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The Little Hut

Artwork by Hannah Davies

It was meant to be a playhouse or clubhouse for children. I know my father meant well when he built it. I’m pretty sure my brother helped him, but the actual building process was insignificant to me.

When it was finished, the hut had one tiny window and a smaller than average wooden door, a slanted roof that was anchored in two places, the garage wall at the back and the trunk of the tall white sycamore that littered our yard each season with a variety of cast-offs like crackling bark, huge leaves and woody balls that broke apart into seeds. Inside, there were two built-in benches for seating or sleeping, lots of old pillows, and a table at the back for snacks. I believe it had electricity at some point, a primitive work light of some kind, but that could be my own fabrication. In general, I thought of the hut as dark and mysterious and sometimes a little scarey.

At some point, my brother lost interest in the secrecy of the hut and for a few years, it was my own haven, a little house I could sweep and pretty up with a curtain on the window, a vase of small flowers, and a few pictures on the walls. I would sit in there alone, write in my diary, and daydream about the boys I wish I could have, those brilliant boys of my middle school years.

I have some blacked-out time from the hut years that is somewhat disturbing. But what I can I do? I remember some hanky-panky with my brother’s friend, Eddie, who wanted to “show me his” if I “showed him mine.” But, did I? That transaction doesn’t seem like it would be very interesting to a teenaged boy, but who knows? Besides, these are unclear memories, are they worth sorting out? Do I want to remember? And if I did remember something unpleasant, what would change?

In the hut’s heydays, my brother and his pals spent hours working on their hobbies: cars and models mostly, but really, their big projects were the scrapbooks of naked (or nearly naked) women. Oh, they were pretty clever with their creations, the first ten pages were filled with trendy car pictures but then, voila, on the next page, a centerfold from Playboy was meticulously cut out and pasted in. How risque could Playboy of the late 50’s have been? Surely innuendo and allusion played the greater role of raising the boys’ libidos. Many years later, I asked my brother about these times of secrets and sexy pictures; he looked at me like I was nuts. No way, he said. Not him. Didn’t it happen? Did I make all that up? Apparently, those were not memories he had chosen to keep.

What happens to such lost incidents? If the players themselves have forgotten them; where are they? Do they still exist somewhere? Supposedly, as we grow older, the memories of our childhood come back more vividly. I wonder, will these “lost” memories return as well?

Were there other secrets of the hut? Was it a dark and sinister place or was it just an innocent shelter where children could be masters of their destiny for an afternoon? I’ll never know for sure.