I was cut off from the rest of the group and I was starting to get angry.
How dare they be so selfish, so self-centred and totally inconsiderate me? Someone who clearly couldn’t walk at the Olympic Race Walking pace they were setting.
It’s not that I couldn’t walk, I was just a slow walker.
– ⋅ o ♥ o ⋅ –
When my foot shot out from under me, I had no time to grab at branches or vines whizzing past to slow my decent. All of me decided to be at ground level immediately and my lungs emptied with a rush as I hit the path and slid forward.
As the wall of the cliff face stopped my slide, stars burst to invade my vision, shooting left to right as well as right to left. I sat there trying to focus on them, watching them burn out before completing their minuscule journeys across my field of vision..
I placed my head in my hands and carefully checked for lumps. It hurt just above my right ear, but there was no blood on my fingers. Relief mingled with anger as I sat for a while longer crying bitter angry tears.
Sobs of self-pity I told myself, but while I tried to comfort myself with misdirected melancholy, I noticed welts on my legs. Big black welts. I didn’t remember hitting them on rocks or tree roots on my downward slide. I only remembered hitting my head.
Blinking, I focused on the welt just below my left knee. It throbbed and pulsated. They all throbbed and pulsated. Fighting rising bile, I realised what I was looking at.
Leeches. Big, fat, black leeches.
There were several of them feasting on me. Five I could see and my skin crawled thinking of how many I couldn’t see.
There are moments when we know we’re doing the wrong thing but can’t stop ourselves no matter how loud the voice in our head is. I had two. One telling me to leave them alone, the other screaming “Get ‘em off! Get ‘em off! Get ‘em off! Get ‘em off!”
The second voice drowned out the first.
Cringing and recoiling with revulsion, I pulled at the leech below my knee. Blood ran in rivulets down my leg, but I pulled it off and then the next one, and then another one. One by one, freeing my legs from their sucking grip.
Bile had reached my mouth as I checked elsewhere. There were three or four behind my knees and a couple inside my socks, but terror and anxiety reigned supreme at the fat lump I touched behind my right ear and I leant over and lost my lunch.
Regaining my composure, I struggled to get a grip, but eventually I found purchase and yanked until it let go. Blood now poured down the front of my raincoat as I held my earlobe trying to stem the flow. I was confident I’d removed every blood sucker I could find and relaxed, just a little.
I noticed the rain had stopped. Heavy droplets still fell from leaves and branches, but above, through the canopy, I could see a small strip of blue. The loveliest thing I’d seen for several hours.
Finally something was going right and just beyond, I could see the sign indicating the other path. I washed off the blood and dirt as best I could in the water cascading over the cliff face and moved on.
I had to save myself. No one else as going to.