The Woods



A sibling I always wanted.

RJ and I tried to stay warm underneath the tarp we tried to build. It wasn’t the greatest architectural achievement of the twenty-fourth century, sure, but no one could blame us for trying. Except God. She must’ve thought it was funny to have a downpour on a couple of stranded orphans in the middle of a forest.

He lied curled up on the log, that sketch neatly tucked into his chest. For all the trouble he had gotten us into, I was impressed he could still keep a used napkin so tidy. It was the last memory of his brother after all, and all that we had to keep us going. On the back of the sketch, he had scribbled some words of motivation. “I’m the realest G alive.”

The kid had tired himself out yesterday trying to catch trout with his bare, chubby hands, so I decided it was best to let the sleeping beast lie. Meanwhile, it was my turn to make myself useful, so I got up to examine the premises.

“Where you going, sis?” RJ asked.

“To gather firewood.” I turned around to see he was sitting straight up on the log. “I thought you were asleep?”

“Nah, I was just napping. Are we that much of a lost cliché already?” he asked.

“Yea, and clichés tend to survive long enough to tell the tale.”

“Fine, I’ll come with.” Putting on his hood, RJ stumbled up and skipped across a few rocks to catch up with me.

“So where we gonna gather the firewood?” he asked.

“We’re in a forest, RJ. I’m sure we can find some wood.”

“Cool, but what about the fire?”

“We make the fire.”

“Oh, that makes sense.”

Keeping an eye out for any thick enough branches or malleable logs, I told RJ to grab the ones he thought could sustain a fire.

“How about this one?” He held up a lonely-looking piece of twig with a single leaf the size of a pinky.

“Yeah, why don’t you try to make a fire out of that?”

“You’re no fun,” he said, tossing the twig away.

As we trucked forward, I could hear the chatter of the forest growing in volume. Sign of life. Life meant habitat, and habitat mean wood.

“Up ahead. There should be some animals willing to part ways with their nests for the night.”

“But wouldn’t that be stealing?” RJ asked.

“We’re just borrowing from the common good Mother Nature provides.”

“Okay, whatever,” he said.

I made sure to crouch down as to not miss anything useful while skimming through the vegetation: herbal berries, arrowheads, and any hard enough rocks for hunting, or to knock RJ back asleep.

“Found something!” he yelled.

I turned around to see him struggling trying to pick up a rock that wouldn’t budge. It appeared ovular, with a strange symmetrical pattern across its face.

“We could totally use this as a chair. Look how smooth this thing is,” he said.

Examining the rock that RJ writhed to lift off the floor, I wondered. “Hmm, I’m not so sure.”

“Whatdya mean? The curve of this thing practically matches my butt.” He confirmed this by patting his butt. “Could use a little help here.”

“Nah, I think you got it,”

“Ughhhhhhh.” POP! RJ fell backwards. “Ow!”

“How’s that butt feeling?”

“Just dandy, thank you very much,” RJ got up, lifting the rock above his head as if he had just won the world championship for weightlifting. “Best chair!” he proudly proclaimed.

“You sure about that?” I asked.

“Definitely.” He looked up at his prized possession for one second, and then chucked it straight at me. “What the…the rock had legs! It’s a forest miracle!”

“Uh huh, right.” I picked up the forest miracle before it started to slowly scramble away.

“If you want your own chair, that’s fine. Just try to ask the turtle for permission next time.”

Michael Luo ‘16 ( is still trapped in his childhood.