My backyard, I guess, holds more memories about the actual people than the physical place, but it hadn’t always been that there. Matt was the father my friend Corrie. We became good friends since our parents were good friends. Matt and his wife divorced, though, when Corrie and I were in fourth grade and Matt came to live with us for four months. He slept on an air mattress on top of the pool table downstairs; the same pool table that used to be our friend’s dining room table, and now sits on the bottom of a cliff, (my friends Alex and Joe took it when my dad wanted to get rid of it and threw it over a cliff—what else was there to do for fun in Ogdensburg? We talked about it for weeks!) It was really awkward when Matt would get the kids on the weekend and they’d visit my house. It definitely took a toll on mine and Corrie’s friendship; but in the beginning, we were still close.
My dad refused to let Matt pay rent, so instead he did random things around the house—such as: fixing the shingles on the roof, cooking us dinner once or twice a week (he was a teacher at a culinary school), and cleaning out the jungle in my backyard. The project took weeks and with each tree I saw coming down, I got more and more upset. I liked my little jungle. I never ventured into it; I was only ten, but I liked to look at it and imagine what would live there, and if I could. I don’t remember much of the process of clearing out the area, but I do remember the bones.
We must have collected at least nine skeleton’s worth of bones. Corrie and I pretended they were human bones and we created a little “museum” in my garage. Thinking back, it was really disturbing and morbid, but aren’t most museums when you really think about it? We grabbed all the printer paper and markers we could find in the house and drew up little signs and descriptions explaining what or who each bone came from. We made up stories of the fake dead people and told them to our younger brothers and sisters that really freaked them out.
“This one,” I told my sister and Corrie’s sister, Kathy, holding up a tiny bone, “is from this girl in my class….Becky….who one day, was walking around in our backyard, and saw…a zombie!” Wide eyes and open mouths enticed me to keep going. Six year olds are such suckers, I remember thinking as I continued, “It was yelling ‘braaaiiiiiiiiiiiiinnnssss’ and had brains in its mouth but when he saw Emily, he was like ‘I want her braaaaaiiiinnnnnns instead, so then, he killed her and ate her brains.” I know, I know, my story telling skills are greatly approved from when I was nine, and now I can at least keep my main character’s names straight, but, hey, they were stupid six year olds and they clung to my every word.
Then Corrie told a story about a little six year old girl, Emma, who used to sleep in the room Ashley and I now sleep in. How one night she was outside walking her dog when it ran into the jungle and got eaten by a killer plant (we had just learned about Venus Fly Traps in science class that day). Then the plant was mad that it ate a dog instead of a person, so I chased after Emma and ate her, too. My sister was so scared to sleep in the house—I was too, but I wouldn’t admit it, (I still cringe when I hear the name Emma). Corrie’s story was much scarier than mine.
In all actuality, they were deer and raccoon bones, not the bones of little dead girls.