It was 4:10. Then it was 4:45. And there was nothing in between.
Then it was five minutes after five.
At twenty minutes ‘til six, I was able to see beyond the watch hanging from my belt, and I could see that my feet were pointed uphill. I remember thinking, I’ve rolled down a mountain before.
Then it was six o’clock.
No pain, I said to myself, and I think I said it out loud.
I tried to sit up. I rose up on my elbows. It was too steep. I didn’t want to lie back down, so I scooted around to get my feet lower than my head. The rocks beneath me wobbled with an odd sound. Horses, it sounded like horses clomping down a city street.
Then it was 6:15.
I know because I glanced at my watch when I sat up to look down. It was about fifty yards to the bottom of the steep slope where I was resting. Fifty yards, that would be about forty-five meters, I thought. I was trying to get my brain working. I twisted around to look back over my shoulder. I could see up about one hundred yards to where the gray rocks seemed to disappear into a gray sky. One hundred yards would be about ninety meters.
And then it was 6:35.
I was surrounded by gray. Gray rocks. A gray sky. There was even a gray smell. That smell, I realized, was me. My shirt was soaked with sweat. I need a shower, I said, and this time I know I said it out loud.
I sat up and rested my hands on my knees. I bent at the waist and let my head drop down which shifted my weight just enough to cause me to slide downhill a few feet. I leaned back and caught myself. The sound of horses on pavement rattled around me as the rocks wobbled. There was no other sound. There were no songbirds singing. There were no crows cackling. No wind. And no voices. There should be voices. Someone calling to me. Someone shouting to see if I was hurt.
Maybe they couldn’t see me.
Leah! I shouted.
Leah, I’m down here!
I don’t remember lying back down. I don’t remember closing my eyes. I don’t remember opening my eyes. I just remember being on my back and staring into a gray sky. The sky was close, like if I could stand, I could reach up and touch it. I sat up, tried to stand, flipped over, and rolled several feet down the slope.
This time there was pain. Most of the pain was in my knees and elbows. Pain can be a good thing, I thought. It lets you know you’re still alive.
I eased myself up on my aching elbows and looked down between my feet. The last time I rolled down a mountain a tree broke my fall. I looked down the steep slope. There was nothing between me and the fall to the bottom.
I glanced at my watch. It was 6:54—a.m. or p.m., I wondered. It had to be p.m. If it were the morning, it would have been dark when I first looked at my watch at 4:10.
And that’s when it hit me.
I have a concussion, I said aloud. I must have been knocked out when I first fell down this slope. I must have hit my head, no telling how many times, as I rolled down these wobbling gray rocks. I’ve never been knocked out before. I’ve never been unconscious.
They say if you’ve had a blow to the head, you’re supposed to stay awake. I had to stay awake. Between 4:10 and 4:45, I must have passed out. And all those other gaps in time… I must have been out. Now it was after six. I had to stay awake.
Someone would come for me if I could stay awake.
If I could just stay awake.