Lost in Thought

By Brigitte Pellerin

She didn’t remember that grove of trees. She’d been there before, she was sure of it. The grove of trees right around the corner from the rocky outcrop that leads to the dried-up river on the way to the cliff. She’d hiked there many times with her daddy. She knew there was supposed to be a big rock there, covered with moss and on the underside of it a whole bunch of porcupine poop.

Except there was no rock, no moss, no porcupine poop.

She cried out, “Dad!?! Daddy!?? Can you hear me???” But all she heard was the sound of the ospreys hunting above her head and the snapping of dry twigs under her boots. Her mom said ospreys were more elegant than turkey vultures, but she didn’t know for sure. She was just 8 years old, and the birds never came close enough for you to have a good look at them.

She turned left, just past the big birch tree. She figured she’d find her way back to the cottage that way. There was a small escarpment that led to the back of the old privy. They used it as a shed now that they had indoor plumbing.

She knew there should be a bay on her right where the underwater electrical cable connected their island to the main grid. She didn’t understand how a cable that ran both under water and underground could give their little place power like in the city, but she just took it on faith that it worked as advertised. Mostly it did, except when there were nasty storms. Then not much worked; no internet, no toilet, no fridge. These were good times to read comic books by flashlight.

The thought of reading quietly by the wood stove had her reassured. She would find her way back, right?. It would be silly to be lost on that island anyway. It had been in their family since she was a toddler and she was very familiar with it. Why, just now she knew she’d be at the bay where the electric cable…

Except she wasn’t. There was water alright, but it wasn’t the bay she expected. Her breath caught in her throat. Oh no! Where was she?!? Her parents would worry so much!

In her panic, she forgot the first rule of survival in the woods, which is to stop moving if you think you’re lost. She started running she knew not where. She was afraid. In her head she could hear her mom’s warnings. How she wished she’d listened more! She ran and ran until the inevitable happened; she tripped on a root and slammed head-first into the ground.

“Honey! Are you OK?” Her mom had heard her cry when she took the laundry out to dry. “What are you doing anyway? Come in, it’ll be time for lunch soon.”

And the little girl picked herself up, feeling very silly for having believed she was lost.