A CAR IN THE WOODS
Nate trudged up the incline through thick underbrush. The wild growth looked cool from the house, but hiking in them became a chore. The sound of a creek that ran parallel to the road acted as his compact. He couldn't always see the creek, but the gurgling shallow water rushing across the rock bottom would help him find his way back to the farm.
According to Hannah, it was common long ago for large estates to have a private cemetery. They agreed that Nathan Freedman was probably buried in such a place, somewhere on the land. A long shot, but one worth taking.
Deciding it best not to tell his grandparents, Nate snuck out after breakfast to search the woods for a long forgotten overgrown cemetery.
With a stick he fashioned into a staff, he probed the ground for any remnant of a burial site. But an hour into the search and he had uncovered nothing. Anything that looked like a vine covered fence, or a grave marker, erect or fallen, he investigated. From where he stood above and away from the creek, he could see that the land flowing beneath the canopy of trees. In the groves of maples, oaks, and evergreens, a carpet of leaves and fallen branches littered the ground. The thinning undergrowth made him think it would be a better choice for a search, but he would have to find another way to keep his bearing. The trees would probably muffle the sound of running water.
With this new plan in mind, he turned and headed back to the farm. He'd worn cargo pants and a long sleeved shirt to protect against insect bites, scratches from thorny vines, and the threat of poison ivy. It all work to make him miserable, hot and sweaty though. Already he missed the feel of air condition. Besides, he needed to return before his grandparents figured out he was missing and started to worry.
He took halting steps until he reached the bottom of the incline. Along the creek bank, the path was better worn. The water flowed north, so going against its flow would take him home.
Now that his attention wasn't so focused on the ground, Nate took in the landscape. He saw things he hadn't noticed on the way up, including the sunlight glinting off something on the other side on the ravine and the dirt road.
Adrenaline rushed through him at the thought of the glint being from a metal fence. Maybe one surrounding a cemetery. Excitedly, he waved into the twelve-foot wide creek. Rushing water came only slightly above his ankle and gave him a tingled feeling as it brushed past. His sneakers soaked up the water and the bottom of his jeans pulled in the direction the water took flowed. With his first step, Nate realized the rock were slippery One foot slid out of control, and he kept himself from splashing into the creek butt first by bracing the fall with an outstretched arm. Nevertheless, one side of his jean had gotten moderately wet, and his hand throbbed at having borne the impact of the fall.