By the time I stepped outside, the leaves were on fire. My face burned from the purple in the flames. Loud pops and cracks exploded from the fire.
“He’s gone, he’s gone, finally he’s gone!” A maniacal laugh escaped my dry scratchy throat.
The neighbors began to gather, staring at the glare of the fire in my black rimmed glasses.
“How did this start?” The crowd was whispering amongst themselves. “Someone needs to move her now before she hurts someone.”
You may be asking the same question as the crowd.
Well, this all started with a visit to our lawyers.
The lawyer had read pages and pages of paperwork before reading the final statement. “Here are the divorce papers, please review and bring them back to us.”
“Laurie, I’m glad we can part cordially.”
My leg bounced under the table. The pain in my mouth had become a daily thing, I could not stop from clenching my teeth. Grinding sounds could be heard around the room. “I’m good, I’m fine. Yes, it’s cordial.” I signed the paper, shook his hand and got up to walk away.
While leaving the room, Robert tapped me on the shoulder. “I’m sorry I wasn’t a good husband. I did everything I could. If we cross paths again, please don’t hesitate to say hello. We can’t just forget each other.”
“Yes, you’re right. That’s what I want.” It had been five years of wedded “bliss”. I loved him with everything I had.. Sometimes people just fall out of love.
I shook his hand again and walked away.
Once arriving home, I laid on the sofa. The television buzzed with the evening news sounds.
"A local man, 35 year old Robert Chester, died in a tragic bike accident. An acorn became lodged in his tire - causing a fatal collision with a car. A passerby attempted to help the injured man, but rapid squirrels had already delivered fatal bites."
“What!?” My eyes blinked rapidly as an attempt to gain clarity in my vision. The blobs of people on the screen continued to speak. Freak accident? My ex husband? What? My eyes began to swell. Salty teardrops rolled down my cheeks.
“Emergency vehicles arrived at the scene shortly after the passerby called in.”
The screen moved to an elderly man with a helmet, “I tried to lift him up but the squirrels were jumping on me, biting and squeaking.”
Nauseated at the thought of squirrels attacking him, my stomach rolled. A burning shot up my throat. Those rabies infected animals, bleh.
“Wow, Jim. This sounds like a crazy story. Now back to your regularly scheduled programming.”
My toes were tingling as they touched the wood floor. Ring , ring.
“Are you Mrs. Chester?”
“I was, I’m preparing to submit my divorce papers soon.”
“Oh, I’m so sorry to hear that. This must be a rough day for you.”
“Who is this?”
“This is the Lutherville police department.”
“I saw on the television. My ex husband died.” My eyes were still red and puffy with tears.
“Yes, ma’am. As you may know- he has no one else.”
“I understand. We need you to come down to the precinct and collect his things and sign a few papers.”
On my way to the police station I looked out my window and noticed a group of small furry animals. The large group of rodents were squeaking and grunting alongside the highway. Scampering with full cheeks, they continued to follow my car.
I shook my head multiple times reassuring myself that this indeed was happening. Is this the squirrelly reckoning? Death by acorn! Then, I thought about the disbelief I still had over my ex husband's death. Squirrells aren’t killers.
The crowd of squirrels scattered and jumped in front of my car. I approached a red light and looked out my windshield waiting for the light to change. One of the squirrels made disturbingly lengthy eye contact with me. It was like their squirrelly life had been rooted into my soul. This is odd. I feel oddly violated.
I drove a cool 52 in a 50 mph zone. I feel so rebellious breaking laws on the way to the police department. Approaching the police department’s lot I looked out of each of my windows, left, right, left, right. Nothing. They are gone, haha, I tricked them. I flicked my car door open and crouched low to the ground. The squirrels did not know I had advanced karate skills. No sounds of squeaks or grunts or whatever sounds squirrels make. I believed I was in the clear.
Both feet planted onto the sidewalk, when standing there to my right was the squirrel that had a competitive stare-down with me at the red light. Who won, you may ask? It was me. I was the third grade staring contest champion in my school. This particular squirrel had a mauled tail, very distinct to the other squirrels. The tail would flick right and left, trying to get me to let my guard down. I know these squirrels are evil.
“What do you want from me?”
The squirrel rubbed its face rapidly and spit out an acorn.
“I don’t have time for this squirrel, I need to go sign papers.” I reached forward to open the door and once my hand grasped the cold metallic handle, two tiny sets of claws stabbed my back. A teeth chilling shriek released from my mouth. The squirrel continued to hang onto my back, like a baby koala. No swift movement could cause it to let go. I shook aggressively.
I moved Right then left, right then left, and I jumped, and jumped, and I jumped. I ran forward, then backward. I spun in circles over and over and over again. When I turned my head, a smile widened on this dirty furry animal’s face.
“Hey, are you Ms. Jack?”
I turned around and jumped. “Oh, hi, yes.” I reached out my hand and tried to ignore the look of suspicion on the police officer’s face. “It’s just, this animal was...” When I looked toward my left shoulder, all that was left were claw marks.
The officer held the door open, and in the office stood two officers. They had their feet up on their desks and were talking nonchalantly about their days. I stood quietly, slightly disoriented.
“I’m sorry, I need to sign some papers for my husband, ex..husband that died at the crime scene. I’m sorry, I was.. uh.. attacked by a squirrel out there.”
Laughter exploded across the office. “Lady, you have to be joking. We’ve seen it all. Squirrels won’t hurt you.”
My jaw clenched and I spoke out of my teeth. “No. There was a squirrel outside.”
They continued to laugh and one officer ran toward the door and pointed to the window. “Lady, there’s nothing there. Oh look, I’m a squirrel and I stalk people!” He mimicked the squirrel and ran around the room making squeaking noises while sniffing the air.
“Ok, give me the papers and his things, I’m going to leave.” I quickly signed the papers and tightly held onto the bag of his things. I turned around and looked out the window and the squirrel stood there. I swear he’s smiling at me. His tail flinched over and over again as he held his front claws up to the window.
I slammed the pen down onto the table. My legs could not move quick enough. I forced open the door as it clanked against the wall. Honk. The door was unlocked and the atmosphere outside was quiet and still. Where is he? Where is he?
My foot hit the gas pedal as soon as I got in the car. I hunched over while driving expecting to be stalked by the gang of squirrels. My bag of items in the seat next to me crinkled. Squeak, squeak!
AHH! The brakes hit the car floor. “DAMNIT SQUIRREL!”
The squirrel burrowed through the bag and grabbed at Robert’s shirt. I whipped the car to the right. I parked my car at the nearest parking lot, got out of the car, and opened the passenger door.
“What do you want squirrel!?
The squirrel lunged at my leg. He started to crawl up the side of me as I ran frantically around the fast food parking lot. “Get off of me. Get off of me!”
He crawled closer to my ear and I heard a faint, “Laurie..” amid the squeaks.
I’m crazy, that’s not possible. “Robert?”
I felt a tug on my hair and then a clawing down my back. Squirrels don’t talk. Squirrels don’t talk.
Quickly, I entered my vehicle and drove, The squirrel remained attached to my arm as I drove toward my house. Looking out the rearview window, I noticed a cluster of fuzz. They’re coming after me! Some of them jumped on my bumper and others ran ahead of my vehicle.
“WHAT DO YOU WANT ROBERT?”
The squirrel made a high pitched squirrel-like laugh as he reached into my purse. Squirrels don’t laugh, they don’t talk, they don’t hurt people. My co-pilot pulled out my paperwork from the lawyer.
“I knew it was you Robert!.” I’m still talking to this squirrel?
My car tires squealed as I parked in front of my house. I opened all of my car doors. “GET OUT OF MY CAR!”
I left all doors open and ran up the driveway through piles and piles of leaves into my house hoping to escape. The house was oddly quiet. I used to have friends over, parties, and my husband. He was my best friend. I began to crumble. What a weird day.
Sounds of people's voices began to echo into my house. No one was visiting. I ran to the front window. There was a bright orange and purple hue glaring into my glasses. I stepped out the front door and the leaves that had collected on the ground were all on fire. Squirrels were nowhere to be seen.
“They’re gone! They’re gone!” I laughed maniacally. I looked at all of the people standing by. They were not looking at me.
I turned around and a squirrel with Robert’s glasses was throwing our divorce papers into the burning pile of leaves.