Resolve to leave the civilized world behind. You are a danger to yourself and others.
But first, stop for supplies.
Find a sporting and/or outdoor goods store. Avoid eye contact and conversation with any of the shop’s staff or your fellow customers – head down and hooded at all times.
Fill your cart with trail mix. Also: a tent, a sleeping bag, an emergency radio, water purification tablets, eight pairs of socks, eight pairs of underwear, three changes of clothes, hiking boots, a sun hat, a camp stove, a lantern, a compass, a hunting knife, a multi-tool, duct tape, climbing ropes, sunscreen, various toiletries, and a backpack (or two) to hold everything…
Stay off the roads and find a way out of town. Climb a hill into the forest inland from the coast. At the very least, the trees will help clear the smell of cabbage and celery from your nostrils.
Walk through the forest for hours. Walk until the sun begins to set. Consider your options for how and where to spend the night, then stumble onto a group of campers – a friendly bunch without a hint of chop suey about them.
The campers will invite you to stay with them. As luck would have it, they’ve brought along an extra tent and sleeping bag. Exhausted and with no other options, gratefully accept the offer…
Drop by what once was the lighthouse keeper’s favorite Chinese restaurant – the only Chinese restaurant within 50 miles of the lighthouse. Order chop suey.
While you’re waiting, consider where the lighthouse keeper might have gone. Draw a little map on a paper napkin. Attempt an Internet search, but find the phone in your pocket intact, but dead. Search your other pockets to find a wallet, a credit card, some cash, and the note from the library you found so many weeks ago. Wonder why the universe is suddenly kind.
Pull your cherry turnovers from the oven and set them on a rack to cool. Fan them lightly with your oven-mitted hands.
Take in your surroundings. They are familiar if badly kept. Dust covers every surface. Cobwebs obscure a view of sand and shore from the cracked kitchen window.
Remove your apron and mitts. Leave the kitchen. Walk outside.
An abandoned lighthouse looms on the cliff, covered in brambles and low-quality graffiti. This is the place. But, you’re too late. No one has lived here for years.
Drop the façade of mild-mannered normalcy and allow yourself to indulge a few of your wilder urges today. Why? Just because.
Leave the second button of your shirt unbuttoned. Forgo sunscreen. Mismatch your socks. Drink milk directly from the carton. Order the large fries. Why? Just because.
Add fabric softener to the wash. Don’t clean out the lint trap. Push the washer and dryer against the laundry-room door. Barricade the windows. Why? Just because.
Climb into the dryer. Close the dryer door. Wait in the darkness until you feel safe. (As long as it takes.) Why? Just because.
If you have a dog, pet your dog.
If you don’t have a dog, go to the nearest dog park. Walk casually along its perimeter as though you’re out for a stroll and some fresh air. Keep the dogs within your periphery at all times.
Continue your walk until you make eye contact with a dog. Stop. Turn toward the dog. Crouch down and extend your hand in its direction.
Visit your grocery store and procure all the essential ingredients for creating banana splits. We recommend the classic ingredients: bananas; vanilla, strawberry, and chocolate ice cream; chocolate, strawberry, and pineapple sauces; whipped cream; chopped nuts; and maraschino cherries.
Track down videos of the late-60’s Hanna-Barbera live-action classic television show, The Banana Splits Adventure Hour. Tumble down a rabbit hole of The Banana Splits fan sites, blogs, posts, and nostalgia.
Keep running. Don’t look back.
As you sprint away from the hatch, scan your surroundings for any sign of stone pedestals and shiny red buttons. Find only grass, trees, and assorted packs of people picnicking, tossing around Frisbees, and otherwise enjoying a fine summer’s day in what appears to be a well-appointed park.
Slow your pace. Take a deep breath. You’re safe for now.
Fire up Netflix and treat yourself to an extended marathon of The Great British Bake Off. Learn all about various types of sponge cakes. Form opinions about batters, icings, and soggy bottoms. Become deeply invested in the individual contestants and the outcome of the competition.
Take a break from your marathon to grab a beverage. Walk into the kitchen only to find a single, bare light bulb hanging from the ceiling, and an old stone pedestal with a shiny red button atop it standing in the middle of the floor.
Do not press the button. Close your eyes, take a deep breath, and focus. You’ve been here before. You’ve pressed the button before. You don’t want this…
Ask yourself why we lie to children. Is it to soften the eventual realization that life is full of pain and sorrow? Is it to manipulate them into specific, preferred behaviors? What would happen if we were honest with children?
Today, find out…