My husband and I go walking at a state park near our home nearly every Sunday morning. To access the beach, we take a boardwalk from the parking area to the beach walkovers. The boardwalk makes a circuit around the park, with eight or ten walkovers to the beach. It is one of my favorite places in Florida.
A month or so ago, during our walk we noticed fresh blood on the walkway. Someone had walked back toward the parking area from the beach with an open wound, probably in the foot or lower leg.
It could have been from stepping on a fish-hook that someone carelessly discarded. It could have been from stepping on broken glass on the beach or slipping on the rocks at the jetty. It might have been a bite from a small shark. (East Central Florida, the shark-bite capital of the world, doesn't have the Great Whites they have in Australia that eat whole people, but we do have little sharks that regularly chomp at the heels of surfers while they are waiting for waves.)
I think he or she was hopping most of the way because most of the blood was in droplets that were more or less equal in size and distance (as if the wound were dripping but not being set down the boardwalk). Every so often, the person seemed to get tired and put down his/her foot. In those places, the blood pooled and was truly gross because by the time we passed by it was starting to clot.
My inner writer narrated a series of possible stories the whole time we were walking. My husband was as appalled by my matter-of-fact hypothesizing about what the blood-trail was telling me as he was grossed out by the gore. I did not mean to be unsympathetic to the person's plight. It just seemed to me to be such a vivid image, I couldn't help but narrate it.
I am sure that I will park this memory somewhere in my mind and it will surface someday in a story -- as a brave fighter walks away from a battle, wounded but unbowed.
Or something like that.