Two Possums in the Basement Window Well

By Fran Fredricks

They were babies, fuzzy, white, playful, one riding the other’s back, trapped in my window well. They probably fell.

A friendly police officer flashed a light and stared, and told me there was nothing she could do. She told me to wait until morning to put a 2-by-4 in the well, they’d climb out, she said.

By morning, death was in my well. Little hissing, one shook all over, ignoring the slanted plank toward freedom. Instead it curled up into its sibling like a stuffed pillow and stopped moving too.

Were they playing possum, these nocturnals? I’ll never know.

With a broom, my husband shoved the bodies into a bucket on a towline clearing the window well. He put them in a shoebox and wrapped it in several plastic bags. If they were not dead before, this assured it.

He didn’t like the executioner’s job but someone had to do it. We justified the act—they’re pests, they bite, they could be rabid.

He tossed the makeshift coffin for two in the trashcan, buried under lunch scraps, a dusty air filter, a broken cup, another pair of holey socks with worn out heels, ready for the landfill.

We tried not to think of suffocation, decay, the rotting smells, the personification of the mother possum—her sorrow for her young, or her negligence.

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