The Forbidden Ground
by Lisa McCourt Hollar
Stewie was depressed. He had just had an argument with his wife, who had said she considered him a failure. A complete failure to be exact.
She had been waiting for him when he came home from a night out with the guys. Foot tapping, she had let him have it, not caring who was listening.
"Winter is coming and we have six children to feed and you've not stored any food away! I cannot do it all myself! Stewart Redtail, you are a complete failure!""
When she had finished listing off all of his failures, Franny had sent him back out to hunt for food, with instructions not to return, until he had achieved something. Tail between his leg, Stewie walked past his snickering friends, who had predictably been listening outside.
An hour later, Stewie scurried around, digging under the fall foliage. He knew all the acorns couldn't be gone. Surveying the area, he climbed over a pile of leaves to get a better look. His heart soared. Lying out in the open on the Forbidden Ground, was a single acorn.
They had all been warned to stay away from this land of horrors. Some of his friends referred to it as The Killing Zone.
There were others though, usually the young and more adventurous of his clan that made a sport of running out into the middle of the forbidden area, slapping the ground and running back. It was called counting coup. It was a test of their speed and agility. Stewie looked at the acorn longingly. He wasn't young anymore, but back in the day he had been a champion jumper. He was sure he could still execute his signature move perfectly.
''You are a complete failure!''" His wife's words echoed accusingly inside his head."
''Oh yeah,"well watch this!''
Climbing stealthily over the leaves, Stewie paused at the top, his heart hammering in his chest. Composing himself, he took a deep breath and then then leaped, arms stretched to grab the acorn. Doing a double flip, his fingers closed around the prize. A perfect execution! Flipping again, Stewies sailed across the Forbidden Ground and towards the pile of leaves.
''Did you see that?" That squirrel jumped straight into the side of the car!'' Looking in the rearview mirror, Lisa Hollar slowed the car"down. The suicidal squirrel appeared to be roadkill.
With a straight face, her husband quipped, "''He must have a wife he was trying to get away from.''
''Oh don't you start.''
Chuckling, the couple continued down the road, the suicidal squirrel already no more than a story to tell their friends.
Behind them, Stewie lay on The Forbidden Ground, the prized acorn just within reach. He stretched his arms out, ready to reclaim his reward. His head ached, but Franny couldn't call him a complete failure now. His fingers closed on the trophy
The driver of the semi never even saw the squirrel, who went down in his clan's history as an example of why you should always store your acorns early. Wives of lazy squirrels began referring to their husbands as Stewies, while the game the
young squirrels played became known as, How not to be a Stewie. The legend of Stewie was told over and over, from one generation to the next, influencing everything they did.
Not exactly a complete failure.