squirrels

I’m trying to get into a habit of short writing exercises where I just free-form anything that comes to mind. I started out with the first sentence and went from there.

The squirrels leapt from the limb. With wild abandon they gave their fates to the wind. They didn’t know what was to happen in the next fifteen inches of free fall, the next fifteen seconds of life. All that they did know was that behind them was an angry hawk that had crashed onto the limb, razor claws tearing the bark from the limb where the squirrels had just been sitting mere breathes before. The decision, more of an instinct, was to trust that some unknown was better than the known of piercing talons and ripping beak.

So they leapt.

At this time, a man had been walking by. His feet dragged the ground as though shackled to a ball and chain, though his heart was heavier than any iron links would be. He wanted to scream at the universe, the gods, fate, at the injustice that he found himself in. He did. Yet, wounded as his spirit was, all the vitality leaked out through the sobs late in the night, all he could muster for his screams were but wisps of sighs. He ached for things to be different. He longed for something to change his frame of reference on life. Under the water of hopelessness he longed for the brilliant Sun in an optimistic sky.

Instead he got squirrels.

Onto his head they landed, their tiny hands gripping in frenzy, trying to regain some control in a trajectory where they had abandoned all control. Touching down on physical possibility, they did what squirrels do when faced with oblivion and given multiple paths. They zigged, they zagged, they went bonkers. This is a highly adaptive response to a lunging predator. There is no rhyme or reason, no pattern, no way to predict where the squirrel will run to next. The squirrel runs to what is is safe, and away from what is moving toward it.

For example, hands.

The suddenness of the squirrels on his head ripped the man out of his melancholy as powerful as any lightning bolt ever thrown by Zeus. Electricity poured through his nerves, sinews snapped, muscles flared, and he leaped up and down, ran in circles, shrieking incoherences, flailing his arms, and trying with all the desperation of man on fire with only wet sponges to douse himself, to swipe the two squirrels from his head.

Terrorized, with only a hopeful panic to fuel them, the squirrels darted up and down and around his head. As one hand came swooping in, the squirrel would dart down below the ear, under the jaw, over the shoulder, and up behind the other ear. Meanwhile the hawk had flown off. Mice are easier. Still, the squirrels ran round and round, up and down, and left reddened trails around the man’s face and head. He, meanwhile, became more and more animated. Twirling around and around so much, he entered a rare state of transcendence that only the most experienced Sufis have touched.

Nirvana.

The man fell to the Earth, panting, sweating, and euphoric, the blood still swirling in his veins, the crackle of electricity raising his hairs. The squirrels, seeing grass, darted through the green and under a hot dog cart. His lungs expanded, his pulse full, he gazed upward into the sky. The day was bright, the sky was aqua, and puffy white clouds hung motionless. For the first time in weeks his gaze looked outward, not inward. Laughing, tears streaming down his face, he spies a cloud overhead…

… it looked like a squirrel.

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