I’m battle scarred.
You pushed your way out through the screen of the girls’ room window and escaped.
Did you want to escape?
We looked for you.
Up and down the street we walked and looked in bushes and culverts to see if you were hiding.
“He’ll come back tonight,” I said.
It was a perfect night.
The mosquitoes were having a feast and the horizon was painted with flames.
“He’s exploring, at least it isn’t cold.”
All day at the windows.
Looking in neighbors yards and echoing familiar sounds into the air.
“He’ll get hungry soon.”
Night two was just as perfect.
And I saw him in the bushes and he saw me too with a look of panic on his face.
He cried and stuttered his jaw.
But he stayed just out of my reach and cried more as I lunged to grab him.
“Come here. Come on, it’s okay.”
You’re so close.
On my knees I crawled towards him and he looked terrified and lonely.
I never saw so much emotion in an animal’s face.
I can reach him.
Stretching and falling into the bushes to grab his back and pull him to me.
He’s still so scared.
He didn’t want out but he’s not sure what to do.
There was no sound to me, just a firm grip and gritted teeth as he tried to escape.
I held him firm against me.
There was no sound to me.
But I could see the fear in his eyes as he spun around in my grasp.
His fangs were white as he was black and his eyes were as wide as his face.
I know I yelled but I didn’t hear it.
He sunk his teeth into the meaty part of my thumb while his claws dragged across my forearm.
I know I yelled as I dropped him.
The blood was bubbling out of my palm.
It pooled in my cup of my hand, thick and deep as water poured over it.
Both arms sting and are welted red.
Pressure from a now ruined cloth stopped the blood.
I could see the puncture wounds in my hand where he bit me to let him go.
He could have done much worse, but didn’t.
Wrapped right hand I ventured out again.
His food in a bowl, shaking back and forth calling his name.
“He was just scared.”
He wouldn’t come out again tonight.
I thought I could get him in the house but barely made it ten steps.
I am battle scarred.
He’s just scared.
He’ll come back.
We’ll do this again.
Next time I’ll be more prepared.