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It was a warm June afternoon in Manhattan. Sweat dripped from his brow as he walked quickly down Lexington Avenue. His thoughts occupied him so intensely, he barely saw what was around him, nor did he need to, since it was the same journey he took every afternoon. Without knowing why, he stopped at the corner of 26th Street and raised his head. There, in the middle of the sidewalk, was Cynthia, a woman from his college in Ohio. He had known her, and he had not known her. He had wanted her, and she had wanted something different. It had been ten years. But there she was, standing in front of him, so…radiantly. Her pink candy fur burst toward him, and her long rabbit whiskers brushed his face.

“I haven’t seen you in ages,” she said, displaying a basket of chocolate kisses, to which were attached small pieces of paper that said “Jory’s Super Sale.”

“I’ve never seen you…like this, I mean.”

“I know. Isn’t it wild?” she said, her paw in the air. “It’s just the way things go sometimes.” She adjusted her long pink ears, which flopped over the front of her enormous bunny head. He looked up and down her pristine, synthetic furriness.

“I mean, you look great.”

“Don’t worry,” she said. “I’m sure you’ll get yours soon.”

“My what?”

“Your animal suit,” she laughed. “It happens to everyone eventually.”

“I’m not sure that I –”

“It’s just like this,” she said. “Everyone has his own time.”

She clutched his pale hands in her furry bunny paws.

“Okay,” he said, backing away. “I think it’s going to rain soon,” he called over his shoulder, catching one last glimpse of her tremendous rosy exterior. She waved with one large paw.

He knew he’d never been clever enough, and he had a lot of work to do, besides.

Just find out where she lives, or call her.

But, he was busy, administering surveys.

She’d never go out with you though—she seems totally caught up in that other scene.

He was only paid if the information turned out right and the Hollywood guy and the movie distributor and the theater owners all agreed.

But what if your negative assumptions are the only things keeping you apart?

Nobody had ever said that, but he was sure it was true.

What kind of suit would he have?

Something kind of dangerous

since it was a very serious job–

a wolf             

to which he was extremely committed–

a cow

he supposed, and he liked what he did–

a bald eagle    

He never missed a day and, although he was not paid well, he was also not paid badly. You’ll have to choose something.

The surveys helped him conduct his life, to find the answers, the trails in the woods. Carefully, cautiously, he made his way through the great brown woods of not knowing what anyone else thought. Each day he walked fearfully through the trees, until he read the surveys and at last found the miraculous trails, the minds of others.

In the woods, he spoke with chipmunks and squirrels, though occasionally a possum or a raccoon. The creatures gave methodical replies, as though a god had told them what to say and how to say it. He saw them only once a day or so—they’d appear on the sidewalk outside the subway, in the gutters, or sometimes in the elevator. When he greeted the creatures, they fell into viciously awkward silences. He usually stared at them for a few moments, and then turned his gaze, so they could scamper away, up into the branches of a nearby tree.

“Don’t worry,” he said to their glassy eyes. “Don’t worry. You’ll get yours soon. It happens to everyone, eventually.”