I went down to Austin the other day to find some inspiration for my jog.  I ended up at Mayson Park, a quaint, quiet area that is known for its beautiful ponds with koi fish, foliage, and an old, white house which I believe is used for weddings.  Wandering freely in the park (and on the roof of the white house) are magnificent peacocks. It is always fun to feed the koi and the peacocks, but today, I was interested in the miles of trails behind the park.

I have explored those trails on numerous occasions.  There are plenty of trees to keep the area fairly cool in this 100 degree heat. I put my airpods in, cranked up my tunes, and took off.  I ran for 20 minutes before I even realized it – enjoying the beauty of nature, the sparkle of the water off of the nearby river.  It was truly motivational.

After 2 miles, I knew I was lost on the trails. I had not been paying attention to the trail signs since I was in “the zone” – my favorite way to run.  But, I also knew that I was surrounded by a park, a river, residential housing, and a street.  If I kept going, I would eventually make it back to civilization – just hopefully near my car and not on the far other end of the trail area!

Another 10 minutes passed, and I started to feel uncomfortable.  Something was off, but I couldn’t put my finger on it.  I turned off my music but left my airpods in my ears and started to walk.  I almost felt like someone was following me.  But, I couldn’t hear any footsteps, human or animal, or see anything out of the ordinary. I decided all of the “Safety Talks” my father had given me about running alone were just messing with my mind.

I continued to walk until I found a trail sign and started heading the 2+ mile trek back to my car.  I was probably just overheated, because I started hearing a rustling in the underbrush; and, it was getting closer to me.  At that moment, I decided it didn’t matter if I was over thinking it or not.  I had chills up my spine, and I needed to get out of there fast.  I began to run – not a casual jog – but, full on run.  I was scared – really scared.  I didn’t stop to look back until I heard a rumbling sound right behind me.. I remember falling… and that’s all.

I woke up on a bench next to the parking lot of Mayson Park, my ankle the size of a grapefruit and a knot on the side of my head to match. My throat was burning with thirst. I had scratches all over my body, my clothes were covered in dirt and leaves, and I was missing one running shoe.  My airpods were still in my ears – void of any sound.  My car was alone in the parking lot.  I was in pain and knew I needed help.  As I sat up, a soft object fell from my chest to the gravel below – one brilliant, peacock quill.

The police looked for any clues as to what happened.  I was no help.  I didn’t know who or what was after me – if anything, I’m still not even sure.  I couldn’t point them in the right direction and could barely explain the sounds I heard. All of my injuries seem to point to a fall and tumble down a rocky trail.  I certainly couldn’t explain how I managed to end up in that barren parking lot – alone with nothing but a magnificent feather.  My bumps and bruises will heal with time, but I’m not sure my mind will.