Titles by Kij Johnson are available for purchase online

I came out this morning and found this in my mail box: a comfy little squirrel’s nest, brand-new since yesterday afternoon. No babies or anything, but a well-made little pad of dead leaves and needles at the bottom, then a semi-compacted fluff of more leaves and grass , with a little squirrel-shaped hollow in it. I wonder if this is the young lady I saw yesterday nosing at a small bole in a tree out back: the hole was much too small and she moved on — to here, perhaps.

I imagine her here last night, her bits and bobs pulled close around, knowing she was, as they say, “safe as houses.” She slept, cozy and safe and satisfied with her new home. I feel terrible that I took it all out, that she will have this work to do again somewhere else. Nothing will be quite as good as this (though it would be really really cold if we have another hard winter), but really, she (and presumably, babies) cannot live in a mailbox hanging on the inside wall of my carport, three feet from where I pass a dozen times a day.

Still, I really apologize, miss. I know exactly how you feel. (And if you find a way back in and try again? I will put up a new mailbox and this will be yours for as long as you want it.)