When I was a child, I'd help my grandmother tend to her garden. She lived on the edge of the woods, and the only thing that separated the forest from her garden was a wooden fence with chicken wire stapled to it. There were five rows of vegetables, mostly tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, eggplant (and one year she tried to grow a pumpkin for me, but a bunch of beetles dug into it and ate it from the inside). But here's the thing; my grandmother had a very strange way of harvesting the vegetables.

She would start at the bottom row (the row closest to the forest), gather whatever veggies that grew in that row, and then take a huge step back to the row behind it. She never turned her back to the woods, and when I was helping her pick the vegetables, I was ordered to do the same thing. It was only until we got to the first row (the row closest to the house) that I was allowed to turn my back to the woods.

I asked my grandmother several times why we had to do this, but she just scoffed at me and ignored my question. So I asked my mother the same question. She said that my grandmother was very superstitious. She grew up in a poor Italian village, and the people there believed that there were demons in the forests. She believed that if you turned your back to the woods, the demons will spring out, grab you, and carry you off into the woods, never to be seen again. She must have carried those legends with her to America.

Even as a kid I thought that was pretty ridiculous. But I was also curious. And adventurous. One day, while we were having our family dinner (that's typically why we went over to her house), I'd excused myself from the table and went into the other room to play with my toys. Little did they know, I was actually sneaking off to the backyard.

I made sure no one saw me as I snuck outside through the basement door. I took even more precaution as I walked up the edge of the property, right along the wooden fence. It had rained that day so the branches were hanging very low. The forest was barely visible. I'll admit, it was pretty intimidating, but I was brave. It was so simple, all I had to do was turn around, and wait for something to happen.

I was nervous at first, but once I twirled around and faced the house, my little experiment began. I expected that nothing would happen instantly, but I still wanted to see if anything would happen, so I gave it a few good minutes of waiting. It was about a minute in that I heard the sound of rustling behind me.

I turned around to see what was causing the shaking leaves. But everything was still. I assumed the noise came from an echo that was deeper in the woods. Maybe a squirrel jumped from tree to tree. So I turned around and continued. That's when the shaking started up again.

That actually freaked me out a bit, but it wasn't enough to convince me that demons were real. I turned around to try to get a glimpse of whatever was causing the noise. Still nothing. But I swore the noise was louder. But then again, my original theory was still not ruled out. So instead of turning around, I just gazed into the forest for a minute, waiting for the leaves to rustle again. But they didn't.

So after a minute, I turned right back around. And the noise started up again. I turned around instantly, and the noise stopped. Then, out of nowhere, I heard:


I turned around and saw my grandmother running over to me. She grabbed me by my arm and pulled me inside. I never got in trouble for that, although my grandmother was upset at me. I talked about her like she was nothing but a cranky, old Italian woman, but she was actually very sweet. She just believed in very strange things.

She passed away a few years back and my parents sold the house. A couple moved in, but quickly moved out. Maybe it had to do with the demons in the woods? I did try doing it again a few other times in my life, but never at my grandmother's house.

I remember back to that moment when I tried luring out the demons all those years ago. As I described the event, I forgot to mention one thing. After I turned to the woods a third time, I heard the slamming of the outside door first. Then I turned back to the house, where I saw my grandmother on the porch staring at me. In a split second, she screamed and ran to get me. I can't help but wonder if, in that second I turned around, my grandmother saw something in the woods that prompted her to rescue me.

Today the property has not been repurchased. The lawn needs to be mowed, shrubs are growing on the sides of the house and vines are slowly crawling up the side of the house. Sadly, in the end, it appears that the demons of the woods won. 

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