in the woods at five

once i got lost in the woods with another girl on our way back home.
the wood itself wasn’t too thick or deep, but we were five years-old and we managed to get lost somehow.
it was in the middle of the day and it was warm, and i was only worried that mum might shout at me if i got home too late.
as we rambled vaguely forward with our short legs, the girl i was with said [in Korean, the equivalent of]:
“whenever you get lost, just follow your shadow – it will always lead you out.”
even at five, i felt sorry for the girl.
if she was to get lost in a jungle one day, she wouldn’t stand a chance.

but as much as i felt obliged to point out the faults in her confident navigation method for her own future good, i stayed quiet, trying my best to look as though i was contemplating her statement seriously, for, after all, we were lost in the woods, alone, holding hands, and my instinct was telling me to put my interest first in such a situation.

from an early age, i was always very wary of how arbitrary girls could be. and it was a good lesson to learn then, because, well, this fact tends to persist throughout one’s entire life.
not that all women are so uneven, and there are men mercurial, but the majority of truly erratic individuals i have met in my life happened to be female.
perhaps this is the reason for my being so adverse to anything flagrantly pink; must tell my father, who has always found this fact perplexing to the point of being distressed.
anyway, i kept my mouth shut because i didn’t know what she was going to do if i contradicted her. i didn’t want to be found with an axe in my head, aged six. that would be a horrible thing to see on the news while eating dinner with your family. it sounds unlikely but that’s really how i felt then.
i don’t remember finding our way out of that wood.
i do remember recognising a path after a little more rambling, and following it, relieved, then getting tense again at realising we are not following our shadows – they were pointing at 10 O’Clock from under our feet – and trying to distract her from noticing, which is really hard when you are five, because your head is floating only about three feet from the ground and you see more of the ground than anything else that may be in your way ahead.
anyway we must have made it out, because here i am, still alive(ish).
and even though i can’t remember her face or her name or who she was at all, whenever i’m walking or jogging at night, and i see my shadow on the pavement or the tracks, what she’d said comes back to me.
i’m not sure why.
it’s just one of those things that come back to ya over and over again.
sometimes i wonder where she is, how she’s doing, who she is now and if she’s been to the jungle.
but even if we met today, we wouldn’t have that much to talk about. not really.
and so it goes.

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