Just in Case

Early lessons in looking.

adventure alone arid barren

Children reviewed scenarios. What to do when you are lost in a wilderness with no aid and no promise of its coming. A book might say if they found the right one, how to leave a trail by walking through what is soft. To stop at intervals to write HELP in the snow in the sand in the mud with an arrow pointing in the direction of the feet. How if the course is reversed. To travel back over the prints. To alert anyone who is looking, if anyone is looking, not to go beyond the tracks. To follow the lines of roads and rivers and listen well. If a party calls, they will use an unusual word. Three syllables. Internet! Coconut! Spaghetti! Leave personal items behind. But who has the book.

You can learn to look this way, scanning the horizon for smoke signals, for mirror flash, to train the ear to hear the distant cry. But how did you learn to meet it, children wondered, of the expectation that anyone grown would know where to go when it was time, and when? When the wind comes. Who ties it all down. They cut the books of questions into strips, folded each line into a basket. They would need more for the carrying. 

Author: Stacey C. Johnson

I keep watch and listen, mostly in dark places.

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