Friday, June 21, 2013

New Born

Her skin had itched for days, and her eyes had clouded over. She'd retreated to a secluded area of the forest and coiled up to wait it out. And though a deer and several rabbits passed by she didn't try to take prey. That was dangerous when blind, and she needed to conserve her energy.

The itching on her forehead intensified, and she couldn't resist. Her fingers clawed at her face, breaking through the layer of dead and touching soft, new flesh. She pushed her fingers under the sloughed surface, and pulled. It detached only reluctantly, clinging to her like web on a fly. Then all at once it was off--off her face, shoulders, arms.

The light was blinding for a moment, piercing white-hot into her head like a venom. And the air currents were so strong on her tender skin they felt like water, swishing this way and that with a chill touch. She blinked, and the world came into focus.

Crisp, sharp edges on everything. Individual tree leaves, individual blades of grass. The bark had infinite complexity. She could spot every bird that flitted to and fro, occasionally daring a decent to the ground to snatch at bugs. The greens, browns, yellows were all so poignant she could cry. Her shed skin draped her like a shawl, creating a buffer between her and the world now that her sense of touch had been magnified.

And between two stalks of lime-colored grass sat a squirrel, nibbling on a nut.

She licked her lips, the sensation of doing so sending chills down her neck. She normally wouldn't hunt such a small thing, but after shedding she was so hungry. She slithered slowly at first, hunched over, until she was within sprinting distance. Then she exploded forward, the force of her movements tugging the rest of her skin down off her tail. The squirrel, realizing its peril, froze for a half-second, its eyes growing comically wide. That moment of hesitation was enough to seal its fate.

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