Fetterman worked in tech support and had never been on a camping trip, but it seemed the sort of excursion on which a father and son might reconnect. In his old life, he might even have imagined a touching lesson being imparted while fishing, or a tender explanation of the various constellations in the night sky, or a reconciliation after a near-death experience—possibly a bear attack, or an unsuccessful river fording. In his old life, that is, before he’d had to apologize to the neighbor whose cat Derek lit on fire, before he’d had to explain to a third-grade teacher that there was no way his son had access to actual anthrax. Before his understanding of the world and its inhabitants had been completely transformed.

On his lunch hour, he drove to the Borders Books in the strip mall down the road from his office and picked up Wilderness Camping & Hiking: The Ultimate Outdoors Book. The store was out of Camping for Dummies, which was fine by Fetterman; one of his overachiever classmates had patented the franchise, and Fetterman would sooner have been bastinadoed (Medieval Torture for Dummies) than add to his profit stream. He sat on a footstool and flipped through the illustrated pages, stopping at a diagram showing how to use your jeans as a backpack by roping the waist and bringing the legs up over your shoulders as straps. The chapter featured all kinds of ingenious solutions to unlikely scenarios; 'In Case of Emergency,' it was called. Fetterman closed the book, thinking: Isn’t life just one big, long emergency, happening very, very slowly?

~This story may be read in its entirety here.~


Alethea Black, © 2007-2018
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