“AND RILEY RUNS,” BY N. ANNETTE KNIGHT.

“And Riley Runs,” is a short, powerful story, with well developed characters, and it is extremely well written. Riley, a twelve year old girl, sits alone on a school bus. Her usual friends, a group of other girls her age, sit in the back of the bus and barely recognize or acknowledge Riley’s presence. Riley is a fragile girl with very curly hair, and she had to beg her parents to allow her to go on this field trip.

The bus stops at a state park in Utah and the students quickly run off the bus and form into groups. Riley, expecting to join her friend’s group, is suddenly left alone as her friends take off without inviting her.

Liam, the school scholar and a leader, asks her if she would like to join their group, and with no other option left she decides to go along with them. She quickly falls behind, unable to keep up, and she finds herself totally alone and lost in an area where coyotes and other wild animals are known to roam about.

Frightened, she tries to call her friends on her cell phone, but no one answers. Finally, she gets in touch with her mother who is at work in another state. They talk and communicate through a video app on Riley’s phone. The mother, Angeline, watches as her daughter struggles to survive. Her friend, Cindy, joins the conversation and tries to calm Riley down.

They give Riley directions and tell her to walk in the opposite direction from where the sun was in the sky when she started trailing Liam’s group. Suddenly, Angeline spots a dark figure in the background who seems to be stalking her daughter. She decides not to mention the figure because she is scared to frighten her daughter anymore than she already is. The figure starts to get closer, and the relationship between the daughter and mother hits a feverish pace. Angeline’s maternal instinct to help her daughter get to safety and be saved takes over and Riley’s desperation to escape leads to a dramatic and intense conclusion. I very much enjoyed this story.

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