Camper’s Heart

By: Agatha Whitthorne

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Lyra needed to survive. When she was 10, she had gone camping with her parents in Mori Woods which lay next to a beach. When they arrived, they pitched the tent while her father caught fish and her mother chopped wood and Lyra sang a little song. After dinner, s’mores, and stories around the firepit they all fell asleep.

At 11:23 a.m. Lyra awoke to her mother screaming. She looked at where her parents should have been. She crawled outside and saw her dad’s bloodied face. She didn’t understand. She started screaming and crying herself. While her mom was calling the police, Lyra grabbed the food, her stuffed animal, the blankets, her pillows and her survival guide. Then she ran, ran as fast as she could. Her heart was racing, and she didn’t once glance back. She was hurt and scared, but she ran for hours. Once she reached the far edge of the forest, she started to set up her camp.

She took large branches and pushed them deep into the soil. Then she took smaller ones with leaves and piled them into a roof, which she mounted on top of the base after throwing two stones. The back was covered by the boulder she’d planned her structure on. For the front, she took large pieces of bark and logs and propped them up with rocks, except for one which she would use for a door.

Lyra looked at her survival guide to see what fruits or berries grew in the area. She concluded that wild blackberries were her best bet. So she picked a large leaf to use as a basket. She went on to pluck a great many berries. She ate these instead of the food she brought to keep that for when the going got tough. She knew animals would smell the food, so she dug a hole in her hut and lined it with her pillowcase. She then opened the pillowcase and shoved the plastic bag with the food inside. Lyra used the leaf and a rock for the lid.

Lyra laid down and thought about what could have happened. “I now know why I ran, Mom will be consumed by her grief, and foster care would be torture,” she whispered. 

Lyra broke down on the floor and cried herself to sleep.

The next morning she woke up to the birds singing happily as if everything were normal. Lyra ate a small breakfast of leftover blackberries and then went for a swim. When she got to the water’s edge, she took off all her clothes. They were the only ones she had. When she was underwater, she picked seaweed that her survival guide said was edible. She dried off in the sun and then put her clothes back on.

Lyra went back to the shack and made a spear. “Thank you animals for making this sacrifice and dying for our health,” she whispered. Lyra was not a religious person, but she always liked to give thanks. She heard rustling a nearby bush. She then crept up and saw…a policewoman. 

“We’ve got the child, ma’am. Are you okay, little one?”

“Mm-hmm,” mumbled Lyra.

“Come with me, sweetheart.”

“Can I get my things?”

“I’ll escort you,” another officer said. 

When Lyra returned she asked, “Is my mom alright?” 

“She called the search.”

“She cares?”

“Of course I care, honey!” her mother said, running right for her.

“MOM!” shouted Lyra.

“I love you so much. Why did you run away?” 

“I thought you’d be too sad to take care of me,” cried Lyra.

“You make me so happy. You’re my light. I would never let that go.”

“I love you, can we go home?”


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