by Liz O'Neill
Liz & Linda, sitting on a Maple Tree thinking back to what happened before they discovered Native American teens. In this part of the book they walk into the present moment and Ch. 1-13
After their little dance, from being off the smelly flats with mud traps, they began shaking the darkness off everything.
Their backpacks had taken a slight hit during the latest episode. Damage control assessment revealed nothing noticeable had been harmed.
Linda was brushing off her pants, front and back, accompanied by a gallows laugh. "And I was worried about a little mud on my shoe?" Dusting off her backpack, she spoke to it, "Hopefully there will be no more adventures where you get wet or muddy or even dirty."
Leaning over, Liz used her fingernails to scrape off her pant leg up to her knee, front and back.
Tipping her head, Linda said, "What is that sound? I've noticed it stops every time we stop."
Liz tilted her head to see if she could hear it. "I don't hear anything."
"Wait 'til we start walking again. Come on, let's keep moving and listen to see if you can hear it."
As they began, Liz listened very hard. "I do hear something, now. What do you think it could be? An animal?"
"It does sound like a cricket or something like that." Linda added.
"Schwit, schwit, schwit." It began again. They stopped. It stopped.
They looked at each other and said, "It's following us."
They stopped to peer over the bank to see if the sound was any closer. "Dive, dive, dive."
It's good they were on the side rather than the middle of the road. They hadn't been on the road long when they heard grating gears behind them. Headlights ripped the curtain of fog revealing a van zooming by.
They hit the soft grass just in time. "What could they possibly be up to? Down that way, then in a while, going back where they came from? They could have at least picked us up or asked if we needed a ride. Why would they think we were out for a stroll on this road?"
As Liz was pushing herself back up to standing, Linda noticed bubbles coming out of her left shoe. "That's where the sound is coming from. Look at your shoe. It's even got bubbles coming out of it. Walk and we'll see."
Liz began walking, fascinated with the number of bubbles. They formed at the same rate as she walked. Liz laughed. "Look slow; one bubble, faster; many little bubbles. Cool." She walked around squishing along. "It'll eventually dry out."
"Well, you could at least dump some of the water out," Linda suggested.
"Good idea." She rested her hand on Linda's shoulder to steady herself. Tugging it off, muddy water poured out of the shoe. After she'd put it back on, tying the sopping wet laces, she purred. "Oh, that actually feels a lot better."
"I should think so. I'm surprised you didn't notice it before." Linda shook her puzzled head.
"Well, we were soon diving for our life to get out of the way of the psycho, rude van driver. I sort of had my mind on something else."
As they trudged along, sipping from their water bottles, Liz became poetic. "I feel as if we are trying to find balance on an endless writhing gray serpent with black splotches and a school bus yellow stripe going down its spine."
I'm glad this line is here to track our way as we put one foot in front of the other." Linda agreed.
"Yuh, the middle line is like a giant balance beam. I wish we could tumble off and find ourselves still sitting in the front seat of the car." Liz yearned.
"Or maybe we would wake up in our hotel room from just two nights ago. Two nights ago, feels like eons ago." Linda sighed.
Because they were focusing on their feet mimicking cruising the runway like a catwalk model with the crowds wowing them, they had not noticed the dim lit bulb ahead.
Still seated on the fallen Maple tree, reflecting on what brought them to this very moment, Liz yelled, "STOP!" She put both hands up. "We're not going back there in our messed-up heads."
"You mean you don't want to remember us dumpster diving?" teased Linda.
"Well. I do want to remember you finding the milk crates so we could look in the window, to rescue those girls. I do miss them already."
"I do too." Linda agreed. "We would never have made it through that cave without Spring Blossom leading us. It's a good thing she had some past experience in there with her father and brother."
"I think I will always remember the ceremonies we were privileged to witness." Liz sighed. "My heart still aches from when they made prayers about their murdered or missing women and children."
Liz became melancholic. "It especially got to me when they did the litany naming their own relatives or friends. What a heavy thing to carry."
"It's a good thing one of them led us back to this road. I don't think we'd ever find our way through that cave." Linda shuddered at the thought.
" Okay"-- reminded Liz-- "we've answered our question of how we got here. It's time to step off memory lane and into the present moment. Remember, we have no idea where we are in relation to that house or our car."
"Hopefully, that trail off from the Reservation road came out on the other side of that house and far away from our car. I really don't look forward to seeing either of them again." Linda strongly shook her head.
"I dread having to get past the armed guard on the porch of the house. Hopefully, there'll be no one there, and they've all slithered into the van and left." Liz tightly hunched her shoulders. "Eeek."
"I kind of want to just stay here on this nice comfy log." Linda smiled moving her hand fondly along its textured bark.
Liz groaned as she leaned against her walking stick to ease her body up to standing. Linda followed with accompanying groans.
"Well, I guess we're going to find out which side of the house we're on. But which way do we go? We certainly don't want to end up back at the car." Liz turned to Linda for direction.