Delilah could feel them gaining on her. She wanted to look back, gauge their distance, but she couldn’t take her eyes off the ground. What if she tripped on a branch, or stepped on a chipmunk? It would squeal under her foot, it’s back crunching, it’s body writhing. She’d scream, and lose her balance. No; she couldn’t afford any mistakes.
“Heeeeereee piggy piggy!” she heard them squeal.
Hoards of maniacal laughter followed from the eager, unrelenting, crowd behind her. Delilah gasped, her air supply falling short now. She dared a glance beside her and tried to calculate whether she could hide behind the tree to steal a breath. Maybe she could change directions and lose them completely. But, that would be cheating; Delilah knew the rules better than anyone. In fact, she had made the rules.
“Hey Piggy Piggy Piggy!”
Delilah swiftly brought her attention back to her feet. Her eyes widened when she saw they were caked in mud – when had that happened? She had only looked away for a second! Grunting and panting in displeasure and desperation, Delilah kept moving. But now she could hear the stampede right on her heels. She could feel their sticky hands clamouring for her, smell their anxious breath being carried by the autumn breeze.
It was now or never, so Delilah chanced another glance up. Hopefully she wouldn’t get stuck in a knee-high mud pond. But it was worth the gamble, because just ahead, within her reach, she could see it. Safety. She was going to make it. She was going to be fine. She leapt, just the way her phys-ed teacher had taught her.
“HA!” she yelped as her feet slipped into the centre of the giant leaf pile they had compiled for this very moment.
She cackled obnoxiously, throwing leaves at the boys who looked distraught and unnerved. Max rolled his eyes and insisted they start over; he’d be the pig this time and Delilah would be a wolf. But no one was paying much attention to him. They were all in the leaf pile now, so he put his sulking aside and joined in.
“I told you I was faster!” Delilah screeched at him, sticking out her tongue and scrunching up her face. He smashed a handful of crisp yellow leaves into her face, laughing as she spat and whined.
“Sore loser!” she accused.
Delilah scrambled free of the group and looked down at her shoes. Her mother was going to have a fit. They were brand new and Delilah had heard daddy complain about the price. She looked at her watch and felt a cold sweat overtake her. 6:48! The trouble had just doubled. She was late for dinner – again. Delilah could hear the scolding now, ‘you and those boys Delilah I swear, you’re like a wild animal out there! No sense, I tell ya, no sense!’
“I gotta go!” Delilah yelled passingly behind her as she made her way back through the woods. If she was as fast as a piggy, she’d make it just in time to not get dessert.
© Shyla Fairfax-Owen