One was a short boy with unkempt yellow hair. His ears were small and his mouth antithetical in size. Dressed too sparingly for the collecting cool he shivered, his arms folded.
His companion was nearly twice his height, with unusually short legs and long torso. Beneath an orange and black coat he was contentedly toasty.
Asked the former, "Haven't we passed that same stump seven times?"
"What makes you say that?"
"The moss growing on it looks like a three-headed space alien with tentacles."
The other scratched his chin. "You know, I do remember that. I think you're right." He frowned. "But that's the first time today." He rolled his eyes and walked on.
"Hey, I wasn't leading when we got lost, remember? You wanted to lead, and I was benevolent enough to let you."
"Benevolent!" the lanky scoffed. "You've lived here your whole life! You must have been in these woods hundreds of times! Don't you know where we are?"
"You've been here as many times as I have, fuzz-brain."
"Always with you leading. You never let me before. How should I know my way?"
"What happened to that instinct you always brag about? You should be able to find your way out "
"I'd be able to smell my way out of here if someone hadn't avoided his bath last night."
"Then why'd you help me hide?"
"I didn't think our lives would depend on my nose!"
"If that ever happens we'll be doomed. You couldn't smell your way out of a paper bag."
"I'd like to see you try it!"
"I'll find my way and without my nose."
"Then why don't you?"
"It would be easier if you would keep quiet," the yellow-haired boy retorted. "And if my foot wasn't throbbing with every step!"
"I told you not to cross that log. It was too high."
"You could have told me a little louder."
"Is that rain?" The taller companion raised his face to the sky. A large, fat drop landed on his nose with a plop. He squirmed with distaste. "Great, now we'll be lost and wet."
"Didn't I tell you the forecast said it would rain today?"
"Just because they're lucky every now and then when their psychics are right doesn't mean there's any reason to believe them."
"I'm surprised you couldn't sense the rain with your 'instinct.'"
As the rain fell harder their dissentient discussion rapidly developed into an altercation, an event not at all out of the ordinary.
"Look, pal, if you don't keep quiet I'm gonna leave you out here in the cold alone!"
"If you do you'll only die of starvation while I find my way home. Lemme go!"
With a fist to his captor's stomach the yellow-haired boy freed himself. He received a kick to each shin in retaliation. Best of friends and best of foes, they broke into fisticuffs in earnest.
"Why don't you take a long walk on a skyscraper?" snapped the taller.
"Dr. Frankenstein called today, he wants his monster's brain back!"
"Your lips are moving but I only hear a buzzing sound coming out!"
"That must be your brain sizzling!"
A new voice broke into the racket. "Calvin! Calvin!"
The contenders broke apart. Quoth the shorter, "Mom?"
"Calvin? Calvin, where are you?"
"Over here, Mom! Over here!"
Crashing through the brush she appeared beside them. She held a flashlight in one hand that illuminated her face. It was a contorted mixture of choler and relief.
"We got lost, Mom! It's Hobbes's fault! He was leading the way, but he had no clue where he was going."
"Don't tell lies!"
"But it's the truth! Hobbes has no sense of direction!"
"He couldn't have got you lost and you know that. He's just a--Oh!" Without warning she fell to her knees and wrapped her son in her arms. "I'm just glad you're all right! Let's get you home and into a warm bath."
An hour later, snug and cozy in his bedroom, Calvin gazed from his window. The moonlight glazed the treetops with silver, setting each raindrop scintillating like the stars above. From here the woods, so frightening and frustrating not long before, became picturesque, even halcyon.
"You know, Hobbes," he sighed, "getting lost wasn't so bad, after all. Not when you look back on it."
"It could have been worse. We might never have found our way home. It was still a bit scary, though."
"Not as much as it would have been alone. Together, it wasn't so bad. Finding your way is a lot easier when you have a friend to help you find it."
"It's even easier on a full stomach," the tiger countered. "Let's go back tomorrow--but after dinner, okay?"
Sincerely, Nuile: Lunatic Wordsmith