Select Page

From Redditor Unathana:

When I was young, I often spent parts of summers with my grandmother in her home out in the country. It was my favorite place in the world, and I always looked forward to the week-long stays of gardening, baking, late-night fires with s’mores and ghost stories, and enjoying having my grandmother all to myself.

There was a pond, not far from her house, where I would sometimes go to swim. It was home to quite a few frogs, and at night they made the most incessant noises. I complained to my grandmother only once, saying I couldn’t enjoy the night breeze with all that racket.

She took me on her lap and told me a story about an old man and woman who lived near a lake. The old man couldn’t stand the singing of the frogs, but his wife told him that they kept the Wendigo away, and to harm them would be unwise. Well, he didn’t listen, and set about methodically catching all the frogs on the lake. It was a process that took some time, but he did not stop until he had rid the lake of the pesky amphibians. That night, without the protection of the frogs, he and his wife were slaughtered by the Wendigo, a vicious, whip-like demon-creature with elongated fingers ending in razor-sharp talons, and rows of silver teeth as thin and keen as needles.

I wrote it off as another of her ghost stories, though she seemed more serious than usual about it. I never complained about the frogs again, mostly because I grew to enjoy them, and put the story out of my mind. In fact, I’d forgotten all about it until it came up this past spring in a Native American literature class I was taking in college. The mention of the Wendigo sparked that old memory of my grandmother’s story. I thought she had made up the word! I didn’t realize there were stories about it, originating in Algonquian legends.

Eager to connect something from my childhood to the topic, I googled it, only to find that my grandmother had apparently been mistaken. There was nothing I could find about the story she had told me, nor any references of frogs providing protection from the Wendigo. In fact, the Wendigo of legends seemed very little like my grandmother’s version. They were said to be insatiable, craving human flesh, and sometimes created from the forms of people who had resorted to cannibalism to survive. Descriptions varied, but they sounded almost nothing like my grandmother’s bogeyman version. I actually chucked as I read it, almost a bit embarrassed by how badly my grandmother had messed up the original tale.

I changed residences this summer, moving to a newly built, 1000-square-foot (on each side) duplex on the edge of town. The other side is to be occupied by my landlady, who’d had the place built. However, she isn’t scheduled to move the rest of her stuff in and begin living there for a couple of weeks; she’s waiting for her lease to end. Even though my new place is only a few minutes from the edge of town, it feels much more isolated. I enjoy the seclusion of my new home and its proximity to a more natural setting; I’m surrounded by woods, and from my patio, I can even see a pond beyond the carefully landscaped lawn, which is meticulously carved out from the surrounding woodlands.

Just like the pond near my grandmother’s house, the frogs have put up a ferocious racket lately. I prefer not to pay to run my air conditioning if I can help it, so I have every window open to catch a breeze. That means that I can hear them as clearly as if I were standing on the water’s edge. It took a few days to get used to the noise, but I’m fine now, just like I was those summers when I was young. In fact, the noise has been comforting to me during the stress of the move.

Tonight is different. I find myself standing in my living room, staring at where the pond is, though I can’t see it in the dark. The air is eerily still, and oppressively warm, but all my windows are shut, and I feel impossibly cold. I’d long since convinced myself that my grandmother’s story had been a silly tale, a twisting of an old legend by irreverent storytellers. But for some reason, I have the most overwhelming sense of dread growing in the pit of my stomach. I don’t know what to do. I’m trapped. Leaving my house means braving the darkness beyond my home, but I don’t know if I’m going to be safe in here, either.

The frogs have stopped singing.