Lost in the Woods
A lock of auburn hair fell across Annie’s pale, round face as she blew into the small clump of damp, dead grass she held in her hands trying to coax the spark into flame. It sputtered, let loose a thin wisp of smoke and then, nothing.
Annie muttered quietly beneath her breath the words she could not say aloud around her younger siblings, but realizing they were not there she stopped muttering, threw the latest failed attempt of fire-making to the ground, and began yelling. She cursed the trees surrounding her, the leaves littering the forest floor, the forest itself for trapping her, and most of all the sky for holding the sun back while releasing day after day of rain.
It was an effort to calm herself, but it was necessary. She had no energy to waste on tantrums. She had little to no energy at all after eating nothing but acorns the past 3 days. Folding herself into what was left of her poncho, she leaned against a large gray trunk and hung her head to cry.
How had she gotten herself into this mess? Just 3 days ago, her only concern was her boredom. They were 2 days and a night into a week long camping trip that her dad thought was a good idea.
No computers, no video games, no cell phones for Heaven’s sake! How could anyone think that was a good idea.
“It will be a chance for us to bond as a family,” he said, and mom went along with him for some unknown reason.
Bored out of her mind, Annie went to bed early, trying to sleep the week away, only to find herself awake the next morning before everyone else. She even beat her early rising mother out of bed.
Still fighting the boredom, she stepped into the pre-dawn light, donning a poncho and small backpack. A few stubborn coals from the night’s fire still smoldered in the fire pit. The soft but persistent rain had not been enough to completely out them, but they were weak. Annie picked up the stick she had been using the day before to walk with and poked at the coals. They were still hot enough to show red at her prodding, so she laid some wet wood atop them to dry and perhaps catch.
Playing in the fire kept her occupied for a while. She had made fire, and it was good. Now she was bored again.
She thought about going back to sleep, but knew that going back into the tent would just wake someone up. There was only so much a person could sleep anyway, no matter their level of boredom. And the sun was beginning to peak out, so maybe this day wouldn’t be so bad.
With that in mind, she began to divigate away from the camp. The forest was like she had never seen it before. Draped in the early morning light and wrapped in moisture from the night’s rain, it glistened. Water puddled in the cups of leaves, and shone like diamonds dropping from their tips to cover the forest floor with riches.
Taken with this foriegn view of the forest, she wandered deeper and deeper within, until the sun shone high in the sky above her. Where the time had gone, she did not know, but she knew that it was time to go back. Only, she didn’t know the way back.
Everything now looked the same to her as she tried to retrace her steps. The sun dipped behind the clouds and the rain began to fall again. Her calls for help went unanswered, and she began to panic, and then to cry.
Annie crunched a bitter acorn between her teeth and grimaced at the taste of it as the rain tapered to a stop. Her stomach grumbled back at her, as if to say, “keep eating.” So she did. Acorns were plentiful, so she ate them one after another until she could not stand it anymore. Cracking the shell in her teeth and picking out the bitter yellow center, spitting out the shell. There were mushrooms, but she didn’t know enough about them to know if they were safe to eat, so she left them.
Cold and wet, she shivered as night approached. Starving to death would be slow, perhaps the cold would take her first. It was odd that she took comfort in thinking that she would not starve. She would be hungry until the end though, and there was no comfort in that.
Rescue was a distant memory of a thought. One that slipped away before the mind could grasp it.
Weak from cold and hunger, on hands and knees Annie gathered her dead grass from the wet forest floor. She had almost made fire before throwing it down, and the rain had quit now. Maybe her luck would change with the weather.
Pulling the striker from her pack, she sent a spark into the grass. It smoldered and died. Another spark followed, then another and another until a small flame burst forth. Annie picked up the clump of barely burning grass and gently blew beneath the flame. It grew.
There was hope still. The thought of rescue returned with the fire and the heat it provided. The acorns seemed to not taste quite as bitter that night beside the fire. Tomorrow she would build it high and make it smoke. Tomorrow, she would be rescued. She knew it.
#ShortTuesday is a little something I try to do… on Tuesdays! Sorry, couldn’t help it. Anyway, I take a word, a word like divigate and try my best to write a short story or scene with it. The words typically come from Dictionary.com’s word of the day e-mails that show up in my inbox every morning around 8:12am, but aren’t limited to them.
I hope you enjoyed reading my Short! Feel free to come back anytime.