The one that got away.

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I scan the trees for any sort of movement. I hear their aggravating calls as I walk into the densely wooded holler up the creek.

Trying to be as silent is impossible with dry leaves on a mountain that hasn’t had a drink of water in weeks.

The woods go silent as I crumble leaves underfoot.

I take a deep breath. My happy place. The oxygen in here is different. Almost like a church, these woods have their own distinct, musky scent. Fragrant with its new, clean, fall odor, yet ancient. Many souls have been saved here. Brought back to where they belong.

An annoying chatter from the trees distracts my brain from my peaceful prayer. I look up into the bare branches and see nothing.

Am I just completely blind? I walk towards the ear-bleeding sound. Another screech. It almost sounds as if he’s laughing at me.

I turn and look around in circles. Frustrated, I scramble up the hill a ways. I lean against a tree, the only thing keeping me from tumbling down the slope.

I hear a twig snap above me. I look up.

Our eyes meet.

I grasp my gun. He grasps the tree.

Staring at me with those beady black eyes. My eyes narrow in his direction. The look on my face is like a disgruntled child. The look on his, absolutely blank.

His tail flickers. I put my sights right between those beady eyes.

“BANG”

I can’t fathom the adrenaline in my heart. “How cool” I thought to myself. I’ll be able to snatch him right out of this tree. I’ll sure have a cool story to tell Dad and Larry when I get home.

Not only can you make some damn good squirrel gravy, but the fact that you got a squirrel – all on your own – is a big deal. Especially to your dad and your best hunting buddy.

I wait a few seconds to hear a thump in the dry leaves.

I hear nothing… but that laugh. Mocking me.

I see a red ball of fur jolt through the branches, shrieks and chatters getting farther and farther away.

 No wonder they call them Fox Squirrels.

M. J. Scott

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