Borborygmus and Dust Bunnies


(fictional story written on a theme of “GRRR!” for


No response.  Five year old Ethan waits a minute in the dark, huddling under the covers, watching and listening.


Still no response.  Ethan’s eyes are wide open now, staring over at his older brother Erik’s bed, where eight year old Erik is fast asleep, breathing slow and easy.


Their sleepy looking mother, hair askew, bathrobe barely wrapped around her, opens the bedroom door and peers in.

“What is going on?  What’s wrong? It’s 3 AM, for goodness’ sake.”

“There’s something under Erik’s bed making terrible noises…. It woke me up but he is still asleep.  It must have snuck in here before we went to bed and it’s hiding under there.  I can hear it growling.”

She closed her weary eyes, attempting to organize her thoughts into coherence, wishing she was back snug in bed.

“Ethan, there can’t be anything under Erik’s bed.  You must have been dreaming.”

“Mom!  It’s real!   I heard it!  It sounded just like this: ‘GRRRR!’ “

“Ethan, there is nothing under Erik’s bed other than too many toys and dust bunnies that reproduce themselves.”

“Mom, get a flashlight!  I think it must be a wolf!  Get Dad!  Do something!”

“I’m not waking up your father. He has to be up in another two hours to get ready for work.  You aren’t making any sense.  It was just a bad dream. Now go back to sleep.”

She closes the door and starts to feel her way back down the dark hallway.


She stops.  Turns around. Opens the door again and looks in.

“It just growled again!  It sounds really hungry!  You’ve got to get it out of there!”

She stands at the doorway, eyes closed, when she hears it.

“Did you hear it??  Now you believe me? Mom, it’s real!”

She smiled.   Ethan is whimpering now.

“Ethan, you have just heard the dreaded ‘borborygmus.’  It likes to growl.  That’s all it can ever do.  It will never bite or hurt anyone.  But you are right, it does sound very hungry…

“Mom!! Make the borbory-mus leave!  PLEEEASE get it out of here!”

“Ethan, it’s just Erik’s stomach growling.  That’s all it is.  It must have been the pepperoni pizza we had for dinner.  Let’s hope he’s not about to get sick.  Now that’s something for which you can call me out of bed. Good night now, go back to sleep. ”

And she headed back down the hallway.

Ethan sat in the dark, now more annoyed than relieved, watching his brother sleeping soundly, oblivious to the rumbling growls coming from inside his tummy.  Then worry snuck back and attaches itself to Ethan like Velcro.


One more time, with all the patience she can muster, she cracks open the bedroom door, tempted to growl at him herself.   But she is a good Mommy, so she only says in a very quiet controlled tone worthy of an Oscar winning performance:

“What is it now?”

“Mom, do you think dust bunnies bite?”

She took in a deep breath, hesitating for only a moment.

“No, but a tired Mommy certainly might if she isn’t allowed to go back to bed.”

“OK, night, Mommy.  Thank you for saving me from the borbory-whatever. You are really a great Mom, you know?

And as she crawled back into bed, she knew he was right…

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