Shirley poked her head deep in the woodchuck’s burrow and shouted “Hey, cuz! Are you home?”
Home-home-home echoed off the dirt walls, and then silence filled the deep hole as dust floated through a rogue sunbeam that was trying to infiltrate the darkness. Shirley sighed and waddled off to find another woodchuck to gossip with, but she was worried; she hadn’t seen her cousin in weeks.
Far beneath the meadow, in a side tunnel that had been dug specifically for this purpose, the woodchuck chuckled to herself and ate another Snickers bar. A few months ago, she had planted a sign at the top of the burrow that said Gone Fishin!, a little hint she hoped the other groundhogs would understand meant that she wanted to be left alone. Instead, animals kept dropping by to put in orders for scallops or tilapia.
We live in the dirt, miles from water thought the woodchuck. Did they really think she was going to bring them back scallops?
This time, she had told Shirley that she bought a jet ski and was planning a real vacation to try it out. It had been like posting a notice on Groundhog Twitter; the news had spread faster than monkey pox, or as she called it, the chimp bumps. The woodchuck hated chipmunks intensely and used every opportunity she could find to mock them. The little beasts had been by several times before asking where their tilapia was.
But the jet ski story seemed to have done the trick, and she had been left alone in her cozy burrow for some time now. The silence had been wonderful, the lack of information regularly stuffed into her head by Shirley about her cousins and other woodland animals freeing up space for her to think deep thoughts and to watch that Harry Styles spitting video many times over. She didn’t think he would really do that to Chris Pine, but she would have to watch it a few hundred more times to be sure.
The problem with watching cutting edge crime scene videos while scrolling for other angles was that it was hard to ignore the rest of the internet. The place with all the sunflowers kept popping up, and she found herself worrying about the grain that was going to waste that could have fed so many. The wildfires everywhere seem to be spreading, and sometimes she thought she could smell smoke even deep in her burrow. That ice shelf that was about to collapse was keeping her up at nights, and she knew once it went, she really was going to be able to get tilapia for everyone because they would be swimming in her burrow.
The worse thing was that the Weasel was still everywhere, despite having been driven out of the forest. Why was everyone still talking about him instead focusing on more important things, like how few monarch butterflies there were this summer, and democracy?
The woodchuck was slowly coming to the realization that it wasn’t her cousins and friends she needed the vacation from—it was the constant stream of fear and bad news that churned through her mind both night and day. It didn’t seem fair that she should have to worry about this stuff; her brain was the size of a walnut and it’s not like she could fix any of it. Besides, she really wanted to discuss the Harry Styles Spitting Video with Shirley. She just had to figure out how to let everyone know that she was back from vacation without letting any of them ride on her jet ski.