Chapter 5 - The River

I stood on the edge of the bridge, having vaulted over the railing, watching the moose below drinking from the water. It was fascinating really, seeing the wildlife undisturbed in their natural habitat. I felt free among them, despite feeling like a captive at Jerry's touch. I felt like I was finally moving past all the horrors in my life when something unimaginable happened.

Jerry pushed me into the river. My foster mother, Monica was looking the other way at a flock of birds. He said he didn't even push very hard, but more than enough to dislodge my grip on the railing. I felt like I fell in slow motion, as if everything around me happened at a fraction of the speed it did. I hit a rock below in the shallows and lost consciousness, drifting face down for several seconds in the whitewater rapids. Monica screamed and ran along the riverbank after me, while Jerry yelled for her to stay in an attempt to prevent a rescue from happening. The water flowed much faster than Monica could run along the riverbank, moving me far away from their reach by the time I regained consciousness. Coughing the water out of my lungs, I found myself barley awake on the shore an unknown distance down the river.

I had no idea how I survived. My soaking clothes were weighing me down and made me feel cold in the wind so I took them off. It was warmer in the sunlight. I knew there was a town down the river from me not far and I didn't know how far along the river I was, so I decided to walk downriver instead of back up towards Monica and Jerry. I was afraid of being attacked again so I walked away. That's what my foster families always told me to do when I had problems with the other kids, or anyone really. Just walk away.

So I just walked away. I had read maps of the area and I knew where I was so I wasn't really afraid of where I was going. I knew I could walk a few miles a day at least and the weather wasn't so bad that I couldn't sleep outside under trees by the river. I wasn't prepared however, I had literally nothing in my possession, not even clothes or a backpack. I walked nude along the riverside, pondering what to do next. I knew could return to the bridge and face capture by Jerry, who might attack me again, or I could search for refuge down the river. I thought I would be able to walk wherever I needed, living off the land as ancient peoples had done for many generations before me.

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