This story really started flowing from no where and slowly I felt like I was being allowed to peek into this moment. The last time I went hiking was probably 4 years ago and it was to the top of Kennesaw Mountain. It was not particularly big but it had various different peaks you could hike to based on what trail you took all starting at the same base. This was where the idea sparked of a lost hiker.
One of my big drafting methods is to let the characters tell me their story through the words. This is probably why I am a pantser! I try to set a plot and they will decided they want to do something completely different.
So here is my story!
The Right Wrong Path
It was suppose to be an hour long hike. Key word. Suppose to. Somehow, and Quinn had no idea how, she had managed to not only stray off the well marked path but had also managed to climb a completely non-beginner friendly hill. Or at least that was what her quads were screaming at her. Lifting her phone, she checked for a signal. No such luck. It had the same lack of bars as she had as when she had tried two charlie horses ago. At least it wasn’t summer and at least she saw light through the trees.
Quinn came out of the thick blanket of trees. The trees opened into a field of grass, neatly kept. Judging by the hills in the background and lack of more hill to climb, she had made it to the summit. The wrong summit but the top none the less. The top had a small field of flowers tucked away from the world below which surrounded a small house of some kind. There were no windows thst Quinn could see but there was a door. Curiosity getting the better of her, she crossed through the flowers to get a closer look. The walls were grey and the door appeared wooden with knots almost forming long lines about a few inches long. She reached her hand out to touch one. The door swung open sending her forward off-balance.
The floor was worn wood which given the owner lived in the middle of forest covered mountain made sense. Quinn was surprised by both the door opening and the softness of the floor that broke her fall. Lifting her head to brush away a mop of hair, she spotted shoes. Shoes that were attached to legs.
“Do you always wander around strange houses in the top of nowhere or am I special?” The owner of those shoes sounded more amused than annoyed to find a grown woman on their floor admiring the polish job.
“Only on days I’m suppose to be hiking with friends, it seems” Quinn said, pushing herself up and away from the floor. The stranger offered a hand which she gratefully took.
“I’d ask if you had a name but given where we are you might be a fairy bent on taking my name” The stranger said, dusting off Quinn with a hand mindful not to brush any delicate areas.
“I’m not a fairy…I’m hardly human before coffee. And it’s Quinn.”
“Well Quinn, what are you doing on my mountain?” They still did not give a name. This didn’t bother Quinn since she was tresspassing.
“I was hiking to Rosewood Peak but I think I took the wrong path.” They looked at her with amusement which Quinn did not find funny.
“Wrong path is an understatement. If you had been any more wrong you would have ended up in a different state. Come sit down while I get a jacket.” They motioned to a well made wooden table. The inside was much bigger than she would have guessed from what she was seen outside.
“Can I ask you a question?” Quinn said, sitting at the log bench watching the homeowner as they moved to a wood carved coat rack.
“Is it my name?” The smile was back. Quinn was positive she would not have been in such a good mood had someone fallen in her doorway.
“Yes but also why does this house have no windows?” It was true. The inside of the grey walls were lit by candles. In fact, Quinn didn’t see any electricity at all inside.
“I like living off the grid. If I want to see outside, all I have to do is open the door really so I don’t see the point in windows any more. And it’s Alex.” It was a start at least. “Place keeps plenty warm in the winter and cool in the summer. I find that the things you really need are always right in front of you.” Alex pulled on a light weight sweater. From how rugged everything else was, Quinn would not have been shocked to find out they had knitted it themself.
Together, Quinn and Alex left the grey shelter with no windows and started walking back down past the pretty flowers and out of the fairy ring protected from the woods and technology. Quinn realized just how out of the way she had really taken herself. Alex was the perfect guide. They knew the woods surrounding their hilly home and was able to point out things Quinn had never stopped to realize in her panic to find her friends. The trees leaned toward the top, big grey rock patterns created natural stepping stones, and the company of someone was nicer than trying to stop and take pictures for instagram every five steps. the last had been the whole reason she had strayed off the easy hike path. It had been a hard and painful, at least painful to her thighs, lesson to learn.
“Well, here we go. The path should be marked from here.” Alex said, once they had gotten back down to nearly the summit. Quinn had to admit, it was probably one of the best experiences out in nature she had ever had.
“I don’t know what I would have done if I hadn’t tripped into your floor.” Quinn said, trying to laugh at her embaressing first impression.
“I don’t know. Probably kept going until the next hill hoping someone built a house on that one?” Alex flashed their grin at her. Quinn felt completely comfortable. Despite the long, thankfully not hot day, she was very glad she met Alex.
“Nah,” She flashed them a smile in return. “Then I wouldn’t have met you. I’d ask for your number but you’re off the grid and the whole no signal.” She motioned to her phone.
“Might not have a phone but I promise if you meet me back here on Saturday, I’ll be waiting. Possibly with food.” Alex said, brushing their hand back through their hair.
“That sounds like a plan, Alex.”