Marcia Pelletiere
Lauren Yaffe

Be a Squirrel


Was Tay figured out about the acorns.   “Be a squirrel, George,” he said, and pointed across the meadow. 

I followed with my eyes:  brown blots under some kind of tall tree.  “Acorns?” I told him, “You’re nuts!” 

We both cracked up over that, laughed so hard we near forgot about the acorns, and how messed up our stomachs already were but good from seeing him in the food line at CHIPS on 4th Avenue.  Him!  Asking for a hand-out!   Like he hadn’t already taken his share and more. 

He wouldn’t have called the city or nothing but that sure killed it for CHIPS, and we’d already been run off from the dumpster behind Popeye’s enough to know it was a bad idea all around.   The park was looking better and better. 

Who’d be sniffing us out there?  Not him.  Not her, neither.   Tay and I been all through that park days we cut out of school or was laying low from this house or another.

But when I suggested it, Tay surprised me by crying.  “But night time, George!  It’ll be dark…in there.”

“Aw, quit it,” I barked.  “Why you gotta act scared all the time?”

“You got a better way to act?” he shot back.

 I pulled back my fist like I was gonna  punch him, till  Tay jumped back.   Ha! I laughed.  Tay slouched his shoulders and walked off down the path, and I had to run and catch up.

“I was only funning,” I said, but he was already on to the next thing.  That was Tay -- two years younger but always thinking years ahead.  “What we gonna eat?”  He looked at me.  “I’m not a rat.”

I knew he wasn’t and told him so, which wasn’t no help making our stomachs any less of a mess.  It was getting darker.   Woods dark is way darker than street dark.

Tay suddenly brightened which made no sense.  “You ever wonder how it got that name, George?  Prospect Park?”

I yelled at him was he nuts.  Really, I was starting to worry. 

“You know what prospect is?” 

“Course I do!” I snapped. 

“Prospect is like digging and planning for something good.  Ha ha!” 

Tay laughing was something crazy scary.  My stomach felt even more empty and messed up hearing it. 

And that’s when he pointed.  Be a squirrel, he said, and crouched for the acorns.  What could I do but start picking up right along behind him.  Wasn’t as nasty a prospect as some homes we’d known.