October 1, 2021 | LIFE | By Kristen Richards | Illustration by Sydney Morris
We will rule the Colorado College campus. No one knows this yet — though many may suspect it — but we will. I tried to do it myself, but it is a big job for just a small squirrel like myself. So, I asked my many brothers and sisters to help me overthrow the student population.
At first, the students thought that we were cute. They took pictures of us with their smartphones and marveled at how adorable we were. We flaunted our image, parading around in the trimmed green grass, basking in the sun, and swishing our tails to the beat of the wind.
We sprinkled ourselves throughout the west and east campus, making sure not to gather in places where we would be spotted as a group. For most students, too many squirrels in one place is, in fact, too scary.
Hidden in the back corner of the dumpsters behind South Hall, we plotted our revenge. It started as a Christmas gift to ourselves. After all, we always work SO hard. We deserve a little of the good food that Rastall Dining Hall and Colorado Coffee serve to students all day long. And the students have the audacity to go and throw out a burger bun the size of my body!
It started with me, Squirrel C, and my youngest brother and closest friend, Squirrel R. We found a trash can labelled “compost” and hopped inside. It was raining that morning, so the safety of the metal served us well.
We heard the ring of a bell and the shuffling of students. Not more than ten minutes later, a piece of bread the size of Squirrel R’s tail rained down on us. It smelled sweet, like the sugar crumbles we sometimes found.
Squirrel R knew that this treat was mine, and the next one would be his. I gobbled down the flaky, buttery bread. There was a hint of what Mother Squirrel would call “almond.”
Before I had even finished my pastry, Squirrel R caught a piece of bacon as it fell into the bin and onto our hands. And that was only the beginning.
I had to tell Mother Squirrel and Father Squirrel about our incredible discovery. But I also did not want to share. The compost bin I had placed myself in was the best one on campus; it filled up in less than an hour three times a day! And I enjoyed it all.
Some might say I was becoming greedy, venturing outside the trash can to see what my options might be for the day. I looked at the students, watching the food travel from their hands to my can.
Mother Squirrel distributed the rest of the cans to my brothers and sisters. They gathered in groups of two or three, careful to only cross the sidewalk from East to West campus when the cars were stopped.
Slowly, we built up our courage to move from inside the cans to outside the cans. Existing outside the cans meant facing students, running towards them until they turned and ran away. We were no longer the cute creatures they took pictures of in the first weeks of classes.
We were vicious. We bared our teeth, scrunched up our faces, surrounded the cans so that students would leave their food directly at our feet. Nourished, we flourished.
One morning, as we met as a family in the corner of the dumpster behind South Hall, Squirrel R came up with a new idea: go inside the building. What would show the students our superiority more than invading their one sacred space?
My oldest brother, Squirrel B, led our invasion into the dorm. We found an open window on the third floor of South Hall with only a screen separating us from our prospective home. One by one, we climbed onto the screen, planning on tipping it with our weight or ripping it with our teeth.
Soon, there were a dozen of us on the screen, then two dozen, and then close to thirty. Some of the younger squirrels had to spread out onto the sides of the window so that we could all fit. From the ground, Mother Squirrel gave us the cue to start biting into the screen. But before we could sink our teeth into the screen, a student walked into the room, dropping their bag on the floor and scanning the room.
When they saw us, they screamed. It hurt my ears. Then, to retaliate, the student began to throw things at the window in an attempt to knock us back to the ground. A shoe hit the screen, then an anatomy textbook and a water bottle.
I was leading the pack, but the water bottle’s force knocked me off the screen. I began to fall, and my brothers and sisters followed, their own grip on the screen failing.
We hit the ground hard, piled on top of each other. My first thought: find Squirrel R. But alas, beneath the pile of our squirming bodies lay Squirrel R, breathing hard, his body broken from the fall. We circled around him, mourning, and laid our collection of croissants on him as an offering to the Squirrels in the Sky.
Then, we retreated back to the trash cans, our one true home.