Captain Squirrel (Part 1)

“Hey, is Matt alright?”

Karla hadn’t spoken to me in years. We’d been friendly when we were younger. Not the sort of friendship where you’d call each other, or go to each other’s house, but the sort where if the timing was right, you’d walk home from school together. We’d compare math tests and joke about Mrs. Fatoma’s wig. It wasn’t like Matt, who I’d talk about real stuff with, like comics and superheroes, but it was nice. But like I said, nothing was set in stone, so at first I didn’t realize that our leave times were no longer lining up. But then I realized it had been a few weeks. And I paid attention when I left school, and realized she was walking a different way with Lisa. That’s when I realized the gender divide that had entered our class had finally hit us.

So, now it’s middle school, and Karla is actually talking to me. And I have no idea what she’s talking about.

“Huh? I guess he’s not in today, or yesterday, I guess.”

“My mom ran into his mom at the store last night, and she said he got attacked by a wild animal.”

“A wild animal? In Lakewood?” Even as I’m saying it, I know that if there’s anybody who could get attacked by a wild animal in suburbia, it’s Matt. I once saw him get his foot stuck in a gopher hole. Another time, his cat was up a tree, and Matt climbed up after it. The cat jumped down on its own, and Matt couldn’t figure out how to get back down on his own. His older brother dragged out a mattress, and taunted Matt until he jumped/fell. He got a bunch of scrapes, but generally ok.

“That’s what his mom says. I guess he’s in the hospital. Maybe we could visit him after school?”

“Yeah. I’ll see if I can learn where he is.”

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