A Squirrel scurries across her bare toes.  Blinking, she rubs the sleep from her eyes.  The rodent stops, his head bobbing.  His tiny, black orbs inquire to her for food.  She shrugs, presenting the creature empty hands.  Tail poofed and fizzled, he nods to her, continuing to stare.  She cocks her chin to the left, regarding the little fur ball with her own red-rimmed windows.

   “What is it?”


   “I’m hungry.”     

   “So am I.”

   “I have some food.”

   “That’s nice.”

A sigh escapes her lips.

Squirrel shakes, pulling his tail to rest upon his back,  “No, I have food, I’ll share with you.”

She raises a brow to him.  “I am hungry.”

   “So am I, but I’ll share my food.”

The gray streak flits across the park, disappearing under a low, leafless bush.  Moments later, his form pops up next to her, squeezing between the wooden slats of her bench bed.  He hauls along a massive nut, forcing it though the tight space.

Her slender fingers jut out, snatching the nut from his clutches.  He squeaks, trying to reclaim his prize.  She snickers, cracking the fruit in her palm.  Bits of nutmeat rest battered in her hand.

   “Are you still hungry?”

   “Yes, and that’s my food.”

Her lowered digits drop pieces of nut before the rodent’s nose.  “Yes it’s your food.”

   “My food, but I’m sharing it.”

   “That you are.”

His clawed paws daintily select a nutmeat bit, raising it to his nibbling mouth.  Munching in silence, he glances at her.  She glances back.  The rest of the nut, now resting on her tongue dissolves, letting its bitter interior degenerate.  Smiling a small smile, her head bows to Squirrel.

   “Thank you for sharing.”

He smiles back, talking through swollen cheeks, “Yo’r we’com.”

The two sit on a worn bench in the park.  Around them, captive trees house smoked-out birds and dilapidated animals.  They scurry and flutter, eeping out food from trashcans and pleading for donations from passers by.  A large man in a blue suit, his brown overcoat tied tightly, surveys the scene as he saunters through.  The man’s face, expressionless as pink, stares straight ahead.  His coat catches on the bench where she and Squirrel are perched.  An over-sized hand yanks weakly at the coattail.  Squirrel squawks, leaping back into the burned-out hedge.  She reaches over, letting loose the trapped fabric.  Her brows furrowed, she looks after the man as he continues on without a backward thanks.

He stops a few feet away to brush off the spot where she touched his overcoat.

— Sarah Ockershausen Delp

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