Rated: E · Short Story · Contest Entry · #2102351
My canoe tipped in the water and I lost everything I needed to survive.
Exhausted and shaking, I pulled my canoe out of the water and up a sand bar to shore. I knew that I would have to get out of these wet clothes soon or I would perish during the night. Sheer desire to survive kept me moving. I said a silent prayer for the Beaver Moon that was shining brightly tonight helping me find my way in this unfamiliar territory.
Ahead lay the forest, dark and deep. I was virtually unprotected from anything that might decide to attack me. My canoe tipped over in an eddy; I lost all of my tools, food, and extra clothing. It was a miracle I was able to hold onto the canoe and get myself to shore. I made my way toward the woods but tripped on a rock and lay there a few minutes wondering if it was worth the effort to get up again.
Near panic, I tried to quell my shivering body and made my way to the edge of the forest where pine trees were standing guard in front of the entrance to the woods. A burst of energy helped me rip pine boughs from trees until I had a deep pile of them on the ground. With my last ounce of strength I pulled the canoe over the rough ground and tipped it upside down on top of the pine boughs. I stripped off my clothing, laid it on top of the canoe, and quickly wedged myself under it. I wiggled into the middle of the boughs and pulled a few over the top of me for warmth, then curled into as tight a ball as I could, hoping that sleep would overtake me. With any luck at all, tomorrow would be a day of warm sunshine.
I heard coyotes howling and prayed that they were the most dangerous animal in my vicinity. I felt relatively safe inside the canoe and started to warm up a little. What I would do tomorrow I couldn't even think about now; hopefully other fur traders would be coming down the river and I could beg a ride. Apparently I wasn't cut out to be a fur trader; this was my first attempt, it looked like my last one as well. I spent all my money on supplies and had nothing to show for it; not even one fur.
I woke once during the night and thought I heard some scuffling near the canoe. I lay there as quietly as I could hoping that whatever it was would go away. I was near the water so any animal could have come to quench their thirst. Once again I fell asleep.
I woke to the sound of birds chirping and lay there listening for some time. Cautiously I slithered to the edge of the canoe and peered out; I saw nothing that appeared dangerous. It was hard to believe that I had slept so long, the sun was just peeking out from the edge of the horizon. It was cold and my clothes were still damp; there was no way I could put my boots back on, they were too wet.
Once again I made my way to the woods and stepped into the brush, trying not to pierce my foot with anything. I found some birch trees and stripped off as many large pieces as I could, then ripped and pulled vines, cutting some of them with my teeth. I went back to the canoe and fashioned bark on the bottom of my feet, then tied it with vines. The rest of the bark I wrapped around my arms and legs and then put the clothes back on. It was the best I could do to stay warm.
My stomach was growling. I thought there may be some berries nearby so I started walking to see what I could find. I didn't want to get too far away from shore in case another trapper happened to come by. There was no way I could catch any fish without a net or hooks. I found some mint and chewed on a piece then stuffed more in my pocket. Hoping that the water was good, I bent down and drank some. My homemade shoes were working pretty well so I ventured farther into the trees.
Suddenly I heard a crash and stopped. I had frightened a deer who jumped up and thundered loudly into the woods. I don't know who was more scared, the deer or myself. I saw mushrooms but didn't know enough about them to dare trying to eat them. Realizing that it was futile to find any berries this time of year, I decided to head back to the canoe.
I sat for a while thinking. If no one else came by, I would once again be stuck here all night with no food. Soon frost would be on the ground and the water would start to freeze. I thought my best chance would be to get back in the canoe and continue down the water hoping to find a settlement. I had no paddles, they had floated away when the canoe tipped, so I scavenged the ground for two limbs that would suffice and finally found some that were a tad cumbersome but workable.
Back on the water I had quite a time maneuvering the canoe and stayed as close to shore as I could until I spied a grizzly in the water ahead. Afraid that I would once again capsize, I had no choice but to steer toward the opposite shore. Once again, luck won out, and I survived a grizzly attack. By now, it was quite warm and I removed the itchy bark I had shoved into my clothes.
Finally, close to dusk, I came upon a settlement. Civilization never looked so good to me. The light of the Beaver Moon had saved me but I hoped never again to venture out in the wilderness by myself again.
1st Prize Winner