In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Fight or Flight.”
Write about your strongest memory of a heart-pounding, belly-twisting nervousness: what caused the adrenaline? Was it justified? How did you respond?
In 1978, Jeb Collier, was a 17 years old, standing 6’7″, 140 pounds, with beautiful strawberry colored hair and the face of a twelve-year-old. He enlisted in the US Army as a Military Policeman before he graduated high school and was scheduled to leave two weeks after his high school graduation.
Suzy Lovell at 5’1,” began dating Jeb in the seventh grade and were high school sweethearts after Jeb gave Suzy a promise ring during their sophomore year and were expected to marry before Jeb left for the Army’s basic training at Fort McClellan Alabama.
When Jeb was in the sixth grade, he stood 5’11, and 95 pounds, so he was always taller than most of his elementary school classmates, and during the summer before he went to the seventh grade, he grew an astonishing 8 inches.
He suffered through his teenage years of name calling such as “Red toothpick, ” “Red Stick, ” and the one he hated the most, “Skinny Sickle. ”
A day after signing his agreement to enter the military and three weeks before graduation, Jeb began to physically fight anyone who called him anything other than Jeb.
This included his two older and three younger brothers, along with several of his close friends and enemies, who ridiculed and tormented him over the years.
These fights impressed Suzy, and she was extremely proud to be Jeb’s girlfriend. Over the years, they talked about how Jeb should stand up to those who called him names and Suzy told him, he needed to demand the respect, he deserved.
All of the fights ended with Jeb gaining a sense of respect from all who lived in the small coal mining town of 300, in Putney Kentucky.
Two days after their graduation, Jeb and Suzy, hiked along a familiar trail to view the sunset from a nearby mountain top. For years, they have taken the hike, to view the beauty of nature, talk and most importantly to find privacy to take part in a little heavy petting.
After the sun had settled in behind the Kentucky Mountains, the two began walking along the trail back to their homes in town, a couple of miles away in the darkening skies of a gorgeous sunset.
They were holding hands when noises in the woods startled them both, as bears were known to be in the area in the late spring. They also thought it was their friends attempting to scare them. So they each yelled out, calling the names of friends they assumed were trying to frighten them.
They stopped several times to yell towards the woods, but no one acknowledged them. This scares them both as they held hands while walking.
The rustling of the woods continued as Jeb held Suzy’s hand tighter, picking up his pace with his long legs. Their fear grew ever so dreadful, as the setting sun, turned into darkness.
With their minds racing with fear, their hearts pounding, tears began to stream down Suzy’s face, as she tried to keep pace with Jeb, who was literally pulling her along.
Suddenly, a loud crash of trees was heard by both. Jeb stopped in his tracks and asked Suzy, did you hear that noise, she said yes. She looked up towards Jeb quietly asking him, what are you gong to do?
However, before he could answer, a large black bear, fifteen yards behind them and ten years or so into the wood, stood standing two or three feet taller than Jeb, looking down at the two.
Jeb, looking into, Suzy’s eyes, said, I don’t know about you, but you better keep up, and with that, he yelled screaming, Help! Help! Help, all the way home.
Jeb’s mother, father, four of his brothers along with two of his sisters ran out of the house towards Jeb’s screaming voice. Two of Jeb’s brothers holding their shotgun and one of his sisters carrying his father’s shotgun ran towards him with their flashlights in hand, asking what happen.
Jeb, was breathing heavy, sweating profusely, and his redden face was flushed with fear, between breaths, he explained he saw a bear on the trail.
Just as his mother and father walked up behind his brothers and sisters. His mother asked, where is Suzy? There was an awkward moment of silence, when Suzy, yelled, I’m right here, Mama, Collier.
Suzy, face flushed with anger and furious at Jeb that she did not speak to him until he returned from the Army’s training when she accepted his wedding proposal to marry.