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Some people in this world lie and tell false stories. Then others actually wonder if they were true at all. Sometimes we go to my father’s friends houses and they tell happy and somewhat strange stories. They tell old stories, and we just listen. Later I wonder if they had actually happened or if they are true at all. But this one was true, and in fact it actually happened a couple of years ago. My family has gone camping ever since I was little. To be accurate, when I was about five years of age.
This is no ordinary camping. It is called “Rendezvous” or in French it means an appointment or meeting. From time to time, people go and reenact a specific period of time. Some are colonial, eighteen fifties fur trade, or the plains Indians. My father shifts from one of them to another.
A rendezvous was in Winona, Minnesota. It was cold as if it were in the prime season of winter. I still remember it being so cold that my hands had gotten chapped and I could later see small snow flakes in the sky. Every night I would lay awake in that frail layer of canvas. Listening to the leaves fall on top of the tent. Breathing in that cold night’s air hit me hard while I lay awake. In the daytime, it is just as cold. Yet I feel the warmth against my face and it warms my body.
But even though I had been so frail and cold I knew that I would survive. And I was still brave to see yet another cold October day.
We got to Winona. It was exciting to the point when I seen everything that was there the previous year, I’d taken out my book and decided to read. Every thing was the same, same people, traders, and items to buy. In the afternoon, I saw a companion of mine. In which when we were little we had been inseparable. We’ve stayed friends, except a little more drifted apart, like drift wood lost at sea and it can’t find its other half. It was still Katelyn though.
As more time goes on, she turns in a different path. Somehow she has changed, I just can’t say what it is, maybe more greedy, bad manners, or just plain different than she used to be. The next day we’d met up just like old times, going walking by the shore of the Mississippi River. There had been a ledge made out of concrete and many small, medium and large stones piled together. Occasionally I would try and skip one and some I would. We went on, just that we weren’t concerned at all.
There had been a woods nearby. I just wanted to see what it was like. It was practically deserted. No sounds. Except for the sounds of the leaves crunching under our handmade leather moccasins. It was strange in that wood.
“Katelyn, is there something that you find odd out here?” I asked.
“Yeah, I just can’t put my mind on it, why is it so damn quiet,” she said.
We went on walking and came upon a campfire. Stones were placed around it. They were perfectly set. But I was still brave.
Even though I was brave, I felt another emotion come over me, fear. A pile of leaves were by the perfectly set fire place. The ashes and coals were still warm from its previous lighting.
I had mixed emotions fear and tranquility. I walked over it and put my foot through the pile of dead leaves. I swayed my foot, in a kicking sort of motion. “There’s something in here,” I said quietly to myself.
I was still brave and filled with curiosity. The object I kicked was stiff. Almost like an animal carcass that has been out in the cold too long. I uncovered the leaves with my hands and there lay a child. So beautiful and peaceful, yet it was white as paper.
I stood over the body and gasped in horror. But I wept a little, and stood there still as a post.
“Genevie, what are you staring at? is it just a dead squirrel or something? What is it?” she said.
“Come quick, I think I’ve found something!” I said.
I was scared, but very profoundly scared at that moment. The body of a little girl lay beside our feet, so many things to think about. Katelyn gave me an odd expression and she gasped in horror. I still to this very day don’t know what went through her mind at that moment.
“We should go get someone back at camp, Katelyn; KATELYN!” I screamed. She went out of that Trans and said, “Let’s go”.
I seemed to be looking straight at her in a questionable stare. What was I to think. But before we went she said something, so bright, so unlike her. “What if it’s still alive, by some unlikely chance,” she said. But as if we just had an ounce of luck, we had lost it at that moment. The child was purely dead. Dead. What a word, its frightening yet it made me feel brave just so that I’d actually found the child. Just too late, but not at all.
Our plan was to go as fast as we could back to camp. But what were we going to tell them. That we found a dead girl in the wood. No. Not at all. But that wasn’t on my mind at the moment.
I seemed brave, yet scared to the point of saving myself.
“I’ll go,” I said. I ran, but I was stopped by Katelyn. She gave me the gesture that we should both go. And so we ran. Our skirts and cloaks flowing through our legs. The cold and bristly wind across my face. I remember it all so vaguely yet great.
I was selfish then and full of ambition and curiosity. She tripped. I don’t remember exactly when, but she fell against the log. An old log that her skirt had gotten tangled against and she fell. I remember the blood upon her skirt. The colors mixed.
What to think, run, run as fast as you can. I was stupidly selfish, yet brave enough to run. I stopped and saw what I was doing. Going past the trees back to Katelyn, I realized I was a friend, an honest friend. I got to her and she was crying. She had a cut on her leg, it wasn’t deep, just deep enough to not stop bleeding. I knew what to do, I had a cloth from when I was doing dishes. Wrapping the cloth around her leg reminded me of war. I don’t know why, it just did.
Feeling brave, helps. It always does. No matter how big or small you are. Katelyn and I walked slowly to camp. My father met us at the gate. We told him every small detail. He was shocked, and somewhat horrified. Katelyn went back to her mother.
When I saw the body again it was the same. Innocent and defenseless. Yet I was brave. My father called the police and told them what he’d seen and what we’d seen. That weekend changed my life and the perspective all in one. That child was never even claimed. No parents or loved ones. I felt bad, but then I saved her. The autopsy said she must have been around the age of six years old.
I was brave and solemn that weekend. I saved a dead girl. It may sound foolish, but to me its not. Rather than being immoral and selfish I found the right thing to do. I saved one who was known for a long time, and another I’ve never known. She was a mystery, she was the ghost of the muddy river rendezvous.