SAD in May — Day Eight
Prompt: Character development, something the character desires greatly
By Lori Carlson
Something had chased him off the beaten path. Bobby stood in the darkness breathing quickly. He lifted the tent off of his shoulders and began clearing a place to pop the tent for the night. Whatever had been chasing him was gone, but so was his knapsack; the one with all the food in it. He was tough. One night without food wouldn’t hurt him and maybe in the daylight he could find his knapsack.
Bobby turned off the small flashlight he was carrying and laid down inside the tent. He closed his eyes, but visions of the peanut butter sandwich he’s lost kept filling his head. Then his stomach growled, a growl from the depths of a void: angry, needy, and lost. Bobby rolled over on to his stomach, hoping the new position would hush the monster in his stomach. The growling continued and his stomach felt like he’d eaten bricks for dinner.
He envisioned the granola bar he’d eaten for breakfast that morning? No, the morning before! What had he eaten for dinner? Bobby searched his mind, but he couldn’t remember. What all had he brought with him: granola bars, beef jerky, peanut butter sandwiches, and bottled water. That was something else he was missing about now. Water. Maybe it was a good thing for the moment since it would only make him pee and it was awfully dark and spooky outside.
His stomach grumbled and hissed at him. Bobby rolled over on to his back. What was that exercise he’d been taught in therapy? Breathe in, Breathe out, focus on the breathing. He tried this for a few moments, but the incessant howling of his stomach wouldn’t let him concentrate.
Howling? Bobby sat straight up. It wasn’t his stomach howling, but something off in the distance. Oh dear God, there was a wild beast nearby and Bobby was all alone, in the dark, in a tent, with a growling, grumbling stomach. He sat there listening intently, but didn’t hear anymore howls. He was feeling faint and dizzy though and his forehead was beaded with sweat. He lay back down, this time on his left side.
It was deathly silent for the last few minutes. Even Bobby’s stomach had shut up. Maybe he could go look for his knapsack. If he only went about 50 feet, he should be able to find his way back to the tent. He stood up, almost falling backwards from being lightheaded and steadied himself. The only question now was which direction had he come from? His compass was also in the knapsack. He sat back down, feeling defeated.
Bobby tore off his outer jacket and his inner jacket. He began frantically checking pockets in hopes that somewhere in there small bits of food would still linger. His stomach was growling again, but this time with such verbosity, it could win a debate contest. In his first pocket, he produced a toothpick and an empty bubble gum wrapper. The second pocket yielded a ball of lint. In the first pocket of the second jacket, he found two marbles and a dice. Only more lint was found in the last pocket. Bobby sighed heavily and chewed on the toothpick.
He was freezing, so he put both jackets back on and huddled in the center of the tent, rocking back and forth. The pangs in his stomach were becoming more than just mere grumblings. He was physically getting sick from lack of food. His whole body ached in ways he’d never experienced before. If only there was some snow on the ground. He could eat snow until he was full, but it hadn’t snowed in more than two weeks.
Bobby lay back down and closed his eyes. He imagined that he was in front of this big buffet filled with all of his favorite foods: fried chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy, macaroni and cheese, green beans, corn on the cob and corn bread, lots and lots of corn bread. He licked his lips and imagined eating those foods. He chewed slowly, savoring each bit as if it were the very last piece of food on earth. He was just about to dive into the desserts when he heard twigs snapping outside.
There was someone or something close by. He listened, even trying to slow his heart down and his breathing down. Another snap! That one was closer. His heart was beating wildly and his breathing was shallow and heavy. A crunch! Bobby sat up and moved as far to the back of the tent as he could. His stomach growled angrily at him and he prayed that whatever was outside hadn’t heard it. The tent moved! Oh God, please don’t let it be a wild animal or a serial killer. The flap was slowly pulled back, inch by agonizing inch, and then a face appeared.
“Bobby dinner is almost ready and you haven’t finished your homework.” It was his mom.
Bobby laughed and tore out of the tent nearly knocking his mom down as he went. He grabbed his knapsack off of the driveway and rushed into the house. He could play camping again tomorrow.