A letter to the squirrel I killed on the afternoon of Monday June 13th, 2016

Leo Castell, Staff

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Dear Squirrel,

Firstly, allow me to apologize for not knowing your name if you had one. Secondly, I’d like to apologize for not knowing your preferred honorific since I also didn’t know your gender or if you had a PhD. Finally, I’d like to apologize for having ACCIDENTALLY run you over on my way back from work.

You know, I say that I was coming back from work, but I didn’t actually get off a shift. I was just passing by after school like I always do, getting a cup of coffee and a pastry to keep me going throughout the day. I wasn’t even particularly hungry, just wanting to indulge in snacks for a bit like anyone else would. You might still be alive had I not given into the temptation of caffeine coupled with a warm, flaky almond croissant. It’s hard for me to eat snacks now without thinking of the potential life or death repercussions.

Barring a wide variety of insects that may or may not have inconvenienced me in one way or another, I have never actually killed an animal besides you. I remember fishing with my father a few times as a small child, but never caught anything. I’m technically an adult now and can’t see myself going out of my way to end a creature’s life unless it was somehow threatening my own and even then I would probably feel bad about it later. I won’t deny that I’ve always been a bit sensitive, but never the kind of person to get really upset about packaged meat in the grocery store. In fact, I only recently became a vegetarian, not for any moral reason, but just to see if I could. I’ll make a year without eating meat in February of 2017 and yet in that time I will feel as though I’ve had more blood on my hands than any other point in my life. Well I guess technically the blood is on the front-left tire of my car.

I’ll have you know that the moment of your death is a vivid memory in my mind. I remember seeing you in my peripheral vision and not really thinking about you the way any driver wouldn’t think about the immeasurable tiny things that zip by them as they drive a two ton death machine. I remember the split/second before you died when you caught me off guard by walking right in the path of my car’s tire with no chance of me swerving to avoid you. I could feel the widening of my eyes and my mouth opening as what was about to happen hit me like it was going to hit you. I remember feeling the small, but noticeable bump and extremely subtle crunch of your bones as my car drove over your body. I remember looking in my rearview mirror and seeing a blurry brownish-red smudge on Bonnabel Boulevard getting blurrier as I drove away. I remember only feeling a little bit nauseous.

I didn’t cry and I didn’t laugh as I got on the interstate to my mother’s house. I didn’t know what to think as much as I only thought of what happened and how at most it only took three seconds. I didn’t tell my mother when I visited her or my grandmother when I got home, but I kept thinking about it. I didn’t tell anyone the next day or the day after that and for a few days I would forget about it only to remember and by extension remember not to tell anyone. I don’t know why I wouldn’t tell anyone, I didn’t think they would judge me, if anything I thought they would laugh and not think twice about it. And maybe that’s just what bothered me, they wouldn’t think twice where I had already thought dozens of times and will continue to think so long as this letter exists and my memory doesn’t fail me.

I, your killer, am writing this to you, a squirrel who may or may not have a PhD and by extension may or may not be able to read, not for you, but for me, so that in the coming years in my most private moments when I look back on the notable things that I’ve done I remember that I wrote a letter to you, a squirrel, and why I wrote you this letter. I write this letter so that other people who read it can have it stick out in their mind as that letter a college student wrote to a squirrel, so that they can’t help but think more than twice about you like I do.

Sincerely yours,
Leonel Matthew Castell

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