Captain's log 2, stardate unknown: The forest run part 1

emilythewoman

I was running through the forest barefoot. I had kicked off my blue sneakers at some point, as well as my socks. And hell, while I was at it, I took off my axe throwing jersey so no one would know my player handle. Bare feet on soil helps you connect with nature. Sure, I was running for my life, but it felt right in the moment to shed anything that tied me to the world of possessions. I felt possessed. But I also felt free.

No smartphone.

No shirt.

No shoes.

No one to tell me what to do. I was freer than I’ve ever felt in my life.

No one could touch me, not even the location tracking on my cell phone.

I had decided to follow the creek. My mother, father, and older sister live approximately one mile north of where I live. It would be easy to walk there without the road I figured (I didn’t want my husband or anyone following me. This was my choice to leave, and my path to walk.)

I felt the mud squish between my toes and it felt really good. Later, I would walk through a patch of brush filled with thorns before I found the safehouse. Reversing the order of those two experiences would have been nice.

I ran out of the house around 5 or 6 am, so it was still quite dark when I left. I didn’t have my contacts in so it was difficult to see anything. The morning commute traffic was picking up on Bruce Garner Road and Lawrence Road. It was loud. I’ve always had difficulty when I’m overwhelmed dealing with loud sounds. I didn’t dare walk on these roads, not just because I didn’t want to be followed but because I didn’t want to be killed.

After being cooped up from the pandemic, people seemed to have forgotten you can lose your license going 15 MPH over the speed limit. Everyone drives 70 on these country back roads even though it’s 45 MPH usually.

For a while, I walked on the edge of the forest. Then I dipped into the forest to muffle the sound of the road. The sun was starting to come up but it was still too dark to see anything. I picked up a stick. Anyone who has ever walked in the woods in North Carolina in the fall knows you’re going to plant your face in a giant spider web without a guide stick that you swing in front of you as your walk or run. So that’s what I did.

I found a sick, harry potter looking wand and waved that thing in circles in front of me as I alternated between walking and running northwards. I sang and whistled a tune that calmed me, one my family knows well. Even as an adult, because alone in the dawn before the sun is out, in an unknown place right at the opening of deer season definitely on someone’s private property didn’t exactly make me feel comforted.

Would someone shoot at me? I was wearing a bright pink sports bra and black leggings, so hopefully, they’d at least recognize that I wasn’t an animal, but man did I fucking feel like a wild animal.

When the creek ended, seemingly out of nowhere, disappearing into the ground, I set off on a two-lane wide clearing on a patch of farmland just outside the treeline. Four wheeler marks, truck marks. It was a back alley, and I knew it would take me North, where I wanted to go...to my mother’s. Where else do you turn when you feel most alone in the world? This is the place I felt it was right for me to go.

Why didn’t I grab the keys and drive over there? Well, that too, is a story for another time.

When I arrived at the end of the two-lane wide clearing, there was a property. I thought I could ask them to point me in the right direction or even drive me to my mom’s since we were so close. Boy was I wrong. This man thought I was a fucking druggie. “Ma’am, I don’t know you” is all he said as he looked down at his phone. This man was not going to help me. I felt my faith in humanity disappear instantly. What a fucking asshole. I was a woman, barefoot, in her sports bar in the cool air (not freezing yet, but it was cold) asking for help.

Something inside of me screamed “RUN!” So I did. I fucking bolted. Ran across Bruce Garner Road (which trust me was like a game of fucking Frogger and I’m lucky no one hit me.)

Then I wandered in the forest east, because I sort of knew where I was and knew I was close to my mother’s house. But I was tired by that point. I hadn’t slept in two days. I was dehydrated from both running and also from drinking North Carolina IPAs the night before. I was out of my mind. I stripped off my pink sports bar top and buried it in the woods. Even my bra felt restricting. How could I be free in this world when I couldn’t even make my own decisions about when I go to sleep and when I go to work, and how I cope with stress?

I felt robbed of my power by my partner. I was livid. I found a pine tree and rested my bare back against it, looking up to the sky. It was lighter now. There was another house in the distance. Would I try to ask for directions or help again? I didn’t know yet.

That’s all I can muster for today. To be continued.

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