I would like to receive feedback about the tone, theme, and structure of the piece and maybe on the relevance of the title to the piece too. Thanks!
Written By: Hari Narayanan
February 9, 2015
A gray flash darts across a new layer of snow, a line of footprints peppering the Alaskan ground that the pristine white powder had hardly breathed upon. The streak continues until it collapses in a minute bundle of pulsating fur, a wintry gale ripping through the squirrel’s subtle frame. The creature shakily rights itself before casting a furtive glance forwards. Just ahead lies its salvation. Just there, is the forest of slumber. The bed and board of the rodent for the next three months. Hibernation will deliver the squirrel from the onslaught of the frost, and provide it with a mental escape to ecstasy. A long awaited stupor twirls itself tauntingly before the squirrel, infusing each step to the tree with a drowsy tranquility that goads it to give in. Nevertheless, the critter musters an effort hidden in the depths of its soul to prevail, and hauls itself into its time battered, subterranean home. This hole, despite the void that the mother earth has forged it with, represents the one, solid, emotional part of the animal’s heart that ties it to its otherwise detached family line. Not one winter has passed without this squirrel’s presence in the hollow. This has always been a serene place of inner peace, untainted by the hand of man, modified by only the gentle coaxing of nature. And yet, there is a palpable sense of disturbance in the gelid air. There was something different about this year, and the rodent could sense it. The earth itself vibrates with some foreign force. Uncertainty tickles its spine with a nagging feeling of doubt, but is quelled by a potent wave of lethargy. Just as its eyelids droop over, a high pitched, blood-curdling shriek fills the forest, eliminating all remaining exhaustion in the squirrel. Unbeknownst to it, this is not a sound produced by fauna, but by the dying essence of the planet. Less than a mile away, a fat logger rests his foot on a freshly cut tree, as a hunter might after vanquishing a tiger. The man puffs his pipe, and throws back his head with a guttural, evil laugh that echoes around the valley.
The squirrel's whiskers bristles with apprehension of the new buzzing sound that envelops the forest. Its sleek gray hairs stand up straight with such wariness, that they can actually be seen as distinct lines. Powerful muscles become taut, instinctively preparing to flee in an explosion of natural energy. The buzzing becomes louder, until the noise reverberates through the delicate skeleton of the rodent. A splash of sawdust paints the brilliant silver fur a dull beige, and the squirrel bolts off, like a fresh round from a gun. Trees crash around it, smog fills it lungs, buzzing grates on its ears. The legacies of trees who have seen the Revolutionary War are hacked apart in mere seconds, and with them go the homes of the squirrel’s ancestors. Life seems to slow down, the animal’s limbs trudging through a world of molasses, its heartbeat thumping, resounding into the wilderness. The demonic amber machines dance above its puny head with a mocking gait that tugs at the squirrel’s heartstrings. Man’s custom of turning heaven to hell cannot be broken, but the squirrel thinks not of that fact, but only of preserving its life. What emotion or feeling was there in the animal has been cut down. Its eyes glaze over with trauma, as it scampers to safety. The earth embraces it once again, just as it has tenderly before. Who will the animal condemn, and who will it forgive? What does it have left to live for? Why is nothing eternal?