Quicksand

Quicksand. The most common misconception about quicksand is that it is some kind of deceitful trap some higher being placed on the earth with a mythical monster lurking in its abyss. The reality is that quicksand is a natural phenomenon which can occur any where the right conditions are present. It is common sand or dirt, supersaturated by water, no longer able to support the weight it once held. Although the scenes are often over exaggerated in Hollywood films, it is true that the more you struggle the faster you will sink in it. The only way to escape its grasp is to relax, to spread your body out as much as possible, allowing it to support your weight, until you are able to reach safer, more solid ground.

My parents always told me not to go into the woods. They claimed it is easy to get lost, and hard to find your way back; but I could not resist the temptation. The woods, although they did not look particularly inviting, were intriguing, a place away from people, untouched by the pollution of society. One day, bored, I decided to go for a walk in them. Unsure of what my trek would bring, or where I would go, I simply entered where the trees left an opening, inviting me in. Trees had fallen, old and weak, unable to hold a place in the earth, as they returned to the earth, the bark of the trees slowly decaying as the sapwood no longer passes on its water. Yet, out of the new soil the fallen trees have created, sprouts new life, keeping the forest dense, as the sun shows brightly over a still-clear path.

As I walked along the path, leaves and stones crushing under my feet, I breathed the fresh air and ran. Unaware of where the path would take me I felt free, relaxed even, as I moved about running and playing in the forest as a small child might, making sure to never stray too far, but continuing to follow the winding path dodging the small obstacles along the way.

The sun began to fall leaving a pink sky cast upon the heavenly clouds, I looked up as I continued to walk, the forest slowly getting darker. But when I looked down the path had disappeared, its familiar crunch replaced now by fallen leaves and dead brush piled high, as if to make it impossible to see. As I pointlessly searched for a path to follow, I realized I was lost.

Still calm, I decided that the best thing to do was to follow the small river which I had seen running through the woods, everyday we passed over it on my way to school. I stood still for some time, listening closely for the rushing river, following nothing but the soothing sounds of its running water. Around the river it seemed that the forest had wilted, the soil eroded by the flooding, and as it was almost completely dark I realized that I had to get back home quickly.

At that time I knew that if I just followed the tree bank along the river I would be home in no time. I started running, racing against the falling sun, as it began to reveal the darkness in its absence. But as I ran the ground suddenly gave out. I began to sink instantly.

Even though I knew the more I struggled, the further and further I would sink, I could not help it. My body was taken over by a panic I had never experienced before. I flailed my arms, struggled to move my legs, screamed even, calling attention to myself. But, as the sun had already hidden itself just beyond the tree line, engrossing me in the thick blackness of night, as far as I could tell, there was no sign of life.

Although it might seem like they exaggerate the effects of quicksand in Hollywood, they could not portray any more accurately how it truly makes someone feel. I sank in the sand for what felt like days, inanely panicking as it slowly engulfed me. At first I was only up to my knees in the thick, immovable mud, but as I continued to panic it enveloped me, moving to my waist then my chest, constricting me with all its might. With only a hand and my head above the mud, it was as if god had left me just enough room to breathe, so that I might live without progress, stuck.

Then, I blacked out. Although it felt like minutes, it must have been hours. By the time I woke up it was already sunrise. Once my vision became clearer I saw the figure of a body approaching me. I must have slowly risen in unconsciousness, as my body was now a quarter of the way out of the sand. Although I could not make out who the person was, they began pulling me out of the sand. A group of people it seemed. It took me almost no force to get myself out, only what might be considered just enough. I felt light, as my body was lifted by the people from the loose mud, finally to solid ground. Then I passed out again.

My recovery time in the hospital was brief. I spent only one night there, and was able to move on with my life shortly after. Each day I pass by the woods I remind myself to never venture into them, and, more importantly, if I do, to never lose sight of its path.





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