Melissa was still low to the ground, but her attention was elsewhere. She was focusing on something involving the tree branches above. I found myself following her lead and looking up at the tree, trying to figure out what potentially saved my life for another few seconds. Somewhere within the tree an acorn came falling and bounced off of my forehead. One of the branches started shaking wildly until a squirrel jumped out from the leaves, landed on the base of the tree, and scurried back up—its nails were scraping against the bark as it circled the tree.
Another squirrel, I thought. Of all the things that could have come at such a desperate moment, a squirrel jumping around came by. If it somehow managed to grab my attention, intentionally or not, it must have also grabbed Melissa’s attention: a much worse scenario. I looked at her again to see what she would do.
Mouth salivating and getting onto her feet Melissa let out a loud, blood-curdling growl and leaped up into the tree. She quickly vanished into the green leaves. Everything was silent for a moment, as if time came to a complete standstill. In that moment my survival instincts kicked in and I knew what I had to do.
I had to escape.
I tired to push myself out of the bush, but the twigs wouldn’t let go of my blouse. I could hear it tearing in multiple spots, but I didn’t care—I could always buy a new one. I moved my hands around until I found a drier, more solid patch of dirt to push on. The sharp ends of the twigs broke through my blouse and cut through my skin as I started to free myself. I gritted my teeth and pushed through.
The screams of a squirrel blared out from above. It only lasted a few seconds before it was replaced with something breaking and tearing.
In one forceful move I managed to pull my chest up and out of the bush, falling back onto the concrete playground. I just sat there, basking in the early afternoon sun to catch my breath before trying to stand up. When I got onto my feet I realized that everything was quiet again. I looked up at the tree and saw Melissa’s bloody face hiding behind the leaves, the headless body of the squirrel clenched between her teeth.
Her appetizer was finished, and she was looking at the main course: me.