**disclaimer: I’ve long thought there was a story hidden in my head and while I’ve started this story a thousand times in a thousand different journals and other places, I finally decided to start it here. The setting of this story is true. I have amazing memories of wandering through these woods and trails at the edge of my “normal” neighborhood. It really was like stepping out of one world into another. It was also true that I often wandered there trails alone making up stories and all sorts of other crazy things. And it is also true about the tree house…some of it. Hopefully beginning it here will encourage me to keep going and actually finish it.**
We lived at the edge of a cul-de-sac in a traditional two story house. The perfect little family with a mom, dad and two children; minus the dog. Nothing much every happened on our block and while there were a handful of children living in our neighborhood, most of them were much older than me. They were all closer in age to my 16 year old brother, leaving me often making up activities to amuse myself.
I don’t remember the first time I traveled up to the edge of the cul-de-sac by myself, but I do remember the first time I took a step into the trails. I had heard a few of the older kids talking about “the trails” and wanting to meet up there, but I had never gone there myself. It was a hot summer day and my parents were off at work, my brother was hanging out with his girlfriend down the street and tv had lost it’s interest for me. I decided it was time to take a walk and see what everyone was talking about. The closer I got to the entrance, the more I felt myself pulled there. “How could woods pull someone in?”, I kept wondering. But they did.
I stood on the edge of the curb and looked back. No one was around and all I could hear was the sound of the birds and crickets chirping and the leaves rustling in the gentle summer wind. I looked forward into the woods and all I saw in front of me was a trail leading straight in and then turning sharply to the right. I took a deep breath and went in.
Immediately, I could feel the coolness of the woods. The sun was hidden above a rooftop of tree limbs and leaves. It was dark, but more of a shady kind of dark; peaceful and cool. I kept walking and when I stopped to look back at where I had entered, I realized I had turned the corner and could no longer see the street I had entered from. It was like I had been transported into another world. I kept walking and following the trail in front of me.
It was a well worn trail, much like you would find in the mountains. Obviously walked upon often and maintained by someone. But who? It was flat for as far as I could tell as I looked through the tree lines and all I could see around me was forest. The only living things I saw or heard were the birds, squirrels and insects that called this place their home. After the first sharp turn to the right the trail straightened out for a little bit. I don’t know how long I had been walking before I looked over to the right and saw a huge tree that had fallen. It was one of those trees that just beckons you to come run along it’s back. I marked that spot in my mind and kept on going.
The trail took a sharp turn to the left after passing the fallen tree and soon I could see something like a clearing ahead. Before I knew it I was standing at the edge of a giant field. It was incredibly overgrown and full of grass up to my knees and wildflowers littered about. All around the edge of the field I could see the woods. Something held me back from venturing into the field and my attention was quickly drawn to the giant tree to my right. As I looked up the side of the tree I could see boards had been nailed into the trunk like a ladder. As my eyes continued up the trunk they settled on the bottom of a giant piece of plywood. It was a tree house. Just about the moment I started to figure out how to climb up, I heard a voice. It was the first voice I had heard since entering the trails.