8th of December: Connie Cockrell
A 20-year Air Force career, time as a manager at a computer operations company, wife, mother, sister and volunteer, provides a rich background for Connie Cockrell’s story-telling.

Cockrell grew up in upstate NY, just outside of Gloversville, NY before she joined the military at age 18. Having lived in Europe, Great Britain, and several places around the United States, she now lives in Payson, AZ with her husband: hiking, gardening, and playing bunko. She writes about whatever comes into her head so her books could be in any genre. She's published twenty books so far, has been included in five different anthologies and been published on EveryDayStories.com and FrontierTales.com. Connie's always on the lookout for a good story idea. Beware, you may be the next one.

She can be found at www.conniesrandomthoughts.com or on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/ConniesRandomThoughts or on Twitter at: @ConnieCockrell or on Amazon at amazon.com/author/conniecockrell

Just a Walk in the Woods

by Connie Cockrell

Mandy was bored to tears. First, her parents insisted she go with them for a weekend visit to Grandma because after all, she was only twelve. Then they made her help make dinner by peeling the carrots. Then she had to help clean up after the dinner. Grandma didn’t even have good internet. It was so slow, Mandy couldn’t see her social media pages. “I’m going outside,” she announced loudly as the three adults were talking over afternoon coffees.

“Don’t go in the barn,” her grandmother warned. “It’s about to fall down.”

Mandy didn’t dignify the warning with even a grunt. As she slammed the screen door, she heard her grandmother say, “I really need to get the handyman to knock it down before it kills someone.”

“Kill me,” Mandy whispered under her breath as she stood in her grandmother’s back yard. There was a stream back of the barn somewhere she remembered. She had to pass the barn on her way. It was all creepy looking with weeds and saplings growing up around it and the sliding barn door hung by a single runner. No way she’d go in there. There were probably rats and spiders.

It didn’t take long to get to the stream. It was bigger than she’d remembered. She could see little fish in there. Minnows, her mother had called them. If you stood very still, barefoot in the stream, they’d come up and nibble your toes. It tickled, the last time she’d done it. Mandy walked along the stream toward the woods. These used to be cow pastures, her grandmother had told her. But they hadn’t seen a cow in decades. Not since her grandfather had died. Now the woods were growing into the fields. She stood at the edge. It was hard to see into the woods, there were a lot of bushes at the edge, thick and scratchy looking.

Then she spotted a narrow opening. That looked interesting. She pushed through the thin branches. “Oww,” she cried out as one scratched her. As the thin scratch oozed tiny drops of blood, she was rewarded with the sight of raspberries. Lots of them were ripe and carefully, she reached through the scratchy canes and picked a good many, eating them as fast as she picked them. She heard rustling in the thick carpet of dead leaves. Was it a snake? It was hot in the brambles, time to move into the shady woods.

Past the brambles, the young, thin trees grew thickly but they were easy enough to walk through. Farther in, the spaces grew bigger. These trees had big trunks and their branches reached overhead to make a ceiling that the sun could barely shine through. Mandy wiped her sticky hands on her shorts as she looked around. It was quieter in here. There wasn’t a lot of birdsong, like there was in the field and the brambles. A slight breeze in the treetops made them sway and whisper. The trees creaked like Grandma’s house in a storm and she wondered what the trees were saying to each other.

It gave Mandy the shivers. There seemed to be a trail, so she followed it along the spongy forest floor, littered with crunchy leaves and scattered pine needles. What would make a trail in here? Couldn’t be grandma. She can barely get around her house. Maybe Indians, she thought, then chided herself. There were no Indians here anymore. Anyway, they lived in casinos now, not in the woods. A crow called out from above her, making Mandy jump. She looked up into the branches overhead, but she didn’t see the crow. At the bottom of a pine tree, she found piles of torn up pinecones. Mandy nudged the pile with the toe of her sneaker. They looked dried and rotted. She looked up into the pine but didn’t see anything. What would do that? She heard a chip, chip, chip, noise but again, no creature came into view.

Chills gave her goosebumps and she rubbed her arms, which broke open the tiny new scabs from her scratches and spread fresh blood all over her skin. Ugh, Mandy thought. Gross. A branch snapped and she whipped her head around. Was someone sneaking up on her? She could feel her heart thumping fast. This forest was too creepy, like Hansel and Gretel or something. There were no such things as witches, she thought, but decided it was time to go back to the house. She stood still and looked around. Which way? Her heart began to beat faster. Which way should she go!

Mandy tried to retrace her steps, but the trail didn’t seem as clear as it had when she started. Where did she go through the brambles? Back to the stream she thought. Through the young trees and through the brambles. That’s it. I’ll just shove through.

It took an hour and a half and by the time she returned to her grandmother’s, her hair was a tangle, she had welts and scratches all over her arms, legs, and face, and her shorts and shirt were stained and torn.

Grandmother and her parents cried out in alarm when she came into the kitchen. After a bath, bandaids covered the worst of her scratches, and she was changed into clean clothes. Apple pie with ice cream was put in front of her as they asked her what happened.

“Just a walk in the woods,” Mandy replied, then she scooped vanilla ice cream into her mouth. “It was nothing.”


come back tomorrow for a new story...

If you like this story, visit her website at www.conniesrandomthoughts.com or buy some of her books on Amazon at amazon.com/author/conniecockrell


© Connie Cockrell, 2020ff