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?
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, a pixie 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 fifth grade, he stood 5’11 and weighed 95 pounds, so he was always taller than most of his elementary school classmates, and during the summer before he went to the sixth grade, he grew an astonishing 8 inches.
He suffered through years of name calling like “Red toothpick,” “Red Stick, ” and the one he hated the most, “Skinny Sickle. ”
Three weeks before his high school graduation Jeb signed a contract agreement to enter the US Army a week after his high school graduation. This was during the Korean Conflict. Jeb walked out of the recruitment office feeling proud and manly. He rode his bicycle into town and seeking out everyone who called him anything other than Jeb and starting physical fights.
He fought his two older twin sisters who showed him some mercy and three younger brothers, along with several close friends and enemies, who ridiculed and tormented him over the years.
These fights excited and impressed Suzy, who was overwhelmingly proud to be Jeb’s girlfriend.
You see, over the years, they talked about how Jeb should stand up to the people who called him names. For years Suzy repeatedly told him, he needed to demand the respect, he deserved.
After all of the fights, Jeb suffered some bruises but gained 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 mountaintop. For years, they have taken the hike, to see the beauty of nature, talk and most importantly to find privacy to take part in a little heavy petting.
As the sunset on the horizon silhouetting the Kentucky Mountains in colors of reds and pinks against the clouds. The two walked hand and hand along the trail towards their homes in the valley.
After several yards, they heard noises of rustling trees and the crunch of leaves coming from the wood line.
They thought it might be their friends attempting to scare them. So they yelled the names of friends they assumed were trying to frighten them. No one acknowledged as the noises continued.
Fear began swelling within them both on the darkening trail, so they held one another’s hands tighter while walking faster.
Their fear grew dreadful, as the rustling in the woods continued with Jeb’s long strides outpacing Suzy who was trying to keep up while holding his hand. Suzy could hear and feel her heart pounding, as tears streamed down her cheeks while being dragged by Jeb.
Suddenly, a loud crash of trees was heard by both. Jeb stopped in his tracks with Suzy running into him. His voice is trembling with fear asking Suzy. “Did you hear that noise?”
Suzy’s sweat-soaked blouse, and tears in her reddened eyes, she looked up to Jeb whispering.
“What are you going to do Jeb?”
Before Jeb could answer, a giant black bear, appeared fifteen yards behind them standing erect near the edge of the wood line standing two or three feet taller than Jeb.
Jeb looked down into, Suzy’s eyes, and said,
“You better keep up.” He turned and ran, screaming “Help!” “Help!” “Help!,” towards his home.
Jeb screams were heard at his home, and soon his mother, father, brothers and twin sisters ran towards the sound of his voice. Jeb’s brothers had their shotguns, and one of the twins carried their father’s rifle. They all ran towards the trail with their flashlights furiously moving along the path ahead of them.
When the family ran upon Jeb on the trail, he was breathing so heavy, with sweat dripping from his reddened face and fear in his eyes. He was slow to explain in between breaths, that he saw a bear on the trail.
His siblings pointed their flashlights up the trail, when Jeb’s mother yelled, where is Suzy?
For several seconds, there was an awkward moment of silence, and Jeb stopped breathing when the silence was broken with Suzy’s footsteps on the trail.
The flashlights were turned towards her when she appeared, and with her pixie southern voice, she yelled.
I’m right here, Mama, Collier.
Suzy’s face was red as a summer beet. When she walked past, Jeb, her anger was seething like a thousand suns moving Jeb from where he stood.
She stopped in front of his mother and said that she was ok. The bear ran back into the woods after Jeb ran away screaming.
She turned towards Jeb and said. I do not want to speak to you until you return from your Army training with some courage, gumption, and respect for me.
She turned back around and walked away with Jeb mother, father and his siblings in tow, snickering.
When Jeb returned seven months later from his Army basic training, he begged for forgiveness and Suzy’s hand in marriage.
On the fourth day Suzy relented saying yes, and today we gather to celebrate the 50th wedding anniversary of my mother and father.
Thank goodness for, fright, flight, courage, and gumption, or else I would not stand here to tell this tale.