I spent my first ten years of life on a small quarter section family dairy farm in Eaton County, Michigan with a sister two years younger. Being a kid on a farm is one great adventure after another but things can get a bit out of hand when the parents are not around.
One summer day I was watching a western on T.V. when the hero tossed a rope over a tree and lowered himself into a ravine to escape the bad guys. That gave me a great idea. I had a rope. I had an empty upper level feed loft. I had a tag-a-long little sister to escape from.
A few minutes later I was standing in the feed loft looking out the door at the dusty barnyard 10 feet below. I tied the rope around my waist, tossed it over a rafter and pulled it tight. One foot slipped past the edge of the door then I froze. It was a long way down! Maybe I was not the hero type after all.
“What ya doin?” my little sister said as she ran toward me.
What to say? ‘I’m chickening out’ certainly would not do. Wait a minute. This could be a great opportunity!
“Playing elevator. I lower myself to the ground then pull myself back up.”
“I wanna try!”
“Well, I don’t know. Mom might get mad. Remember swimming in the water trough?”
“I won’t tell.”
“Okay. I’m getting tired of pulling myself anyway.”
I tied the rope around her waist real tight. I could not have my sister slipping out half-way down. That would definitely negate the ‘won’t tell’ pact!
“Ready?” I said.
“Okay just step off…NO!”
She jumped out the door! The rope ripped through my hands. I let it go, screaming. Then I heard a thud outside the door. I looked down, spotting my sister laying flat on her back with a cloud of dust rising around her. A moment later she shot up to her feet screaming.
“I can’t breath! You killed me! You killed me!”
She raced for the gate with the rope trailing behind her.
I was scared. My dad had wailed on me for kicking the dog. I could only image what punishment killing my sister would bring! It was time to seek shelter in my secret fort in the hayloft.
I sat inside that hot, dark little room built of fresh cut bales of hay for hours. When my stomach told me supper time was near I began to rationalize the incident. My dad was upset about the dog because the dog could hunt. My sister could not hunt. In fact, I could not think of anything useful she did. Maybe dad would not be that upset. In any event, I was not about to die of hunger worrying about it.
My dad spotted me walking toward the house a few minutes later.
“Where you been?! Supper’s waiting,” he said then went in the house.
Wow. He must really love that dog! I took off running for the back door.
I froze in my tracks when I stepped in the kitchen. There she was sitting at the table stuffing her face. She looked up at me and smiled an evil little smile. She had not told but she could. Anytime. Anywhere. Just when it suited her best.
Funny thing about it was I never found out what she did with the rope. Years later I asked her about it and she did not remember. I still wake up from nightmares expecting to see a noose made out of it hanging over my bed!