The rain was falling down in thin sheets, lightly brushing over the rounding of her skull where her hood was drawn. The bus was several streets over making its way hastily to the stop.
I can’t be late, she strictly reminded herself.
As she stepped across the street, her cheeks turned the sullen shade of the sky that was ringing itself dry.
The tip of her boot nearly landed in the carcass of a squirrel.
This was not a neatly persevered body; it was split open, right down the centre of its spine. Fleshy pink intestines were spiralling out of its midsection like ramen. The fur was matted in fresh blood that smelt as musky as the flooded front lawns of the manicured homes shadowing over it. The bones were crushed and flattened, they looked delicate—like snapped twigs.
The bus was only a few stops south now, gaining momentum toward the intersection, where a crowd of damp commuters were tapping their toes, eager to be timely. One of them was checking his phone intermittently. He had to be somewhere for an important meeting. His phone screen was becoming obscured in the downpour. I can’t be late, he strictly reminded himself.
She was a few streets north. The street was silent. She leaned forward and examined the site.
It’s dead, she heard herself ponder. It’s dead. Her face had abandoned its initial grimace and twisted into curiosity.
How strange, she thought.
That we walk by sites like this one—so casually.
It’s a squirrel, but still. She traced her gaze across the outline of its fractured skull.
Even in the face of death, we find a way to walk away.
She looked down at her hand. She clenched her fist, suddenly pounding with the sensation of hot blood through tributaries. She imagined how people would react if her own body was sprayed across the cement, fluids running down the gutter with foliage and rain water.
She was suddenly aware of her aliveness.
It was electrifying. The recognition of breath and life that was surging through her—the only thing that made her more than meat, bones, and hair, standing on the road.
A neighbour was retreating from his front door now. Keys jingling, phone in hand, a sesame coated bagel in the other, lugging a few bags over the inside crease of each elbow. He was running late.
She stumbled backward and retreated from the bloody carnage, fearful that this neighbour would pin her as some sadistic degenerate that he needed to warn local residents about. She fell back into stride.
She missed the bus.