My First and Only Real Live Mystery
Imagination is a powerful force and a dangerous weapon. Some use it as a tool to solve a bothersome problem, while others find a haven, an escape for a few quiet hours. Even so, when the human mind fails to master this creative might, slavery to Fantasy is the consequence we face.
But for a curly-haired, bright-eyed child such as myself, it was the doorway to a home-adventure I never desire to experience again.
I was nine years old when I embellished my mind with Nancy Drew mystery stories. I became addicted to the racing sensation that attacked my heart when the cunning villains withdrew their glinting knives. I felt I was the sleuth, my mind buzzing with ways to make my escape. My imagination went wild with every story, for such was my obsession. Little did I know how much impact those books had on both my and my sisters’ innocent spirits.
The night before that fateful day, our neighbor, an elderly lady who lived next door to us, marched up to our porch with disturbing news. Nervously, she described a strange, red car that roamed up and down our street in the cloak of night. To her, the driver appeared to be scouting. Her thoughts went to the young children of the neighborhood, and a fear of a kidnapping lurked in her soul. She made it her mission to warn the families, including mine.
The next morning, my dad was home from his night shift and asleep in bed. My mom was at work, and we kids were alone. It was a perfect storm for young minds.
My sister, I will call her Janette, was the first to fall. Eight years old and just as much of a fan of Nancy Drew as I, the excitement was too much to bear. “Jill!”
“What?” I said groggily, just waking up from my beauty sleep.
“I think there is a man in our house!” she said excitedly.
“I think there is a man in the house!!”
“It’s just your imagination.” I said, but my detective senses tingled. I smelled a mystery in the air.
“No!” she insisted. “I heard the footsteps, and then I saw the rocking chair moving and…” she hesitated dramatically. “I think I saw him in the bathroom, and Dad is not awake!”
It was probably the fastest I’ve ever made my lazy bones move out of bed. It was around eight or nine in the morning, and the cloud cover of the winter day made a rather gloomy aura. Both of my sisters, Janette, who was a bouncy brunette, and Marie who was four, cute and blond, stared at me with wide eyes. “We need to see if he’s still there.” I said, trying to pretend I knew a routine. “We need to get some weapons.”
We searched our room and it wasn’t long before we were well-equipped. I had a skinny black vacuum cleaner; Janette had a heavy book, and Marie had a light, tin box kind-of-thing with which she planned to do some serious damage.
We crept slowly down the dark, dingy hallway, which sent shivers down our spines. I peeked in the crack of the bathroom door. My heart leapt into my throat and I jumped a mile high when I saw a dark figure.
“Wait a minute,” I said a moment later, “it’s the bathroom towel. It must’ve be your imagination, Jan.”
“No,” she persisted, “I really saw the chair rocking, and nobody was awake. I also heard the footsteps.”
“Let’s go ask Dad.” I believe that was the first thing we should’ve done.
When we told him what we suspected, he hissed through clenched teeth, still half asleep, “It was Marie.”
“What? No, Marie is right here.”
“She went on the chair, but then got off and went to bed.” Even though it fit with the events, Marie denied it. We went back to our room to discuss this oddity.
This was the time Fantasy made his full appearance. Janette glanced out the window and gasped, “I see the red car!” Any courage we possessed seeped out like water in a cracked bowl. We covered ourselves with our blankets in fear. After a while we peeked out, but Janette sucked in another breath and said, “I see him in our hallway!” So, again, we covered ourselves.
After what felt like forever under those stuffy blankets, we finally came out of our hiding place. We then came up with two options (It is argued who thought them up, as Janette thinks it was her and I believe it was me). “We can either scream, or go tell Dad.” It wasn’t much of a choice.
Dad repeated what he said, and we questioned Marie again. She finally admitted that it had been her who was awake first, and that she had, indeed, gone back to bed before Janette woke up. As a result, Janette saw the moving rocking chair and the rest is history. The only culprit we had faced was Fantasy himself.
To end the eventful morning, we turned on our favorite TV show, I Love Lucy, and waited until Dad woke up from his slumber. Not too long afterward, he admitted he had a little fantasy of his own, in which he jumped out of bed and put on a super suit to be a hero for his children. We laughed at the thought, and were thankful his mind was safe in reality.
A valuable lesson was taken from this. We had experienced a mystery, but our own imaginations were the culprits. We followed very silly ideas that a real detective would not have done. Imagination is a key to endless possibilities, but it can also lead to sleepless nights, ridiculous situations, and fantasy prisons.
I can't remember when I wrote this, but I think it was either in Middle School or High School for an assignment. I've tried to edit it since, though it still might be a bit clumsy. Anyway, this is one of my silly childhood memories.