There Are Whispers of Death Among The Corn

We came to the labyrinth of grain aboard a wooden chariot littered with hay and pulled by a sturdy tractor that made a pleasing rumble as it crawled past the fields of pumpkins and the stand of apple trees. The kids thrilled at each muddy pothole and G and I exchanged bemused glances, basking in the wholesomeness of the outing. We disembarked our tractor with a spring in our step, eager to figuratively reap the harvest. The kids plunged forward, surefooted into the corn maze. We followed behind, challenging their confidence in each path they chose, as if their desired heading were analogous to declaring a college major. One dead end equals a Sociology major. Another dead end and they’re moving back into our basement and working the night shift at the video store.

It’s fun, this family outing. We’re happy to be together, reveling in our romp among the tall, brittle reeds of rotting corn. I caution of the time since we took the last available tractor ride. They dismiss my concern with hearty laughter but I glance reflexively at my phone to note the hour, at which point I also see that I have no reception.

4:15pm – Honey, do you have any bars on your phone? I don’t. So I just want to make su– oh, you didn’t bring your phone. Right. Why would you indeed? It’s a corn maze, not a quest from a Tolkien book.

4:20pm – Another dead end. I really thought this was the way. We’ll just turn in the direction of the setting sun. The sun sets in the East, which is the way we need to go. Really? Shit. In the West? Did that change recently, maybe with global warming?

4:21pm – Weren’t we just here? No, not just standing in front of a wall of corn. Standing in front of this very wall of corn.

4:23pm – I wish you were an African rebel right now because then you’d have a machete. They always have machetes to hack their way through cane and oppressors.

4:25pm – Guys, look at the camera on my phone. Tell me your names and ages. And what you had hoped to be when you grow up. Don’t say a pirate, that’s not how you want to be remembered on 48 Hours Mystery. Say an astronaut. Christ, NASA doesn’t exist anymore.  Say a Senator. Just say it. Now stare sadly at your hands and look skinny while I pan the camera through the corn.

4:28pm – Which way should we turn? I hear children whispering ‘Malachi’ down this lane? I swear, I do. I hear them….

4:30pm – I’m hungry. And thirsty. And anxious. This is like the Weight Watchers trinity of unhealthy relationships to food.

4:33pm – What do we do at nightfall? We need shelter. We need fire. We need prey. I can’t stop talking in survival terms. Rations. Hypothermia. I’m just saying words now. And I can’t stop. Flares. Smoke signals.

4:35pm – I know this is an uncomfortable parenting dilemma, but I think it’s on your mind, too: Which child do…we…sacrifice first once starvation sets in? We need to establish the rules before our logic is clouded by hunger. I think the oldest. That gives us more time to save for college for the younger two. Wait, what about the baby? We didn’t bank her cord blood anyway so we may have subconsciously made this decision when she was born.

4:38pm – Remember when I told you that my wallet was stolen and that’s why I couldn’t buy you an anniversary gift? I lied. I spent all my money on that scarf that you hate. No, it wasn’t a present from my mom. That was a lie, too.

4:40pm – No, I learned nothing useful as Girl Scout. I learned that I could eat four sleeves of Thin Mints in the time it took the others to tie a square knot.

4:41pm – RAPE! FIRE! What? Everyone knows that you don’t yell ‘help’ anymore. No one wants to help. They just walk by and pretend they have a really important text message they have to attend to. RAPE!  FIRE!

4:44pm – No, you can’t go to the bathroom now. You have to store that pee because we’re going to need to filter it using a husk and a Baby Bjorn and I haven’t the slightest idea how, but, one way or another, we’re going to need to drink that.

4:48pm – Do you know about the Law of 3s? We can only go 3 minutes without air. 3 days without water. 3 weeks without food. And I’ve got about 3 hours without Internet in me.

4:51pm – Do you know how to whittle anything? Not like a Precious Moments character, like a weapon. We might need it as the darkness settles. From the look of this corn, something with sharp incisors may be our roommate.

4:52pm – I’m taking my shoes and socks off. I saw it once on a show. The girl who thought it seemed counter-intuitive to strip away clothing now has feet made out of Titanium and runs distance in the Special Olympics while her friend she deemed crazy still wears Manolos.

4:54pm – Stop looking at me like that. I know what you’re thinking, but I’m no source of nourishment. There is no protein to be derived from these flaccid muscles. I’m pure gristle and bone shaft.

4:58pm – In two minutes, that tractor driver is either going to organize a sweeping man hunt or he’s going to shrug his shoulders and go home to eat a Hungry-Man frozen dinner. Did you tip him, incidentally?

5:00pm – You know what’s the real ball buster in this whole situation? We can’t even eat this corn, can we? We’re like those sailors who are marooned on an uninhabited island with no fresh water. They drink the salt water and then they die a horrible death. If we eat this corn, we will die. Or have really colorful bowel movements.

5:04pm – It’s over. Let’s all lay down together, holding hands. I’m going to fashion crowns of corn husks and we’re going to sing a song that we all know. No, not Dynamite. Something more tranquil, like a hymn. Mariah Carey’s All I Want For Christmas will do.

5:10pm – Wait, what’s that? There’s the clearing! We’ve made it out. God, thank you. I will do better. I will try harder to do your work on Earth. I will nurse fallen sparrows back to health. I will help old ladies find their sizes at TJMaxx. I won’t believe in dinosaurs. I will make wreaths and donate afghans to the assisted living center. I will stop ridiculing people who read Nicholas Sparks novels.  I will stop hoping girls I didn’t like in high school have cellulite and premature age spots. Okay, I won’t, but they were cruel girls. But above all, I will never make my family do free activities that I read about in the paper. And I will never buy anything with high fructose corn syrup again.



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26 thoughts on “There Are Whispers of Death Among The Corn

  1. And … this is why I don’t visit you in that place that isn’t NYC. Though oddly enough for the same reasons, I’d love to pack the car and go visit. But I’d so bring a machete.

  2. How did you make it that long??

    I am shocked.

    You just don’t seem like the stable, hearty type.

    You think you know someone…

    P.S. LOVED the Sophie’s Choice going on at 4:35 p.m.

    You’re soo funny, Erin.

  3. Oh Erin, I can’t quit laughing! Dynamite?! It would’ve been perfect! I’m just imagining you all laying down, holding hands and singing whilst wearing your crowns of corn husks!

  4. This is why I don’t even like driving past corn fields.

    Nothing good comes of them. NOTHING.

    Except caramel corn.

    And popcorn.

    And this post.

    Which is making me rethink my ability to be “funny”. Because you have captured the market, sweetie. You truly have.


    PS Always eat the baby. You’re not as attached, and the older children are good for dragging you along when you get tired.

    I should have had more than the one kid.

  5. This? Is hilarious. Mostly because it sounds EXACTLY LIKE my family’s trip to a corn maze two years ago. Never again. Never. Again.

    I kept picking the quotes I was going to call out as “the most hilarious thing I read today” but there are too many. Fabulous post.

  6. No, Ann, E has stopped nursing children SO that she can nurse sparrows.

    4:35pm I burst out laughing. This whole thing was so dang funny. Mazes creep me out, I won’t lie. You heard about that family a few wks ago that got lost in one and called 911? At least they had reception.

    This post is what I call “Autumnal Perfection.”

  7. hahaha!!Omgosh!! You’re a hoot! I’ve always wanted to do one of those corn mazes…and now, I really want to do one…just to see if we could get out of it. I wish we got to hang out in real like because you’re the comic relief my stressful level desperately needs. Wine…we could drink lots of wine together!

  8. My husband has to rely on my sense of direction to find our parked car. If I were writing this, it would be from the iphone, while still trapped in the maze!! Happy to know that your family still counts five!

  9. I love how you decided to sacrifice the oldest child, so you can have more time to save for the younger ones’ college tuition…

    So glad you made it out of the corn maze alive! Happy Halloween!

  10. I live in the middle of Minnesota where there are probably 30 corn mazes within 90 miles. I refuse to go into corn mazes. I’ve done it twice and never again. I think I was ready to strain my urine with the corn husks within 15 minutes!

  11. I am cracking up! Almost one hour??? Whatever you do, you must never stop ridiculing girls who read Nicholas Sparks novels. Pinky swear?

  12. I TOLD Bill it was stupid to bring our Precious Moments figurines to the corn maze…but he thought we’d need something to love after we’d eaten the children.

    Still, he’d also tell you that Nicholas Sparks novels make excellent kindling. To which I say, “If we’ve died of shame, what’s the point of heat?”


    (yep. I hear it too.)

  13. Oh, lordy. I bet the woman who was stuck in a corn maze near here and called 911 and soon thereafter became the butt of the running joke on every morning radio show had thoughts much less penitent than yours.

    (Less elegant, too. She had two kids with her and I’m wagering a goodly amount that she was planning to eat them both outright. I saw a photo of them and they are PORTLY little suckers.)

  14. Just so you know, I have never been in, nor will I ever go in, a corn maze. There’s just too much trauma left from Malachi.
    Your line to god about the dinosaurs, well, you’re a woman of many words…words that I love to read.