This morning I planned on going into Cottonwood, AZ for supplies. Laziness slapped me hard and I could not get myself to go. (Perhaps it was the universe forcing me to stay put?) So, I made some coffee and sat on the shady side of my car.
Emma made a little alert "ruff". I looked up from my phone and saw a thin, young boy with a bright red shirt, out in the bushes. He was maybe seven or eight years old. He ran foward and then froze in place. His head darting back and forth. "That's odd." I thought.
When he saw me he ran behind a big bush. I heard one of those big uncontrollable sobs. The kind that betray you. A soul sob that your body does against your will. I didn't just hear it, I felt it. This kid was lost!
"Can I help you?" I yelled which made him start to run away. Then I yelled really loud "I know where your camp is." Those words surprised me because although they came out of my mouth they did not seem to be mine. Regardless, they worked. He stopped and looked at me. He was holding his breathe to control his sobbing. He slowly started walking toward me. Poor kid was so very panicked.
"I bet you got turned around out there." I said trying to lighten my voice "I hiked out there and it can be confusing."
I knew the steep hills and shrubbery quickly block the view of your camp. Every way looks the same. You can't walk in a straight line because of all the cactus and prickers so when you turn back you lose which way you came from.
His name was Noah. "Are you camped in a big spot where other people can camp or in a smaller spot for one family?
His voice breaking in a tiny wisper he told me " Other people are camping there too."
Having camped in this area several times before, I knew there were single campsites on the south side of me and a group camping area going North. We would go north about a quarter of a mile. I hoped I was right.
He was ready to trek back through the woods. "Wait, let's walk down the dirt road. It's easier for me and I know where your camp is. Don't worry because I have a phone and a car if we need them."
He was so adrenalized he kept tearing ahead. When he didn't see his camp he would come to an abrupt stop and wait for me. I just let him run.
Finally, when he saw his RV, he ran to it so fast he was kicking up dust.
I walked up to his RV and didn't see him. He had run inside. I needed to know I was handing him off to an adult. So I asked his sister " Is Noah here? She hollared for him.
"Noah, thanks for the conversation. Take care." He said "Thank you!" Peeking out from behind his mom. Then his mom and dad blandly said thanks. It was obvious they hadn't miss him nor we're curious about why an old lady followed him into their campsite.
So I just walked away.
Yep, I just walked away.
Now, I suppose there will be different opinions about what I should have done at the end of this story....well, sorry, I just walked away.