It was mid October and the chilly wind blew. I just stared straight up at the Pin Oak Tree through it's yellowish-orange leaves overhead that rustled and swayed as Autumn exhaled its icy breath. Fall, it was a beautiful season. It always had been my favorite time of the year. During these times the trees are full of spectacular colors that always seem to stand out more than flowers ever could. The trees always seemed to dance in the wind as if to show off their new outfit of colors. So many wonderful things about Autumn. The air was crisp. There was the Circle Of Harvest Dance held in Mr. Leany's barn every October. There was the smell of wood burning that filled the air. We told ghost stories around nightly campfires, as All Hallows Eve approached. Yes, you could say it was definitely my favorite time of the year. There wasn't anything not to like about the season.
I laid there under that Pin Oak with arms behind my head, smiling. Thoughts of all the glorious things about Fall flooded my mind and of all the fun festivities that took place. The ladies quilting, apple pie and apple butter contests also took place. I won the best tasting apple pie contest two years in a row. That was all thanks to mother teaching me her recipe before she died of influenza, three years earlier. Mother would be proud if she knew that both years that I entered, I had won the first place, blue ribbon each time! I was thirteen when she died and Mother told me to be strong for Daddy. So I promised her that I would. I have held true to my promise trying to be the daughter that Daddy needs, but I haven't lost any of my tomboyish ways. I still like to climb this old Pin Oak and I still like to dig up worms and throw them on Sandy. She always bullies me for acting like one of the boys.
Sandy is the second smartest in the class. Her family is rich, and she looks down on the poor. She likes to boast about her family wealth, and never lets you forget about the academic awards she wins in class. She despises that I hang around the boys because she thinks she should be the only girl to get any attention. I think it makes her extra angry because Nathan Hartbern talks to me and not to her. What does she expect? He is one of my best friends and we are going to talk, whether she likes it or not. She can tease or get mad all she wants. Nathan and I always will be friends, despite her jealousy. I am not going to throw our friendship away just because of a little teasing and bullying from her. A friendship is too valuable to break, and it wouldn't hurt her to know the true meaning of the word.
The wind picked up and dark clouds began to circle, warning me of an oncoming storm. It reminded me that though fun and festivities were in the next coming days, Winter was approaching. Everyone knew what that meant. It was more than just barren laden trees for the season, except for the pines. It didn't only mean winter laying her white earth. What it really meant was Contrary would be among us. Contrary was a six-foot tall male beast that couldn't stand anything good. He couldn't even stand the sight of bright colors. He was a killer. He roamed the woods at night. Heaven forbid anyone that would go out after dark. If they did, sure as the moon rises and as the sun sets, he would get a hold of whoever it was. They would never be seen again.
I got up off the ground and dusted myself off. I started trekking over the steep hills and across Little and Big Creek. I was in a hurry because it was already time to start supper. I should had already left twenty minutes ago. After I crossed both creeks, I took a short cut through Mr. Pickle's harvested, mile-wide wheat field and sprinted across.
When I reached the end of Mr. Pickles farm and at the beginning of Mr. Smith's rolling fields, I knew I was on the last homestretch. I slowed to a jog as I took each hill and slowed to a walk as I peaked that last one. When I peaked the top of the last golden, rolling hill, I was now peering down at our farm. I walked down the hill, my pulse now slowing to a normal rhythm. When I reached for the knob to open our weather-worn cabin door, I expected to see Dad setting at the table reading his nightly scripture. I was expecting to see him waiting impatiently for his supper with a scowl on his face. When I opened the door to an empty kitchen, I knew something was wrong.
I hollered for Dad and immediately went to his bedroom door that was usually shut. This time it wasn't. Dad was lying on the bed. He was in his work clothes, which was always tanned trousers and a plaid long sleeved shirt. His left pants leg was rolled up, with his lower leg wet with blood. My heart felt like it dropped to my stomach. It felt like for the first time in my life, I was experiencing some kind of shock.
Dad made a low, raspy groan. I don't know what moved me out of the spot that I felt like I was glued to. Somehow I managed to get to my Dad's bedside. He was pale. He was the palest I had ever seen him. Sweat was pouring out and rolling off his face and he had his eyes closed in obvious pain. I tried to ask him what had happened and all he could manage to say was, "Doctor. Go. Get. Doctor." I jumped up like a jack rabbit. I spun around and ran out the bedroom door and through the kitchen and back outside. The doctor was two miles away. It was already getting dusky dark by the time I started my two mile journey. I would run all the way. There was no way I was going to let my Dad lay there and die, not if I could help it.
I ran as fast as I could. I was determined not to slow down, even though I was already tired from the running to get home. Suddenly, I did slow down, but it wasn't my choice. Something big walked out into my pathway and it just stood there. I tried to reason with whatever it was, but it wasn't moving. It didn't show any fear when I tried to shoo it away. I was scared and intimidated by this dark figure and even so, I walked closer. The moon peeked through the clouds. The moon shone down a single beam, as to let me see at that precise moment just what or I should say whom I was dealing with. The light reflected off the creature's velvety, black fur that seemed to glisten like water. The moon revealed hands as big as my teenage head. It's claws was at least as long as my arms. I knew for sure then, it wasn't just an over sized bear. The moment I began to realize this was the beast, Contrary, he began to speak. It was like he knew the realization that hit me. The words were faint and indescribable. My mind was in a tizzy of him being here before the winter had even officially approached. He was there even before all the leaves said their last farewell until the next coming spring. Meeting him face to face like this was all a little much. Questions and fear raced across my mind, but I was determined to get by this devil of the night.
My mind screamed just turn back and run as fast as you can back toward home, but I didn't. I started running toward Contrary as fast as my legs would let me. He would either move out of my way or I would run over him. I was quickly approaching him, but his name held true. He stood his ground and didn't move. I kept barreling toward him and knew I couldn't let him stop me.
Finally we made impact, but I didn't barrel over him. He had caught me in his large, rough hands! I felt his claws on my back. They felt like razors that could easily rip me to shreds. He held me up high above his head, my feet dangling. I stared into his black eyes and I could see the intentions he had for me. He wanted to kill me. His mouth was full of pointy, blood stained teeth. I done the last thing I knew to do. I begged for my life and for him not to kill me. I explained to him that my Dad was depending on me, that he needed a doctor. I tried to explain that he was hurt, that he would die if I didn't get him help. I thought this would win over his sympathy, but it didn't.
Still true to his name, he was as Contrary as everyone had said. He laughed an insidious laugh. He squeezed me until my vision faded and until I stopped breathing. When I awoke, I was left in a dark grave in a wooden casket! I made my way through both, by exiting only a way a spirit can. I want everyone to know what happened to me. So, I now sit here penning my story, propped up against my tombstone that reads:
Here lies Danielle Blaketon,
Who was taken away in an untimely death by evil,
Who was always there ready to lend a helping hand to others,
Who always brought rays of sunshine to all she met,
Who was brave and courageous for looking evil in the eye,
Who was a gentle soul,
Who loved all animals, especially her pet dog Dilly,
Who worked the farm with her Father and taking care of the homestead,
May she rest eternally on the banks of the river of life,
May the rays of light she gave to others follow her into life everlasting.
She may be gone to us now, but she will never be forgotten.
Born: January 21, 1926 - Died: October 16, 1942.
Well, I don't know if I am forgotten or not. I will say that I sure am not gone. I sit here anxiously await the day to avenge my death. I will once again come face to face with the devil of the night, Contrary. This time let's see who wins. There's nothing worse than a spirit's scorn. He's going to find out real fast that there is a new devil in town.