Lost in the Woods

A couple of weeks ago — actually a couple of months ago, now — I facilitated a writing class at The Commons at Central Hall here in Dover-Foxcroft. Part of that class included creating a continuing “story” members of the class could work on {that sounds familiar}. For the next few weeks I’ll chronicle three of the stories they came up with and wrap it up with how we blended them together. Despite the common beginning — which some tweaked — the stories veered off in different directions … proving we all have a story to tell.

I started them off with a paragraph and instructed them to add to it … give the story a direction … find the characters … place it on a timeline. I told them together, we would flesh out the story line, develop characters and possibly throw in some curves or red herrings.

They did great with the lead paragraph …

We were walking down the path, something we did every morning. The sun started its ascent spotlighting the morning mist rising off the river. The dew glistened in the meadow and the birds serenaded us with their morning song.

Suddenly …

That was it. Suddenly what? Who are “we”? Why were we walking? Were they holding hands or walking independently?

I told them to use their imagination! Let the scene unfold in your mind and translate through your fingers. Have fun!

They had imagination! They painted mind pictures with their fingers. They had fun.

Last week we heard from Gloria Powell. Here is the contribution from Jody Morse.

We were walking down the path, something we did every morning.  The sun started its ascent, spotlighting the morning mist rising off the river. The dew glistened in the meadow and the birds serenaded us with their song.  Suddenly, Tobias jerked hard, patting his pockets like he was trying to mug himself. It was the rude interruption to our monotonous gait that successfully shocked  me from my sleepy morning mesmer.

I gasped, “What is it?” as if I couldn’t imagine.

“My phone,” he replied, “I don’t have it. I think I set it on the roof of the car when I tied my sneaker. I’m sorry; I have to cut our walk short. I need to catch the morning conference call. Do you want to come back with me or are you going to finish the loop?”

Truth told, I still felt annoyed with him for shocking me back into his mundane issues. I feigned disappointment and said, “Oh bummer, but yeah, I am going to walk on. Go ahead back and catch the meeting, I’ll see you at dinner.” I finished with a real smile, as I anticipated a silent walk instead of the incessant drone of Toby’s work place dribble.

Like two ships that passed in the night, they each took charge of their intended destinations, two steps too far before realizing the missed obligatory peck good-bye. The kiss was awkwardly embarrassing and stiff with the hassle of it. They each channeled this energy into quick steps away from the moment and into continuing their day, separate from one another.

Tilly slowly inhaled the dew drenched air, cloyingly sweet with the scent of freshly bloomed lilacs. She revitalized and re-centered herself, leaving behind the trivial tensions that she has been building up against Toby.  She is not going to let all these petty irks ruin her walk on such a fine spring morning. She picked up her gait to the rhythm of music that the natural elements are creating around her. In a multi-phonic cascade, the river plays the base. The warm breeze rushing through the upper leaves of the old oaks, maples and birch like the woodwinds.

“No pun intended,” giggled Tilly to herself.

The cacophony of songbirds is harmonized by the rising sounds of the newly awakened insects. Tilly’s senses are heightened as her heartbeat increases in accordance to her breath. She finds herself smiling broadly and laughs out loud when she imagines how she must appear to any happen chance onlooker; trotting along through the wooded path smiling alone like a goon.

“Is it weird to feel so happy when only minutes ago having felt numb at best and so annoyed over a small mistake?” she mused to herself. “What is wrong with me? Am I falling out of love? Am I jealous that Tobe’s work is going so well for him while I’m struggling with what my purpose of it? But, that’s ridiculous, I do love him, I do support him and his work. Why am I so out of sorts, off balance, out of sync, whatever you want to call it?”

Just then, Tilly startled. Something big is tromping through the underbrush. Then, all at once, she tripped over a tree root, exposed by route worn traffic and natural erosion. The root lassoed the tip-toe of her sneaker on her lead, right foot. She crumpled to the ground like a calf at the fair, the rocks branding her bare elbow as she landed, twisted and shocked. It took about a half a second — that seemed like three minutes — for her to hit the ground hard and think, “Damn it, that’s going to bruise. I’ve ruined my new sneakers. what did I do to deserve this, what is in the woods?” And then, a guttural, discordant noise defiled the symphony she had been listening to so peacefully only moments ago.

“Oh my gawd, that’s me, OW, OW, OW, my ankle!” Pain, like a vise grip crushing her ankle, cast over her in undulating waves. A whole new song was now filling her ears, which can only be compared to acid rock death scream, and she was singing it!

Defused morning light gave away to bright sunny beams that tickled Tilly gently, coaxing her back from a twilight slumber.  The warmth on the left side of her face was in stark contrast to the right side. The pungent smell of the damp cold ground where her head rests uncomfortably brought her to fully experience the acrid smell of dirt.

Mumbling to herself, Tilly mused as she pushed herself upright, “I must have passed out from the pain. I wonder what time it is?” A quick glance at her phone, with the newly cracked screen — “Oh great!” — told her that not only was it 9:09 a.m. but she also had several texts from Tobias. His teleconference was over and thought she would have been home by now.

“Wait, huh, police are searching the woods, what’s this all about? They can’t be going too crazy, they haven’t found me passed out in the path less than a half mile in,”  she thought bitterly as she dialed Toby’s number.

Tobias’ phone started playing In Case You Didn’t Know. It’s their song and now his ringtone for Tilly. He about dropped the phone trying to answer it so fast.

“Tilly, where are you? I was about to come to look for you. I just leaving the driveway now but was stopped by the police. They told me I couldn’t go into the woods.”

Tilly’s voice seemed small and far away. “I’m just past Grover’s Bend. I’m okay but I definitely sprained, maybe broke my ankle”.

“What? Oh no. Did you call the cops, is that why the place is swarming”?

“No, of course not but I could use some help. No one has found me here, broken on the path. I can’t imagine they would have stepped over me while I was passed out, do you?”

“You passed out? Oh gosh, baby, you must be in such agony. I’ll get you help, hold on, don’t hang up. I going to talk to the police parked here in the cul de sac”.

“OK, I’ll stay on the line. I hear voices now, in the woods. They are not on the path. Wow, what is going on?” But Tobias wasn’t listening any more. She could hear him talking with the police.

“I have my wife on the phone, you know, the one I wanted to go look for. She has broken her ankle on the path about a half mile in. Can I now go in to help her?”

“No sir,” said the surly officer. “The woods are on lock down. Only ones in and out are on the search mission. I’ll notify my team and see if they have located her”.

“They haven’t, she’s on the phone as we speak,” Toby replied in the clipped constraint of one who is about to lose their patience for having to point out the obvious but knows better. “But she hears voices in the woods. She’s on the recreation path, in the middle of the path,” he added as a little dig to relieve some of his frustration.

“OK, Mr., er, um?”

“Tobias Jenkins”

“OK, Mr. Jenkins, give me a minute and we’ll get this sorted. please tell your wife…”

“Tilly.”

“Tilly, to sit tight, we’ll be right with her. I’m going to call in a medic unit too.”

Picking up his phone, Tobias said, “OK, honey, did you hear that? The officer is going to send someone to find you and he’s calling an ambulance. Just sit tight.”

“OK, Tobe,” said Tilly meekly. And all of  sudden all her morning mournings were washed away in a flood of love and appreciation.

THOUGHT TO REMEMBER: The person you will spend the most time with in your life is yourself, so you better try to make yourself as interesting as possible.

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About wisdomfromafather

I'm just an ordinary guy walking along the journey of life.
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