Wednesday, August 7, 2019


I was stuck in that cave for 42 days;
you might have heard about it on the news.
My boyfriend and I went spelunking,
and who came up with that word anyway?
It’s not the sort of thing I would choose to do
on my own, but Paul said he used to go
caving all the time in his 20s
with his younger brother,
and I would really love it.
I guess I didn’t find it as fascinating as he did.
It was very dark and not much else.
We crawled and crouched through darkness
and disturbed about a thousand bats,
and I screamed as they screeched
and flapped about my head.
If I touched one of the damp walls,
I screamed as a large black bug
raced across the back of my hand.
Paul, sensing that I was not having a good time,
decided that we should turn around and head out.
Suddenly, there was a loud, gut-churning rumble,
and we were knocked to the ground.
Debris started raining down from the ceiling,
and our only exit to the world of sunlight
and green grass and blue skies and Panera Bread
and parking lots and wifi was blocked.
We were alone, with no way to call for help,
and no one privy to our plans.
All we had for food was a bag of trail mix
and four granola bars
(and the snacks were my idea, thank you very much).
Those were all gone by Day 4.

The worst part was that the cave
was also home to large demonic creatures
that enjoyed feasting on human flesh.
On Day 24, they dragged Paul away screaming.
I tried to hang on to him, but they just outnumbered us.
He gave his life for me, and I’ll never forget that.
I’m looking to get a plaque for him
put up at the entrance to the cave,
but you have to get the permission of the state first,
and that never goes very quickly, you know.
We learned that the creatures loathed light,
so our flashlights were my only weapons.
That and the Swiss Army knife Paul tossed to me
as he was being carried away to his death.
I corkscrewed one of them where its eyes should have been,
and it hissed and released my ankle.
When I wasn’t fighting for my very life,
I eventually wound up eating the large black bugs
that skittered on the walls behind me,
and really, they weren’t too bad.
Crunchy, but if you like lobster,
it’s not that different.

I’m not sure who figured out
we had been trapped in the cave.
I know they found Paul’s truck
in the parking lot of the state park.
But thank God that person did.
I have a $20 Starbucks gift card
for whoever decided to search for us there
because I would have certainly died
in that lightless cave otherwise.
When the rescuers broke through,
the light from outside was painfully bright.
I hid my face when they dragged me outside.
People were shouting at me,
but I couldn’t understand what they were saying.
Nobody believed me about the creatures.
They found Paul’s body, untouched,
and determined he died of natural causes,
a heart attack from being trapped in a horrible cave.
I had lost about 20 pounds inside that hole,
but really, once I started eating normal food again,
it all came back,
so that wasn’t really a plus or anything.
I’m here to tell you that you don’t really learn anything
about yourself when you’re purely fighting for survival.
You’re like an animal then,
looking for food and trying not to get eaten.
But I’m trying to draw some life lessons from the experience
because I’ve had people call me about a book deal
or maybe a speaking tour or a movie even.

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