Webster’s Word of the Day: Trepid
While I may not be the proudest resident of Cleveland, Ohio, I can attest that the city has one of the best public park systems I’ve ever encountered. The Metroparks serve as a great place to relax, spend time with family and run alongside the infamous Cuyahoga River that caught fire in the ’60s (it’s apparently cleaner now — but I’d take that with a grain of salt). Despite the possible E. coli in the water, the trails and greenery are truly a great place to enjoy nature. I ran there almost every day during the summer. Every day, until the attack.
It was late evening time — darker, but the sun’s amber light was still enough to clearly illuminate my surroundings. I think that I was shamelessly listening to Dinosaur by Kesha at the moment, so I probably deserved what was coming. As I rounded one of the final corners of my run, I felt a sudden, violent tugging on the back of my head. In that very instant, I accepted that my time had come. You see, despite the many beautiful aspects of the Metroparks, it also unfortunately has a reputation for occasional criminal and sexual assault. My life flashed before my eyes in that split second: I saw my family, quintessential occasions of happiness and a certain descent to hell, considering that one time I laughed at my church’s very obese priest for farting halfway through his sermon.
But when I turned around, not a person was in sight. I faced forward again to search for the perpetrator, and felt another tug behind me. This was clearly a mastermind I was dealing with. And then, I saw its shadow overhead. My gaze was met with that of a gigantic owl, wings completely outstretched and sharp claws pointed to go in for another attack. My memory at this point becomes a little fuzzy from pure terror, but I remember letting out noises I don’t think I could ever reproduce, flailing my arms vigorously and sprinting for about five minutes as the owl continued to mercilessly swoop down above.
It had thankfully disappeared by the time I got to my car. I hypothesized that this was a freak accident, in which this bird was clearly blind to consider that it could pick up a six-foot tall human and enjoy it for an evening snack. Nevertheless, I became irrationally paranoid about running there afterward. I even dreamt one night that a flock of owls swept down and carrried me off to their lair, where I adapted a pseudo-Tarzan narrative and flapped around for the rest of my life.
I finally managed to convince myself against the dangers of avian violence in the end. The owl, of course, was coming to its brethren. Owls are my spirit animal, and what seemed like an attack was just an unconventional display of love. Through denial and a good dose of delusion, I was able to overcome my fear of that particular path in the park. I haven’t been contacted since, however. Maybe I’ve been disowned.