Growing up, one of my favourite activities was building tree forts in the forest that was across the street from my house. And when I say forest, I mean serious forest. I don’t mean the four trees next to my current neighbourhood that all my neighbours call “the forest”. This was a legit 100 acres of forest.
My friends and I would literally spend all our free time in there, after school and on weekends, building the perfect fort made out of branches, leaves and sticks, and then hang out in it, enjoying the fruits of our labour (until my fat bully neighbour Spoon would find it and trash it… He stole all my pogs too. jerk.)
One day, my friends and I were deep in the forest, working on a pretty awesome fort. It was just starting to get dark so we were getting ready to pack it in (rule was, home before dark, obviously), and then out of nowhere, it started to rain really hard. I happened to be in a tree when the rain started, because I was trying to get a really cool-looking branch down that I thought would be a good addition to our fort.
My friends decided to leave because of the rain. And when I say decided to leave, I mean they friggin’ took off as fast as they possibly could, and left me there all alone in the tree, and unable to run away with them.
I panicked. I did NOT like being alone in the forest. There was an old tale that had been passed around (that I loved to tell around campfires when we were exchanging ghost stories), that there was an old Indian graveyard in the forest, and at night time the ghost of an Indian Chief would wander the trails, looking for little children to eat (or something like that, anyway).
I ran down the trail as fast as my nine-year-old legs could carry me, in the pouring rain, almost dark, crying hysterically the whole way.
I finally escaped the evil dark forest, breaking free of the trail just in front of my house. My friends were nowhere to be seen.
I rushed inside to my parents. I must have looked like a mess. I can only picture it. Soaking wet, covered in mud, crying hysterically.
My parents took one look at me and were all “OH MY GOD!!!! What happened to you???”
In my little nine-year-old brain, I realized that I had two options.
I could tell them the truth…or I could make up a story.
I could tell them that their only daughter was a giant loser and all her friends ran away and left her all alone, and I was terrified of being alone in the forest I spent every day in…
OR. I could be a hero.
I took a deep breath…
Once the lie was out of my mouth and I saw the look on my parents faces, I immediately regretted it. But it was too late to take it back. And the old Indian graveyard lent truth to my story. And I didn’t want to be known as a liar… so I backed that story up as best I could.
“He just appeared on the trail!”
“He was wearing animal skin!”
“He had face paint!”
“AND A NECKLACE MADE OF BONES!!!!”
“He raised his hand and said How!”
(I had seen Peter Pan, I knew what Indian Chief’s said. “Big Chief greet little mother. How.”)
I went on and on about the Indian Chief, and how afraid I was when he appeared in front of me on the trail. I think I was pretty convincing, but I never really thought about whether or not my parents believed me.
I raved on about it to my friends, too. So that they felt guilty about ditching me, and that I was the lucky one who saw the ghost of the Indian Chief. And of course, they wanted to see the ghost too.
So the next day the four of us went back into the forest. To invoke the spirit of the Indian Chief.
We held hands and sang the only Native song I knew, from Girl Guides, Land Of The Silver Birch, over and over, hoping that the ghost of the Indian Chief would show himself to us.
I felt safe in the forest with my friends again. But of course, we never saw the ghost of the Indian Chief.
A few years ago I was talking to my dad about all the stupid things I did when I was younger (there were many), and I brought up this story, and his response was “You MADE that UP?! Lindsey, I told people at WORK that story!”
My dad is awesome. He will just always want to believe anything I tell him :).