A Park Squirrel crosses the Road and goes into the yard where she sees two House Squirrels. She knows they’re House Squirrels because they don’t have stripes on their backs.
The two House Squirrels spot the Park Squirrel immediately. They know she’s a Park
Squirrel because she has a stripe on her back.
The House Squirrels are scurrying around The Big Wooden Fence like they always do. It’s morning, after all.
The Park Squirrel, having crossed the busy street, goes to the base of the tree and calls up to the House Squirrels: “Let’s scrounge for nuts in the grass,” she says, eager to make new friends.
The House Squirrels look down at her and laugh: “That’s crazy. We never scrounge for nuts. We just fetch them from the porch.”
And they go on their way.
The Park Squirrel ponders this. Nuts on the porch… whoever heard of such a thing?
And though she is brave enough to cross the street and proud of the stripe on her back, she begins to cry because three minus two always equals one.
The House Squirrels notice her crying but continue to scurry. It’s not their fault that the Park Squirrel is sad. They want to scurry, not scrounge. And they should be able to do what they want; they are squirrels after all.
Comforted by this, they go on their way.
But the Park Squirrel keeps crying because three minus two always equals one.
“What is your problem?” the House Squirrels ask, not at all realizing that asking from the Big Wooden Fence is different than asking from the ground.
“I don’t want to scurry on the fence,” says the Park Squirrel. “I’ve never done it before. And I don’t know how to fetch nuts on the porch.”
“That is not our problem,” they say, not thinking of the Park nor the House nor the Road.
And they go on their way.
But three minus two always equals one, so the Park Squirrel screams at the top of her lungs. She screams so loud it travels up The Big Wooden Fence to the House Squirrels and it travels across the Road and down the hill to the Park Squirrels.
“You are ruining our fun,” say The House Squirrels, still up on The Big Wooden Fence.
“But I am not having any fun,” cries the Park Squirrel.
“You were not invited,” say the House Squirrels.
“But I am here now,” says the Park Squirrel.
The House Squirrels look at each other, searching for an answer but, in finding nothing, they make a silent agreement, a contract that will change their lives forever. And their children’s lives, and their children’s children…
“Go away,” they say. “Stop making us feel bad.”
“I’m not trying to make you feel bad” says the Park Squirrel.
“That is not our problem!” say the House Squirrels. “We are squirrels and we can do what we want.”
So the Park Squirrel turns and leaves, still crying, because three minus two always equals one. And, even the strongest among us — even those who dare cross the Road — want to be two and not one, because one is perilously close to zero.
The Park squirrel walks away, her idea of The Big Wooden Fence changing shape with each step. She hates herself and loves herself at the same time. She’s proud of her stripe and resents it. She doesn’t want to, but she hates the House Squirrels. She hates The Big Wooden Fence with all its rough edges, its burls, its nails. She hates the House. She hates the Yard.
And as she approaches the Road, thinking of her mama and the Playground and the Tall Skinny Trees, she realizes she’s too tired to cross, so she squats down in the grass and cries, because three minus two always equals one. Always.
Even if you’re brave.
And the House Squirrels go on their way.