Behind me I hear a rustling noise. Already scared, I turn my head up toward the darkness…
But that’s all the further I can trust my own memory.
In my mind’s eye, I can see through the shadows at the top of the stairs to a wooden door with a small circular hole for cats to climb through cut down low.
I believe I saw a dark dog’s nose poke through that hole, just for a moment, before disappearing again.
I know from stories that the dog rustling around in the upstairs of the barn belonged to my uncle.
Sometimes I think I can remember the blur of him, black and white, headed down the steep wooden stairs toward me.
But I have no memory of my own of hitting the cement floor of the barn between the rows of cows.
Then fragments, strong arms lifting me up, the glow of light through the side of a blue feed cart, a wooden handle.
Is the memory my own, or simply what my brain imagined after hearing time after time of the dog knocking me down the barn stairs where I had been set to watch, safely out of the way, while the cows were milked?
Beyond the fear and the noise in the darkness I can’t say.
But for years, long after the cows were gone, I would pass below the old wooden stairs in grandpa’s barn and glance up, with just a hint of fear, through the dim light to the door with the little round hole.