Alone and lost! Why did I leave home? This forest will be my grave, my final resting place. Will my family know I love them? Do they miss me Ė my parents, my sister and younger brother?
I dig through my backpack. Itís wet from the rain earlier. I managed to catch some rain in cupped leaves. Iím so thirsty. But Iím 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. Iíll write to my family and pray that someday someone finds it.
I, Matthias Jones, am lost in these woods. Iím so weak Iím not sure how much longer I can hang on. I want my parents to know Iím sorry. I miss everyone so much. I even miss my brother and sister, Margaret and Henry.
In the distance I can hear running water Ė 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 thereís no rash, numbness, or itching, then take a tiny bite. Wait for awhile and if you donít get sick, then itís safe to eat.
I was hungry, so I ate. Big mistake! Now Iím so sick.
I grimace when I hear distant thunder. If it rains again, Iíll have a wet, freezing night. I donít 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. Iíve lost track of time. Days and nights blend together. Iím sorry for being stubborn and going off on my own. Dad, you taught me so much about camping and survival in the wilderness. I didnít always pay attention, though. Mom, Iíd give anything for one of your home cooked meals. I love you both so much.
I jerk when another clap of thunder sounds. Itís closer this time. My eyes are heavy, but if I fall asleep, Iím afraid I wonít wake up. I must write while thereís enough daylight.
There are so many things I wonít get to experience Ė 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. Thereís so much more to say, but my mind is growing tired.
I shift my back against the tree trunk. Iíve made a small bed of leaves to lie on. I could sleep right now. I want to sleep. I hear something Ė 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.
ďThere you are, Matty. Mom says ya gotta come inside cause itís gonna rain again and itís almost time for supper.Ē
ďShucks, Margaret. You canít go sneakiní up on me like that. You scared the dickens outta me.Ē
ďWhatíya doing? Pretending youíre Bear Grylls or Survivorman? Mom says you watch too much tv. And whereíd ya get that paper? Quit stealing paper from my notebook, Matty.Ē
Twelve-year-old sisters are such a nuisance, especially since sheís my twin sister. ďCall me Matthias. Matty sounds like Iím a baby.Ē
ďMatty, Matty.Ē Margaret puts her hands on her hips and sticks out her tongue. ďCan I read what you wrote? I love your stories.Ē
ďNo, you canít read it because itís not a story.Ē I sigh as I pick up candy wrappers, soda cans, and my sandwich bag. Iíll be in trouble with Dad if I leave a mess.
ďWhatís for supper?Ē I ask Margaret as I follow her back to the house. Iím bored with summer. Iíll be glad when school starts.
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