From the Woods to the Red Clay Hills
(…And everything in between)

Chapter Five
The Newspaper Room Chronicles
(…Or, Fun With Darkrooms)

My dad is a journalist, and when we were younger, he'd have to take all three of us to work with him because no one in my family could ever be bothered to find a babysitter, my mother worked nights, and my brothers really couldn't be trusted with my welfare. So, we spent a great deal of our young days at the local newspaper office, getting into trouble and basically annoying all of my dad's coworkers with our antics.

We played everything from hide-and-go-seek (which could end up really interesting when one of us would barricade ourselves in the bathroom) to spin-the-chair (which generally made me dizzy and the owner of the chair in question very unhappy). But our favorite game was the Darkroom.

It was a bit of a dare between all of us, really. Who was brave enough to risk real trouble and venture into the unexplained depths of the darkroom?

I was usually the one pushed into it because of my puppy-dog eyes.

The darkroom was situated behind a strange type of door that I, for the longest time, could have sworn was an elevator (it wasn't). It was a tall, black cylinder that you walked into and turned a section of the wall to close one side and open the other, and it fascinated me to no end.

Which kind of just added to the reasons why I should be the guinea pig.

So, when no one was looking (a really stupid idea on their parts, really), my brothers would pick who would go with me, as I was horribly dark-a-phobic, and we'd rush into the not-an-elevator and head into the abyss.

This was usually followed by a darkroom attendant shoveling my brother and myself back through the elevator and scolding us for the tenth time. That day.

Needless to say, the local newspaper didn't like us very much, no matter how much we liked the local newspaper.

My brothers also loved to pull pranks on me during these stays. They'd convince me that there was a monster in the women's bathroom so I'd either end up in a heap on the floor of dad's cubicle, crying and wailing, or, if I was especially desperate, James Bond-ing my way into the men's bathroom.

It was not a pleasant time, and it generally ended in my brother's getting put under Dad's constant supervision while I got to go to the snack machine.

Ah, the snack machine.

It was in the staffroom, next to the bathrooms, and it was just about the best snack machine I had ever (and have ever, come to think of it) seen. There wasn't just one, either. There were three snack machines and two drink machines and all I really cared about were the skittles on E6, but they also had honey buns and Doritos and pretty much everything that a childhood junk-food junkie could possibly want.

So, when I would really get taken in by one of my brothers' pranks, dad would hand me a dollar and send me to the snack machine.

Okay, so maybe I faked it a couple of times. But I really am that gullible.

Sadly enough, Sam soon hit the age where Mom and Dad would trust him with staying at home with us and we stopped harassing my father's coworkers. It was a grudging truce, though, and I missed the darkroom.

Well, I've been back a few times since then, and they've done some renovations, which included removing the not-an-elevator and changing the no-longer-needed darkroom into an office. But they did, at least, keep the not-an-elevator. It just sits next to the printing press, unused and looking all lonely and abandoned.

…Actually, until I saw it there, I had been completely under the impression that it was an elevator, thanks to my dear brothers.

I should go to the snack machine.