Paul and Clara
© Copyright 2020 by Cody Short
When two opossums showed up in my backyard I imagined how they might have arrived at this location and therefore developed the dialog found below.
“Hello, my lovely. Would you like to take a walk with me,” Paul Opossum said to Clara, the loveliest young lady he had ever seen in the two years of his lifetime. He had had such brief moments with her, once at the edge of a marsh where he found her trying to catch a bullfrog tadpole and once under a red berried bush. That is a Brazilian Pepper bush outlawed here in Florida. It was brought here in the 1800s from Brazil for its beauty but is harmful to large farm animals, he thought, but he said only, “Those berries are very tasty, aren’t they.”
Now some weeks had passed and he was hoping for some glorious moments with young Clara Opossum. Although it was winter, young Opossum often walked somewhat freely in the daytime.
“I was immediately stricken with your beautiful eyes,” he said, “and I have thought of you so often and hoped to see them again, and you of course.”
“Why, thank you,” Clara replied coyly.
“Let’s take a walk around the other side of the pond and then maybe walk along the fence up the hill,” he suggested. “Maybe we will find some slugs and perhaps even a frog or a mouse.”
“That sounds like fun,” said Clara. “I really enjoyed that day that we met when I was trying to catch a bullfrog tadpole and you just stepped into the water and picked one up for me.”
“Let’s walk slowly,” Paul said to Clara. “I want to savor every moment with you.” He wanted to walk behind her so that he could enjoy every movement of her beautiful body and the sway of her hips. “Is this your first venture away from your family and among friends?”
“Yes, there were fourteen in my family but only ten of us survived. I haven’t been able to stay in touch with any of the others. I found my way under a fence into this courtyard and have been very fortunate to have an adequate food supply and to have met you, Paul. Tell me about you.”
“I just turned two, so I do not anticipate another winter. You might say, ‘I am in the last quarter of the game’ but you are, indeed, the most wonderful thing that has ever happened to me. That you care enough to spend time with me and ask about my past is so beautiful and you have your whole life ahead of you.”
Although Paul walked with a slight limp, apparently Clara had not noticed. She was so young and inexperienced. He was not about to explain the pain and disappointment that had caused.
Paul’s right hind paw had once been lightly caught in a trap. He and Daisy, who bore his last litter of babies, had made a sort of den under a bush near the courtyard here and that apparently offended the management or some resident there. A trap had been set using a dead mouse and while Daisy was out foraging for food, Paul had stepped into the trap. Daisy, who was due to deliver the litter in only five days, recognized the dilemma and chewed lightly at his paw until he was free. Daisy brought food to Paul for a day or so while he rested and hoped his paw would heal.
Fearing for her own safety and that of her offspring, Daisy escaped in the night and sought a safer environment, at least Paul hoped it would be safer. Paul had difficulty walking and foraging for food for him and could not set out to find Daisy. He knew that ten or more of his own offspring were going to be at risk for starvation and other dangers and he grieved for them. As the next mating season approached, he did not have the heart to seek out a mate. As a result he had been alone for longer than he cared to think about. Now that he had found Clara, he wanted to mate for life, rare among Opossums but his youth was ebbing and Clara’s just budding. He knew of the possibility that they could stay together for his own lifetime.
“Paul, what is troubling you?” Clara asked.
“I was day dreaming, I suppose, just thinking of how wonderful it would be to spend the rest of our lives together, bear many babies and watch them grow. For each litter, we would have such fun watching them frolic and play for three months. They would have to learn to forage for food. They would learn to “play dead” whenever any danger approached. We would try to keep them away from pet food and interested in eating only natural foods, the kind of foods we have enjoyed together already,” Paul said.
“Why Paul, you know it is Leap Year. I was just thinking of proposing the same to you. I look forward to my first litter and could think of nobody I would rather share that with than you.” Clara looked into Paul’s eyes.
As they began their walk, Paul brushed his left side forward against Clara’s right side. Then he dropped back behind her and, moving forward, again brushed against her side. Clara turned her face toward Paul’s. He stared into those lovely eyes and then brushed once again against the full length of her body. “Let’s move gently and easily on up the slope,” he said.
As they slowly climbed the slight slope, Paul moved ahead of Clara. From there Paul could stop, stroke Clara in subtle ways, look into those eyes and realize that she was very interested in him and in his gentle ways. He shifted slightly so that he was walking beside Clara. He dreamed of the moment he knew they would stop; they would cuddle for a moment side by side. Then he would lie behind her reaching his healthy left paw over her back and gently picking up her right paw he would make gentle love to her. The world would stand still for a bit and they would be as one.
*****I was the first occupant of my present townhouse which I bought in the fall a few years ago after just relocating from Tennessee to Florida. I did no landscaping until the following spring. Unfortunately my next door neighbor had put out some scrappy potted plants before I arrived. As I looked out my window one overcast day that winter imagining how I would beautify the back yard come spring, I spotted two opossums walking up the gentle slope of the back lawns. How unusual is that I thought, having only seen them in Tennessee on the roadside following a full moon and having been run over by an automobile. They slowly moved closer to the scrappy planters in my neighbors' back yard so I had time to get my camera. As they moved closer, their behavior gave me every reason to expect that this was going to be a mating scene. That proved to be correct and lucky for you, Dear Reader, I did not include the sensuous video of that enchantment.
Cody Short is retired from the Tennessee Department of Labor where she worked in the Unemployment Insurance Program Technical Services for thirty years. Most of her writing consisted of manuals and instructions to claims takers and adjudicators. She also helped develop language for laws affecting the Unemployment Insurance Program and ghost wrote correspondence for the Commissioner when he/she needed to address technical issues.
Shortly before retiring Cody took classes in Writing for Magazines, bought a box of 100 9” X 12” white envelopes and submitted several articles and short stories for consideration. None were ever published but what fun it was to develop them. She reports that she still has some seventy of the envelopes.
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