“Sarah the squirrel, and the day of the Different Thing”
By Angela K. Lacey
Once, in a seemingly, very dense Forrest;
there lived a small, gray squirrel named Sarah. She lived in a common tree, not that different than the other trees in the Green Glenn, her area of the wood.
Sarah, however, did not feel like she belonged in that wood, almost like she was not a squirrel at all, though she had lived all her life in that very same tree, with her very same squirrel family.
Each day, Sarah would go out into the woods and collect nuts and berries, just as the other squirrels did, and bring them home to the tree for all to share, just as the others in her family did, and had done, for generations.
Sarah was not unhappy, not entirely. She had a roof over her head, a warm pelt to protect her from the elements, and enough nuts and berries, insects, and the like, to feed upon all year round.
There was no easy or clear reason then, for her to feel as unsettled as she did.
It was just that she did.
Every day that she lived, felt exactly like the day she had lived before, with only small differences, if any. Her life had become very routine.
This day seemed no exception. Sarah woke early, bathed in a nearby puddle,
said her morning prayers for the protection of her family from enemies in the forest, both seen and unseen, and had a few nuts with berries before setting out to do more gathering with others.
A typical day, if ever there was one.
And that’s when something different happened. “Different” was not a word she heard very often, or saw a great deal of.
Therefore, it piqued her interest, this difference.
The nuts and berries had been gathered for the day and returned to the tree.
Sarah had been freed to do her regular wandering and exploration, provided she use the necessary caution to keep safe.
It was off on one such exploration that she discovered the “Different Thing.”
Sarah, and Junie, her friend, (the squirrel from a neighboring tree), were on their “explore times” together.
They thought it a good day whenever they came across a colorful bird feather, or a geode in the autumn’s leavings while on past walks. Though they had journeyed further on this walk than they ever had before, they found no such gem.
Disappointed, they were turned around and ready to head back to their own neck of the woods when Junie tripped over a fallen tree’s vines and it landed her in some sticky black goo. She was stuck fast.
“I wanna see you freed, but I have to get help to do so.” said Sarah, she was not at all sure how to get where she was going.
She recalled the general direction of the tree, she knew she was not far, she had been very far from home before, when she went to her grandmother’s tree way up high in the woods, but this time, she could only hope that she would find her way once she got closer to her tree.
Sarah knew that time was of the essence for Junie. Her pelt was wet with tar. An enemy could easily overpower her, and she would be stuck helpless in place. And that knowledge did not help Sarah find her way one bit, in fact, it added pressure to her to find it more quickly.
She stopped and asked a gardening Squirrel nearby which way she should go to get to her tree in the Green Glenn portion of the woods. The gardening Squirrel pointed in the general direction she was already going, nice, but it didn’t exactly help clarify matters for her by much.
She tried a different angle. “I have a friend stuck in tar back a ways, can you help me free her?” Sarah was getting worried now, it was close to lunchtime and their mothers would be expecting them home shortly.
The gardening Squirrel had no real or discernible change in his expression at hearing her news. “Tell your mom then.” he offered. “Well, sure, that’s the idea, if I can find her.” thought Sarah, she was beginning to feel a bit panicked at this point.
It began to drizzle rain from the sky now. “Oh, poor Junie, what am I to do? How can I possibly fix all this? I am just a little grey squirrel, I have no one around to help me. I am not strong enough to pull Junie out alone. I can’t find my home, I can’t get the gardening Squirrel’s help either. No one else is around that I can see.” and Sarah began to cry. Never before in her little life had she felt so very alone or so very scared and vulnerable.
She did the only remaining things she knew to do. She prayed, then she climbed a nearby tree. From that different perspective and higher vantage point, she had a much better overview of her surroundings. She even thought she saw some familiar trees that were near her area. When she looked back in the direction she had run from, she thought she saw…maybe even, yes, it was Junie, she was still stuck, but she was alive, she was okay.
Feeling a little stronger now, Sarah had a renewed zeal. She climbed down from the tree and began running full speed in the direction of home. Jumping right in her path was a great creature, just disproportionately larger than what ought to have been placed on Earth, if Earth’s creatures were to be to scale.
Sarah stopped in her tracks. She had never seen anything such as this beast in her life, nor had she heard tell of such. Yet, here it was, sitting right before her. It was a very different thing than she had ever seen before.
She ought to have been deadly afraid, its size alone should have terrified her, but when she looked into its face, she saw an intelligence, a heart, a soul, if it was possible to see the unseeable. Sarah found herself opening up to this different thing. “I need help.” she pleaded.
The different thing sprung up and lunged toward her. She was terrified, until she realized that it’s action resulted in her being put on its back. She was somehow riding the beast now. It was going the wrong way to get home though. “Junie!” she thought.
The next thing she knew, they were back to the tar pit. Junie looked more than exhausted from her own struggles against the tar, but looked newly alert once she saw the different thing.
Carefully, tenderly, the different thing worked to free Junie from her sticky surroundings. The different thing being a winged creature, was able to hover, as would a tiny humming bird, all the while it freed her.
Once free, Junie, filthy and hungry, exhausted, and feeling very near to death, was wrapped in leaves and placed upon the back of the different thing.
Sarah climbed upon as well and held on to both Junie and the different thing.
They flew then, to a nearby pool of cooling waters, warm and bubbling, again, the different thing hovered while he tended to Junie. The tar removed, the burns reacted well to the healing powers of the bubbling water. Next, he fed both Sarah and Junie nuts and berries, as good or better than any they had eaten at home. Fresh lake water came too, and soon, both young squirrels were feeling restored.
Upon the different thing’s back once more, it flew them right to Junie’s door.
Her mother, fearful from the sight, was gearing up then for a fight. With weapons drawn, she came at it, she cut a gouge into the leg of it. “Stop! No, Wait, it saved our lives.” The squirrels yelled to the elder one.
At that, the mother ceased her battle, with squirrels home, what did it matter?
The different thing had saved them both, but suffered from that battle gouge.
It died that night, from wounded woes,
Where it had come from, no one knows,
but ever grateful will squirrels be,
who live in Green Glen Forrest trees.