Saturday, May 18, 2013

18 May: Owning the World.

Day 18, Saturday: Tell a story from your childhood. Dig deep and try to be descriptive about what you remember and how you felt.

It was the middle of summer.  Days were long, so it wasn't dark after dinner, so we got to go back outside and play.  We all met up behind the garage, figuring out what we were going to do until our parents started calling us in, set by set.  The world was at our fingertips.  The lightening bugs glowed in the dusk, the smell of fresh cut grass permeated the air.  We whispered like someone might catch us and ruin our fun.

We decided that we were going to play hide and seek.  We left someone to count and we all scattered off in pairs in different directions.  We had a hard time keeping our whispers and giggles down.  My sister ran off with a cousin to someone else's house.  My neighbor and I ran off to our fort in the woods.  We could still hear Charlie counting, loudly, so we could all hear from far away.  There was no limit to how far we could go.  Down to the barn, up to the fields, in the woods, to someone's house, even in the garage where all the big dump trucks were kept.  The world was our playground, the katydids and crickets played a concert for us.

The smell of earth and leaves enveloped us as we ran to the fort, hearing Charlie finish his count down from 100.  We were out of breath as we hopped over the back logs and landed on our butts in the freshly dug earth.  We had just finished clearing out the dead leaves earlier that day.  We wanted our fort to be clean.  Our 3 fallen trees that made 3 sides of a square were perfect.  We just needed to find another tree that we could drag to finish the square.  Another day.

We waited for the sound of crunching leaves and sticks.  Nothing.  We heard shrieks of cousins being found.  That urge to pee came and went, came and went.  I always had to pee when I hid.  It was like contagious yawning, it always happened.  Then we heard a crunch, over the sound of the giggles from far away, over the katydids, over the sounds of the neighboring houses finishing up dinner and preparing to end the day.  There were more crunches and we could hear whispers.  We crouched down in the fort, behind the biggest log.  There wasn't enough light in the woods to see who was coming, but we knew.  We didn't want to be caught, so we held our breaths until the anxiety was almost unbearable.  Our eyes shone as the moon started to illuminate patches between the trees.  We whispered our plan.  Do we make a run for it?  Do we scare whoever it is?  Do we stay and just be caught?

The crunches stopped.  There was chatter and we identified who it was.  The babies of the group.  Immediately we knew what our plan was.  The crunching footsteps continued, getting louder and louder.  Coupled with the huffs and puffs of small children making it uphill in the dark.  They knew they were going to the fort.  We stayed hidden behind the largest log, barely peeping our heads over to watch their approach.  The urge to pee was almost unbearable.

Then we heard the sound of freedom ending.  The sound of an adult from the back porch, summoning their children home.  We heard the yelled responses of the 2 crunchers trudging up the hill, "COMING!"  Yet, they continued their ascent.  The game wasn't over until everyone was caught.  They were almost upon the fort when my neighbor patted my arm.  I looked at her and she nudged her head towards them.  I nodded and released my breath.  I held up my hand, dark against the night, and counted 1... 2.... 3.......

We jumped up with a scream, shattering the silence!
Our scream was echoed by the screams of the 2 making their way up to the fort.
We all doubled over in giggles, quickly jumping into the fort, to hide ourselves.  We still had yet to be caught.

Our whispers turned to chatter and our chatter gave us away.  Soon the seeker and his found companions made their way to the fort.  We heard them coming the same way we'd heard the other 2 approach.  Crunchily, with uneven breaths.  We let them find us.  It was dark and more parents had come out to give the signal yell, "COME HOME!"  We all made our way back to the light, filling the night with chatter and laughter, adding to the song of the katydids and crickets.  From our starting point, we all split up and went in our own direction towards home.

We arrived home with breathless excitement over how fun our game had been, at the exhilaration of being out past normal hours, at the freedom we were allowed.  One by one, the porch lights turned off as each child returned home.

That night was the last night we got to stay out past dark.  That night was the loudest the katydids ever were.  That night the grass smelled the sweetest.  There was nothing we couldn't do.


  1. I kept getting a Sandlot/Stand By Me vibe while reading this and I loved it. It's so great that you were able to have such freedom and innocence as a child to play like this.

  2. This was wonderfully written, TM.


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