The Mush Room


I hate fungi. I truly, truly despise the plant. It grows and feasts on rot. Fungi are gross, smelly and just weird. The texture is awful. So you can imagine how I felt when my art teacher asked me to photograph some mushrooms.

“Please Aria, You know I wouldn’t ask you unless it was important. I’m trying to make a nature gallery for the class wall.” Currently Mr. Lichen had two photos of mine. One of a giant willow tree and one of a rose. Simple, yet beautiful. I groan in annoyance. “Fine. But you better get me out of gym class.” He smiles and thanks me.

The school bell screams that the day has ended. I decide that this would be the perfect time to go to the park and try to find some disgusting mushrooms. I’m about to walk in before my friend Allie stops me. “Hey Ari!” I wave back. “Whatcha doing?” She asks me as she bounces over. “Trying to find mushrooms for Mr. Lichen.” Her face falls a little. “Ouch. I thought you were actually doing something fun.” I satisfy her with a quick, hard laugh. “Smile for the camera.” I tell her, holding up my Polaroid. She smiles and puts two fingers up in a piece sign. I click the shutter and the little photo pops out. I hand it to her to shake as we begin walking.

As we walk we talk about Italian foods and bears. Suddenly she stops and points to a weird black mushroom. A black goo drips from it. “Get the shot! That looks so cool!” She whispers excitedly. I crouch down and try to get a good angle. I pull out the photo to check it. It’s just as glorious as we found it.

“Should I touch it?” Allie giggles. I laugh along. “Sure, what’s the worst it can do? It’s probably just some gross mushroom thing.” She reaches under and  a big glob of the midnight goo falls in her palm. “Ow!” She yells. She flings the goo onto a nearby plant. Her hand was red like she’d been burned. “That was really hot-“ “Let’s head back.” I interrupt. This was a stupid idea. I never should have messed with the mushroom.

Later, when we have gone home and it’s late at night, I get a call from Allie. “Aria?!?” She whisper-yells. “What? It’s 10:32!” Allie holds up a black, withered hand. In the center where the goo had been, the muscle was exposed and bare.