With his tail between his legs by Daniela Esposito

I was told that somewhere behind the bike shed, there was a squirrel who came out and flashed the girls after lunch time. He’d stand up on his hind feet and show his squirrely little belly and his little curly piece; I didn’t know the name of a squirrel’s parts, so I just called it a ‘squilly’. When he caught me looking, I laughed, but it wasn’t so much because it was small and squirrely but more because I was surprised and a little taken aback, and didn’t know any other way to react. But the squirrel didn’t like it, not one bit. He flushed bright red and darted beneath the bike-shed, probably to comfort eat a few acorns or whatever squirrels do when they’ve been humiliated. I didn’t feel good about it, humiliating a squirrel, even if it showed all the warning signs of squirrel-chauvinism. The next day, I made sure to save some lunch. We had rabbit, with puy lentils and roasted cauliflower and some kiwis for dessert. I pushed some into my underwear to save for the squirrel. Not the rabbit though, that seemed a bit close-to-home for our furry friend. When I went outside, he wasn’t there. I couldn’t find him anywhere. Maybe he had gotten so upset that he turned himself in early. So, I left the food out, as a kind of peace offering you could say. The next day, the food was still there and I began to feel a bit worried. There was a tall branch at the back of the garden and I had seen the squirrel swinging from it before (he was a bit of a show off too). But I didn’t find any squirrels with snapped necks nor mention in the paper of any missing members of the Sciuridae family. So I relaxed a bit, breathed easy, you could say. But then the next day, after lunch (we had sprouts and cranberry sauce), the squirrel came back. He flashed me again. His bits and bobs looked the same, maybe a little jumbled. But he was breathing in, you know, trying to make it look bigger. I laughed harder this time, I couldn’t help it, this time it really did look funny.

Why are you laughing? he asked.

I said, I didn’t understand why such a nice squirrel would need to show me his squilly when he’s got such a handsome face and cheekbones to die for.

Because, he said, a little lost for words.

Because?

Because I’ve got one.

I’ve got ears, I said.

And a nose.

And fingernails.

Do you see me flashing them?

He shrugged.

No, it’s not so interesting, is it?

I’ve got a great big birthmark on my ass too, I said, unbuckling my belt.

The shape of Moldova.

And a pretty big mouth, I said, edging closer. 

That just loves the taste of–

And he got all squirrelly then. And scurried off, with his tail between his legs.

About The Author

Daniela Esposito was born in South London where she currently resides. She has been published in The Templeman Review. She is working on her first short story collection. When she is not reading or writing, she enjoys boxing and street photography.

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