Back to the Bush: The Upstairs Neighbor

I wake up at 3:48am to the upstairs neighbor stomping around. The ceiling creaks and groans, the sound of grating metal filters down through the thin boards. It sounds like a brick is being shoved across the roof, and with a clatter something hits the stony path outside the bedroom window. “I think our neighbor just fell off the roof”
I grumble sleepily. Something metallic clangs and Tom rolls out of bed and grabs the flashlight as he heads out the door. Light dances through the bushes outside the ancient window, throwing long scraggly shadows to play across the ceiling.

She keeps us up most nights, and has evaded the trap for the third night in a row. Tom has visions of our furry friend setting it off by prodding it with long stick, just to piss him off.

At dusk the night before I was reading in bed, minding my own business, when I had the eerie sensation of being watched. Looking through the gloom out the window, I could just make out the silhouette of two big ears poking downwards from the gutter. I shone my headlamp through the window and two upside down eyes were staring at me out of an apple round face. Throwing my feet over the bed and into my slippers, I shuffled outside with the big yellow mega-flashlight in hand, jerked open the busted-up screen door, and peered up into the eaves. Now sitting upright on the gutter, our little neighbor stared down at me through big dewy black eyes. She didn’t move as I stepped a few noisy paces closer. With a massive bushy black tail, it’s no wonder they’re named Brushtail Possums. She was smaller than the ones Tom’s folks had caught in their rafters just the night before, driving the pair a few miles up the mountains (blindfolded of course) to be released the following night.

She looked at me, and I at her, admiring her soft grey coat, thick, with creamy white underbelly and a pointy pink nose. Frazzled whiskers extended from the black fur next to her rose petal snout, softly sniffing me through the air. Hunching over she held her little hands together at her chest like she had something to hide from me. Stepping closer, she leaned in, giving me a good long look. Her tail dangled down by my forehead as I crept closer, and I slowly reached out my hand and stroked her silky tail with the back of my index finger. She didn’t move until I put my arm back down at my side, and then as if electrified, she jumped and tore across the metal roof and out of sight.

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