a letter to the squirrel in my attic.

Dear Mama Squirrel,

For the past few months, we’ve heard little footprints on our roof now and then. We’ve known about the birds for awhile, but they mostly keep to themselves. You, on the other hand, can be extremely noisy. We’ve been meaning to take care of the problem for awhile, but haven’t gotten around to it yet.

I’m not saying that I don’t like you. I like you very much. I like watching you dig for breakfast as I wash dishes in the morning. I like seeing you make crazy leaps from tree to tree. I even like hearing you bark at me whenever I leave the house to take Rex for a walk. (I might even like you more than Mr. Rhory.) It’s just that, well, you become a pest whenever you begin living in our house. If you offered to pay rent, that would be another matter. But you don’t, so we’ve been meaning to kick you out.

That is, until yesterday.

I was playing with Rex in the living room when we heard heard a lot of noise coming from right above our heads. I looked out of the window and saw part of a squirrel body dangling from the ledge and this terrible high-pitch crying sound. I thought you were attacking a nest of baby birds. I went outside to see what was going on, and saw a little squirrel on the ground below the window.

I stood there for a few minutes, trying to look for any baby birds and trying to figure out where the crying was coming from. It took me awhile to figure out that the squirrel on the ground was the one crying. He was not a baby, but he was young and scared.

I went inside for a few minutes to see if he would climb back up to his nest. When I came out, I saw a squirrel’s head poking out of the opening and sighed with relief. But then the crying started up again, and it was still coming from the ground. I got down and saw the baby squirrel on the other side of a vent. He had gone through a crawlspace to hide, but was still crying out to you.

It was clear to me, then. He was too young to get back to the nest by himself, and you were poking your head out of the hole to watch me. I went inside to let you take care of it, wondering if I should call animal control or something. I didn’t know if you would be able to find him in the crawlspace. A few minutes later, though, I watched you descend the tree from my kitchen window. You found your baby, tucked him into a ball, and struggled to carry him up the tree. You are quite a massive squirrel, but your baby is at least half of your size.

I heard you jump on the roof and scurry to the opening. But the baby was too big, and both of you fell from the roof to the ground.

My heart stopped. I watched you from our living room window to make sure everyone was all right. You were both still moving, and then you nudged baby back into a ball to pick up again. But right as you were about to move, the stray cat on our street lunged at you.

I sprinted outside as fast as I could, not even wearing shoes. Somehow, you were able to grab your baby and hurry halfway up a tree. The cat was watching you from below as you flicked your tail at him.

Normally, I love cats. But I’m not too fond of this one. He’s been living on our street for awhile and normally stays out of trouble, but is always lurking. I call him Frankenkitty because his brown, mangy calico coat reminds of different cat fur stitched together, like Frankenstein’s monster. I had to chase him away and I’m sorry if I startled you while doing so. I went back inside, but did not take my eyes off of the cat.

I sat at my window staring at that cat for an hour. He walked to the end of the street, appearing disinterested. Meanwhile, you climbed back on the roof and tried to tuck your baby back into the hole, but kept falling. You tried three times, and each time my heart sank and I grew more frantic. You were falling from at least seven feet onto gravel, and I was worried that the baby would be hurt. I should have snuck out some pillows to help break the impact, but I didn’t think about it until later. Anyway, it probably would have startled you, and you already had enough to worry about.

You went out of my sight then and I did not know where you and your baby were. I thought maybe you had abandoned him and went back to care for your other young (I saw one of them poke his little head out of the same opening, so I know there are more in there). But then, the cat turned back around and started stalking towards my house.

I knew that even if you were still outside, you couldn’t see me from my front porch, but the cat could. I gently opened the door and stood on my porch, glaring straight into the cat’s eyes. He instantly turned back around and walked down the street.

I turned to back in, but saw something out of the corner of my eye. I looked up at the neighboring house and saw you on the roof, looking at me while carrying your baby. You were trying to go up a different way.

I opened the door silently and you watched me go inside. A few minutes later, I heard you jump onto my roof. I prayed for you to make it this time. I didn’t see anyone fall, and then everything was silent. You made it inside with your baby!

Afterwards, I was a nervous wreck. My heart was pounding and I felt dizzy, but also so happy that both of you made it home safe.

That’s it, then. That’s what I wanted to tell you. I watched you struggle and fight for your baby. I watched your strength and bravery. I watched your fearless dedication.

If anyone deserves a safe spot in my attic, it’s you.

Yours truly,
Emily

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