Thing missed being back at the cave. It was the one place that he knew his Mother and Father would eventually return. He had given up waiting on them and had struck out to see what was at the end of the world.
Thing wouldn’t be gone forever, all he had to do was reach the horizon and then come home. That was his plan and it was simple.
As he left town, he walked passed his school where he had some good days and more bad days. He turned the corner and watched as the cafe where he would hide on the bad days disappeared into the distance.
There had been friends and enemies, and like his school days there had been more bad than good ones. But don’t think that all of this had got Thing down. He believed and continued to believe that he was on the Earth for a purpose and who was he to disagree?
Quicker than he had expected, the town faded into the background and the dirt country road opened up ahead of him. Thing had thought he might meet folks along the way but he had met no one. If the truth be told, dear readers, the ones who had seen him had taken other roads, not wanting to meet this freak on their own. Not that Thing noticed any of this because a heart that believes they have a purpose in existing never see anything but goodness in others.
After several long hours on the road, it was getting dark. Thing had never been out this late, as he’d always stuck to his Mother’s instructions of being in his bed before sundown. On the longs days he had waited for his Mother to return, he was always settled in his bed by disk, just in case she came home and found him going against her rules.
There had been a slight hope in his heart that he would meet his Mother on her way back to the cave to once again, take care of her son. But the road was as empty as ever.
Day became dusk, and dusk became the darkness. Thing had found out too late that he was not able to see well in the dark of the open road, even although he could navigate his way around the cave.
When he could no longer see where he was walking, Thing chose a small area of grass underneath a tree. He was tired and ready to close his eyes to the night.
Thing hadn’t been sleeping long when woken by the sound of someone or something snoring.
“Hello?” He shouted out into the night. “Anyone there?”
And that was when the snoring stopped and a voice called back.
“Over here,” said the voice.
“I’ll sing a song and you follow my voice,” said someone or something in the distance.
Thing followed the really bad singing and nearly tripped over the source of the song.
“Careful,” said the singer. “Sit down here beside me, the others will be along soon.”
In the darkness the two of them talked about why they were in the forest and where they were heading. Thing told the voice that he was walking to the horizon and then coming home again. That since his Mother and Father had gone, he had stood every night at the cave entrance watching for them to come home.
The voice was in the forest, along with his friends because they too, had been left orphaned.
“No, I’m not an orphan,” said Thing. “They will return one day.”
“Sure they will,” said his friend but not very convincingly.
It was just then that the rest of the gang returned. They had been out hunting for food. They worked in the pitch black so as not to attract attention from those who would stop them getting food.
They gang had stolen meat from a farm a short distance from the river and had collected berries and fruits that they found.
They told Thing that he was welcome to share their wares on one condition, and that was that he told them a story to make them laugh or cry.
After their meal and in the pitch darkness, Thing thanked them for the food and then told them of his life. The way the friends at school had hurt and bullied him because they felt that he was different.
“You’re just like us,” said another voice. “We are all outsiders, and we are all a family. You should join us.”
Thing felt that perhaps he just might, then decided that he wanted to see the horizon before he settled down, and that if they weren’t going that way, then he’d continue on alone.
One of the voices said he was cold with the night dew and Thing said that if they all bunched up beside Thing, they could all keep warm.
And it worked and for the first night in many, Thing wasn’t alone and for the first time in his life he had a gang of friends.
Thing slept well that night, and dreamed that he was in his Mother’s arms.
When the sun came up the gang of orphans were standing over him, pointing their wooden spears at him.
“What have you done with our friend?” Shouted one at the back.
“He must have eaten him, the monster has eaten him,” said another.
Thing wasn’t sure what had happened. In front of him were a group of kids, the same type that had gone to his school.
“Let’s take him prisoner and sell him,” said another. Thing found an energy that he’d never known before and was suddenly running through the forest: no looking back.
The orphans chased him for a mile or two, but Thing just kept on running – running towards the horizon and away from a group of people who had only liked him when they knew him in the pitch black.
And Thing couldn’t understand why that made a difference.
bobby stevenson 2017