The Boy Who Died of Boredom
by Shannon Starks
by Shannon Starks
Nathan loved to watch TV. Every day he scooted home from school and hurtled through his homework. He raced for the remote and settled on the sofa to watch Khugimoon.
Toby whined, but Nathan didn't hear. He forgot he had a dog.
When Peter came over, Nathan didn't look up. He was busy watching Pugaboo sling meatballs at Wujika.
Peter went to Tyler's house.
Nathan's parents had given up trying to have family dinners because he devoured his food so fast that everyone else got indigestion.
Then one day the TV broke.
Nathan lay like a lizard waiting for the sun. He wondered if he possessed the power to get the potato chips from the pantry.
The next day was worse. Nathan slogged home from school, his face gray. He gazed at the TV screen once more before the last glimmer of hope flicked out of his eyes.
He dragged himself to the kitchen where his parents were browning ground beef for stew.
"Why don't you invite Peter over to play?" asked his mother.
"Would you like to cut up these carrots?" asked his father.
Boring. Nathan's legs buckled under him. By the time he crawled back onto the sofa, Nathan knew he was dying of boredom.
"Have you seen Nathan?" Nathan's mother asked the next morning. "He's not in his room."
"He must have gone to school early," said his sister.
Nathan looked down from where he floated on the ceiling.
"I'm up here," he called, but nobody heard.
He floated into the backyard where Toby chewed a bone. Vague memories stirred . . . a stick tossed across a brook . . . a wet dog licking his face.
"That's my dog," he thought.
He tried to pet Toby, but his hand went right through. Toby sniffed the air and went back to his chewing.
When the school bell rang, Nathan floated toward it. There was the giant oak. He and Peter had climbed it long ago and dropped acorns in people's shirt pockets as they passed.
"That was fun," thought Nathan.
But he couldn't pick any acorns because his hand went right through.
He floated into the cafeteria. The smell reminded him of something—chess! Playing chess with his father . . . eating pepperoni pizza. There were pawns and knights and rooks—-each with special moving powers . . . and the pizza tasted good.
He floated down to where Peter was sitting.
"Hey, Peter, could I share your pizza?" he asked.
Peter didn't hear. Nathan reached for a piece, but his hand went right through.
A wrinkled ghost of a man appeared.
"Where have you been?" the man asked. "I've been searching for you."
"Who are you?" asked Nathan.
"I'm in charge of bored ghosts," said the man. "I've come for you."
"But I'm not bored," said Nathan. "I want to eat pizza and drop acorns and throw sticks for my dog."
"Too late," said the man. Something grasped Nathan's elbow, and he was gone, gone to the place where all boys go who die of boredom.
copyright 2009 by Shannon Starks; author retains all rights to the story