Content warning: blood
Jean drove through his quiet suburban neighborhood. He was moving slowly; he liked looking at the houses on the sidewalk.
He stopped at a stop sign and looked both ways. The car ahead of him hadn’t. Nevertheless, Jean paused before following behind it.
As he cruised through the intersection, Jean noticed a squirrel running across the street a distance ahead. The car in front him would, of course, stop and let it pass.
It didn’t. The evil car kept on moving, crushing the bottom half of the squirrel’s body. Jean stopped his car in disbelief; as he got out and approached it, he saw the squirrel twitched. He closed his eyes in disgust and pity, drawing a steadying breath. He needed to move it to the side so other cars wouldn’t run it over again. He frowned at the body and saw its face.
Jean looked around, but there was nobody else there.
“Won’t you move me?”
He realized, then, that it was, unmistakably, the squirrel talking to him.
The squirrel was talking to him.
“Oh,” Jean managed to say, fumbling . “How, um — How would you like me to move you?”
“Just do it fast; I’m dying.”
As Jean eased the dying squirrel onto the sidewalk, he heard it weep as its blood stained the road.
“Why did you run onto the road when you saw the car coming?” asked Jean, partly out of his own curiosity and partly to take the squirrel’s mind off the pain of its slow death.
“God told me to.”
Jean’s brow crumpled. “What?”
“God told me to cross the street and get run over,” repeated the squirrel, almost matter-of-factly.
“Why on Earth would he ask you to do that?”
“You don’t make sense,” he said, laying the squirrel on the sidewalk.
“God told me to cross the street so that you would stop believing in him,” said the squirrel, squirming as it tried to make itself comfortable on the cement. “You’re Jean, correct?”
“And you believe in God?”
“Yes, of course.”
The squirrel smirked. “You say that with such pride.”
Jean knew, then, that something was wrong.
“You’re so rude. You’re probably a demon,” he answered contemptuously.
“I’m just a squirrel. I will admit, though, that Satan told me to die because it was supposed to upset you enough to bring on some kind of religious crisis. It doesn’t seem to be working.”
“Well — the fact that this is happening just proves He’s real. And I thought you said God told you, not Satan.”
“Well, He also told me not to talk to you, but here I am, talking,” said the squirrel with a smirk.
“You said God told you, not Satan.”
“Ah, God, Satan, tomato, tomahto. They’re one and the same.”
“How dare you say such a blasphemous thing? I shouldn’t have helped move you.”
The squirrel raised its eyes and looked into Jean’s. “But wouldn’t you be sinning if you didn’t? Aren’t you supposed to love your enemies?”
“Not if they work for Satan.”
“Satan as you know him isn’t real, kid. God controls everything. There’s nothing Lucifer can do that God doesn’t greenlight; he’s just another angel, and not a very good villain if you ask me.”
Jean was speechless and confused. The squirrel continued, “As a matter of fact, God is probably watching us now.” The Squirrel waved to the sky and shouted, “Hey, big man! I broke your rule. Of course, that doesn’t matter because You knew I would break your rule, didn’t You? You knew I would talk to Jean, and that didn’t matter.” The squirrel turned its attention to Jean. “Look, man, there’s nothing we can do to stop Him. We can’t do anything that doesn’t go against His ultimate plan, and honestly, I don’t know what it is. I thought I would be dead by now, but I’m not. I don’t know why He’s giving me more life — ”
You knew I would talk to Jean, and that didn’t matter.
“Why are you telling me all this?” yelled Jean.
“I thought I would be revealing something significant to you, but now I can see that I’m really not achieving anything here. I’m powerless. You’re powerless. God doesn’t care if you believe; God doesn’t care if you moved the squirrel off the street. You’ll get your reward or penalty either way. So just kill me already.”
Jean looked at the squirrel in horror, “What?”
“Grab a rock and smash my face.”
“No, that would be terrible. I can’t,” Jean said, squirming.
“Damn it, kid, I just told you ‘terrible’ isn’t real. Smash my face in.”
Jean thought for a moment and realized how lucky he was to be in such a situation. “If I kill you, you need to leave me with a good piece of advice,” said Jean.
The squirrel smiled, “You humans always need something valuable.”
“Deal?” he asked.
The squirrel pondered the question briefly before coming up with an answer. “Fine, I’ll tell you this: Lean into the everyday. See your achievements for what little they are. Keep your eyes and ears open, and listen to what you see. When that is done, purpose will finally come your way, and your insipid reality will begin to taste like the cold green grapes on a hot summer day.”
Keep your eyes and ears open, and listen to what you see.
Jean shrugged, grabbed a medium-sized rock, and put the squirrel out of its misery.