A Change in Pace

As usual, I was walking in the woods. Admiring the autumn colors falling to the ground, I headed towards the river. After school, I usually drop off my bag at home and head off to this place with an occasional friend or two who would come with me, but today I was alone again. No big deal, I shrugged. I took in a deep breath, letting the crisp dry air that smelled of a beautiful autumn decay fill my lungs. My outstretched fingertips brushed a few tree trunks before I shoved my hands into my jacket pockets. The sky was overcast, no surprise, that’s how it was every fall. A sunny day around here was rare. Birds chirped, singing songs back and forth. A sparrow flew past me and landed on a branch; its puffy red chest blended in with the leaves around it.

All sizes and colors of maple leaves were clinging onto branches and resting on the ground. Birch trees stood tall and proud, rough white trunks ever vigilant. It all had the aroma of earthy dirt- I loved it. When I reached the river, I grabbed a rock, feeling the smooth surface and rolling it over and over in my hand. The weight was perfect; the shape was exactly what I needed. I lightly smiled and skipped it across the softly flowing river. It swiftly hopped, skipped, and jumped effortlessly on the murky water. Where a plunk should have sounded, a thud took its place. I scrunched my eyebrows in confusion and followed the trail of ringlets on the water. Something decently-sized was sticking out of the current, covered in mud. I crossed using the fallen tree that had fallen in the storm years ago, back when I was in elementary school.

I crouched down next to it. “Hmm…” I thought out loud. Grabbing a nearby stick, I poked it. “Squishy.” A laugh escaped me, the sense of discovery and excitement flooding over. I threw the stick somewhere behind me and rolled up my sleeves. “Alright, here we go!” I said as I heaved the unknown thing from the water. It was heavy and large. The mystery thing took shape, and I dropped it. My heart quickened in my chest; it was a person. No. It was a body.

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