind. So Avery, my sister, and I climbed down the ladder and out of the shack without a word to one another, as if we knew we were on a dangerous mission that was too serious for our words to discuss.
It was now dark out and the autumn air was cool and crisp. As we crept behind our cabin and down the road, I could see the parents has started a fire and I could hear their voices trailing off into the night. We crept down the dirt road and to the edge of the yard, where we paused to survey our surroundings. Then, slowly and carefully, to soften the sounds of crunching leaves beneath our feet, we entered the yard and moved to the statues side. It was during this moment, that I felt my first feeling of actual fear and excitement as my imagination began to, once again, occupy my thoughts. It was then that I failed to notice a crucial piece of evidence that could have saved us from am unknown terror-my sister was barefoot. The three of us bent over and gripped the stone with our small hands. Slowly we managed to lift it off the ground a solid two inched before we collapsed under the weight and dropped the statue.
A piercing scream sliced the calm night and flooded my mind and heart with a sudden fear as though I could not breath. All we could do was run. In an instant everything my imagination had created became reality to me and the witch was after us. I ran with my heart thumping in my ears and fear making it hard for my lungs to wheeze oxygen into my body, as I sprinted like a madman down the dirt road. I tore open the door to the shack, climbed the loft, and lay flat to the ground. Avery scrambled up the ladder behind me and we sat panting for several minutes before we made the worst discovery I could ever have imagined-my sister was not among us. The realization hit the two of us instantly and we stared at one another, wide eyed. We had to go back.
We once again descended the ladder, taking with us any and all courage we could find. We walked down the road for what seemed like hours, until we could hear a the soft crying of a child. My sister came hobbling down the road, favoring her small, statue-crushed foot. Relief washed over Avery and I. No witch had screamed, no sister had been lost forever to the unknown horrors of witchcraft, and, the parents had not managed to find out, which was a thought that surprisingly had just crossed my mind now.
As the three of us joined the others in the loft, we agreed mutually upon couple of things. We had just survived a traumatic experience that would be remembered throughout our childhood as triumphant, yet terrifying. We also agreed to hide our experience from the parents until enough time had passed to eliminate all threats of punishment. Finally, we all agreed upon the fact that although we had escaped, there was still a witch inside of a statue a couple of cabins down from us, where we all vowed to never go again. I remember in that moment, although acknowledging that this story had come from me, that I believed that my imagination had truly been correct. I believed my own story wholeheartedly, which was a thought that often times has scared and mesmerized me over the years that followed that Labor Day.