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For your reading pleasure, we offer a short story by Rick E Patton.
We hope you enjoy.
Rickey The Squirrel – A little Love Story
This story begins long ago when Rickey was a young squirrel just discovering the world. Rickey was old enough to live on his own and had just moved into his own tree. Well, it really was not all his tree. He shared it with Martha the owl. Even so, he called it his tree and always bragged about it to his friends because vacant trees were scarce in this part of the forest. Rickey was a carefree squirrel and enjoyed spending the day playing in the forest hunting for nuts. He rarely worked and did not bother storing nuts for the winter.
On the first day of fall, Rickey got up and went to his window to see how the weather looked. It was a beautiful day. He grabbed his nut pouch as he sped out the door to go swimming. Martha had been sleeping on the branch when Rickey came flying out of his hole and almost ran over her.
“Rickey, wait!” said Martha in a very surprised voice.
“What’s the matter? Rickey asked impatiently.
“Where are you going in such a hurry?”
“I’m going swimming at the lake.”
“Don’t you think you ought to start collecting nuts for the winter?” Martha asked sternly.
“No, that can wait. I’ve got plenty of time for that.”
“Rickey, you know your father told me to take care of you and,” Martha stopped in mid sentence. “Rickey, wait!” It was too late. Rickey was down the tree and heading off toward the lake in a flash.
“That boy has a lot to learn,” Martha whispered as she yawned and slowly went back to sleep.
Meanwhile, Rickey was merrily making his way through the forest toward the lake. It was early morning and most of the animals were still asleep, so Rickey tried to keep quiet.
“Hi, Rickey” came a voice from a large bush. Rickey looked around to see who it was. It was Cassie, his girlfriend. She was munching on a walnut looking right at Rickey. Rickey started to blush. He always blushed when he was around Cassie. They were good friends and they liked each other a lot. Rickey wanted Cassie to move in with him now that he had his own place. It would be great to have a roommate and it would be good practice for when they got married. Cassie’s father would not allow it. He said she was too young to move out. Cassie told Rickey she would be his roommate as soon as she was old enough. That was a year ago, but her father kept insisting that she was still too young.
Rickey stood there, looking at Cassie without saying a word. Cassie finally spoke, “Well, aren’t you even going to say hello?”
“Oh, ya, hi Cassandra.” Rickey always used her full name when she made him nervous.
“Where are you going?” Cassie asked in that hypnotic voice that almost made Rickey faint on the spot. “Oh, I’m going swimming down at the lake. You want to come?”
She walked over to Rickey and started brushing his tail with her hand. “Sure, I’d love to. Don’t you ever brush your tail?”
“Ah, heck. You always worry about me. I can take care of myself.”
She kissed him on the nose and said, “Yes, but it’s more fun when you have someone to do it for you.”
“Cut that out!” Do you want to go swimming or not?”
“Sure, let’s go!” she said as she walked ahead with her tail swinging back and forth behind her.
Rickey just sighed. He felt all tingly after Cassie kissed him. He could not understand why, so he put it out of his mind until later and ran to catch up with Cassie.
They both liked walking through the forest enjoying the fresh morning air. The lake was on the other side of the forest about a mile away. After a long silence, Cassie started the conversation again. “My father and brothers went off this morning to collect nuts for this winter. I’m sure glad I don’t have to do that.”
“Collecting nuts is so boring,” Rickey replied, still a little dazed from her kiss.
“Haven’t you started collecting nuts?”
“No, there’s plenty of time for that.”
“I guess you’re right.”
They came to the small creek where Weaver Beaver lived. No one used the creek and they couldn’t if they wanted to because Weaver had built dams all along it. He had a thing about building dams. He was up every morning at six o’clock working on his dams. He was the eagerest beaver in the whole forest.
“Hey, you kids! Don’t you go walking across my dam,” Weaver yelled from behind a dam. He did not like the young animals in the forest and always got angry when they went near the creek. Rickey and Cassie were good friends though.
“It’s just us, Weaver,” Rickey yelled back.
“Is that you, Rickey?” Weaver replied, knowing the answer before he asked the question. Rickey and Cassie started walking toward him a little cautiously. He seemed to be in a bad mood.
“Shouldn’t you be out collecting nuts for the winter?” Weaver asked.
“I can always collect nuts. Cassie and I are going swimming.”
“That’s the trouble with you kids. You are afraid of work. If you were doing what you were supposed to you wouldn’t be causing so much trouble.”
“Are you mad about something this morning?” Cassie asked.
“Well, I ought to be. Some kids were playing around here last night and wrecked one of my dams.”
“We’re sorry!” they both said simultaneously.
“Don’t be, unless you did it! Now get along and let me work. Don’t you forget to collect your nuts, Rickey, or it will be a long winter.”
“I won’t “ Rickey said as he followed Cassie across the creek. It was late morning now and the forest was filled with sounds. The forest was coming alive with activity as the animals began waking up. They were almost to the lake so they would not have to worry about the morning rush. When they got there, they saw some otters that had already arrived. They were splashing around in typical otter fashion. Rickey and Cassie walked around the edge of the lake to the platform that Weaver had built for them. Weaver built it for the kids because he thought it would keep them away from his dams. They laid down on the platform to take in the morning sun.
“Have you ever been in love, Rickey?” Cassie asked in a very soft voice.
“Love? I am not sure what it feels like to be in love. Does it feel good?”
“I don’t know either. I was talking to my mother this morning and she said I have to love you before we become roommates.”
“Well, how are we supposed to know when that happens? Didn’t she tell you what it feels like?”
“I asked her, but she said I would have to discover it myself.”
“I hope you discover it soon so you can move into the tree with Martha and me.”
“Me too! But I don’t think it is actually something you discover, silly head.” She let out a little sigh. They were both silent for quite a while. Rickey was thinking about what Cassie had said. He wondered if what he felt when Cassie kissed him was love. Cassie broke his thought.
“Remember when I kissed you this morning?” she asked.
“Yes, so?” he replied. He was a little annoyed because she had brought up something he was thinking about at the time. She always did that. It was as if she could read his mind, but he knew that was silly. She went on.
“Well, when I kissed you this morning, well, I kind of got this tingle all over my body. It felt nice and it was definitely something I had never felt before. Did you feel the same thing?”
“Yes,” he replied cautiously.
“Do you think that feeling could be love? We could be falling in love and not know it.”
She had taken the thought right out of his mind. He was little perplexed and had to struggle to get an answer out. “I don’t know. I suppose we could be falling in love.”
“How can we be sure? It is so confusing not knowing why we feel so funny when we are together.”
“We could ask someone.”
“Who?” Cassie asked hopefully.
“Let me think. How about asking . . .”
“Old Johnnie Hoot Owl, of course. Who else would know except for him?” She did it again. He started where he left off. “Old Johnnie just lives on the other side of the lake. I could swim over and ask him for some advice and be back in no time.”
“That’s great! Then we can find out if we are in love. Maybe I can move in after all.” She spoke with a twinge of excitement.
“O.K.” Rickey said. “I’ll swim over right now and talk to him. I’ll be back in a flash.”
She just smiled and stretched out on the deck to take in some more sun. Rickey put his nut pouch down beside her in case she got hungry, jumped in the water, and started swimming across the lake.
Johnnie Hoot Owl was the smartest owl in the forest. He knew everything there was to know. When the forest flooded three years back, he organized and led the rebuilding project. Of course, Weaver Beaver had his hand in it too.
It did not take Rickey long to get across the lake since he was a good swimmer. He climbed onto the shore and headed for a conspicuously large group of trees. This was Johnnie’s home.
“Johnnie Hoot Owl, I have come to talk. Please may I come up?” he called. This was a common ritual of all Johnnie’s callers. With Johnnie’s keen eyesight, no one came close without him knowing who it was.
“Who is calling?” was the reply.
“It’s Rickey Squirrel. I need to discuss something with you.”
“Is that the Rickey I blessed at birth?”
“That would be me, one and the same.”
“Then come up my young friend. You are always welcome in my tree.” Rickey walked to the tallest tree in the group and climbed up. Johnnie was sitting near the top relaxing in the shade of the thick branches. “How are you, Rickey? It has been a long time since we last talked.”
“I know. It has been a very long time. I am living on my own now. I am sharing Martha’s tree.”
“And what of your girlfriend, Cassie? Have you two gotten married yet?”
“No. That is why I have come to see you.” Rickey knew these questions were simply ritualistic. Johnnie always knew what was going on everywhere.
“As I suspected,” Johnnie said with a touch of pride in his voice. “So ask your questions, Rickey, and I will try to answer them.”
Rickey started slowly, “As you know, Johnnie, Cassie and I want to get married but her father will not allow it because he says she is too young. He will not even let her share the tree with Martha and me. Cassie was speaking to her mother this morning. She told her that if we want to get married, we have to love each other. We know we want to be together, but how can we be sure we are in love? Can you tell us whether or not what we feel is love?”
“I know that question quite well and I do have an answer. I have been asked that question many times by many others. I now speak from the heart, Rickey, because I do love you as a friend and love comes from the heart. You and Cassie have been in love for a very long time. You just were not old enough to recognize it. You care about each other very much and you want to share your life with her. That takes as much love as one can find in their heart. As for how you both feel, well, you will understand love in time.”
Rickey thought for a moment then asked a second question. “This morning Cassie kissed me and I felt a tingle throughout by body. Cassie said she felt the same thing. Is that love too?”
“Yes, that is a sign of your love. When Cassie seems to read your mind, it is a sign of your love. Cassie loves you as much as you love her. That is one of the greatest joys anyone could hope for in this world. Now, go Rickey. Go to Cassie for she is meant to be your mate.”
“But, how do we convince our parents about how we feel? What if they don’t listen?”
“You have not been talking to them, you have been talking at them. Speak from your heart. They will understand,” he closed his eyes to rest.
“Thank you very much,” Rickey said very excitedly.
“I am not to be thanked, knowledge is the gift of the universe, and it is for all to have. Good bye Rickey.”
Rickey climbed down from the tree. He could hardly wait to talk to Cassie about what Johnnie had said. He swam as fast as he could back to the platform. Cassie was still lying in the sun.
“Cassie, Cassie, I’m back!”
“Oh, back so soon?” she said with a yawn.
“Yes, and I have something good to tell you. Old Johnnie Hoot owl told me that what we have been feeling is love. He said our parents would understand if we talk from our heart. If they agree, we can start planning for the winter.” A sparkle came to Cassie’s eyes and her pulse jumped.
“Oh, tell me everything he said. I want to hear all about it.” She spoke with an almost uncontrollable excitement.
“I will tell you everything later. First, we must go talk to your father and mother. We have so much to do. There is an empty room right next to Martha’s room. You can start moving in tomorrow. I will be busy collecting nuts of course.” They sped off in a flurry of excitement to share their feelings with everyone.
So it went, that Cassie and Rickey were to be married and spend their lives together. On that day, Rickey found the real meaning of love. It goes without saying that they would live a happy life together, but that would only be part of the story. This was only the beginning. They had many challenges and adventures ahead of them. Those are stories for another time.
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