Gulliver’s Travels: An Urban Fable

by Judith Meyerowitz

Gulliver uncurled from sleep twitching, sensing this would finally be the day. He took his time to go through careful preparations: first having a bath, methodically washing every nook and cranny of his lean and muscular body. Then he did the same stretches he did every morning.  Lastly, he drank a bowl of cold milk to give himself the energy he would need.

Gulliver had often looked out the window at the world below, but everything was so small. He had to get closer. From an early age, he was known to be extremely curious. It came naturally to him, as much a part of him as his breathing. He was sorry. He couldn’t wait to say goodbye. He was too excited about setting off on his travels. As soon as the door opened for the delivery guy, he executed his plan to slip out. He was fast, very fast and had surprise on his side. It worked! He was on the other side of the door for the very first time. And ran, and ran—smack into a wall. In fact, all he saw were walls, every which way he turned. Then he couldn’t believe his eyes— one of the walls separated right in front of him, like magic. He was scared, but his curiosity got the better of him. He stepped into what looked like a box, but in a few seconds, he felt himself falling. Was he going to have to use one of his nine lives?  Suddenly, the box came to a stop and the walls separated once more.

He ran as fast as he could again but he found himself caught between glass and feet and going in circles. Suddenly, he was propelled out of the revolving door onto the street and it took him a little while to come to his senses. He was met by a parade of marching feet. He barely escaped in time by jumping off funny little stone ledges. Surprisingly, they were his height and magically they seemed to keep the marching feet in line.

Thinking he was safe, he didn’t see the metal monster with wheels bearing down upon him; Gulliver is paralyzed. In the nick of time, he was shoved and grabbed by the scruff of the neck, roughly pushed out of the way. A very skinny, black furry thing yells: “Stupid! Get out of the way! Hasn’t anybody taught you to cross the street?” “Wha…Wha…What is a street?” asks a shaking still terrified Gulliver.

“Were you born yesterday?” the furry thing says gruffly. He doesn’t know that Gulliver has never been out of the apartment nor spoken to a furry thing. “A quick survival lesson for the streets: always dodge moving monsters and hide behind not moving ones. Zig and Zag. Got it!”

All Gulliver can do is gulp and say, “Thanks!”

“C’mon! Follow me. There’s still time for lunch.” Everyday at noon a lady left some scraps a few blocks away. It wasn’t the sumptuous feast of milk and tuna Gulliver had at home, but his travels had made him hungry. He understood now why he could see the bones on his new friend. They were in luck. After eating, he showed Gulliver a slab of concrete on which to stretch out and nap in the sun. Later, the street wise cat had some parting words: “Remember, always land on your feet!”

Gulliver had learned that travels come with risk. He had terrifying moments but also new exciting experiences. This couldn’t have happened had he played it safe looking down from his window. And he wouldn’t have made a friend. He zigged and zagged and made it back through the magical revolving door and walls that separated. He dodged the feet of the delivery guy, and quickly slipped back into the apartment unnoticed, as the door closed behind him.

Gulliver climbed up on the window seat and thought of his adventure. He had a Cheshire smile on his face.

Judith Meyerowitz is a licensed psychologist. She currently volunteers as a disaster mental health counselor for the American Red Cross and as a docent for The Metropolitan Museum of Art. This piece was developed in the Spring 2018 writing workshop and is in memory of our classmate Joanna Anderson.