One remarkably warm spring day, I decided to take a walk along the Sappa Creek. A beautiful creek that meanders through the south side of Obeyville, Kansas. Though these days not a whole lot of water fills the creek banks. It gets less and less every year. We need a good steady rain season, one we haven’t been blessed with in a few years now. Our farm fields are screaming for moisture and so are the farmers. If the farmers do not have a good season than they don’t buy art, knick knacks, and books in my family store. The winter brought little snow fall. It was like having spring and now spring is summer. I believe Mother Nature is confused.
The kids don’t even know what it is like to have a foot of snowfall. They think an inch is exciting. I haven’t even had to buy snow boots in the last two years. I can’t really say I miss the blistering cold temperatures but a good snowfall would be great. I miss sledding. My friends and I would slide down the steep creek bank which would zoom us across the frozen water to the other side. We would giggle all the way and hope the ice wouldn’t break. It wasn’t but a foot deep but it would freeze one’s buns.
I like to explore, it makes me feel like I am ten again with no concerns. I suppose you would think a twenty-five year old woman would rather be chasing men and hanging out in bars, not me. I would rather be outdoors and learning. I’m like a sponge, soak in every bit of information I can. I have an entire room in my house devoted to books. I call it the Library Cave, some people have Man Caves, and I have a Library Cave. Yes, I am a nerd. A reborn nerd. I did my share of partying and being on the wild side in my High School days. I want to be a nerd now, much more relaxing and better for your health, maybe not the pocket-book.
I spend my work day inside catering to customers at least five days a week and sometimes more. My parents own the store but I manage it so they can live their golden years fishing or whatever they want. I’m a good child like that. Nah, I just didn’t want to go to college, yet. I know someday I will just not in the mode.
I appreciate my customers, but once in a while you get that one bad apple to ruin the day. So then I come down to the creek and stand in the middle of the thick lush trees and yell at the top of my lungs to get my frustration out. The fresh air and exercise are an added blessing. A wonderful stress reliever. I sometimes bring a book with me and sit in one of many trees along the creek and get lost in the story. I imagine I am the main character and it becomes one adventure after another. Sigh. If only life was that way.
I walked to the edge of the bridge and made a sharp right turn where a well-traveled grassy path led into the dense trees. It’s a wonder that I actually like to come down here because I really am extremely afraid of snakes. Luckily, I have not come across one, alive or dead. As I walked along the path I had to keep shoving the branches out of the way. They are really getting overgrown, mental note to trim them back a bit next time.
A shiver ran down my spine from the increasing chill of the shade trees. I wish I had brought a jacket. When I stepped out my front door after work, the sun beat down on my face feeling rather warm and it didn’t occur to me that the thick of the trees would be a different story.
The branches were snapping loudly under my tennis shoes, at least I was smart enough to not wear sandals this time. The previous adventure the sticks kept poking in through the sandal holes. On the right side of the path I saw the old crooked tree that we would play truth, dare, or double dare when we were in grade school, it was coined the Love Tree, hence all the initials carved in it. I touched the initials that I carved into the tree of my first crush. Ah, the memories.
I looked at the base of the tree and saw sting weed was growing there. A person gets their skin next to that and it is like itchy non-stop for a few days. I actually laid in some without thinking once, never again. Itched in places no person should have to scratch.
A twig snapped behind me. I twirled around.
“Who’s there?” I asked.
No answer, and I couldn’t see a thing. Instant panic. I could run down the path I was going down, but then I will go deeper into the woods and may not find a way out. Whoever it is, came down the path I had. I looked around for a big tree branch to defend myself. Crap, all baby twigs.
Next thought, was to drop to the ground and get as low as possible, maybe then he won’t see me. Sting weed, I don’t want to go there again. It made me itch just thinking about it. The shadows of the trees are pretty dark, I can blend in with them.
Another twig snapped.
I could see a shadow of one person. He was tall, masculine built, and wearing a hat and far enough away I couldn’t make out the face. He slowed his pace down. I moved behind the tree. I hope he didn’t see me or is far enough behind me that he may not even know that I am here.
Duh, I spoke, so he has to know the general direction. Idiot I am, number one rule don’t ask the hunter if they are there. Looking behind me I could see a fallen tree along the ground. I can crawl across which leads to the other side of the creek. The creek is barely full of water so I can walk across anywhere to get back to this side. Then maybe work my way around him and get back to the path and run like crazy back to my house. My house is only a block away, an easy run. I can get help then.
I ran for the log. Oh, please let me get out of here. I didn’t hear him moving anymore. I stepped up on the log which was big enough for both feet side by side. Thank goodness it is only a foot above the water or this girl would say the heck with it and take her chances with the mystery man. Objects in the air with little walking space is so not my thing.
I wobbled a bit making my heart race. I kept thinking about him being right behind me and grabbing me. I got to the end, stepped off the log and turned around to see if I could see him. If I can’t see him then maybe he can’t see me. The early spring leaves on the trees created a maze of hiding places. I couldn’t see anything and could only hear the sound of the breeze on the tree tops.
I ran along the creek a good few minutes and then jumped across a narrow passage of water to get back to the town side of the creek. I didn’t bother to look back. I had one goal in mind and that was to get back to the path. I was running through the tall weeds, praying for no snakes, I heard the sound of feet hitting the ground behind me. My heart pounding and my mind telling me to run faster. I felt a hand grab my arm and I swung around, losing my footing and falling to the ground. My head smacked the ground with a thump, and then the world went dark.