Life was fun and easy growing up. There were three of us: my older brother, Konrad, my twin sister, Cassie, and me. We grew up in an old farmhouse that was on the other side of town, away from Main Street. As kids, we fought more than normal, but I got picked on the most as the middle child. There was always a tendency for Konrad and Cassie to go do something fun without me because of their similar interest in gaming. I tended to be independent and do things on my own. I enjoyed drawing and watching television, but I also just liked to imagine things. I think a lot, and my imagination helps me put my mind towards something that I can enjoy.
Cassie and I have shared a room for our whole lives. You would have thought that the everyday interaction from being home together would be the same at school, but it wasn’t. I never saw her most school days. Being the tomboy that I was, I usually hung out with the boys playing basketball while she played with the girls who liked gymnastics. The weird part about it is that’s all I really remember about her when we were young. We never really talked to each other until later in eighth grade. There’s not much to remember about my brother either. With him being four years older than I was, we always went different ways. I looked up to him in many aspects though, and always stole his large sweatshirts and shorts.
The times that I spent alone were made up on the days Konrad and Cassie invited me to join them in the woods. Stretched by two acres of land, our backyard had a small hidden marsh that was filled with peepers that would scream on hot summer nights. Traveling farther back over the humps of tall grass that grew between the wetland, you met the woods. The woods was our secret, kept away from the outside calamity in the world and in our lives.
I remember the day perfectly. There was cool air and warm rays of sun that shadowed through the trees. We had just finished lunch, expecting we would be gone for a while. Dressed tightly from head to toe like warriors going into battle, we diligently ran across the yard to the tree line that, beyond, identified as our backyard. After scrambling through the tall grass, we met the marsh. Konrad went first over the grass patches, Cassie following closely. I watched carefully from behind, making sure I wouldn’t take a wrong step and fall in the muddy, low water like many times before. They did it so easily, like they were engaged in a video game pretending they were the main characters running over obstacles.
Once we had reached dry land, we navigated ourselves through the trees to our main hideout, marked with our handmade stick-bridge that ran over a fast-moving stream that split the woods in two. We strung cloth between trees for cover. Inside the covering we kept our tools that helped us in any situation that we came across. These included different sized axes and knives that my brother had saved up for over the years. We would use them to take down trees and cut wood for fires.
Today we were under surveillance from outside intruders that were disrupting our hideout spot when we were gone. We knew they were Native Americans that wanted their land back. We sat there for hours, pretending it was days, until suddenly we heard footsteps running quickly in the distance, coming closer towards us. We scrambled around trying to make a game plan fast. The noises were getting closer and closer, followed by a howl that echoed throughout the woods. It was the Native Americans.
We spared no time to stay and fight because from the sound of it, there were many of them. My brother took the lead motioning Cassie and I back towards home. We ran. Fast. Adrenaline rushed through my body as I took each quick step, doing as best I could until we met the marsh once again. I looked ahead to find my siblings, only seeing that they had already disappeared, and I was left alone. In the commotion of the moment, I began to cry and thought that I was done for. I had to pull myself together. Using all my strength, I didn’t miss a step and finally reached the backyard.
I stepped back, back onto the recently mowed lawn, the old yellow farmhouse, back to civilization, the noise of footsteps and screaming behind me now silent.
And I had realized it was all my imagination.
Stephanie Nevers is a 17-year-old from Connecticut.