This story’s submission comes from Boe, who asks that the squirrel be named “Sal.” So be it!
Hey there. I’m Sal.
If there’s one fact you need to know, it’s this: Sal is not short for Sally. I am NOT a girl.
Sal’s a nickname. Let’s leave things there for now.
If there’s two facts you need to know, the first is about my name. The second is about my color. Let me clear some things up:
1. I am not a natural brunette.
2. I was not the “black sheep” of the family.
3. I am not a ninja squirrel.
If you really want to know the story behind my coat and my name, I would have to introduce you to Pep. But under the current circumstances, that would be impossible. So I’ll just tell you about her instead.
Put this picture in your mind: Gorgeous, albino white squirrel. Plump hind, fluffy tail, beady eyes. A babe.
There was just this one interesting thing about Pep. She had a perfectly round spot along her back. As an albino squirrel, it doesn’t make one lick of sense. She was pretty self-conscious about it, as you can probably understand.
When I first met her, I used to be the purest, whitest albino squirrel there ever was. I blended right in with the snow. They called me Salt.
After gathering nuts one evening, I was running back to my tree when I spotted her. She was hunched down over some acorns. Her black spot looked like a target. I was magnetized. I dropped everything and sauntered over to her.
“Hey…” I said. I was never very good at being smooth.
She turned, squeaked, and ran away into her tree. I think I scared her.
But I didn’t give up. Every day I went down to meet her. And eventually she let me gather acorns and help take them back to the tree. She would jump around with me all throughout the park. I called her Pepper. Pep for short. We were a match made in heaven.
But squirrels are strange creatures. We don’t understand each other like we ought to. Word got around about me and Pep. Some of the squirrels started saying things. Started shaking their heads whenever they saw us. Said it wasn’t right for such a pure white squirrel like me to be around a squirrel that had black on her. Even if it was just one spot, they said, it counted.
Of course it counted, I thought. Every part of her counted!
Their words hung around and grew big between Pep and me. She started looking at me in the same way that the others did. She stopped wanting to play with me around the park. Then one day I fixed everything! I found the perfect black paint and I dyed my hair with that paint until I was as black as her beautiful beady eyes.
I called myself Sal after that.
I sure looked different, there was no question. But the squirrels around us just got meaner. Said Pepper had ruined everything and destroyed the whitest squirrel there was. Pep couldn’t take their mean words no more and she ran far away from me. Just woke up one morning and she was gone. No where. Disappeared.
I left the park in search of her. I went everywhere there was a space to look. I remember standing with my feet stuck down in the snow on the edge of town when I heard a gunshot. I pushed up against the tree fast and poked my head around. A man in a bright orange vest reached down and pulled something small and limp up by the tail.
“Had a target on its back!” he said, laughing.
I moved far away after that. Down here where it never snows. There are no more white squirrels. I come out at night when it’s safe to roam about the town and check the trash cans for dinner.
Day after day, I’ve been here and I’ve tried to not think about Pep any longer. But then I started noticing a white squirrel with a black dot following me around. At first I thought it was a ghost. But you seem pretty real to me. I like your tail.
Maybe I shouldn’t have told you all this. I’m not very smooth when it comes to beautiful squirrels. My name’s Sal, that’s all I have to say. Do you need some help with those acorns?