By Curt Swarm, Empty Nest
I teach creative writing every winter. This story was written by one of the students, 83 year old Linda Nash, from Ft. Madison. Linda won our Artist Palette award, as voted on by the students, for creative writing.
by Linda Nash
That patchwork of memories has me in its clutches today. “CLUTCHes” because this memory was the most horrifically terrifying of all my life. I believe my sister and I live today because of divine intervention.
In our childhood we moved frequently, almost always far from where we attended grade school, in rented houses so unmodern no one else was interested, but always near where our dad was employed. This time the house was surrounded by forest, with occasional clearings for retired work horses. It was all beautifully natural, fresh and clean, with brooks and springs. The gravel roads were blindingly dusty when the occasional car passed, throwing gravel. And it was a long way to school, so it was only natural to explore over fences, across creeks, up hills, winding valleys, and on to school. No problem. We were happy. I have a sister and a brother. I’m in the middle. I have no idea where my brother went, nor did I care. My sister and I always went together.
One winter after our day at school in the tiny town of Hesper, Iowa, she and I began our wintry walk home—bare trees, weak sun, over the fences, cold air—but enough sun to have done slight surface melting. We went through the pastures first, up and down small hills, through valleys now forested, to the half-way-home creek. There my sister stopped and knelt on a flat rock. That annoyed me and I told her to keep moving, but she refused. She wanted a drink. She insisted it was a “spring” and therefore safe to drink—and drink she was going to.
But not me! I stood by a giant old tree, very big around with bare sides (this should have been a clue) and looked at all the bareness—not a bush, or scrub, just frozen mud all around the area. (This should have been a second clue). Then my wandering eyes moved across the creek, up the tree-covered hill, but bare ground, and stared directly into the horrible eyes of a wild boar! Instant reaction—he came down that hill, across the creek, mouth wide open, directly at me! That monster chased me three times around the tree, snapping at my heels, its cloven hooves slipping in the mud slime over the frozen ground! There were glaring yellow eyes, raised bristles all down the spine, upper and lower fangs, inches behind me. I was screaming with every rotation, and as I ran, I looked back several times.
On the third round the monster looked straight ahead at my still kneeling, but gaping, sister, unable to move—and it went like a speeding train straight at her! Over and over I screamed, “Run! Run! Run!” But there she knelt, staring at what was coming. At the last moment she grasped an object in the mud, pulling, tugging, trying to break it loose from the ground. Then realizing she couldn’t, she let go and threw herself sideways just as the animal reached her. Whatever she’d been struggling with snapped back and struck a sharp snap to the boar’s snout, stopping it in its tracks. It raced back across the creek and up the hill.
Years later I read, or heard, the only place a pig can be hurt is the snout. I think my sister was pulling back on a tree root which would be supple, and resist being pulled up.
Do I believe in guardian Angels? Oh, yes! I do!
Have a good story? Call or text Curt Swarm in Mt. Pleasant at 319-217-0526, email him at email@example.com.