When I was a kid I spent a lot of time at my Grandma’s house. My aunt, Ruby, who was just a year older than I, was my best friend, and every Sunday, after the dishes from Jigg’s Dinner was done, we would go out to visit our elderly relatives in the community.
I remember one time (late 70s), when I was about 12 or 13, Ruby’s sister—and my aunt—Judy, came with us. Since it was a small fishing village, everyone we visited lived relatively close. We leisurely walked to each house, crossing fields of knee-high grass, jumping fences, and avoiding guard dogs.
Wherever we went we were welcomed with cake, pies, and wonderful sweets. Oh, how the old people could bake! We listened to stories of the old days and sometimes mopped floors and did dishes, and we were happy to do so.
Upon leaving the last house, the sun was setting in the cloudy sky. As we were walking up the main road, laughing and talking, darkness fell upon us, minus the moon and stars. Dimly lit porch lights helped us to see where we were going. There were no street lights and nobody in the community owned a car yet, so you couldn’t depend on hitching a ride. Darkness meant bedtime, which meant silence, and not the serenity kind of silence, but the evil kind of silence, the kind that could drive a man crazy. Being God-fearing people, we were afraid of the dark, afraid of what lie waiting in the woods, just out of sight.
We were just passing the last house, and the last porch light. Up ahead was a winding turn. On the left side of the road was a steep embankment with alders and spruce trees at the bottom. Beyond the spruce trees was marshland, a haven for moose. On the right side of the road was elevation, a large hill. Alders and spruce trees lined that side of the road as well, which was a great hiding place for bears and other smaller creatures.
It was pitch black. You couldn’t see a hand in front of your face. We stopped and psyched ourselves up: there’s nothing to fear but fear itself; it’s only darkness; there’s nothing there; it’s only one more turn; we’re almost home. Judy held my arm on the right side and Ruby held my arm on the left and then we went on, walking fast and barely talking, whispering when we did. We could not see the yellow line of the two lane road and it was difficult to stay in the middle of the road because Judy was pushing one way and Ruby was pushing the other; we were walking in a diagonal. When Ruby would hit the gravel she would immediately push away as she was terrified of falling into the steep ditch. Judy wasn’t too bold herself as she was scared of bears, so when she hit the gravel near the hill, she pushed us back to the other side. I felt safe; I was in the middle. So far, so good.
We were entering the sharpest part of the turn now, and starting to see the glow of Grammy’s house lights beyond the turn. I felt Judy’s arm begin to loosen and Ruby let go of me to swipe at a mosquito. Next thing we know, a huge growl came from the woods and Ruby took off, like her ass was on fire. Judy grabbed me by the arm and I could feel my feet, at first on the pavement, then rising, floating, parallel to the pavement. I felt like a flag and Judy was the flag post. I flew, I literally flew, that’s how fast she was running. I kid you not. I WAS FLYING!
I don’t know how far Ruby and Judy ran. Ruby had come to a stop at a small stream, just before a neighbor’s house, well beyond Grammy’s. Judy stopped short and my feet finally hit the ground. Here they were—I couldn’t see clearly, but I’m sure they were pale as ghosts—huffing and puffing, trying to catch their breaths, and I was in shock because I HAD BEEN FLYING! I didn’t have time to respond to the growling or feel any sense of fear because I couldn’t get over the fact that my feet left the pavement. I was stunned. It’s like I had been grabbed by the arm and whisked away by the wind.
We stayed there for a few minutes.
“What the hell was that?” Ruby questioned.
“I don’t know,” Judy answered.
“I was flying,” I blurted.
They stopped and looked at me, but only for a second, something stirred in the grass and Ruby took off running toward Grammy’s, and then Judy took off and I followed.
We busted into the house out of breath. Grammy and Grandfather jumped up from the sofa.
“What’s going on?” Grandfather said.
We relayed what had happened, sometimes talking all at once, not stopping to take a breath. When I told them that Judy had been running so fast that my feet left the pavement and I was flying, they started laughing.
A few minutes later my uncle, Gary, came in, and we told the story again. That story went around the neighborhood like wildfire with many speculating that it might have been a rabid animal or just the imaginings of three scared children. Either way, I never did get over the fact that I had been flying.
The following Sunday, we were reluctant to go out again, but Gary, being the trickster that he was, admitted that it had been him in the ditch. So, after the teasing he gave us and rehashing the whole thing again, we had Jigg’s Dinner, did the dishes, and went out again, but, of course, Ruby and I made sure the sun was still in the sky by the time we got home. Judy never came out with us again.