Just east of the Beverly Shores Camping ground, a treeline dangling its fall leaves beckoned me and a few friends out of of the water during a camping trip made one year ago to the Indiana Dunes.
“This looks exactly like a Hans Christian Anderson fairtyale book,” said my friend Alexander.
Our voices sounded a lot smaller in the forest.
After moving as a quiet ripple through the fallen leaves, we came upon a clearing where in the distance we saw someone’s home.
Still enchanted, I turned to my friends. “I wish I had a house in the woods!”
As we drew closer, we saw signs of abandonment. An overgrown garden, ripped screens, a shed spilling into the surroundings. “Maybe this could be your home in the woods,” my other friend Miriam joked.
We poked about the yard and parlor space outside of the house. An empty shrine, a basket of fake flowers with an undecipherable note about keys. An outdoor shower. Worn, tattered antique dressers and white-brown painted desks. A life-sized child mannequin with a mis-matched arm and head lying in the corner.
Wait, wait. Wait.
I exchanged glances with my two friends. “This is the part in a horror movie where you are yelling at the characters to start running away.” Miriam’s humor emerged once more, this time in answer to the light sweat that had broke on the backs of our necks.
“The most we have to worry about are drug addicts and Cool Teenage Youths,” I answered reasonably, as I hefted a heavy metal shovel.
Had we approached the house from the front, we would have seen the fallen tree barreling through the door. From behind the wooden boards, the guts of the house revealed bottles strewn about the floor, but we decided against pursuing the abandoned house afterparty. In the living room, two pristine white couches angled themselves a rope dangling from the attic. It resembled a set piece.
The shed helped shed some of the ghostly, alien atmosphere as it acquainted us with the original owners. We found the wife’s gardening books. How to Grow a Miracle taught us the ancient origin of the Tulip as the flower of unrequited love, accompanied by an excellent illustration of a spurned prince crying tears in the desert, each drop springing into a tulip bulb.
The husband’s Architectural Digest issues and tool guides showed a man who never stopped building things even in retirement. We discovered the nativity items meant for the empty shrine, and a book of pious poetry paired with beautiful woodblock prints. They were clearly deeply religious. I found a heavy gold-leafed day-planner that I skimmed, finding the occasional reminder to mail a birthday gift, but mostly empty pages.
Oh, and deep red stains on the corners of all the pages.
“…That could be wine…”
After filling our packs with books and putting a few stretches of open road between us and the house, Alexander turned to us.
“I feel like we just shared a collective nightmare.”
To this day, I think about the tokens we took home from the house. I think about the Architectural Digest issues that ended in 2004, and how sturdy the house was 10 years later. The constant sense that someone was still there. That we had entered a dreamscape.
For the curious, I drew a map. Maybe you can follow our footsteps there.
Thus concludes Duo’s journey into dreams! Join us next month for If you post a story about the task “Find the stuff fiction is made from” in the comments here, you get into the show for free.
A Month Of
Stage 773 1225 W. Belmont
Wed Sept 9th 7:30-10:00
$10 free with a posted story or shared dish