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I had to backtrack a bit as I did some rewriting. We return to Marshall and Jaiden in the emergency waiting area.
He helped the woman get situated, then checked the cut underneath the stained towel. “It’s stopped bleeding.”
The woman nodded, lowered her arms from the back her head, and sighed. Her whole body sagged.
“Do you need anything?” he asked. “There’s coffee over there.”
She started to shake her head, but winced. “No, thank you.”
Jaiden realized she’d been staring and tried to find something else to focus on. She should have brought her e-reader in from the car. Then she wouldn’t get herself in trouble people-watching.
“How ‘bout you?” The man asked, taking in her puffy ankle and mud smears.
She hadn’t even remembered to wipe off the grime before heading to the hospital. “I’m fine, thank you.”
He sat back down. “You were just out on the trail, right?”
Jaiden nodded. “Small world. Not the best place to meet up again though.”
“The trails aren’t always either.”
“They certainly can be dangerous.” Jaiden gestured to her ankle. “How was your hike?”
“Not as fruitful as I’d hoped.” He shrugged.
“What were you looking for?” Jaiden asked. She often had people come into the office. Many people hiked through the forest or the trails looking for a variety of animals or birds. She eyed the man. She didn’t take him for a birder though.
“I like to follow game trails and look for tracks.”
Perhaps, he had seen the animal, stump or whatever, that she had. “So that’s why you weren’t on the trail. The animals don’t follow them. With the rain, it must have been difficult to take any video.” She was hinting, hoping he’d offer something that would ease her mind about the lurking figure. It had to be something explainable, something she could find her zoological database.
“Yeah, I did some sweeping shots, but I don’t expect to see much. The rain distorts the images.” Disappointment slid over his face.
Jaiden’s own emotions mirrored it. When her ankle healed, she would return to the woods and the trail. At least then, she would know if what she saw was a stump. Otherwise, she had another story she could add to the files of unidentified sightings at work.
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