Every fall, we make a trip to the local nursery to get our Halloween pumpkins. And every year I end up, for a short time, scared out of my wits. Why? Because I’m afraid of the soon to be Jack-o-Lanterns we buy? No. My fear stems from something much more sinister.
The corn maze.
On the surface, what’s to be afraid of? It’s a small maze, and from the outside I can see where its borders are. Some of the stalks aren’t even that tall. It’s a maze designed to be fun for the smallest of children. I know all of this. Plus, it’s broad daylight as we head for the “ENTER” sign.
But once we are in there, among the corn, my sense of reason leaves me. I am the last to go into the maze. Stuart heads down one row, Amy heads down another. My indecision lasts for just a few seconds, but it’s long enough to allow the corn to swallow them both up. I start down the path that Amy has chosen, hitting one dead end after another, the corn suddenly seeming much taller than it did from the outside. As hard as I try to stay calm, I am gripped with the unreasonable terror that if I ever do get out, my family will have vanished, never to be seen again. I’m about ready to run blindly through the stalks and make my own exit (strictly against the rules, by the way-but then so is leaving your parents unattended) when I suddenly catch up with Stuart. I’m ok after all, and maybe I’m even having fun. “Have you tried going that way?” I ask him. But when I turn to hear his reply, he has vanished again.
For two years, when I was a kid, my family lived next to a big corn field in Pennsylvania. “Stay out of the corn,” my mother would warn us. Why, I wondered? But I never asked. Maybe it was best not to know. When I was older, I read some Stephen King stories, and I understood. Terrible, terrible things happen in fields of corn.
I am so spooked by this time, and so lost in my thoughts of worry and regret for even allowing this trip into the corn maze, that I can hardly see. And then all of a sudden, I am standing in a clearing. Miraculously, I have found my way out. Stuart is right behind me again, and Amy is up ahead, running in the grass and playing with a fat brown cat named Pumpkin. I take a deep breath, straighten the collar on my coat, pull a stray piece of corn silk from my hair, and soon I’m laughing and enjoying the beauty of a bright fall day in October.
I do have just one last piece of advice though.
Don’t ever, ever go, into a corn maze after dark…
Photo sourced from the internet.