Tuesday, March 4, 2008

The walnut tree of Elm Street.

It’s Tuesday afternoon, too sultrily sun-warm for people to be outside, but Bellona is being a jaguar in the walnut tree on the corner. She drapes herself on her branch, trying to lie in just the same way as the big cats from this month’s National Geographic. Wide-mouthed and showing all the gaps in her tiny teeth, she imitates a predator’s jaded yawn, but her eyes give her away. It’s not too long before her little potbelly, the kind exhibited only by those ferocious beasts who feast on peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, makes her squirm a little on her perch. She tries to maintain her feline posture, but it is soon apparent that she’s uncomfortable; her joints just don’t bend the right way.

Bellona becomes distracted from her discomfort, though, when the mailman comes into sight down the block. She watches him from above, a silent killer hidden in the cool, leafy recesses of her Elm Street jungle. Trying to mold her soprano voice to a throaty growl, her roar comes out more like a hum, but she doesn’t seem to notice. She stealthily arrays herself for battle as the mailman makes his way towards the patch of sidewalk below; her fingers curl like claws, gripping the branch as she gathers her legs beneath her. Her green eyes but sharp, fierce slits, she wiggles her haunches and waits.

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