*Note: I've been asked by more than one person to put the real Chapter One, so here it is.
I was standing in the parking lot of the mall trying to talk sense into my friend Lucy, who was sitting behind the wheel of her car with the engine running.
"Lucy, try to be patient. There isn't anything I can do." I explained the situation to my friend again. "...and the return lines are still long. They're not moving quickly."
"I have to get home. My children will be getting out of school."
"Can't you give me just a few more minutes?"
"You know what? Find another ride." Lucy put her car in gear and sped off leaving me stranded at the mall.
I had ordered backpacks for my children. Jaden was 5-years-old and nervous about his first year in Kindergarten. His favorite subject was space and he picked a blue backpack with a grey spaceship. His was fine. His sister Violet had just turned 3-years old and excited to start pre-school. She wanted her favorite cartoon character, a grey mouse wearing a black ninja outfit on a pink backpack. When the items arrived, Violet's was the wrong color. They'd shipped a green one with a white puppy character in a green bowtie instead. She's a fussy, moody, temperamental little girl and adamantly refused it.
I didn't have time to return hers in the mail and order in the replacement, but she had her heart set on the pink one and wouldn't touch the other. She wasn't happy about being away from me anyway, even for those few hours and I wanted her to stay excited about school. I knew if I could make her first day perfect, she'd love making friends and learning new things. Luckily, the company had a store in a mall about an hour from my city.
My friend Lucy had wanted to visit the same mall and offered to drive me, but Lucy is impatient and rash. It was just like her to drive off and leave me stranded. I was sure she'd come back, so I waited in the hot parking lot for half an hour worrying about my place in the line, but she didn't return.
I'd already handed the backpack to an employee in the store and received a ticket number for the exchange for when I got to the counter. What was I supposed to do now? Go back in and hope that when I came out with the right item that Lucy would have come back for me? Well, I didn't. I started walking along the road.
Alright. I can be rash too and Lucy's impatience angered me, and maybe I shouldn't have just taken off on foot. After all, it was late August and an unusually hot muggy day. Still, I thought she'd turn around at some point and pick me up. I was pretty sure I knew how we'd gotten to the mall and at first, I watched for her car as I continued along the road, but soon enough the road divided into several roads all going in different directions. "No problem," I thought. I started off on a road that rose up a hill. "I'm sure this is the right one." It didn't dawn on me that all those roads would have come down from the same hill and I didn't take the time to check.
I don't know how long I walked. I think somewhere along the way I realized that I did take a wrong turn, or maybe a couple of wrong turns. I was lost and on a deserted road that seemed to go on forever. I had no idea what time it was, but the afternoon sun's rays beat down harshly on me. I could have turned back, but I didn't remember how I even got to where I was.
I was getting disoriented and suffering from dehydration and possibly heat stroke, but what choice did I have? I had to keep going. Sooner or later, I'd run into a house, a farm, a business, even a car passing by. After all, I wasn't that far from the mall. Or was I?
My shoes were a pair of lavender espadrilles. You know, the shoes where the sole is made of flexible jute and the rest is canvas. Very showy and fun, but not made for long distance walking. My feet were killing me and after a while, I could feel every stone I stepped on.