In the fall of 1976, my father decided to build us a place to play away from the house. He choose a place about half way up the driveway and off to the side of the road about 300 feet into the woods. My father used a chainsaw to cut down several small three to four inch around trees, and then he stacked them on top of one another to form a small square log cabin. I wanted to help as much as possible, but I found I was more in the way, than helpful. Sometimes, I would go with him and my brothers and watch him work on it, but mainly I just waited at the house until he had it finished. It was almost wintertime when he finally completed putting on the roof. There was a small window looking toward the direction of the house, and a small front door, made from some of the smaller limbs that had been removed from the tree's he had cut down. It was shaped like a square box approx. 8'x8' and about 6 feet to the ceiling with a dirt floor. There were gapes and holes all the way around that let the cold wind blow through, so my father brought up a large stack of newspapers and showed me how to poke them into all the cracks and spaces to help keep the cold out. While I finished stuffing the holes with newspaper, he cut down a large tree and then cut off two large chunks from the end to use as chairs; the rest he cut into firewood for the house. My older brother Richard, who was 11 at the time, helped him load up the truck with the firewood, and then we all drove back to the house. By the time we unloaded all the wood from the truck, it was getting dark out, so I had to wait until the next day to finish my new playhouse.
The next morning I got up very early and gathered up the few toy dishes I had, my doll, two old towels and an old sheet that Mom had given to me. I wrapped up all the things in the sheet, and then I threw them over my shoulder and walked up the road to the little cabin. I was so excited when I saw it in the morning light and quickly began decorating it in my own way. I stuffed more newspapers into the holes then used one old towel to cover the window. I drug the log stumps my father had cut down inside and used one for a chair and the other for a table. I spread the sheet out over the table, across my chair and then I let the rest cover the floor like a rug. I found 4 smaller logs and put them on the corners of the sheet to keep it flat and in place. I took off my shoes and sat them near the door. I used the other towel as a tablecloth, and then began setting up my dishes on the table. I sat my doll on the floor near the table and pretended to have a cup of tea with her.
I heard a noise outside of the cabin and stepped out to see my father standing near the door.
"It's time for breakfast, you better come get something to eat," he said smiling and rubbing his hand on the top of my head. I left my things where they were and walked back to the house. When I got back everyone was eating the biscuits and gravy that mom had made. It was Saturday and mom was going to town to do some shopping. Usually, going to town was one of my favorite things to do, but today I wanted to go back to the cabin and play. I convinced mom to let me stay home with dad, who was working on his truck. Everyone else loaded into the suburban van with mom to drive the 25 miles to town. I went to the kitchen and took a couple of biscuits that were left over and put them in a sandwich bag. Then I made myself a glass of grape kool-aid and headed back towards the cabin with a few more toys and a pillow to lay down with. As I walked outside past my father I heard him cuss at the truck. He looked up at me and asked where I was going.
"To play at the cabin."
"Okay. Just be careful", he said then went back to working on the truck.
"I will", I shouted back happily, and then I quickly skipped away.
Within minutes I was at the cabin. I opened the door and saw the sheet was all messed up. One of the towels I had over the window was missing and my doll was knocked over. I had remembered leaving her sitting up near the table. Since her eyes opened and shut when she laid down, I thought to myself she must have gotten sleepy and laid down; after all she couldn't very well sleep with her eyes open. I talked aloud and told her I was sorry that I had forgotten to lay her down last night, but it had gotten to be too late. I promised I wouldn't let it happen again and offered her a biscuit and a 'cup of tea'. I sipped at the kool-aid as if it were very hot tea, then I asked her how her day had been.
From outside of the cabin, I heard a noise. I sat my 'tea" carefully down, then began to get up to see what the noise was when I was startled by a knock on the door. I looked up and saw my father standing there.
"Come in", I said as he opened the door and walked in.
"You've fixed it up real nice in here", he said rubbing my shoulders and looking around.
I just smiled and said, "thank you".
"Can I play house with you?"
"Sure", I said excited, then handed him my doll's 'cup of tea'.
"Thank you. Do you mind if I get comfortable?” he asked and then sat down on the sheet in the middle of the floor. "I see you've got a pillow", he said reaching for it. He put it under his head and laid down and stretched out. "Come here beside me", he said motioning me over with his hands.
I stretched out on the floor beside him and he wrapped his arms around me. Hugging me he said, "I hope you like your new house my wife. I built it just for you."
"Thank you my husband, I love it," I said playing along and giggling at the idea.
We talked for a few minutes about the things we would buy if we ever got rich. Then he yawned real big and stretched his arms out. "I think it's time for bed, my wife." He turned and kissed me then said goodnight. He pretended to fall asleep and began snoring, so I did the same thing. After a few minutes he grabbed a hold of my hand and put it between his legs. I hesitated and pulled quickly away.
"It's okay, we're just pretending", he said, and then he put my hand back where it was.
He began squeezing my hand, making it squeeze him. He began whispering in my ear that he loved me and that when we got rich, he would buy me anything I wanted. He removed his hand and I quickly moved mine. I went to get up, but he grabbed my hand again. This time, his pants were unzipped.
"It's okay. We're just pretending. You're not in any trouble. This is just what real husbands and wives do. It's okay. Here, I'll show you."
I was still laying on the sheet and looking up at the ceiling when he pulled down my pants. He licked his finger and put it inside of me. I was so frightened, that I pretended to be asleep. He grabbed my left hand placed it around his penis. He continued to fondle me as he held my hand in place and went up and down. His other arm was around my shoulders, holding me very close. After a few minutes, he began squeezing my hand harder and I felt it get wet. He finally stopped, then turned and kissed me on the cheek. I sat up and wiped my hand on the sheet as he zipped up his pants. He drank the rest of the kool-aid, and then turned to leave.
"Thank you for the lovely evening", he said smiling and kissed me again and gave me a big hug. "Now, this is our secret, you can't tell anyone about it, okay?" He reached into his pocket and pulled out a dollar bill. "If you promise to not tell anyone, you can have it", he said as he dangled it in the air in front of me.
I didn't know what to say, I just reached out and took the dollar bill.
"Have fun. I'll see you at the house later. Be careful. I love you", he said waving bye to me, and then he disappeared into the woods back towards the house.
After I was sure he was gone, I began looking for something to lock the door. I was happy I had the dollar, but I also felt angry and I didn't understand why. All I knew was I didn't want anyone in "my house" again. I took the pillowcase off my pillow and used it to tie the door securely shut, and then I sat in a corner silently thinking about what I would spend the dollar on. Every now and then I got up and looked out the window towards the house, but mainly I just sat there real quiet listening for mom to return. After several hours had passed, I finally heard a car at the gate. My heart pounded instantaneously and I began to shake nervously, unsure what I should do. I moved from the corner and hurriedly untied the pillowcase and walked towards the road. I looked up the road and saw it was mom coming, so I stepped out in the middle of the road. I began to relax and smiled real big when mom stopped. When I got in the car, my brothers and sister began showing me what they had got at the store. I became jealous when I was told I didn't get anything, because I didn't go, so I showed them the dollar I was given.
"Why did Dad give you that?” Richard asked.
Not knowing what to really say, I thought quickly and said, "Because I helped dad out".
We then pulled in front of the house and my brother immediately jumped out and asked dad, "Did you give Tayla a dollar for helping you?”
Dad's eyes opened wide, as he looked up from the truck at me. "Yes! I gave your sister a dollar for helping me with the truck", he said in an annoyed angered voice.
"See, I told you", I piped up quickly; determined to be one up on my brother.
"Get the car unloaded kids. Let's go!” Mom shouted towards us.
Pushing what had happened aside. I began carrying the packages into the house. I wanted to say something, but what would I say? I had just agreed with Dad, in front of everyone that he had given me the dollar for helping him with the truck. I felt if I said something different now, they would think I was lying. I was about to turn 10 years old and didn't understand it myself. He had said it was our secret and I couldn't tell anyone. Besides, we were just pretending, right? I pushed it all to the back of my mind and left it there.
I didn't return to the cabin until almost a month later when everyone, including my father, went to town. I told Mom I didn’t feel good and wanted to stay home alone even though they were going to be gone for several hours. I watched shows on T.V. that I usually wouldn’t be allowed to watch and then I played the stereo as loud as possible. Becoming bored I decided to return to the cabin and get my doll that I had left there almost a month before. I had been too frightened to return before, but now that I knew everyone would be gone for awhile I felt safe enough to return.
When I walked inside, I saw everything was a big mess. The sheet was dirty, nasty smelling and laid crumpled in a corner. The chair and table logs were knocked over, most of the newspapers were missing or laid scattered on the floor and my toy dishes were all broken and smashed. Looking around, I finally found my doll under some newspapers and the pillow. Her hair was pulled out on one side and there was a hole cut out from between her legs, and it smelled really bad. I walked outside with my once favorite doll in my hands and angrily through it down on the ground near a bush.
I hated the cabin, I wanted it gone. I began pushing the sides and trying to pull out some of the smaller logs. I had managed to tear the door off when it suddenly all came crashing down. It was now nothing more than a pile of old logs. I removed a lighter that I had hidden and picking up a piece of newspaper, I lit it and then shoved it under the pile of logs. Within minutes the stack of logs was blazing. I stood there watching the flames. The grass around the cabin tried to catch on fire, but I quickly put it out and continued to watch until there was nothing but a small flame left and a few remaining pieces of wood. It gave me a feeling of being in control of what was happening and I enjoyed it very much. It was the first fire I would set. It gave such a cleansing effect; everything was then fresh and new. The satisfaction that I felt afterwards is unlike anything I have every experienced. For the next few weeks, I reviewed the images in my mind several times, causing me to smile and feel good when I thought about what I had done.
Weeks later my father asked what happened to the cabin. I pretended as if I didn't know what happened. He finally concluded that lighten must have struck it and caught it on fire. Secretly, I smiled to myself; it was my secret and no one else’s.