It was a crisp autumn morning, the sun was out. Only a few days remained before school started, which I wasn't excited about. I was on my way to the spot. No one knew where I was going, I doubt anyone cared. I told my mom, I was going to my friend Christine's house. A lie as usual, I've been spending more and more time by myself lately.
After his death I haven't been the same. He was my rock;I cared so much about him. After my dad died my mom almost never left the house. She just sat in bed crying. My three year old brother, Jack, barely knew him. So he isn't sad, but very empathetic. So he starts wailing whenever someone cries.
The spot is the last place I remember him smiling. When I was little, he would always take me there. We would spend hours upon hours jumping off the cliff into the water, but when they diagnosed the brain cancer all he did was drink.
Finally after a year of the struggle, he passed away. There was no funeral, it was too painful to recognize the fact that we were never going to see that smile that made others around him smile or feel the warm comforting hug from him. His death was exactly one year ago. Finally I arrived at the spot, there isn't anything amazing about the spot. Just a few boulders on a little bluff next to a small pond. To anyone else this is just a place to go swimming, but to me, it holds too many precious memories to even count. I drive as close as I can to the boulders before I have to get out. It takes hours to drive here. The sun is already high in the sky. It is noon, maybe a little after. I am no more than 100 yards away from the nearest boulder.
I start to run towards the rocks, I trip and scrape my knee. Bright red blood flows out, the same color the sunset was, exactly one year ago. I don't care, I keep running until I reach the base of the rock. There I start to cry. I cry hard, almost as hard as when I found my dad dead in his room.
I start to climb. With every step I remember more and more about him. How, when I broke up with my first boyfriend, he was there to comfort me. He made me believe I was worth something. He would tell me that he loved me, then we would plant ourselves in front of the tv and watch old movies. He loved old movies, it was a hobby of his to find the best oldies. After our first real fight, when I was a teen, I told him I hated him. He understood I didn't mean it. I remembered the good and the bad, when he came home drunk.
He wasn't a happy drunk, he was a mean one. I remember when he would spank me and how I would cry out. No one would come to my aid. I am at the top memories flood in, but I push them back. I am no longer crying. I feel the rock underneath me and the breeze. I hear the birds sing and the water underneath me swirl. I jump off, it is a long fall down and the impact is jarring. I am overcome with fear. The fear of not knowing what is going to happen next. That is also why life is worth living. The fact that you have no idea what tomorrow is going to bring.
I lay down. The rock is hard, but I don't mind. I hear the flap of wings above me. I hear the wind whipping overhead. I hear the soft chirp sound of a mockingbird. My eyelids close, I feel as if the weight of the sky was lifted off of my back. I wake up, the dark is soothing and the stars shine.
I hear the flow of water underneath me and the wind howling above me. I look up to see a human outline in the stars. It could have been my imagination, but it seemed to be smiling. I stand up and start to walk down the rock. It is very dark out, so I don't see the the sheer cliff side until i'm falling. This time it isn't fun. The sheer pain of the impact alone was almost enough to knocked me out. Unlike in the daytime the water is cold, the kind of cold that people die from within minutes. I feel so helpless, so alone. The way I felt when my dad died. The cold is too much I blackout… It's daytime now, maybe seven thirty. I must have washed up on a riverbank at least three miles away from my car because the landscape is completely different.
I think to myself “no time to waste, I'm not dying out here. This isn't how it ends.” I try to stand up but immediately fall back down. There is a sharp pain in my upper chest. I know this feeling, once when I was in third grade I was climbing a tree, I lost my balance and fell hard. This was the same feeling.
I had broken a arm and most likely a broken ankle too. I scanned my surroundings for anything I could use. I saw a willow tree with some dead limbs that I could use to make a crutch. I could rip my shirt into a sling, a handy trick I learned at a survival camp. With my not-so injured arm I broke a limb off of the willow tree and propped myself up with it. The walking stick would do for now but it wasn't strong or durable. I need to find shelter soon, it looked like it is going to rain soon. I started to limp along looking for anything that looked even slightly waterproof. Out of the corner of my eye I see a small shack. It looks like nobody has lived there for a while. The roof is in need of repairs. It will do for now.
When I walk over to the shack, inside I find about a year's worth of moldy food, a shotgun and four bullets. I dig around some more and find a box of matches, surprisingly not ruined a fur coat and a backpack. I figure since I only got about five hours of sleep I have some catching up to do. There is an old mattress in the corner, it is covered with scat. I brush off what I can. Then I lie down, I think to myself if I ever find my way back what am I returning to? Sure my mom and brothers would be devastated if I didn’t make it back, but they would move on. “NO” I tell myself, stop thinking like that. As I look up through the holes in the roof I can see the same figure in the sky. I cry myself asleep.
I wake up to the howls of wolves, it has been a couple of hours since I went to bed. I am awake, every bit of my body tingles with energy. Now is a good time to get moving I decide. I put the coat on and the rest of the stuff in the backpack. I sling it over my shoulder and head out. The pain in my ankle has become no more than a subtle limp. I'm no doctor but I know things aren't supposed to heal that fast. My head is throbbing. I realize something. I know how to get back! Minutes before I walked off the cliff, I was thinking how weird it was that the brightest star in the sky was right overhead. All I need to do is find that star again. It was the north star. I need to find which way is north. The moss grows on the north side of a tree. I start to run north as fast as I can but when I hear the snap of twigs behind me I stop. I wheel around, I am face to face with a giant Grizzly bear. It doesn't look happy. I fumble to get the shotgun out of my backpack. I load it and shoot. It just grazes the grizzly’s shoulder. I start to run but it’s much faster than I would have thought possible. It swings its paw at me, it catches me square in the chest. I am sent sprawling, the gun is lost.
The grizzly towers over me, eight feet tall, easy. All of a sudden I hear a gunshot, the grizzlys dead body falls besides me. I feel all five hundred pounds of pure muscle hit the ground. A hunter nearby must have heard my scream. The hunter stands over me, he is almost as scary as the bear. When he speaks his tone is surprisingly soft and caring.
“What is a pretty lady like yourself doing out, alone and about to be killed by a grizzly” He says.
He is a good listener, so I decide to tell him everything. How my dad died, how I snuck out to get here and how I have been stranded out alone for days. When i am finished he helps me up and starts helping me get up. “The cuts are somewhat superficial so you will be ok after a day or two of resting.” He says
No, I need get home.
He replies “where is home exactly”.
I can drive myself there once I get to my car.
“Where is your car” he asks
Up by the cliffs.
“That's really close to here we can even walk it. More like I can carry You there”
With that he pulls me up and cradles me in his arms. I feel myself drifting it's almost night and the stars are shining bright. The man figure isn't there anymore, he is running across the sky smiling.