Kirk Novak: She Lived Alone

She was known as Punxsutawney Phil, but her name was Grace. She lived alone. She lived alone in Gobbler’s Knob. She was a groundhog. Today was Groundhog Day.

Grace rubbed her paws and waited for the men in top hats to come. The men in top hats have come like clockwork for the last 120 years. Grace was almost 125 years old. A groundhog lives for about 6 years.

Ever since the men in top hats first came and asked Grace if she’d seen her shadow she stopped dying. Dying is what Grace calls living. Grace wants to feel alive again.

“Have you seen your shadow?” Grace thought that was a stupid question. The men in top hats believed she could predict the weather. Grace just liked to stay outside once the air stopped being so cold. She felt the cold more and more lately.

Her home darkened. The men in top hats had arrived. Grace moved to a corner away from their prying hands. She was tired and she would not make it easy for them. Grace did not make it hard enough for the men in top hats. She was soon grabbed, covered, taken.

Outside of her home a large crowd had gathered. The atmosphere was festive. Banners waved in the wind. People smiled as they spoke and drank hot beverages from styrofoam cups.

A ceremonial tree stump stood in the center of it all. Grace was held up like a trophy before the crowd and then gently set upon the stump.

The tallest of the men in top hats leaned down before Grace and asked the same question she had heard for 120 years. “Have you seen your shadow?” Grace stood up on her hind legs and started barking. The tallest man was unable to hide his surprise.

“You said we’re going to have 6 more weeks of winter?” The tallest man pretended to ask Grace. He was putting on a show for the crowd.

“Lean closer,” barked Grace.

The tallest man smiled and shouted, “An early spring it is, then?” He leaned close to Grace. Their noses were nearly touching.

Grace barked, “I don’t want to do this anymore,” and then clamped down on the bridge of the tallest man’s nose with all the force of her jaw.

The tallest man toppled backwards, great arcs of blood spurting from his nose, splattering the finery of the other men in top hats. Grace carefully stepped off the stump and started to run through the crowd as fast as she could.

The gathered crowd reacted comically. People screamed, tossed their cups in the air, and scattered every direction. The men in top hats scrambled to catch Grace, but slipped in the snow, landing on the ground, their arms just out of reach.

She looked fantastic for 120 years old, but Grace was a fat groundhog. She slowly scurried through the crowd of fast moving human beings, but no one was able to touch her. She frantically searched for a place to hide.

Grace saw a tree hollow and headed straight for it. She tucked herself inside and poked her nose out. No one had seen where she went. The crowd was searching for her frantically. She watched the other men in top hats tend to the tallest one Grace had wounded.

Grace tucked herself inside the hollow and looked around. She was living again. She would live alone here tonight. By the morning she will have moved on.

Goodnight, Grace.


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