Saturday, January 22, 2005

He peered over the ledge. the concrete was bumpy and seemed to stretch into infinity like some kind of malign rockwalled elastic. He sighed, and rested his face on his hands. This was going to be a problem. The rain dripped down, pattering on the leaves of the tree near the ledge. It sounded like tiny feet running barefoot on a smooth floor. He mused a while, looking at the water…and then she bounded into the corner of his eyes. He tried to look nonchalant, surreptitiously turning his head just a little to watch her. She ran up the pillar and skipped onto the beam, her tail bouncing like a fluffy ribbon. She ran up and down the beam, flexing, as I were- and then leapt off. His breath stopped for a second, but then a branch of the tree dipped and shook. She had jumped onto the tree. Show-off, he muttered darkly, watching the tree vibrate as she probably ran down the branch. He washed his face defensively; quick, neat, tiny movements. He groomed his tail swiftly, pulling it around him like a luxurious furry boa.
There he was, a beautiful chubby squirrel with a lovely bushy tail and elegant beige fur, and he couldn’t get his pretty butt off a ledge and go running down like all the other squirrels did. It was most upsetting. He peered over again. Buss. This was it. He put one paw forth, than another, gripping the edge tightly. One. He rocked forward. Two. He squeezed his eyes shut, breathed in deeply and sat right back down. Great. Just great. He sighed and put his face back on his paws. She ran back up. Didn’t look breathless, didn’t look tired. Just looked spunky and energetic, looked like she was having fun. And he was stuck on a boring windowsill- a bathroom windowsill, no less. Him, quite a wonderful squirrel in his own right. This was just too much. Of course he could jump off a ledge. Nothing to it. Everyone did it all the time, squirrels could do anything. Even fly, his great-uncle Bobby could soar for miles and miles. He'd been, naturally, quite the bee's knees. Of course, his real name wasn’t Bobby, but his father’s side of the family always had a bit of a farangi streak. And here was a girl, running around, in the rain, as whizzy as you please. Bobby Chacha’s tail would have dropped off in indignance.
‘Hey!’
Crikey! She was talking to him!! He swallowed a squeak as she hop-skip-jumped over to the beam closest to the ledge, all lithe and athletic.
‘Want to come jump on the tree? It’s fun!’ she called up, her eyes asparkle with all that blasted gymnastics. No, I don’t want to play your silly girl games thank you very much, I’d much rather sit here on my high ledge and ponder deep philosophy. I’d rather stay here quite nice and safe and look the hunk I know I am and be mysterious and deep. No, just no. Say it, you fool rodent!
‘Uh…okay...’
‘Cool! Let’s go!’ she said, running off to make room for him to jump onto the beam. Jump off the ledge and onto the beam. Oh my sainted Aunt Basheeran. She tilted her head expectantly, and smiled at him. Smiled. His knees shook, why exactly he wasn’t sure, but they quaked. Wahhh why him, why did he get into stupid messes like this, whywhywhy did he have such a big clapper that never said what it was supposed to, why- the toilet flushed, and she called up to him-
‘I’m going, if you don’t want to!’
Oh no no no, that’s not part of the plan missy, you can’t just skip around bright-eyed and pretty and then run away! Jump you fool! Jump!
She began leaping up the beam, towards the tree.
Jump!
His heart was leaping against his ribs, trying to jump right out and his stomach felt like an ocean with Moby Dick thrashing inside. His feet turned to pebbles.
She reached the end of the beam, and was getting ready for the run-up preceding the jump. She was so pretty, and the beam was so far off...what if he missed, and broke something? What if he went splat, like Cousin Farah's nani had? What if-
Jump! Stop thinking! Just jump! C'mon!
She began the run-up.
JUMP YOU ASS!
Everything was in slow motion. She was going to jump, and he’d be a pretty, elegantly beige squirrel that never left the stupid bathroom windowsill to come and play for the rest of his life. Stay on the stupid ledge, why don’tcha, and be a mummy-daddy squirrel forever. Oh god.
She jumped.
The branch jiggled, the leaves shook and then all was still once more. The rain pattered down. He scowled and looked the other way. Then he put his face on his paws and stared down the ledge again.

Mina at 2:58 PM

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