You stop short, hearing a sound. And it’s not natures sound. Did you imagine it?
You pause, reaching to hear, is it nothing? No, no there it is again, a thud, and then another, it’s the sound of an axe, falling.
You look around you, testing your senses to determine where the sound is traveling from, quickly you calibrate the coordinates, it’s time to leave, your pulse quickens, as once again you sense the child inside you, knowing just how the deer feels when the crack of the rifle reports.
Except you don’t know these ancient paths, which one to bolt down, and which ones not? Bugger, you’ve been exposed, you feel a fraud, you’ve wandered in too far and now your inner peace is rudely affronted by a loud frightened and angry parent, their scripts hammering in your head: “why, stupid girl, why did you stray so far from the camper?”
Deep breaths, you wrestle to calm yourself, and again you hear the thwack of the axe, and now you’re certain it’s ahead of you. You turn your back and walk away admitting defeat and resigned to retracing your steps, breaking the spell of this otherwise magical moment of solitude and serenity.
You plunge your hand into your pocket to retrieve your phone, and panicked you pat down every possible pocket, the screaming fear and unfolding reality hammering its way in – you’ve left your bloody phone under the consul from when you first pulled up.
Mind scrambling, panicking, knowing full well it was charging off the cigarette lighter and you’d meant to retrieve it but you’d gotten lost in the celebration of your independence and the successful preparations of the feast that was your long ago morning breakfast.
Too many days on the road, so far from the city. Your routine well and truly broken, and oh bugger, bugger, bugger. You don’t know the time and you don’t have any way to reach out to anyone. Shit.
Your heart racing, adrenaline pure and simple; you can hardly hear above the sound of your blood pulsing, audible within the canal of your ears.
You look upward, heavenward, and with the sight of the sun, still bright, and the sky clear and blue, you feel lifted. There’s plenty of time, you begin to coach yourself. I can only have been out here an hour or so, you kid yourself.
I will calmly head back and soon be in the camper van, you reaffirm, back with my phone and a fresh cup of hot tea before there’s any sign of a sun set. Heck I might even drive till I find a local motel, grab a cold beer and a hot shower, maybe a long soak in the bath, heaven knows I’ll want one.
You start walking, not too briskly, but no longer letting your senses soak in the scenes, rather your sight stretches, farsighted-hyperopia, looking through the tree lines, trying to cut a line of sight that’s straight, rather than meander the hoof worn crooked paths that twist and turn, as the uneven ground rises and dips.
It seemed far less uneven before, you huff, wishing you had someone else to complain to, but perhaps you were walking slower, you agree. And well, at least the sound of the axe has stopped, you console yourself.
You’re making good progress and finally begin to relax, regaining the confidence and composure that all too easily slipped away.
There’s light breaking in through the sides of the trees ahead, and you smile and sigh knowing it must be that sodden, fallow farm field, the one at the edge of the wood, and the way back to the noise, the chaos, and the security you’d earlier celebrated escaping.