Muddy Boots and Lost Trails
Sandra’s alone now – has been for almost a year. The kids are gone.
It’s early spring. She opens the Bilco door to the basement, letting dank air seep out and sunlight spill in. Sandra is pulled as if by a magnet toward a dusty black tote in the far corner. She takes off the lid and removes items: a hand-knit scarf from her mother, old newspaper clippings, stacks of finger paintings, and origami animals. To Mom is etched in big, loopy letters on many of the art projects.
Near the bottom of the tote, Sandra finds a crinkled, rolled-up piece of paper held in place by a green string. She unties it – unrolls the paper.
It’s a map of a local tributary. She recognizes her own writing. Lost Trail and Buried Treasure are still discernible, though the blue ink has faded. Her children had colored in the trees, streams, and wildflowers that dotted the paths through the forest. Sandra runs her fingers along the lost trails and traces the x somewhere near the mouth of the river.
Her eyes sting. She closes them, sees the muddy trails – smells them. Sandra chases after her little ones in their too-big rainboots and mismatched thrift shop outfits. A sudden downpour catches the trio off-guard, forcing them to find shelter under a gathering of pine trees, laughing all the while. She traces their escape plan with a stick in pine needles. The rain is relentless.
“But Mom,” her daughter says. “What about the buried treasure?”
“Don’t worry, honey, we’ll come back someday.”
But the map was set aside, days turned into weeks and weeks into months.
Sandra pockets the map. She goes upstairs, grabs her car keys, and leaves voicemails on her kids’ cell phones. She’ll talk to them later at some point, or tomorrow, but she wonders if they’ll remember the map or getting caught in the rain – how soaked they all were by the time they found their way out of the woods on that crazy little adventure.
She hopes they remember; she thinks they will.
Though she’s positive she’ll find no buried treasure, she can at least tell her daughter she tried.
Sandra sets the map on the passenger’s seat and puts the car in drive.
Thank you for reading “Muddy Boots and Lost Trails” — I hope you enjoyed it. I also want to personally thank all of my recent subscribers. It’s great to have you here!
For this week’s Fifties by the Fire prompt…let’s change it up a bit. I’m going to call it a St. Patrick’s Day surprise and send it out to you without a preview. The only hint I’ll share is that it involves music. Expect the prompt to land in your inbox at 3:00 PM EST Friday!
Have a great week.
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Poignant story. I think a lot of us have boxes of memories in the basement.
The map was the true treasure.