I am blessed with a vivid imagination. Being an only child, it kept me entertained and at times has gotten the upper hand. There are times when I feel my creativity is a hindrance, but whatever is going on in my life, I can count on my fertile imagination to spice things up.
When I was a teen, my step-family and I would go up north to the cottage. Set back deep in the woods, it was a quaint place. There was no insulation or drywall on the walls in the main area and the three bedrooms (four if you considered we used the unfinished bathroom as a bedroom for my younger step-brother) were covered with 70’s faux-wood paneling with just curtains for doors. We had running water. Well, cold running water, no hot, and since my step-brother was using the bathroom as a bedroom, we had an outhouse.
We kids would go out in pairs to the outhouse at night. Generally, we’d hold it until someone else had to go, but this one night I had to go out on my own. There was a light outside that pointed in the general direction of the small building set back within a large lilac bush, but still, the fifty feet or so walk felt like a thousand when you have to go it alone. I remember looking down at the ground as I walked, making sure I didn’t trip over a stray branch or something, and this is when my imagination went into over-drive. I remember looking down at the dirt, envisioning hands coming up out of the ground and grabbing for my ankles, dragging me down into some kind of pit that I would never escape, or being munched on by creatures. Images of boney, decomposing bodies were all I could think of especially as the shadows look darker than they really were. It’s enough to say that by the time I got to the outhouse my imagination had pretty taken over my better judgement. My heart raced as I reached up and turned the wood latch that kept the door closed, and as it slowly swung open, I saw it. It stared at me with it’s big yellow eyes and I immediately shut the door, turned the wood latch and calmly walked back to the cottage.
I walked inside and didn’t say a word. I sat down on the closest chair and started to cry. I cried, and cried, and cried. I don’t know if it was from fear or the fact that I GOT AWAY, but once it started, I couldn’t stop. Everyone pounded me with questions; am I all right? What happened? Did I hurt myself? All I could say was…
“It’s in the outhouse.”
My step-father grabbed a broom and headed outside, followed by my step-siblings and my mother. I followed, but made sure I was several feet back. In the partial light from the house, we gathered a few yards away from the small building. My step-father reached out and turned the latch before jumping back. The door swung open, and there it was, still sitting on the seat and my step-father carefully poked it with the broom. With my family around me, I looked at it with more courage.
It was a home-made dummy. Of course, once we realized what it was, the whole thing was funny. My step-father asked me why I’d locked the door, and I replied simply, “I didn’t want it to get away.”
Someone had gone to the trouble of putting together this thing and putting it in our outhouse. It took up a good portion of the interior and must have taken some time to put together. The yellow eyes I saw were a sheet of yellow paper with two crude-looking eyes drawn on with a pencil. A quick check over the weekend found the creators of this thing. One of the other cottagers concocted this dummy in retaliation for a prank pulled on them. Their outhouse had been stacked with wood, floor to ceiling and for some odd reason they thought we’d done it.
We had fun with the dummy for the rest of the weekend, and I will always remember that incident as the point in my life where my over-active imagination and real life came together for a few, intense, hysterical moments.