Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Pen and Paper (07/17/14)
TITLE: Matthias Jones's Final Words
By Leola Ogle
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I dig through my backpack. It’s wet from the rain earlier. I managed to catch some rain in cupped leaves. I’m so thirsty. But I’m also hungry, so very hungry.
I find it then, at the very bottom of the backpack, a stub of a pencil and a couple pieces of folded paper. I’ll write to my family and pray that someday someone finds it.
I, Matthias Jones, am lost in these woods. I’m so weak I’m not sure how much longer I can hang on. I want my parents to know I’m sorry. I miss everyone so much. I even miss my brother and sister, Margaret and Henry.
In the distance I can hear running water – a river or a stream. If I could make it there and follow it, it should lead me to people. Or perhaps there would be boats or rafts with people. I am too weak to walk. Because I was so hungry I threw caution to the wind and ate some wild berries without testing them first.
Bear Grylls says to place berries, plants, mushrooms or other wild growth against your lips and tongue. Wait awhile and if there’s no rash, numbness, or itching, then take a tiny bite. Wait for awhile and if you don’t get sick, then it’s safe to eat.
I was hungry, so I ate. Big mistake! Now I’m so sick.
I grimace when I hear distant thunder. If it rains again, I’ll have a wet, freezing night. I don’t have any matches left. I glance at the pencil and sigh. I cradle the paper to my chest like a valuable treasure. I must choose my words carefully. I only have two pieces of paper, and no way to sharpen the pencil. I lost my knife days ago.
I never meant for this to happen. I wanted to hike for a few days and then return home. I ventured off the trail, confident I could find my way back. I used the last of my supplies days ago. I’ve lost track of time. Days and nights blend together. I’m sorry for being stubborn and going off on my own. Dad, you taught me so much about camping and survival in the wilderness. I didn’t always pay attention, though. Mom, I’d give anything for one of your home cooked meals. I love you both so much.
I jerk when another clap of thunder sounds. It’s closer this time. My eyes are heavy, but if I fall asleep, I’m afraid I won’t wake up. I must write while there’s enough daylight.
There are so many things I won’t get to experience – getting married, having children. I would have been a good father because I had the best example in you, Dad. Mom, I would have wanted my wife to be like you. There’s so much more to say, but my mind is growing tired.
I shift my back against the tree trunk. I’ve made a small bed of leaves to lie on. I could sleep right now. I want to sleep. I hear something – the rustling of leaves, the snap of a twig. Is it a wild animal? Is this the end? My heart thunders in my ears. I see a pair of eyes watching me.
“There you are, Matty. Mom says ya gotta come inside cause it’s gonna rain again and it’s almost time for supper.”
“Shucks, Margaret. You can’t go sneakin’ up on me like that. You scared the dickens outta me.”
“What’ya doing? Pretending you’re Bear Grylls or Survivorman? Mom says you watch too much tv. And where’d ya get that paper? Quit stealing paper from my notebook, Matty.”
Twelve-year-old sisters are such a nuisance, especially since she’s my twin sister. “Call me Matthias. Matty sounds like I’m a baby.”
“Matty, Matty.” Margaret puts her hands on her hips and sticks out her tongue. “Can I read what you wrote? I love your stories.”
“No, you can’t read it because it’s not a story.” I sigh as I pick up candy wrappers, soda cans, and my sandwich bag. I’ll be in trouble with Dad if I leave a mess.
“What’s for supper?” I ask Margaret as I follow her back to the house. I’m bored with summer. I’ll be glad when school starts.
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