I must have been around 10 years old when it happened.
I was tagging along with my brother Derek and some of the older neighbourhood kids on a hike through the woods by Eagle View Elementary School in Port Hardy, not realizing we were being set up for an incident that would stay stuck in my head for the last 23 years, like an old time capsule ready to be dug up and put on display.
My memory of why we agreed to go on the hike in the first place is somewhat hazy now due to the passing of time, but the actual details of what happened remain firmly etched into my brain.
This is my story and I’m sticking to it.
There were five of us who went into the woods that day (myself, Derek, Jes, James and Bill). We wandered further than Derek and I had ever gone before, so far I started to get nervous about being able to find our way back home.
As we walked through the thick foliage that decorates the local North Island forests, we jumped over fallen logs, crossed streams, waded through knee-deep creek water and crawled through prickle bushes, until we finally arrived at a steep hill.
We climbed up to the top of the hill for a better view of the surrounding areas when, all of sudden, James slipped and lost his footing.
He fell down the side of the hill, rolling head over heels, before coming to a crashing stop at the bottom next to a pile of rotten logs.
James grabbed his leg and screamed in pain, shouting the bone was broken.
Jes told Derek and I to go back and get help while he and Bill stayed with James.
I was on the verge of tears, scared out of my mind. Derek took off running and I followed behind him, hoping and praying we were taking the right trail to make it back to civilization before dark.
It felt like it took us forever to find the right way home, but we eventually did. And do you know what we saw when we finally arrived at Eagle View field?
Jes, James and Bill sitting on the grass, waiting for us with big grins on their faces.
James’ leg was fine.
The whole thing was a practical joke they had secretly planned.
They had even taken a shortcut to get back home before us so they could see the look on our faces.
At the time, I was really angry and felt a little traumatized by what I had been put through, but looking back on it now I just laugh and wish I’d been the one who thought of it.
I guess you could say I learned a very valuable lesson that day.
Never trust the older kids in your neighbourhood when they invite you to hangout.
While writing this editorial, I interviewed my brother to see if our memories matched up and he remembered the event the same way I did.
He said he remembered going into the woods with them, but he couldn’t recall James falling down the hill and pretending to hurt his leg.
I contacted Jes about it as well, and he told me he didn’t remember it, but then said that just because he couldn’t remember it doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.