As I drove home for Thanksgiving from school, I began daydreaming of things I used to do when I was a child. I hadn’t thought about being a kid in a long time. I guess I was being nostalgic or something. Memories started flooding back like the heavy rain. “The tree house next door,” I had thought in my wandering mind. I had totally forgotten about that. I wonder if it is still there, surely not after all these years. Oh and how could I forget my friend Carrie? We used to have so much fun in that tree house; it was like our own little escape from the real world into our own little fantasy land. I wonder where she is today. I remember now that she moved when we were only about eight years old. I will have to ask Mom if she might have saved a forwarding address or maybe I can Google her and get lucky enough to find her. Maybe she will even remember me.
As I arrived in my parents’ driveway, I looked over at the Baker’s place and saw the beautiful overshadowing maple tree with its gold leaves shining like teardrops of sun. That tree seemed so much larger when I was a young girl. Within the middle of the tree stood a few boards still hanging onto the fantasy of yesteryears from my innocent childhood. I walked in and hugged my mother; Dad had gone out to play golf. We started talking about school stuff and shopping plans for Friday and she totally distracted my mind from asking her about my old friend Carrie.
Thanksgiving Day came and went with happily eating too much as we all felt sleepy and lounged around all day like couch potatoes. As I lay on the couch, I dreamt again of the tree house days and of Carrie. I would always climb up each board one by one like it was the first time I had ever been up to the tree house. She would always be there waiting to play. We would play silly games and make up fantastic stories that no one would ever believe. These were some of the happiest moments of my childhood. Then one day, I went up there and Carrie was not there. For the rest of the week, day after day, she was not there and I kind of figured that she moved. I eventually became interested in other things and found new friends and kind of forgot about her. When I woke up, I went to talk to my mother since it was fresh on my mind.
“Mom, remember when I was about eight years old and I used to play in the tree house next door?” I asked.
“Yes, I always wondered what you did up there and I also worried about the safety of the thing,” she replied.
“I used to play with a girl named Carrie that lived next door and one day when I went up to see her in the tree house, she wasn’t there and she never came back again after that day. I was really disappointed and I guessed that she had moved. I guess being a kid; I never thought to ask you back then.” I explained.
“What did you say her name was?” She asked me puzzled.
“Are you sure? It had to be another name like Mary or something and maybe you were confused about where she lived because the Baker’s never moved. They are still next door.” She tried to say.
“No, it was CARRIE and SHE lived next door.” I said fervently.
“Honey, it could not have been Carrie Baker. Carrie Baker fell out of that tree house when she was eight years old and died from a broken neck. The whole thing was an accident even though she was pushed. That happened ten years before you were born.” She explained.
“I don’t believe it; she was there!!! I know she was there!!!” I screamed.
“Maybe you were just confused or since you were so young, you might be thinking of something else and have a confused memory. You might have even overheard the story and confused it with something else.” She said reassuringly.
“I don’t know…” I mumbled.
After pondering this disturbing thought for several hours, I figured that I must go and talk to Mrs. Baker about her daughter and see if I could look at some of her pictures. I walked next door and Mrs. Baker was very happy to see me.
“I haven’t seen you in years,” she said excitedly.
“Well, I just have been kind of nostalgic lately and thought about seeing everyone.” I replied.
“Was your Thanksgiving nice?” She asked.
“Yes, thank you, it was. Mrs. Baker, I need to ask you something, but I am not sure how to do it. I was talking to my mother about the tree house out back and…” I said as she interrupted me.
“Oh, that old thing. We should have torn it down years ago after the accident. It was truly safe, just kids being kids, but it is a constant reminder of my Carrie and I truly can’t let it go. She loved it so. I think she would have slept up there every night if I would have let her. Your mother told you about her accident didn’t she? I kind of figured that she did so you would be extra careful when you used to go up there as a child.” She said.
“She just told me today; kind of weird, I know, but we were talking about it and I guess I asked her about it and the story came out. I am so sorry for your loss. I had no idea. I am sure she is at peace.” I replied.
“I hope so. She was my baby.” She said mournfully.
As I walked back home, I couldn’t believe it, Carrie Baker was a ghost when I knew her. My life would never be the same again!!