Like any devoted parents, Caitlin Burch and her husband simply adore their two daughters, aged 9 and 6. But they also know that kids can have quite the imagination.
One night a few months back, Burch's younger daughter came to her to say she'd seen an animal parading around in the bedroom she shares with her sister. While it wasn't out of the question that, say, a little mouse had skittered by, the child's description of the creature rang a bit more fanciful than true.
"She showed us with her hands the size of it and said it was fluffy," Burch told The Dodo. "My husband and I both looked in their room, but didn't see anything."
Naturally, Burch and her husband were skeptical; a creature as big as their daughter described certainly wouldn't escape their notice. Right?
"Her story was as plausible to us as her complaining about monsters under her bed," Burch said.
The incident had all but left Burch's mind — until three nights later. That's when, at around 3 a.m., her eldest daughter woke her up in a panic to say she'd just seen the creature, too.
"My husband walked over to their room to check it out," Burch said. "When he came back, he very casually got dressed and said, 'She's right.'"
The creature was real, after all.
There, hiding out in a box of pens in the girls' closet, was the mysterious houseguest — a chubby opossum.
He'd clearly made himself at home.
Burch's disbelief at her daughters' account vanished. Now, she was mortified.
"If I had known that was in the house, we all would have been staying in a hotel," she said.
Fortunately, the opossum seemed to know his secretive stay was over. He put up no resistance as Burch's husband carried him into their yard to let him go.
The next morning he was still hanging around, evidently having decided that this tree out back was the next best thing to his former digs indoors.
It's unclear exactly how the opossum got inside the girls' room, or how long he'd been hanging around there, but his stay did little to turn the kids off to his kind.
"Now they're huge possum fans," Burch said. "They both got possum stuffed animals for Christmas and they love them."
It's hard to blame Burch for her initial skepticism that a fairly large, fluffy animal was actually living in her daughters' room. But, given how things turned out, she said the girls' next mysterious creature sighting will be taken with a bit more seriousness.
After all, as the opossum incident proves, some tall-sounding tales can indeed be true — and are well-worth remembering.
"It's a great story for them (and us) to tell forever," Burch said.