"The footsteps end here."
The snow crunched beneath them as they ran towards her in their leather-clad boots.
The one with the thick mustache asked, "What ya’ got there, Aggie?"
The woman with the ugly name had knelt to the ground. The three large men in furry coats gathered around her. On my branch above the team, I carefully watched them huddle together. There were two men with round stomachs. They carried guns across their chests. Aggie was the woman, I assumed. Her name was offensive to the ear but she seemed attractive-looking. She wore pink all over. And she seemed smart enough. Aggie was the first to find my tracks.
I said nothing, nor did I open my mouth to moisten my lips or yawn or even pause to sneeze. I had to determine the right time to move. While I quickly thought of what to do next, I heard them talking.
"What we got here is..."
"Where he run off too...?"
"How do you suppose...?"
I found myself staggering upward. Small clumps of snow that were melting on the branches slipped from underneath me. They fell on top of snow on top of lower branches, and so on and so forth until three branches of snow had piled onto the last branch. Aggie was standing underneath this particular branch. So far, they hadn’t moved an inch. They stared into the frothy white horizon and didn’t look up once. Maybe they won't notice me, I thought to myself. I leaned back against the trunk of the tree. My foot slipped. I grabbed ahold of the trunk to keep me from falling, but I did watch a large clump of snow plummet to the branch, that one branch that would seal my fate.
Aggie’s head and shoulders were completely covered in snow.
I'm done for, I thought.
Suddenly I heard a yell. Then, an explosion. A branch snapped, shaking the ice off of its back. More shots followed. I crawled around the large tree, dodging bullets and sharp branches. I felt the heat of a missed shot just underneath my feet. My feet, my stupid feet! But I had to keep going! I ran into what looked like a sturdy branch. Its extensions were tied to the flimsy branches of another tree. I hopped onto this branch and ran across it. I heard the angry screams before but I didn't stop. No, I kept going! I ran across the arms of this tree to get to the next. I did it again and again until my surroundings were smeared with panic. My legs were detached from beneath me.
When I stopped to catch my breath, I realized that I was no longer in a forest, but a backyard. In front of me was a barbeque pit, a trampoline, a kiddie pool filled with dirty water, and a blue home. A big window was facing the backyard. On the other side of the window was an older woman with two younger boys. They had their attention drawn to the television screen.
I sat on my branch for a moment to watch them, and remember good times.