Calvin and Hobbes
Growing Up“Calvin? Are you almost ready? I can't be too late for work, but I want to see you off!”
“Yeah, just a sec, Dad,” he replied, shouting through the attic trapdoor. “Just gotta double check my stuff.”
It was a lie, and he knew it. He'd packed everything he needed for his future life at college. The only thing he needed was to calm down.It'll be fine, he told himself. I'll make new friends at college, and I'll be able to get a degree for a job later in life. That's good, isn't it?
But something still nagged at his mind, the one thought that kept him afraid. I'll be on my own after this, he thought. I'll have to start a whole new life all by myself, with no one I know to help me. I mean, Susie Derkins will be there, but we don't have any of the same classes. I'll hardly see her.
He sat on his suitcase. “I'll be alone,” he muttered.
He shook his head, trying to think of a way out of this. He first thought to join the circus, but quickly dismissed the idea. Seems like something I'd have planned years ago, he thought, back when it was me and Hobbes against the world. He chuckled softly. I really miss him.
He tapped his foot absently, remembering his crazy childhood. As he tapped, the floorboard cracked under his foot. Curious, he stooped down to investigate.
A large box sat under the floor, tied up with some very frayed twine. He pried off a few more boards to uncover the box, and took it out of its hidden hole.
“Calvin, honey!” his mom called. “Are you ready yet?”
“Just a sec,” Calvin replied, opening the box as fast as he could. A furry, orange length of fabric poked under the lid, and his eyes widened. Is this. . .?
He flung the lid off, revealing a large stuffed tiger with black button eyes.
He stared at the old toy, wiping away a tear he didn't expect. “Is it really you, Hobbes?” he whispered.
In his mind's eye, the inanimate tiger sat up and stretched, looking at Calvin. “Calvin! It's so great to see you,” Hobbes shouted, giving Calvin a hug. “Man, you've grown since I last saw you. How long was I in that box?”
“Twelve years,” Calvin replied, a lump growing in his throat. “But Mom and Dad said you got lost in the park.”
Hobbes spread his arms wide. “Well, I'm right here.” He looked over at the suitcases. “Are you finally packing up for the circus?”
Calvin chuckled. “No, I'm packing for college. I'll be leaving any minute now, whenever Susie picks me up.”
“Susie? You mean Susie Derkins, that cute little girl next door?” Hobbes asked, his mouth wide. “I thought you two couldn't stand each other.”
“Well, times change. It turns out she's really nice when I'm not offering her fish-eye sandwiches.”
Hobbes chortled. “Oh, those were the days, weren't they? You scarring off girls, flying to Mars, creating technological marvels from cardboard boxes.”
“Yeah, that was fun,” Calvin said, walking over to the trapdoor. “But those days are over. Now, there's just the lonely future of adulthood staring me in the face. It's really kind of scary, you know?”
“Yeah. Going alone isn't really a tiger thing,” Hobbes said, walking over by Calvin. “In the wild, if you're alone, you're dead. So how about I come with you?”
“Really? You'd do that?” Calvin asked hopefully.
“Sure, I'd do that,” Hobbes replied. “Look, we both know I'm just a stuffed animal. You could crush me into a suitcase, sneak me past your parents, and I'm in!”
“I'd look kind of weird, though, wouldn't I? I mean, carrying a stuffed tiger around campus? What would people think?”
“Who cares?” the tiger retorted. “Either way, you could keep me in your dorm room if you're really nervous of scaring people off, but only if you bring me out on toboggan rides.”
“It's a deal,” Calvin said, shaking his friend's hand.
“Great. See you later,” Hobbes whispered, fading in Calvin's mind to the stuffed toy it was.
Calvin shook his head. Why am I indulging in such dumb, childish fantasies? he asked himself. Then he smiled. Why not? After all, I'm going on an art scholarship. I'll need to keep my imagination sharp while I re-draw Spaceman Spiff, won't I?
He nodded to himself and stuffed the old toy among the novels and comic books in his backpack. So he doesn't get bored, he joked.
A car horn sounded out front. “Calvin, Susie's here,” his mom called. “Are you ready to go?”
“Yes I am,” he called back, shouldering his backpack and carrying his luggage. “Just needed a pep talk with a good friend.”