Of course it had to be at night to get full on darkness in the house and the opportunities to play didn't come often as we weren't left alone at night too much....but whenever we found out that both parents would be gone that night my sisters and I would start glancing at each other with gleeful little smiles on our faces knowing fun was about to be had by all.
No sooner had both parents left and judged to be truly gone and not coming back that we would start switching off lights and laying down the ground rules. ALL lights would be off...we wanted it to be as dark as possible to get the full scary affect. The dim light that would come from outside through the cracks in the curtains etc just added creepy affects that perfectly set the mood. We considered the kitchen home base simply because it was at the head of the trailer...the rest of the trailer was a free for all.
At some point one of us would look outside and see if any of the neighbor kids were out after dark...being a small town small trailer park, playing outside at night was a common enough sight. Since kids weren't often invited in our house they seemed to find the opportunity to get inside somewhat of an adventure and would brag later about having seen the inside of our house. I always found this rather amusing considering I tried as much as possible to get out of my house. Once all players were assembled (either just us or those who joined us) the game would commence.
Now the rules were simple...go hide somewhere and when the chance to run for home came up...go for it. Simple right? However, being in near complete darkness gave it an added twist...an element of scariness that just heightened the intensity and squeals of fright were often heard coming from some corner of the trailer...along with giggles that sounded almost hysterical. We loved scaring the hell out of ourselves...ironic considering we spent nearly all our lives being scared for some reason or another thanks to father.
Since we lived in a trailer, finding places to hide wasn't very easy...it being almost completely dark meant that at times you could be right out in the open and still not be seen if you played it right. Often times my sister or friend would creep right in front of me and have no idea I was there...often times I would have no idea they were there and would suddenly be faced with the image of a shape a mere few inches in front of me. It was all I could do not to scream...or sometimes I did and the gig was up and hysterical laughter and fast beating hearts was our reward for being caught.
Of course crashing into something in the dark was always a danger...and given that if we broke anything the punishment would be swift and severe was always in the back of our minds. Also, we couldn't very well blame the breakage on a friend that wasn't supposed to be in the house anyhow...so we knew we would have to fess up to anything that got broke. For some reason it only added to the drama, fun and sense of danger.
Then there was the very real danger of my parents coming home...I doubt my mother would have been too upset about it but my father would have gone ballistic and the fallout would have been painful and potentially dangerous...yet still we played. I couldn't begin to tell you today why we took these chances knowing full well the potential for further abuse if caught. I sometimes think that because our lives were full of pain and fear anyhow...we took what fun we could when we could and to hell with the consequences.
At any rate, most of the time the game was full of screams and laughter and we would play an hour or two then flip the lights back on and send everyone home...then hurriedly clean up the mess and set the house back to near perfection again. We always seemed to instinctively know when to call it a night and get everyone out before car lights flashed in the driveway but there were a few very close calls that had us sweating and sitting "innocently" on the couch barely catching out breath after quickly putting the last few items into place while a key was being inserted in the front door. Yeah...it was pretty damn close a few times.
During these games in the dark we had some moments of drama, fights would break out when someone stepped on someone they didn't see or someone hiding near someone else coughed or breathed too hard and gave the seeker a heads up...crashing into someone who was running in the dark was a give in and there were a few bloody noses or banged heads with some tears and broken friendships that were repaired before the night was over. Kids will be kids. However, there were also a few events that happened that, to this day, remain clear in my mind and yet go unexplained. Call it creative imagination...scene setting allowing for the mind to wander where it will...or call it real..but these things did happen and not only did they scare the hell out of us even more (those of us that were witness to said events) but never even stopped us in our tracks to continue on with the game...or maybe just added to it in some crazy "we love being scared" way.
Our trailer was designed much like many trailers. We had our kitchen at the head of the trailer then the living room...then a long hallway leading off the living room which had our bedroom at the beginning of the hall and further down the main bathroom and our parent's room at the very end of the trailer. At the beginning of the hall (just before our bedroom) was a closet that had the water heater in it and that was all. In all the years we lived in that trailer I can't remember that door being opened very often. It was just there and I never really gave it much thought.
One night during one of our games I was It and everyone else had scattered in the dark to hide. our kitchen had two small stairs leading up to it and I was sitting on those as I counted out loud and stared off into the darkness. I could here giggles and bumps and things being knocked over as everyone scrambled for a hiding spot...I knew my trailer so well I could almost always picture where they were and where they had chosen to hide...but let them sit and simmer with anticipation as I creeped back and forth pretending not to know they were there before snaking out a hand and grabbing them for maximum scare. Fun times.
Anyhow, I was sitting there counting and suddenly there was a strange glow coming from the hall way. I at first thought someone had switched on a light or maybe a flashlight but realized the light was contained...as in it was bright only right there where it was...the light didn't extend beyond a sort of circle. I always think of Tinker Bell when I remember it because she always had that glow about her that didn't seem to light up anything but the space right around her.
I stopped counting and just sat there watching the light...trying to figure out what the heck it was and why it looked sort of yellowy and old. I suddenly realized someone was standing in the light, a girl who appeared to be around 8 or 9 years of age. I might have thought it was one of our friends except that she was wearing a dress and I knew none of us were wearing a dress that night and certainly not one like she was wearing. If I had to describe it today I would use "quaint" and "modest"...words I didn't know then. (I was around 9 myself then) It had long sleeves and bows here and there. She wore stockings and black shoes that also had bows on them. Her hair was long and curly and reminded me of pics of Alice in Wonderland that I had seen before. I wouldn't have been able to tell you then but I can now that she looked like a girl from Little House on the Prairie...that style of dress and hair etc when they were dressed for church or something special.
I remember not being scared exactly but really confused because I couldn't figure out where she came from...how she got in the house...who invited her....and why in the heck she had that awful yellow glow of light around her. I also realized it had gotten really REALLY quiet. I couldn't hear the others out in the dark with their constant giggles and shouts as someone tried to hide where there was already a hider. It was completely silent except for my own breathing.
The little girl was looking at nothing in particular but then turned her head and looked at me and smiled this pretty little smile that I can clearly see to this day. It was the smile of someone that had never known sadness, abuse, adversity...at least to my young mind that is the thought that went through my head...though I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have been able to explain why I got that impression from her smile alone. She spoke to me, at least I seen her lips moving but no sound came from her mouth, and then took two steps and appeared to walk into the water heater closet. After a moment I crossed the living room and stood at the closet door looking at it. In order for her to have entered the closet she would have had to open the door obviously...and in the dark I might not have noticed the door open...except that even if she did that there was nowhere in the closet for her to be. The water heater took up the entire space...it was a mere couple of inches from the door and the walls around it. No space at all for a girl to stand in...especially with the door closed.
I stood there a moment trying to make sense of this confusing set up....before reaching across and opening the door...still expecting her to somehow be in there and ready to be scared as she jumped out and said BOO or something in keeping with the game. My mind had not accepted any possibility other than she was just a kid I didn't recognize that had somehow been invited to play with us. Of course when I opened the door there was just the water heater and nothing else.
As I have mentioned before in previous posts (for those that care) I was a very smart kid back then (alas age has robbed me of natural smartness...lol) and devoured books way over my age category....passed classes with little to no effort...had skipped a grade and been given the chance to skip another but mom refused and was doing complicated Algebra 3 grades higher than my current grade. I was smart...yet couldn't make 2 + 2 = 4 for the first time in my life. This wasn't making sense and I was standing there demanding that my brain make sense of something it didn't have a clue about. Apparently I stood there long enough looking into that empty water closet for others to get tired of waiting to be found and one by one they all came out to complain...only to see me standing there staring into the closet and joking that nobody could fit in there so what the heck was I doing looking in there?
I didn't feel like playing anymore and just sat on the couch in the dark while others shrieked and ran about until my older sis called it quits and turned on the lights and sent them home. I never told her what I had seen because I had already come to the conclusion that I must have been imagining the whole thing....yet funny enough a few years later my older sis and I were talking about when we use to play that game as kids...and I mentioned seeing that little girl (rather sheepishly assuming she would tease me as always) but was completely floored when older sis told me she had seen her too...but at a different time. She hadn't told anyone either but we both described her just the same.
We sat looking at each other trying to make our brains come to the conclusion that we must have seen a ghost...what other explanation would suffice? It was the only time in the years we lived in that trailer that I saw that little girl...and my sister said she only saw her once as well....so I find that equally strange. If she lived in our trailer (was she killed in there, died in her childhood???....I hear that ghost haunt where they die...but our trailer obviously wasn't old enough to have a ghost from another century according to her clothing...but we did live in Superior at the time...maybe the ground our trailer was on was haunted???) how come we only saw her just two times (as far as I know nobody else ever saw her)?
Has anyone else ever felt they seen a ghost? Do you believe in them to see them in the first place? Did you ever see something that didn't make sense and just assumed there must be an explanation...even if you couldn't come up with one?
Years later when I had my own children I told them about our hide and seek in the dark game and of course they wanted to play it too....we lived in a big house in Hamad Town back then... 2 floors and lots of hiding places. However, my kids could never have it completely dark...they needed at least a bathroom light on with the door pulled almost shut...hmmm. Lots of fun for them...and they still play to this day (just played it the other night) though an apartment has very little to offer as far as hiding spots. It was more fun for them I think because of the ridiculousness of trying to hide in places that were too small or too obvious. (my daughter at one point sat on the floor and held a floor length mirror in front of her....and the seeker just kept walking back and forth totally not seeing her...lol).
Of course a few really funny (sort of) thoughts come to mind as well. We owned a coon dog at one point whose name was Rosy. Rosy had a horrible little gas problem that made it impossible to enjoy her company for any length of time on a good day. During one night of hide and seek she was in the house with us (another no no) and decided to hide in the bedroom closet along with me and little sis. Older sis was It at the time and happened to be searching for us in the room at about the time Rosy decided to grace us with a full on assualt of her smelly offerings. We basically exploded from the closet unable to take one more second of the noxious gas that was suffocating us...and in the process nearly scared older sis into a heartattack with our sudden screaming emergence. Rosy had the audacity to emerge looking completely innocent of any crime.
Another incident involved one of our friends deciding it was a good time to go to the bathroom...in the dark...while the game was in progress. Needless to say...good thing it was fairly dark when someone crashed into her...spilling her off the toilet seat...and of course pants were down etc. We only got the faintest outline of her hastily pulling up her pants but her flushed faced fairly glowed in the dark...lol.