A Possum’s Tale (Hint: It Doesn’t End Well)
My day began with a dead possum dangling from my dog’s jaws. The good thing is that after that sight at six a.m., you know the rest of the day is bound to improve.
Fortunately, our dog Rigby obeyed my verbal command to “leave it!” He dropped the possum and took off into the wooded area of our yard, dodging me like a two-year-old avoiding nap time. Go figure.
In any event, I inspected the possum from a respectable distance and it wasn’t just playing possum (sorry, it had to be said). As the Oz Munchkins might say, he was not only merely dead, he was really most sincerely dead, as evidenced by his guts hanging out, mouth open, tiny white teeth exposed, beady eyes closed, and his little rat tail curled around like the letter “C”. It was, um, icky.
I contemplated waking the Love of My Life, but because I’m a generous and sweet wife (that, too, had to be said) I opted to get the shovel and take care of the possum all by myself. Understand please that I do not attend to dead bodies in the back yard, unless you count the time I buried my daughter’s hamster, Lightning. But Lightning was in a shoe box, so that doesn’t really count; and I knew and liked Lightning, so it was a little like performing Last Rites for a friend. The possum did not fall into this category.
Anyway, I got the shovel, returned to the possum, and began the nasty task of scooping him up, all proud of my womanly stamina in the face of such creepy ickiness, and damned if the furry little beastie didn’t defy all odds and twitch his mouth—not once, not twice, but thrice.
His final death rattle? Maybe. Whatever, it was enough for me to toss the shovel and run squealing into the house for my husband, because in The Hallowed Book of Marriage on page 32 it says, “The husband shall be responsible for removal of dead rodents, marsupials, snakes, spiders and other creepy icky stuff.”
Look, I tried to be nice and let the man sleep, it just didn’t work out.
So I woke my hubby who came to the rescue, but not before he asked me to keep an eye on the possum while he got dressed—my hubby, not the possum—and put on what I thought of as his Marsupial Disposal Footwear, because that sounds so much more impressive than sneakers. Because I am an obedient wife (ha) I did as requested and watched the possum, albeit from afar, to make certain Rigby—deaf to his own name and still dodging a return to indoors—didn’t try for a run-and-grab because no way was I chasing him around the back yard in pursuit of a deceased possum.
After what seemed an eternity (probably five minutes) my husband appeared and performed the dead-body-removal duty with the efficient skill of a man resigned to not sleeping in. He assured me that the possum was dead and that whatever movement I saw was either my imagination (as if) or the possum’s little brain trying to catch up with his body which, as I mentioned earlier (guts hanging out, people!) was pretty much in a state of “eternal dirt nap.”
As you may have guessed, my ordeal with the possum got me thinking about writing. Specifically, I’ve considered how inspiration can, and often does, hurtle itself at us in unexpected ways. When I stepped outside in the new morning to enjoy the cool air, redolent with sweet privet and the loamy Georgia earth, my expectation was of a still and peaceful beginning to my day. Rigby and his morning catch disabused me of that notion in a hurry. Instead of the calm I anticipated, circumstances brought me, well, a dead marsupial. But even this, Buttercup, is fodder for inspiration. It’s sometimes scary, but always fun, where my imagination leads me.
That unfortunate possum is going to show up in a story one of these days. But he’ll have a name and maybe even a wife or girlfriend. And I’ll let him live. Unless I write a tragedy, in which case, well . . . you know.
What has been your oddest source of inspiration, and what creative endeavor did you achieve as a result? It doesn’t have to relate to writing. This is an equal opportunity blog. Please share — put yourself in the Buff!
See you next week for more of the naked truth. Have a great Wednesday!