An indistinct sound of struggle was what made Lydia look into the barrel of nicotine colored rain water out back. A glistening head, pointy at the tip, was poking through the gelatin surface, paws frantically treading water. It was about the size of a large rat and she realized it must be a squirrel. In fact, it must be The Squirrel – the one who was always skittering around the house, looking in her windows.

The last time, she’d been in bed with a married man. He’d reached over to stroke her thigh and a slight movement had caught her eye in the window. Maybe it was the apprehension about getting caught, but the squirrel had taken her by surprise then too. Perched on the sill, its unabashed gaze cutting past the peeling paint, the underwear turned inside out. It was holding a slice of pizza in its little fingers and munching with no particular interest. “Enjoy the show,” Bill said, but then had chucked a work boot at the window.

Now, she leveraged her own work boot against the hefty barrel and tipped it over. The water spread soundlessly, the squirrel catching its breath against the side of the house.

Valerie Borey 

Valerie Borey lives in Minneapolis where she writes, teaches, and otherwise probes rabbit holes and random tangents. Her creative work has appeared onstage at various venues and in publications such as Diddle Dog, Heavy Glow, American Nerd, The Festival of Awkward Moments Anthology, and Better or Worse: The Anthology.

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