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I had begun to swing so high that it was simultaneously unnerving and invigorating. It was a mindless thing, swinging back and forth. The swing was just a plank of wood and two strings. But the little cut out of woods of which my Uncle Mike called home was what made the experience so great. It wasn’t fancy or well maintained. But it was real and it was overwhelming. That’s why I never got tired of coming here, each time there was some new tree I didn’t recognize or some path I had forgot to memorize. So it was a good thing my parents really got on well with my Uncle Mike.
The night would start out in the woodshed. We’d pull in onto his driveway, which seemed as a road of its own, first passing the house of our friends Karen and her daughter Stacey, next the lake before reaching a fork in the driveway. When we’d pull through the trees that crowded the area we’d see him at the back of the property, a light on in his wood shop.
It’d start out this way, my Uncle Mike finishing up some project, me playing in the sawdust on the floor of his shop.
“See what she does? See how she designs these things? She’ll grow up to be an architect or something.” My father comments to my Uncle Mike.
We clean up and trek back up to the house, my parents and uncle Mike clinking and puffing, I’d play with the dog, try to find something on TV but he didn’t have cable, try to find a snack only to find something along the lines of pistachios. Plus I hated the smell. So that’s around when I’d duck out again.
I always left out the side door, making my way around to the other side and onto the swing. But after becoming bored quickly, I’d run over to a little area hidden in the corner of the tree line. You wouldn’t be able to find it unless you were really looking or already knew it was there. It was my hill. I would clear the fallen sticks, collect useless junk I found around and arrange it; I even had a couple of special glass bottles that I’d found on prior adventures. But if you made your way to the back of the elongated hill encircled by the forest you’d see a clearing into a field that once held horses. Unknown to the inexperienced eye, there lay intricate little porcelain shapes in the ground, ever so slightly above surface. I never moved them, but instead admired them greatly from above.
Eventually I’d venture back out of the hill. From a distance I watch my mother open the front door, and anticipating her call for concern I watch as she floats over to the cooler and back inside again.
Following the driveway out of the clearing in the woods I walk past the delectable honey suckle flowers whose aromas mingled with those of the lavender that grow behind the visible tree line and past a small useless field before making a right. I ventured over to the lake; the soothing view comforted my nature. The trees were stable and surrounded the lake with a strong grip. Behind me is the untouchable shack that I always wanted to explore but feared entering. I heard faint music in the distance. Miserably failing at trying to skip rocks was usually my frustrated motivation to move on.
I’d get back on the dirt path and make the curve. This was my favorite part of the whole property. I didn’t know how it got here or what purpose it served, and I never even asked. But behind the trees lining the lake was the largest pile of sand I’d ever seen. First I’d wobble up the side, through which trees on my left I could catch glimpses of the the lake. Then I’d slide down the middle of the pile. Only to return to the top to begin again. Finally I’d climb the hill and walk a little ways before turning off into the woods. Heading down a declined path I either turned left and walked alongside a much larger lake or turned right and took a path through the woods.
It would begin to darken at this point and I’d wonder how the rest of the night would pan out. I did not want to go back to the house. I’d simply sit there, inhaling the stench and listening to the trips of their words not understanding what was happening. The house was not made for children. It didn’t have a computer like my house or the TV stations I liked, or the foods I would sneak past my mother. I liked having my free time to explore but afterwards I really wanted to have somewhere to go back to. I didn’t like being uncomfortable around the adults, their booming laughter and the uncontrollable erratic volume of their voices.
We went nearly every weekend and this is the course of events I took, it was always this way. I liked the consistency and would forget all about how the evening would end until I was heading back up that driveway. I’d be late, my parents would get ready to leave, sloppy in every action they took. The terror within me grew, I didn’t want to go with them. We had people come to tell us about these sorts of things in school. I yearned for the few times my parents would let me walk back up the driveway, amongst the creeping black silhouettes of the tree lines I’d reach the house of Karen and Stacey and I didn’t have to tell them why I was there. My mother told me to be careful.