Sometime in the fall of this year, we came home to find a dead squirrel in the street in front of our house. We buried it by the tree. Winter came, the ground shifted, and its little red claw emerged, like it was about to escape from the grave.
Spring came, the ground thawed, and it did escape--hopefully with the aid of some other animal. And it was on our sidewalk. And it smelled bad. And we scootched it as close to the grass patch by the road as possible to avoid stepping on it. And we did not re-bury it. Perhaps because it didn't really work the first time? Or maybe we just thought we had done our duty by the squirrel. Or maybe it became a science experiment.
Many things followed, practically on a daily basis. The squirrel stopped smelling. Our next door neighbor stepped in it. The mummified claw detached from the rest of the body. Bones began to show. Dogs sniffed it. Sometimes it disappeared for a few days, but it always came back. And then the torrential rains came.
The squirrel is gone now. Probably down the street somewhere. But his claw remains.