When I was little, my greatest fear was getting lost. Yet, despite this being THE most terrifying circumstance I could imagine, I forced my mother to read a children’s book called Bambi Gets Lost. It was one of those Disney Kid book club books and it was my favorite.
Strange selection, right? If your greatest fear is getting lost, why on earth would you read a book about someone getting lost? Repeatedly?
Hold on to that question.
Since it’s October, I’ve taken the opportunity provided by the many streaming services to catch up on horror movies I have not seen. One of which is Stephen King’s Children of the Corn. It’s definitely campy by today’s standards and feels dated with the 80s fascination of cults and demons. I was not really scared of this movie.
This summer, I went on a road trip alone with my children, which took us through the cornfields of Kansas, Nebraska, and Iowa. Moving through those stretching fields of corn, with the blades of giant wind turbines seeming to carve into the Earth, it felt lonely and vast.
We drove for hours. The corn kept drifting in the wind. Always, a thunderstorm lingered on the horizon but never seemed to break over us. The world was green and gray with flashes of distant lightning.
It would have been easy to get lost. One wrong turn and you’re in a field which looks like a continuation of another. Row after row.
That’s probably why Stephen King likes to use the corn fields (or “tall grasses”) so much in his work. You walk in and within seconds your lost and disoriented, unable to find your way.
It’s a very uncomfortable feeling, not knowing where you are, not knowing how to get back.
Which brings me back to Bambi Gets Lost. Bambi can’t find his mother. The woods are dark and deep and disorienting. He stumbles around in unfamiliar places. It’s inherently frightening.
But the reason I made mother read it and re-read it ad nauseum was because, despite getting lost, at the end Bambi is found. And the feeling of being found after being lost for so long, is probably the greatest feeling. You’ve stumbled and gone through hell (not literal hell, like in Children of the Corn, right?) but you land in a safe spot.
Jenny writes dark fiction that her mother hates. Her stories and essays have appeared in Across the Margin, Pantheon, Shimmer, Black Denim Lit, Skive, and others. When she’s not writing her own stuff, she’s reading mysteries for Criminal Element. When she’s not writing fiction or reviews, she’s writing/directing/performing/designing plays at Springs Ensemble Theatre.