For days, Hem stayed in his home by Cheese Station C, pacing back and forth, fussing and fuming.
He still expected more Cheese to appear every day, and couldn’t believe it when that didn’t happen. He felt sure that if he stood his ground and waited it out, things would turn around.
But they didn’t.
And why didn’t Haw come back? Hem came up with many different answers as he paced.
At first he told himself, “He is
coming back. He’ll be here any day now, and things will go back to normal.” But it had been “any day now” for days, and Haw still wasn’t here.
As he grew still more upset, Hem’s thoughts took a different direction.
“He forgot about me.”
“He’s hiding from me.”
“He’s doing this on purpose! How could my friend betray me like this?”
This last thought made Hem angry, and the more he focused on it, the angrier he got.
He was angry that Haw had left him alone, angry that the Cheese was gone, and angry that nothing he did seemed to fix or improve the situation. Finally he stopped and shouted, “IT’S NOT FAIR!”
Worn out from pacing and being upset, Hem collapsed into his favorite armchair and began to brood.
What if Haw got lost?
What if he’d been hurt, or worse?
Hem forgot about being angry and just thought about his friend, and about what terrible things might have happened to him.
After a while a different question occurred to him. Instead of “Why hasn’t Haw come back?” he began to wonder, “Why didn’t I go with him?”
If he had gone with Haw, he reasoned, maybe things would have been different. Maybe Haw wouldn’t have gotten lost. Maybe nothing bad would have happened to him. Maybe they would be eating Cheese together right now.
Why didn’t he move with the Cheese
like his friend did?
he go with Haw?
The question gnawed at him, like a mouse gnawing on a piece of Cheese.
Meanwhile, he was getting hungrier and hungrier.
Hem got up out of his chair again to do some more pacing, and he tripped over something on the floor. He bent down and picked it up. It was only after he blew off the dust that he recognized it.
It was an old chisel.
He remembered the day when he held that chisel while Haw whacked at it with a hammer until they made a big hole in the wall of Cheese Station C, looking for new Cheese. He could almost hear the sound of the hammer and chisel echoing off the walls of the room. Ping! Ping! Ping!
He poked around on the floor until he found the hammer they had used, and blew the dust off that, too. He hadn’t realized till that moment just how long it had been since the two of them, Hem and Haw, had gone looking for Cheese together.
He missed his friend. And he was starting to worry. All this time he still expected more Cheese to appear, and for Haw to come back.
But there was still no Cheese, and no Haw.
He had to do
something. He could no longer stay home and wait. He had to go out into the Maze and search for Cheese.
Copyright © 2018 by Spencer Johnson, M.D.; Afterword by Ken Blanchard. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.