My Walk in Autumn Morning
8:30am: I remember waking up to the soft orange glow filtering in through my curtains and the gentle hum of birdsong that fluttered in to my room. This weekend alarm makes a welcome change from the usual head splitting shriek from my phone. It was mid-October and my first weekend off work in months, so I woke up with the intention of making the most of the morning, even if it did mean just getting a breath of the fresh, autumn air. I glided through my everyday morning routine, the only difference being I could take my time to enjoy a steaming hot mug of coffee and rich, buttery toast. A luxury that was breakfast could not fit in my usual hectic routine, so I cherish the moments where I have time to sit down and just relax. This particular morning, all I could think about was how much I just wanted a walk, it was almost like the outdoors was calling my name and the trees branches beckoning me to join them. So that’s just what I did.
9:00am: The very moment I put my foot down on the pavement in front of me, my stress and headache of the working week seemed to simply melt away. I had always felt a connection to nature, and I felt the outdoors was my gentle healer. The morning was particularly beautiful, with my peaceful neighbourhood alive with rustling leaves and the pavement studded with fallen acorns, only to be gathered by bushy tailed squirrels, innocently scavenging before the inevitable frost. Looking up, the trees seemed to display all colours: burnt red, fiery orange and bright yellow with the light speckled through the remaining leaves like a kaleidoscope of vibrant beauty. My spirits lifted further when I saw how happy my border terrier, Tiger, was to be on a walk.
9:15am: I pulled my wooly hat further down my head as a chilly wind nipped at my ears and I began my walk, Tiger pulling on the lead. I had no real plan to follow a path, I preferred just to walk wherever my feet would take me. Sometimes I wonder that if I had turned around and gone home now, I would have never found out exactly what had happened to me. Sometimes I wonder if that would have been better than knowing what I know now…
9:20am: The silence was what I loved most about my neighbourhood. I knew faces but I preferred to keep myself to myself, besides I had no time for meaningful friendships. Little did I know back then that now I have all the time in the world. It was this moment when I first noticed something strange, I gave the obligatory nod and hello to the man who I passed on my walks fairly often, but I did not receive any acknowledgement, instead he looked straight through me. His snarly dog also just trotted past quite happily. I was not the type of person to dwell on this though, and I continued my walk this time deciding to talk a turn down a winding country track just up the end of the street.
9:30am: I loved the change from grey pavements and darting cars to the blissful countryside, the only noise being the distant hum of vehicles and the branches swaying in the breeze. The smell of autumn filled my nose and the gentle chirping of birds drifted past. This was where I was the most content. I let Tiger off his lead, and I watched with a smile on my face as he leaped and bounded just up the path in front of me, sniffing and chasing after every smell he could find. He darted into the hedge row and came out with something in his mouth almost with a proud expression on his face.
9:32am: Tiger had found a shoe. But this was not just any shoe, this was the exact shoe I wore to work yesterday, my brown lace up ones with the small scuff just at the left heel. I remember just how confused I was my head was reeling with the possibilities, but none made any sense to me at all. How could this be possible? I had come home from night before, put my shoes in the cupboard and gone to bed. Just how I had done every night for the past five years. I could come up with no logical reason as to how my shoe had ended up in the hedge, some two miles away from my house. I decided to look at the hedge that Tiger was now wildly pawing at. This is when I made a mistake.
9:34am: What I saw filled turned my whole body icy cold my blood freezing solid, and I instantly felt absolute dread hit the pit of my stomach, before twisting it into painful knots. My body drained of all colour and my hands and knees shook uncontrollably before giving way all together, leaving me knelt on the floor in a state of shock, I could not scream, think or cry. All I could do was stare straight ahead, my eyes wide and fearful. Tiger was barking and pulling at my sleeves, desperately trying to make me stand up and continue our walk.
10:30am: I remember hearing the rush of police cars invade the countryside, the crackling radios of the ambulance and the flashing lights of all colours: red, blue and yellow, a kaleidoscope of dread. The sirens whirled and screamed, filling the once peaceful air with danger and fear. Somebody must have phoned the police, but the last hour was almost a blank space in my memory, I now knew snippets of what happened. Somebody screamed. The dialing of a phone, the police cars…
10:35am: I had come to my senses slightly, but I was at that point completely hysterical. An orange glow hazed my vision. I manically tried to talk to the police officers, the paramedics, anyone. I screamed, cried, waved trying to tell them I was here, not the body in the ditch. But nobody believed me. Nobody could see me. Nobody could hear me.
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