Flash Fiction: A Tale of two squirrels
“I’ve named them, you know?”
“The squirrels that keep coming to the stoop. I’ve named them.”
“You have, have you? Let’s hear the names!”
“Darryl & Delilah.”
MacKenzie’s older sister shoots her an odd look — one that questions her name-choosing skills, but the younger sibling stands her ground.
“Darryl & Delilah!? Mack, why on earth would you . . .”
“It’s simple. Remember that song Mommy used to sing when I was like 5? The one by Billy Joel, ‘Just the Way You Are’? I hear that song every time I see them running around, gathering acorns, and hoarding them under the flower pot on our stoop. Their names fit them. They seem like a happy couple — one that can’t live without each other.”
Misha stares at her kid sister in total disbelief. She can’t believe what’s coming out of her mouth, but then again, she thinks it’s best not to question 11-year-old girls whose parents recently divorced. She continues to listen without judgment.
“I see Mommy and Daddy in them. Mommy rushing to gather all the acorns. Daddy hustling to the stoop to lift the flower pot so Mommy can place the acorns there. They make a great team!”
And then the tears fall. Misha watches her kid sister turn into a mush-mouth full of anger and resentment and pent-up sadness on the corner of Circle Way and Todd St. Divorce isn’t simply dividing their family, it is changing them in ways they never thought it would. MacKenzie is anthropomorphizing the squirrels in the neighborhood now. What’s next?!
“Mack . . . it’s okay to cry. You know that, right? It’s okay to just cry. You don’t have to make up stories or see Mom and Dad in the squirrels that use our stoop for storage. You can just . . . cry.”
MacKenzie shifts her thinking head to the left, bats her lashes slowly, and leans into her sister’s personal space. She whispers . . .
“I know. But it hurts less when I make up stories.”
Misha pulls her sister into a tight embrace, smooths back the wispy hair from her eyes, and kisses her forehead.
*Sighs* “I know, kiddo. I know.”
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