The Red Panda Escapes
Richard Scott Larson

I saw on Twitter that you escaped in the night. The search was on: highways, skyways, byways; embarrassed zookeepers determined to take you down.

I did a search and learned that you'd once been reclassified from raccoon to mountain bear; and how exciting, this brief promotion from suburban pest picking through trash to source of dread for amateur hikers. And now you're trending. There's a meme of you relaxing on a beach. But they still don't know what exactly you are: otter-ish, weasel-ish, skunk-ish. Finally they just made up a family: Ailuridae, they called you. A family of one.

"A lineage of uncertain affinities," claimed the scientific study failing to narrow you down. A history of independence from others in the kingdom.

There's a website I bookmarked that suggests things we can do to show the world who we really are. Express our uniqueness daily, perhaps with a bold fashion choice. Write down three things we value about ourselves on a piece of paper and hang it on the wall. Make time for solitude. Embark upon a surprising new hobby in secret.

A zookeeper in safari shorts is standing on a rooftop with a net. A spokesperson is confident that you are still in the area; she claims you would have needed a very strong reason to leave.

Richard Scott Larson has recently published fiction in failbetter, Hobart, Joyland, Booth, and others. He lives in Brooklyn.

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