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Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/1711848-Lost-Jax
by Amay
Rated: E · Short Story · Contest Entry · #1711848
Story of a lost son .. Inspiration Station Entry Sept.
Lost Jax

** Image ID #1706707 Unavailable **

Jax became aware of his surroundings; he was walking in some woods. He couldn’t remember where he had been; just that he was here now. He felt confused, but somehow he felt at peace. He wondered what had happened. It didn’t make any sense. He rubbed his head, thinking maybe he’d knocked himself silly, but no bumps or sore spots that he could find. Maybe it was best to just figure out where he was, then perhaps he would remember how he ended up here, for that matter where here was.

As a matter of habit he checked the laces on his hiking boots; he paused, and looked at the laces in his hands. “Why can’t I remember putting on hiking gear this morning? Why can’t I remember getting ready for this hike?” He shook off that strange feeling and started trying to figure out where he was.

He began to walk through the lush forest. He remembered being in a forest like this long ago. He remembered camping with the Cub Scouts and eventually the Boy Scouts in woods just like these.

He closed his eyes, and breathed in deeply. The scents of pine, cedar and mulch permeated his senses. He took in another deep breath; he could almost smell the campfires and burnt marshmallows.

The memories of his childhood and youth flooded his mind. He remembered how great everything tasted when it was cooked in the woods. Even when they were backpacking and just had dehydrated meals, they always tasted so good. He remembered the smores, the hot chocolate, and cobblers in the cool of the evenings around the campfires. He remembered the ghost stories and tall tales shared, the laughter and friendships that were forged in woods like these.

He listened to the quiet that held so much life. The birds were singing their songs, woodpeckers tapping the beat. The crickets sang in the shade and tree frogs were holding their own. He felt the crunch of the needles of the evergreens under his hiking boots.

Jax stopped in mid-thought, froze in mid-step, and stared straight ahead. He couldn’t believe his eyes. There ahead in a small clearing stood two deer. They were nibbling on the new growth of the trees. They hadn’t a care in the world, just munching away on the juicy leaves.

He couldn’t believe his luck. He’d been a hiker, a true Boy Scout, a guide in the forests but he’d never just walked up on two young deer like this. He stood as still as a statue and watched the deer mosey down the edge of the path.

His mind was whirling, “Oh man, I wish I had my camera…. Nobody is ever going to believe this…. Holy cow, they must be ten feet from me…. I’ve never been this close to wild deer, except that one that tried to beat the car across the street- sorry, but the deer and the car, well you know…. Oh gosh, look at that, they’ve still got traces of their spots…. I wonder if their twins…. There momma must be around here somewhere.” The deer slowly moved on down the side path. Jax decided it would be safe to move on. He still didn’t know exactly where he was, or how he’d gotten here.

Jax left the clearing on a natural high. He was so excited, so happy. Then the thoughts of how did I get here, and what am I doing here started to return. He still couldn’t remember what brought him here. If he’d been camping, where was his gear? He’d been walking quite a while and there was no sign of human habitation. This must be some kind of reserve, but where?

He was starting to feel uneasy, when the two young deer came into sight once again. This time they were joined by a third deer. Jax thought, “That must be their mom.” He watched the three interact. The two youngsters horsing around, getting a little too rough for the mom’s liking, and then mom deciding to step in and give them that “mom- eye.”

Jax remembered his mom giving him that eye when he and his brother would horse around in the old tree house out in the back yard. His little brother fell out; landed on his back knocking the wind out of him and fracturing his shoulder, Jax got them ‘mom-eye’ and the tongue lashing that went with it that afternoon. Jax chuckled softly, but it was loud enough for deer mom to hear. The three took off in a flash.

Jax smiled, and thought, “I deserved that one.” He tried to see which direction the deer were running in. He wasn’t sure he could make it through the brush, so he decided he’d better stick to the path. He hoped that he would come upon the deer again, if he was really lucky.

He continued down the hills, through the taller trees. There was only dappled light through the upper canopy of the trees. It was cool in the shade, but he realized that it was close to noon. It seemed like he’d been walking for hours and he still hadn’t seen a person, ranger or any other human trace. He couldn’t imagine how he’d managed to walk for so long and not meet anyone. The path was well worn, not by animals, but cleared to a point and obviously well traveled. This was just so weird.

He stopped and listened, a deep concentrated strain to hear something of human kind. He heard the birds, the leaves rustling, a faint babbling of a stream somewhere close. Jax turned and headed toward the water. Maybe there would be someone fishing or something there that would give him a clue.

He arrived at the stream, and followed the banks down further toward a deep pool of cold mountain water. There on the other side of the pond stood the three deer, only this time there were four, mom, dad and both kids. The two kids were enjoying drinking the cool water; mom and dad were standing above on a slight ridge keeping watchful eyes over their babes, while Jax thoroughly enjoyed the scene.

He remembered how his mom and dad were always there watching over him. Sometimes it felt like they were giving him enough rope to hang himself, but he knew that rope was his lifeline back to safety. He remembered that time in the boat. He knew that he was a strong swimmer. He didn’t need a life vest. He didn’t expect a cramp either. If it hadn’t been for his dad throwing him that rope, he’d have been long gone a long time ago.

Jax looked up at the mother deer. He saw her watching him. She wasn’t watching out for the babies below, she was looking straight at him. He looked up at the buck. He was staring right at him. A wave of peace and serenity flowed over Jax. A feeling of calmness filled him completely. He didn’t know what was going on, but something special certainly was happening. After all, how many people go hiking through the woods, and see a couple of baby deer, followed by seeing them again with their mom, and finally here again with their dad.

The two young deer, finished their drink and frolic in the water, and started walking up toward their parents. It was strange. The family just turned and started walking back into the woods like they had nothing to fear, even with a human so close. Jax thought it was odd, but was grateful that he’d been a witness to it.

He decided to let the deer family go their own way. He needed to get back to figuring out where he was. He walked down to the water, he really was starting to get hot and thirsty. He leaned over when suddenly he was hit from behind. The force of the butt sent him falling out into the pond. The water was much deeper and colder than Jax expected. He couldn’t get a grip on anything and realize that he was being pulled under by a current. He thrashed around in the water, struggling to make his way to the edge. Every time he thought he had a grip on something, a deeper pull came from under the water.

Finally, Jax realized that he wasn’t going to make it out of the pond, the current was too strong, and he didn’t have enough strength. He stopped fighting, he tried to relax and go with the flow. Maybe if he was lucky, he’d end up downstream. Hopefully someone would find him and help him get home.

Mary had never seen someone with a fever this high this long. In Jax’s whole childhood and teenage years he’d never had a fever that lasted more than a day, two at the most. The doctors suggested that she try to cool him down with a tepid bath. Thomas and Mary placed their son gently into the cool water, hoping that it would ease his misery. They couldn’t believe the fight he put up. Mary and Thomas were soaked before they could get Jax calm enough to put him back into bed.

Once Jax settled down, his fever started to break. He started to relax and rest in a peaceful slumber. Thomas and Mary watched over him during the long night. Keeping the cooling cloths at the ready, in case they were needed.

By morning, Jax was starting to rouse. He was surprised he was at home in his bed. He couldn’t believe his dad was sitting in a chair at the foot of his bed. His mom was staring down at him, with those big brown eyes. “Mom,” he said in a whisper, “I think you were a deer in another life,” and he rolled back over going sound asleep.

word count 1655

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