October 27, 2006

Foot Fettish Friday No. 4: One foot in a grave with the devil on my heels

Editor's note: This Foot Fettish Friday is a little different as there is no picture, but a story. This was a fun commentary for me to write. It was published in today's paper. It is a story that makes me laugh at my naivety as a child and hope that I have matured (not too much though). As a child my family never celebrates Halloween, so there was no basis for fear of monsters and goblins. Here is my story, I hope you too enjoy it.

-- Published in Fort Polk Guardian (Oct. 27, 2006) --
By: MICHELLE LINDSEY, Guardian staff writer

I remember the day well. My siblings and I had just found reprieve from nearly a week-long imprisonment in the house due to October storms. I was 9 or 10 at the time and all I could think about was getting away from my 11 sisters and brothers. The sun finally peeked through the clouds as we each raced in different directions on the family farm, reveling in our freedom.
I cut through the field by our dilapidated barn to visit a friend who lived behind us.
As usual, I took the shortcut though the old cemetery nestled in the woods. I often played there as a child, a place my siblings feared. It was a quiet haven with graves from the early 1900s.
My favorite pastime was trying to imagine the lives of those who rest there from the writing on their headstones. From beloved spouses side by side to a family of six with children surrounding the parents, I considered them all my friends.
My favorite was an old World War II Soldier whose final resting place was in the front corner beneath an old oak tree with a hand carved headstone proclaiming his heroism.
But this day, there was no stopping to visit. I was free from my rain-soaked prison. I slowed to a walk as I entered the cemetery, skirting puddles and greeting each “resident” as I passed. Through the dilapidated fence and broken gate, along the time worn path I went. Out of excitement, I walked along the cement border of an elderly couple’s grave which rested in the center.
Quick to be on my way, I lost my footing and stepped on the grave, sinking up to my knee in the mud. Frantically I tried to pull my leg out, but the more I pulled the bigger mess I made. Then my foot hit something solid.
As I braced to pull myself up I noticed the earth at the head of the grave move upward. The suction sound of wet mud pierced the silence as I fell backwards. I anxiously pulled my leg free and scrambled to my feet as fast as my short legs could in the mud. I raced home, sure the “devil” was after me.
I quietly entered the house through the back washroom, stripped off my muddy pants and pulled on a pair from the dryer. I’m not even sure now if they were mine. I slipped quietly to the room I shared with my younger sister. I crawled into bed, not uncommon for me as an avid reader.
I’m not sure how much time passed as I prayed under my breath, trying to forget the feeling of my leg trapped in the mud. I made all sorts of promises to God in that time, hoping for redemption. Sunday school lessons swirled in my head as I wondered why the devil picked me. Surely, one of my siblings would be a better choice.
When my father came home he greeted me as he made his way down the hallway of bedrooms and commented how even after being cooped up in the house for days, I still stayed inside to read.
I didn’t tell my parents or siblings what happened that day and it took me a while to return to my secret hiding place.
Even now, years later, when I visit my parents I stop by the old cemetery, now overgrown with weeds. I greet each resident as always and try to clear away sticks and leaves, but now I stop to feverishly apologize to that elderly couple for the disrespect of stepping on their grave that October day.
I know now that the week of rain made the coffin float towards the surface and stepping on it caused it to move on the other side. But, still I relive that moment of fear. Now I maintain a respectful 2-foot distance from the graves when I visit, for fear of the devil chasing me again.

1 Tea Party Guest:

lime said...

oh man! that is quite the story! i think as a kid it would have just caused my heart to stop on the spot. yowza!