Once upon a time, my friend and I got lost in the woods. I was five years old, he was four. We lived next door to the local playground, and the woods came right up to the edge of it. So we wandered into the woods and by and by discovered we were lost.
By “lost” I mean totally without a clue, not the foggiest idea where we were, and quite upset by it. We weren’t old enough to imagine ourselves winding up as skeletons among the underbrush, but we were good and scared.
We stumbled around at random until suddenly we emerged from the woods into someone’s back yard, in the little village of Bonhamtown (now paved over for a highway, not a trace of it left).
An old man came out and instantly identified us as being out of place, probably because he recognized all the small boys in his neighborhood. He asked us where we lived, somehow made sense out of our distraught babblings, and took us each by the hand and led us back through the woods and back to the playground, within sight of our respective homes. I was amazed at how little time had passed: my mother hadn’t even missed me. I wasn’t even late for lunch.
I’m pretty sure I didn’t tell her where I was, lest she forbid me to play in the woods anymore.
I look back on this adventure with warm gratitude to that old man, whoever he was, and I will always have a soft spot in my heart for vanished Bonhamtown.
And I am very, very glad it didn’t happen to me in 2015.