We left home for a long weekend a while ago. The afternoon we came back, I walked into the dining room and thought I saw a small animal about the size of a teenaged chipmunk, run through the corner of the room.
I was sure it was one of those things we, who use lined bifocal glasses, see in our peripheral vision. Ephemeral blobs of shadows speed across the outer edges of your vision when the ‘near’ line on your eyeglasses intersects with the edge of a doorframe, the corner of an interior wall, or even a straight line on a tile floor.
My cousin, who is my age, claims to have seen these shadowy splotches passing around the edge of her vision long before she knew about bifocals. She called them ‘carkers’. In an essay in sixth grade, she described them as biting, vicious animals. School officials made her take a series of psychiatric evaluations after that. I digress, that’s a story for another time. However, I claim the noun “carker” and use it as my own, and chose to believe my carkers are docile.
After you wear lined bifocals for a while, you become complacent about the carkers in your life. They flit like small animals here and there and you pay them no mind.
Emmy Lou is not so complacent. A bat got into our house years ago and flew into her hair while we were sleeping. She is usually a heavy sleeper and I realize it woke her up, but then she woke me up loudly exclaiming that bats in the house are unacceptable. I thought she could have explained about the bat in the morning.
I told her to leave it alone, they are more afraid of us than we are of them. She didn’t buy it. She has added all other small, wild creatures to her ‘unacceptable’ list.
An hour after I had dismissed my first sighting as just a shadowy carker, I walked into the living room and the creature launched itself out of the big fruit bowl we keep on our coffee table. It hit the floor six or so feet from the bowl moving at an incredible rate of speed. The light was dim in the room, but I saw it in profile. It was black and had a long bushy tail and front paws like a cat.
The torso was straight like a ferret but I couldn’t see well enough to distinguish the head from the rest of its body. It ran through the dining room and into the kitchen. Emmy Lou didn’t see it but heard the ruckus I made and the skittering sound of claws on the hardwood floor. It had chewed-away drywall around a pipe to get in.
I got a better look at it this time and couldn’t identify it, I still had no idea the kind of animal it was. I wanted to see it closer. Emmy didn’t, I imagined her as a timid little creature herself, popping her head in, peering around before entering a room. She seemed to be developing a facial tick; she wasn’t curious about its origin and did not want the slightest glimpse of the animal.
An article I read came to mind. The author pointed out that people like me probably shot or trapped the last of many species of animals just for a better look. I know it isn’t likely but what if this was the last of some species. What kind of an animal the size of a little chipmunk eats from a fruit bowl and is black with paws the size of a cat?
I posed the idea to Emmy, “What if that animal was the last one of a species? You wouldn’t want to hurt it.”
Her left eye twitched ominously, she said, “Kill it.”
It has been a month now; we haven’t seen the creature since the fruit bowl incident. That is a good thing.
I told Emmy I was probably right, it was more afraid of us than we were of it.
Emmys’ facial tick seems a little less pronounced. That is good too.