A child is homesick. On the fifth day, he sneaks out of his cabin and wanders through the woods, beyond the picnic tables and the gazebo. When he reaches the stable of canoes, he stops; then climbs inside the closest one. He drifts away from the ten cabins, from the counselors, and away from the plump boy from Alabama who made him cry.
He welcomes the silence of the night and the gentle lapping of water against the canoe. When an owl hoots, the child cries. Will this stream take him home? He’d begged his counselor, Eric, to call his mom and ask her to pick him up. Eric had said, “Hang in there, kid, it will get better.” But it hadn’t.
In the morning they will find his rumpled, empty bed, and a note stuck on the cabin bulletin board. Search parties will scour the woods and the stream, but no one will find that missing canoe or the lost boy.
This is the tale that will be told on the first night of camp every June, to homesick campers as a warning not to leave the camp. Whenever this tale is told, that same owl will perch in a nearby branch and call out into the lonely night.
Causes Maureen Sherbondy Supports
North Carolina Writers' Network, Temple Beth Or, North Carolina Poetry Society