“Regina, you’ve got to slow down and wait…I can’t keep up…I’d forgotten the real meaning of ‘moderate hike’…”
Jorja’s breathing gave her away, no matter how many hike’s she and Maggie and George had made through Rock Park, she wasn’t prepared for the Ozarks.
“Jorja, I seem to remember a day when I was the one asking for someone to wait…I see we’ve once again switched roles.”
There was laughter lacing Regina’s comment, and a twinkle in her eye as she stopped to wait on her hiking companion and best friend. She looked back just in time to witness Jorja lose her footing on the slippery, mold covered rocks that lined the Lost Valley Trail.
As the scene unfolded, Regina felt as though she was watching a movie in slow motion. Jorja’s less than graceful attempt to rebalance herself and regain her footing, only served to add momentum to the fall, a fall that was as inevitable as the increasing shadows of the Ozarks in the late afternoon sun.
The scream that Jorja released from lungs already laboring to accommodate her physical need for oxygen was a cross between the howl of a bear cub in distress and the screech of a night owl. If Regina hadn’t been so concerned for her friend’s safety, she would have burst into immediate laughter; as it turns out, the laughter eventually came, but only after she watched her friend roll several feet down the side of the trail and into the crevice of boulders that were clumped together, as if waiting to cradle Jorja’s crumpled form.
As Regina scrambled to her friend’s side, she pondered the thought that this might just turn into a summer she would never forget.
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