Days left in the school year: 3
Potential fiction writing hours available until then: 3, max
Cadbury’s mini-eggs on standby: 9… no, 8
The suburbs are rife with animals… animals who look innocent but aren’t.
Although we don’t have mountain lions, which freak me out from several states over, we have smaller natural elements close by that give us suburbanites that rush of adrenaline some might swim with sharks to achieve.
My neighbor would know. While puttering around his yard, he has been visually assaulted by snakes, crickets, chipmunks and bunnies. One day, he might be ridding the world of weeds, reach to pull back some shrubbery, and look out… BABY BUNNY!
He is certain that small creatures seek him out for their own cruel pleasure.
A feral cat now named Oreo has taken up with this same neighbor’s family after years of surviving bitter winters and fry-an-egg-on-the-pavement summers. Oreo is either A.) ticked that she’s been given the sissy name Oreo or B.) wants to show her love and affection or C.) is trying to avenge these small animal attacks. She leaves small “gifts” on our neighbor’s front porch. They represent a cross-section of the creatures who have wronged our neighbor. Coincidence, you think? Discuss.
Squirrels are a repeat offender in the ‘burbs. My running partner is convinced that squirrels are plotting to leap onto her back as she runs. We have had to nix the greenway runs because a large portion of the time is spent with her yelling, “SQUIRREL!” as a cute, fluffy-tailed squirrel scampers across the trail in front of us.
I used to think she was being silly.
But then our families spent several hours out at a local lake, and the squirrels there seemed to taunt my friend as she sat innocently sipping ice water. The squirrel contingent hovered at the edge of the woods, calling out to each other with little squirrelly squeaks, their tails twitching, lurching forward every now and then to get a reaction. I swear they were laughing.
We went out for our long run last week which takes us past posh mansions on the golf course and less well-kept homes with decaying fences, the kind that squirrels like especially much. (The bent and twisted fence boards provide more challenge for them than well-maintained, regularly-spaced wrought iron.)
So here I was, on the right hand side of the sidewalk, near the fence. My friend was running on the left, right next to the cars. You might think she was in more danger. You would be wrong. Oh, so very wrong.
I was chattering away, telling a story about being in Florida as a kid and riding in a boat at some attraction where there were monkeys on these islands that creeped me out. Trust me, it was a great story. Scintillating. I was wrapped up in it, thinking about the monkeys and imagining them waving at me…
When a squirrel bounded onto the fence mere inches from my face! It was squeaking, and its claws! They were loud and scratchy on the wood! Like a monkey’s would be! (Do monkeys have claws?)
Well, technically, it was a few feet away, but still. It felt close. Too close.
I grabbed my friend’s very sweaty arm with my very sweaty hand. It was a very close call between pushing us both to the ground in front of a car or surrendering to the hostile squirrel.
Sweat won out.
The collision of sweat brought me back to my senses.
Pfffft. Seriously. It was just a squirrel. I checked behind us. Did anyone see that? That moment when I considered biting the asphalt to avoid a squirrel attack? No?
I haven’t ended up on YouTube yet, so I guess I’m safe. And let’s get real: at least it wasn’t a baby bunny.