Monday, September 10, 2012

Short Story: Squirrel Troubles

One of the things I wanted to do with this blog was to use it as a vehicle to share the short stories and poems that I write.  I also wanted to start writing short stories and poems...

So now I have!

Below is a tiny little story that I recently put together and I'm sharing it with you here on  If you have any comments of suggestions for future material, let me know in the comments.

Love you!

Squirrel Troubles

              When the youngest McMillan girl moved out, she put her childhood toys in the attic of her parent's shed. Each treasured memory was placed lovingly, for she would be back for them one day (there was just no room in her new apartment). To make sure that her dolls were sufficiently content without her, she fashioned a tea room out of her old play-sets and put it by the window overlooking her family's orchard. There were tiny tables, cups, counters, and even a functional piano. When it got dark, she hung up a couple of strings of old Christmas lights so she could keep working. Once she was satisfied that everything was in order, she climbed down the ladder and embarked (as bravely as she could) upon her new life.
              The toys in the attic sat undisturbed until the cold winds of autumn came. The walls of the McMillan house became home to a nice family of field mice, the barn took in some owls, and the attic of the shed became a hangout for some of the local squirrels. Murray, an older squirrel, was still tough from a lifetime of hard work, but beginning to wizen. It was Murray who first found the attic and took to passing out acorns of the farmer's hidden cider to others who happened by. This caused others to happen by quite frequently. After a few weeks of experimentation in various states of sobriety, a young squirrel named Chauncey learned to produce something quite resembling the Blues from the tiny piano. Chauncey, though young, had lived a turbulent life and was able to express it through notes sometimes haunting and sometimes mellow. Folks would stop by under the glow of the forgotten Christmas lights, offer Murray up a bit of food, and enjoy the company, or just a quiet drink by the window.
               Gary was usually quite lively. He was the type that tried to be a bit more clever than he was. Some of his jokes would have people clutching their sides and twitching their tails. Other jokes brought out the one halfhearted laugh that trailed away as they looked for something that needed them to be elsewhere. That night, though, Gary was the quiet drink by the window type.
               A lady-squirrel climbed the ladder and placed the acorn she was carrying on the counter. Murray popped its top, scooped out its guts into his food pile, and filled it with cider. After making some small talk and placing a kernel of corn by Chauncey’s piano, she made her way to Gary’s table. “Is this seat taken?”
“Shelly! Hey, yeah. I mean no, it’s not taken. Please, have a seat.”
She set her drink down and got comfortable. “So, what have you been up to?”
“Nothing interesting. Looking for food, chewing holes, same as ever. What about you?”
“Same thing, I guess. The other day I thought I heard something, so I stopped everything and looked around. I think I nearly had a heart attack, but it turns out there wasn’t anything there. I do that a lot these days.”
“Yeah, me too,” he added with a laugh. “All the time I’m like ‘Huh? What was that?’ and it’s never anything. I swear, sometimes I think these woods are haunted.”
“Yeah, wouldn’t that be something?”
“Heh, yeah…” They sipped their drinks and tried not to be uncomfortable for a while before he continued. “So, I haven’t seen you in a coon’s age. What are you even doing here? I thought you moved out to the Dodson farm to be with your new man.”
Her body sunk. “He…” Her voice trailed off and her eyes fell to her cider. “There was… an owl.”
“Oh, oh no,” Gary whispered. “I am so sorry. I hadn’t heard.”
“Don’t worry about it.” Shelly shook away the memories that had begun to creep back into her and resumed the confident posture that had given her so much comfort. “It was a while ago now. I tried to keep my life out there going, but it was too much. I just moved back about a week ago. Trying to start fresh.”
He offered her a warm smile. “Well, it’s good to see you.”
“Thanks. You, too.” She couldn’t help but return the smile. “So what’s wrong?”
“How do you mean?
She indicated his seat at the table. “You’re sitting in your sad drinking spot.”
He looked down at himself. “Ah, right. It’s just, I’ve been seeing this one girl for a while.”
“Things not going well?”
“On the contrary, things are great. In fact, I’m trying to figure out a way to ask her to marry me.”
Her little voice shrank a bit. “Oh.” She traced her paw aimlessly across the doll’s table. “So why the sad drinking?”
“I’m trying to think of some super romantic way of doing it.”
“Why? You’re no good at that kind of thing,” she teased.
“I know! That’s the problem. See, her last boyfriend was that kind of guy. He’d write her poems and bring her nuts with little hearts etched into them.”
“Well, if he was so great, why did they split?”
“She caught him taking his nuts to someone else.”
Shelly chuckled a bit. “Then maybe she’s better off with someone without as much… imagination.”
“Heh, that’s what I’ve been telling her.” Gary took a deep breath. “I know she loves me, but I also know that she misses the good parts of that relationship. I can’t give her a lifetime of it, but I should at least be able to do something romantic when I ask her to be my wife. She deserves that… but… I don’t know if I can.”
She took a long draught of cider, was about to speak, and then took another. Once she had wiped away the drop from the side of her mouth she replied “Of course you can. You’re one of the best squirrels I’ve ever known. You may not be a hopeless romantic, but you can do anything once you’ve set your mind to it. Tell me, how did you meet?”
He wanted to thank her, but she changed the subject too quickly. “We met right over there by the bar. I overheard her talking about how nervous she was going home. The cat had been in the trees a lot recently and she wasn’t sure what to do. I offered to walk her home. We got there safe, talked a lot, and really hit it off.”
Shelly furrowed her brow and rested her face in her paw. “Squirrel-Jesus, Gary. You really are thick. Just get her and some friends and family here, tell them all that story, and say something about how you would like to be able to watch over her and walk her home for the rest of your lives. Bingo-bango, you have a fiancée.”
“Wow, that’s a good idea.” He looked off in the distance at nothing in particular. “Yeah, that fits the bill. I think that’s what I’ll do! I owe you one. Tell you what, next time I come up here, I’ll bring an extra acorn. Your next drink is on me.”
“That sounds nice. Be sure to tell me how it goes.”
“But, you’ll be there, won’t you Shelly?”
She hesitated for a couple of beats before she answered. “Of course I will… that sounds nice. Anyway, I should get going.” Her words were strained and empty as she stood to leave. “Lots to do.”
“Oh…okay. Well, it really was good seeing you. Let me know if there’s ever anything I can do. You’ve been a great help.”
“Yeah, I’ll make sure to do that.” She waved and walked to the exit.
Gary lost himself in thought about the upcoming proposal, and wedding, and honeymoon, and family. Shelly climbed down the ladder and embarked (as bravely as she could) upon her new life.


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