Argh! I think I’m going to die!
I’ve been walking and walking for days. My blistered feet ache and I’m covered in dirt from head to toe. My legs feel like Jello. I’m thirsty and hungry. My stomach is growling like an angry bear. I have no idea where I am or where I’m going. This isn’t the sweet and free life I had imagined away from the farm. Going back to the farm wasn’t a choice, so, one foot in front of the other.
“Get off my tree and my land!” a thunderous voice boomed by a big brown bear. “You’re trespassing and I don’t like it!” I shook in my shoes as blazing eyes stared down at me. I wanted to run, but my feet stuck to the ground like glue.
“Please, please, “I begged. “I have nowhere to go, nowhere. Don’t make me go back. I can’t go back. It’s a terrible place. I’ll only rest for a short spell. I promise to be as quiet as a mouse.”
“Are you an escapee!?!”
“Na .. no! I am not!”
“Tell me the truth. Do not lie to me. I’ve had turkeys wander on these parts before. Don’t be frightened, just speak the truth. If not, out you go!”
“Umm. Okay. Thanks. I’m Tom, by the way.”
“I don’t need to know your name. All you turkeys like to ruffle feathers with your attitude. Well, I don’t have any feathers to ruffle.”
Turns out, the bear who was named Mato, has lived in the woods for many years. She had been part of an Indian tribe, but left to set out on her own. She wanted a different life, so she left her family and started a new life. She learned how to survive in the woods by gathering food and finding shelter on her own. She fished in streams, picked fruit and berries and found the perfect den for her new home. She prepared a nice supper for me and a warm place to sleep. After a good night’s rest, she promised to teach me how to live in the woods, too.
“Why’d you leave turkey?” I didn’t answer. I only wanted to hear about the woods and the new, better life I’d have living there.
“My name is Tom.”
“I know, turkey. Why’d you leave your home? You don’t look like a pilgrim.”
I began my story by pointing towards the farm where I used to live. “It’s over the mountains, the tallest ones there in the middle.” My finger shook as I continued talking. “The farmers took my brothers, one by one and my mom, too. They ended up on their Thanksgiving table, stuffed, seasoned and drizzled with gravy. My dad told me I was destined for greatness, not a Thanksgiving meal. He said, run for freedom Tom, run! So, I ran as fast as I could out of there.
“And your dad?”
“I don’t know. Hopefully, he ran, too.”
Several days passed and I became stronger, thanks to Mato and her help. She taught me how to survive in the woods and the woods became my new home and Mato became my new friend.
“I heard that there’s this place where turkeys can go to start a new life, make friends and not be on their farmer’s dinner table.”
“A place? Really!?!”
“Yes, really. It’s far away, but can only be reached by flight. There’s a meeting tomorrow and you should go to it.”
Several turkeys gathered in the corner of the woods, closest to the stream and talked about their chances of getting to this place of peace. A home, where turkeys would no longer live in fear.
“We need a leader for our flock. Someone who is brave and wants freedom more than anything else in this world.”
Raising my hand and trying not to show my own fear I said, “I want my freedom more than anything else and I’m brave.” The turkeys went wild cheering and clapping. “Tom, Tom he’s our (man!)”
The turkeys were sad to leave their homes. Tom and Mato parted ways, happy to have become friends and promised to one day meet again.
As Tom took the lead in flight, he smiled and thought, perhaps, dad was right. I am destined for greatness.