An exerpt from
Seeing the Elephant
by Leah Banicki
Setting 1848 - Oregon Trail
Snake River crossing...
Corinne was on the other side of the river when her horse Clover jumps at a sound and Corinne loses her seat. She goes flying and bumps her head and rolls for a second or two before she felt the water splash around her. At first she was dazed. Where am I?
The water is cool and the gurgling current under the surface was loud. She is swept along the river and breaks the surface once or twice to catch some air but is pulled under the current. She feels herself starting to panic as her lungs start burning. Her head bumps a rock and the thud is felt to her core. She is grabbing for anything, kicking her legs, and wanting to curse her skirts and petticoats for wrapping around her legs in such a moment.
Her hand reaches and finds a branch to grab. With what little energy she has left from her thrashing about she pulls herself up on a rock. She lies there for a minute without moving but to cough and breathe. Her head aches a bit from hitting something underwater. She lay there thinking of her friend Angela and her fall into the ravine. Secreting hoping her own fate in the wilderness turns out better.
She sits up slowly with a groan and observes her surroundings. There were tall walls on each side of the river. The crossing was a good place, this was not. Corinne stood on shaky legs and tried to climb the wall but the edges were a bit too smooth. There was no edge to grab. She looks down and sees the rock she was sitting on is covered in slime and a few mysterious spongy things that Corinne assumes are alive in some way. She decides to sit back down and ignore the slime. Her dress and petticoats are now filthy and clinging to her legs even worse than they were in the water. Corinne sighs and looks up to the edge, hoping to see someone looking for her. At the wagon crossing there is always a lot of chaos. How long will it be before someone notices that I am missing?
She thinks about yelling but with the headache that she was getting she figures to save herself the pain. She was not desperate enough to yell yet.
She is glad the clouds are moving in a little to block the hot sun. She has been sitting here on the slimy rock for more than twenty minutes according to her lapel watch. She has shaken the water from it and it still was ticking. She pins it back on her damp collar.
She hears a few far off gunshots and watches a torn up wagon come around the bend toward her part of the river. Corinne panics a second but sees the water pull it away from her perch and drags its twisted empty shell away. She has hopes for the family that they got out in time and says a prayer for whoever they were.
She was so focused on the wagon that went by that she does not hear the nearby voices. She pulls herself from her praying when she looks up and sees Clive and Lucas smiling down on her from the edge of the cliff.
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I hope you enjoyed the snippet of my debut novel, Seeing the Elephant.
A story of survival on the American frontier.