I may be lost. Wait, I’m wrong. I’m definitely lost. My camp disappeared into the brush some time ago, but I’m sure it’s around here somewhere. I need to find it soon. The muscles in my legs are screaming in pain, my brow is dripping with beads of warm salty sweat, and the worn strap of my musket is cutting into my shoulder. I have to remain on guard.
I think I see a glow gently flowing through the woods like a mist. I am getting closer. I must be on guard. With any luck this will be our camp and not run by the red. I can hear a faint music as if the trees themselves are singing. I know my ears and eyes are filling with sweat and can be lying to me. I should proceed with caution.
I remove my musket from my sore shoulders and ready my nerves for what I may find. My screaming legs aren’t happy in this crouched posture, but I must walk with gentle and controlled steps. I place my left foot softly into the ground cover, careful not to make a sound, rolling my weight slowly to the ball. The glow is getting closer. This is certainly not a shade of nature. This light had to have come from man.
Red! I spin, bringing my musket left while swinging my weight and body to the right keeping low. I can see the Brit’s red coat past the tree. I don’t think he’s seen me. Since I only have one shot, my hands begin to pulse with my increasing heartbeat. The adrenaline has brought temporary solace to my legs. I feel no pain. I must get a clear line of sight before he does. I slowly move toward the tree, my only line of defense. I raise my musket so that I can press my right shoulder into the bark. The tree feels as though it is a part of my flesh. Leaning smoothly around I see, a bed of bright red wild flowers gently dancing on every gust of almost non-existent breeze. It was a false alarm. I really need to get back to the comfort of camp.
Returning my attention to the glow in the trees I realize that this foray brought me several feet closer. Something is being carried on the slowly creeping light. It moves slowly around me, encompassing my senses. What is that? My nostrils decode the scent and scream it to my brain. Now I know I’m on the wrong side of the enemy lines.
My weary mind understands the scent as red meat being cooked over an open flame. This can’t be our camp. The last good meal we had escapes my memory. I have to be approaching the Brits. This is no time to even contemplate being a hero. I must back away as slowly as I approached.
With one silent step after another my painful legs slowly carry me toward safely. I have escaped detection and my heartbeat has almost returned to its normal place within my chest. Suddenly the woods, no, the entire world seems to erupt in a bright light as is the sun had suddenly appeared overhead with no warning. A loud pop deafens my ears as my chest feels the impact of an invisible sandbag thrown from the distance. The Reds are firing rockets. Has our camp been found? Have I been found? What can I do?
Standing there frozen within the woods, suddenly convinced of my own mortality, I hear footsteps approaching fast from the rear. I spin quickly as another flash goes off over head blinding me for a split second. My focus returns over the course of a moment that extends like an eternity. This can’t be! A child? Here?
“Here you are! Come on Dad, you’re missing the Fireworks.”
I take my son by the hand and walk off toward the rest of the family, past the concession stand selling hamburgers, and up the hill to the clearing. There we all sit huddled together enjoying the freedom earned by so many others hundreds of years ago, giving thanks to every lone soldier who finds themselves, or has ever found themselves, behind enemy lines.