I was hoping for better…

A picture is worth a thousand words, sometimes a few less, sometimes a few more…

It had been a hot day, and tramping through the forest had been hard, debilitation work.

And if it hadn’t been for the total conviction in Jimmy’s voice, and what looked like an authentic map, O would not have followed him.

“It has to be here, somewhere.”

He had said that a dozen times so far, but only once had he said, “I know it is.”

He said he had been here before, with his father, many years before. Before he disappeared.

In this forest.

Some said he had found what he was looking for, Harry Ridge’s gold mine, but was too weak to return and had died there. Others said the fool had wandered around and around until he got lost, weak, and eventually died of thirst and hunger.

Jimmy hadn’t believed that. Ever. His father had been an experienced bushman, would, could never get lost, and certainly wouldn’t die of thirst or starvation.

He’d found the mine, got caught in a rock fall, and couldn’t get out.

To me, one tree looked the same as another, and I could swear we’d been walking around in circles.

Now it was getting dark.

A second night in the forest. It would get cold. And there would be the animals, foraging, walking, running, making noises.

We’d found a rock pool fed by an underground water source, so we weren’t going to die of thirst. The water was clear, cold and thirst quenching.

“Just a little further,” Jimmy said.

He’d said that a few times too.

But the forest had begun to thin, and in the distance we could see hills, and a cliff. Almost glowing as the sun dipped below the horizon behind us.

We stopped on the top of a slight rise.

“There,” he pointed towards the cliff face. “It’s there. I told you we’d find it.”

I didn’t point out we hadn’t, just seen a cliff face where it might be. I was too tired.

Until I saw what looked like the shine of light being reflected off a mirror.

Once, twice, three times. Then nothing.

“What is that,” I asked.

“This.”

He came over and showed me the map. A picture of the sun, a dotted line from it to what looked like a shining light.

“We found it.”

© Charles Heath 2020

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