Sunday, November 14, 2010

Silky the Flying Squirrel

When I was in high school a friend of mine raised three orphan grey squirrels. They were Romeo, Juliet and Ophelia. She loved to talk about their pet squirrels and tell about their antics living with her and her young husband in a small mobile home. I would go and visit them and enjoy these beautiful wild creatures up close and personal.

Someone at school had a flying squirrel that was becoming a nuisance and they offered the squirrel to Patricia. She would have liked to adopt the little flying squirrel but she was afraid it would upset her grey squirrels and cause problems. She asked me if I would like to have Silky. I was thrilled to adopt the cute little creature.

Patricia and Billy brought Silky to my house and let him loose to show me and my family how friendly the little squirrel was. They bribed him with pecans and walnuts. He would scamper all over them, crawling on their shirts and pants and perching on top of their heads. He would perch there for a few moments to examine his new environment and then suddenly go sailing across the room to land on the curtain rod and scurry across it like it was a tree limb. He was funny and friendly. He took to us immediately and Moma and Daddy were won over. They didn't mind having Silky in the house.

In the evenings Silky and I would retire to the bedroom with the door closed so he wouldn't wander about the house and keep everybody awake all night. Flying squirrels are nocturnal animals and he became progressively active at night. His bed was a cube shaped kleenex box I place on the curtain rod above my bed.

Every night he would sail across the bedroom over my bed and hit the closet door. Thump! Then you could hear him scurry across the wooden floor and sense him crawling over the bed and leaping up the curtains to ascend to his treetop only to jump into the abyss and smack into the closet door, or land somewhere else and scamper around. After a while I began to grow sick of the noise and loss of sleep. Locking him in the closet didn't help because he would slam into the door again and again trying to get out.

Moma and Daddy were having carpet put in for the first time and having the ceilings sprayed with foam to make it look modern. The house became a maze of displaced furniture that was being constantly moved out of rooms so the ceilings could be sprayed. All of this activity made Silky nervous and he was able to hide so it wasn't easy to keep track of him. The house was finally straightened out and everything settled back to normal. Moma found nuts that Silky had hidden above widows and the glass door. He was very good at saving his nuts for later.

Moma and Daddy were both working at night during that time. Moma would always stand in the bathroom in front of the sink getting ready for work. I had to spend the night next door at my grandparents so I left the house before Moma went to work. I walked to their house. I would have to walk home in the morning to get ready for school. I stayed with relatives whenever Moma and Daddy were both working third shift so I was used to doing this.

The next morning I walked through the field from my grandparent's house in the early morning chill and went into a quiet, lonely house. I ate my milk and cereal and went to the bathroom to finish getting ready for school. The lid on the toilet was raised and I thought I saw an olive green kleenex like the ones Moma used floating in the toilet. I reached out to flush the toilet and then looked down to see that it was Silky floating in the toilet! I was horrified. Silky was stiff and drenched. It looked like he had spit up in the water!

I could imagine the curious little squirrel flying into the toilet unaware of the danger. I imagined his struggle as he tried in vain to get a foot hold on the cold slick porceline. I began to cry with deep wracking sobs as I realized his fear and panic before he drowned . . . in toilet water! Augh!!! What a way to die.

I was sick with grief and guilt because I hadn't stayed to make sure the toilet lid had been closed. Daddy had warned us of the danger and yet we had still let Silky drown. I felt too upset to go to school that day. Moma came houe and got Silky out of the toilet. I didn't even have the guts to fish him out. Whenever I looked at him I wanted to throw up. Moma and Daddy let me mope around the house all day and cry over Silky.

The next day I went to school even though I still felt close to tears. My friends asked me why I hadn't been in school the day before. I told them that Silky, my flying squirrel, drowned in the toilet. Instead of the sympathy I expected from them I received laughter and then they would turn around to somebody else and tell them to ask me why I had been out of school. Everybody thought it was a big joke. That was my first experience at realizing that unless a tragedy touches you personally nobody cares.

One good thing did come of that. After Silky drowned Moma did quit buying the green kleenex out of courtesy to Silky. After all, at first, I did think he was a tissue. I guess I was the nut.


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