Looking back, I’d say I had a pretty enjoyable childhood, nothing bad ever happened to me. I barely ever got sick, never broke any bones, or got into fights with my cousins when I visited. I was basically a picture perfect child, not to brag. Except, one time when I was visiting my older cousins I experienced the strangest event, and even today, I still can’t tell myself that it was just my imagination.
I was probably about six years old at the time, but I still remember everything about that night like it was yesterday. I was climbing trees with my cousins most of the day, and when it got dark, we went inside. My aunt and uncle went out for dinner so it was just us left in the old house. And then I suggested it, “Let’s play hide and seek!” Sometimes I wonder how it would have been if I hadn’t suggested that.
Either way, it was Alex’s turn to be "it" first since he lost ‘rock, paper, scissors,’ and Ray and I scattered to find a hiding place. First, I tried squeezing behind the sofa, my favourite hiding spot, but it was closer to the wall than normal. As lanky as I was as, I couldn’t fit that time. Alex was half way done counting, so as a last resort I ran into their bedroom and looked around, trying to find any place to hide, obvious or not. Thankfully, the room was quite messy, so I figured that if I hid under the desk, I would blend in enough. Anything was better than being caught without a hiding spot. As I was about to dive under the desk, I noticed my other cousin, Ray, had already beat me there. I could see some of her long dark hair peeking out from beneath the blanket she was hiding under. Alex was almost done counting, so I had no choice but to join Ray.
I said to let me under the blanket with her, but when I reached out to pull some of it over me she scooted away. I scooted closer and reached out again whispering a really long ‘pleaaase,’ but she jerked away to completely avoid my touch. Fine, I thought, I guess that’s fair anyway, since she was here before me, it makes sense for me to be the one to be caught first. I teasingly whispered that I could see her hair anyways, and she rustled around in the blanket trying to cover it, not succeeding. When I looked around from my hiding spot, I could see that it was definitely a good place, with some boxes blocking the view of the door around the corner, so if someone just gave a quick glance over the room, they wouldn’t have seen us. I leaned over and whispered how this was a really good hiding spot. Ray rustled around under the blanket in response. Then suddenly I heard Alex walk into the room, he looked around, checking under the bunk beds, right across from the desk. I held my breath. He got up and walked to the closet, checking in there, before going back out of the room. I let out a quiet sigh of relief, and whispered to Ray how close that was. Ray rustled under the blanket again.
From outside the room, I heard both Alex and Ray shout the traditional, “OLLIE OLLIE OXEN FREE!” from the other room. So I started to get up, proud of not having lost hide and seek, and said come on to Ray, but she didn’t move from under the blanket.
That’s when I realised that I had heard both of my cousins call for me to come out. I backtracked in my mind to realise that only my two cousins and I were home. Panic fell over me as I ran to the other room as fast as I could and saw both of my cousins standing right there. I tried to explain to them as fast as I could that someone else was in the room with me, and they of course, being older, were reluctant to believe me. I tried pulling them to the hiding spot so I could prove it to them, and it took some actual pulling, but I finally got them there.
My heart sunk when we looked under the desk.
The blanket was completely flat.
My cousins laughed at me as I frantically I searched the whole room, top to bottom, and scoured the boxes next to the desk for any trace of the figure, or anything I could have mistaken it for, with no luck.
It was gone. And still, many years later, I have no explanation of what it could have been, and frankly, I’m glad I never got to see what was underneath that blanket.