“We can’t go that way,” I told Emma. We were walking home after the belly dancing show in the park.
“Why not? It’s shorter,” Emma said.
“Because of the beaver. I can’t deal with it. I tried to call the city to pick it for two days now.”
“Is it dead?” Emma asked.
“As a door nail.”
“Remember when you used to keep track of the dead animals we’d see on our road trips?” Emma asked.
“I had to stop doing that. It was too traumatic and I was concerned I’d start stopping to bury them.”
“Didn’t you have a character in one of your books that did that?” Emma asked.
“It was in my Family Affair trilogy. Chase did it. She couldn’t bear to watch a beaver or any other animals get squished and taken to parts unknown in the tire treads of all the cars that will run the poor things over. And neither can I. If your mother hadn’t had stellar reflexes we would’ve high-centered the Jeep going over it,” I said. I was so busy worrying about the beaver that I didn’t realize we’d arrived at our street.
“Come on, you can do it,” Emma said.
“I can’t look.”
“Just pull your shirt over your head like you do when you watch scary movies.”
“I only do it when there’s a lot of blood, or needles, or dark hallways leading up to closed doors or…” I stopped. Evidently, I did wear my shirt over my head a lot. “Oh, all right. You’ll have to lead me past the beaver because I won’t be able see.” I pulled my shirt up over my eyes.
We got past the beaver without incident. At the top of the hill, Em told me it was safe to come out. I pulled my head out of my shirt. “What did the beaver look like now? Was it smooshed, dismembered, and lying there as a reminder of the complete disregard for the sanctity of a dignified death?”
“I don’t know.”
“How can you not know?”
“Because it wasn’t there.”
“Then why didn’t you tell me? It’s hot under my shirt.”
Emma just smiled.
“Does this have anything to do with my comment on your room?”
“You mean the one where you called it a cesspool of teenage funk and disarray?”
“Sounds familiar,” I said.
“Then, yes.” She looked at me and grinned.”Paybacks are hell.”