Watermelons and station wagons

I think I was around 10 or 11, which means we lived in the Prospect House. It was summer. We went on a vacation. A family vacation. I’m not sure what spurred this vacation. I have no idea why. We never went on vacations. We never did family outings. We never did family pictures. We never did family stuff. Not that that is bad, we just never did. 

The destination was Arkansas. Why? I don’t know why. I don’t think we knew anyone in Arkansas. The trip was taken in a station wagon. You know, the colored panel ones with a crap ton of room. We could spread out in the way back and not have to worry about being seat belted in. It was not a law then. We could sleep way in the back and be comfortable. The humming of the engine, the sound of the tires rolling down the interstate made it easy to relax and fall asleep. That gentle noise always put me to sleep. 

It seemed like we drove forever. Forever in kid time. It had to have been a couple of days at least. I remember when we got “there,” we stopped at a grocery store. We bought a watermelon and some other items. I only remember the watermelon. It had to be solid dark green though. That’s what dad wanted. Those were the best kind of watermelons. Why that is significant to me, I’m not sure. We went to the place where we were staying. It wasn’t a hotel or anything like that. It was a house. It was a cabin/house in the woods with lots and lots of trees. There were no other houses close by. It was strange. It was like a scary movie. I wouldn’t realize that then, but now, that’s what I feel. 

This house was big. It had lots of room and a big deck on the back. We played outside. I don’t remember doing any other kinds of activities while we were on vacation. One of the days I went out back and was playing in the “yard,” if you could call it that. There really wasn’t a yard, just trees. The deck was sloped, so there must have been a walk out basement in the house. 

The details are vague. It’s weird, I remember the watermelon clearly and the next incident clearly. That’s it. I remember nothing else about the trip. I remember nothing about why we were there. I remember nothing of what the inside of the house looked like, just the outside yard and the deck.

I went out to play in the back. I noticed that I could hang on to part of the deck and swing under it, like gymnastics bars. I wondered if I would get slivers from the wood. I thought I would try it. I was bored. There really wasn’t anything to do. I was wearing shorts and a t-shirt, my typical summer attire. I don’t think I was wearing shoes. I grabbed the deck. It was good. No slivers. I started swinging by hanging on to the boards with my hands and swinging my legs up underneath the deck. I felt something. It felt like fire. It was stinging. I wanted to let go, but I couldn’t. If I did I would fall on my back or my head. I had to wait until my legs came back down and then out from underneath the deck. My leg was burning like crazy. Once I could let go, I looked at my leg. The pattern was a circle, then another circle in that circle and finally the center. My skin was red and puffy. Huge bubbles of skin. Red bubbles of skin. Skin on fire. Stinging skin. I was screaming and jumping up and down. 

Unbeknownst to me, up underneath the deck was a flying ant nest. I never even knew there was such a thing. After I had run back in the house and told mom and dad what had happened they went out and looked. I wasn’t going anywhere near there again. My leg was on fire. It hurt for days after that. I think mom put something on it to help with the sting and the swelling, but it didn’t seem like it helped much. 

So that was the extent of the family vacation. I can’t remember anything else about it. I used to envy my friends who went on vacations every summer. After that vacation, I didn’t care if I ever went on another one again. 

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