All Stories, General Fiction

Smile, You’re a Beaver by Jeremy Johnson

Oh! To be born again like this! Sweet Beaver!

It’s a crispy, young morning in the infancy of spring and there is still frost to be found in the hollows and places that are shaded all day. As the sun emerges in yellow shards of a nearby eastern mountain, so too do you emerge from your cozy beaver home. Yawning out at the sky, your big beaver teeth glisten.

Lucky! A lot of other beavers are jealous of your glorious chompers. No time to dwell on dentals, though.

You hear your mother’s voice in ethereal echoes in your head. “Get your lazy beaver tail out that door!” she would hiss over her morning coffee. She was eaten by coyotes last fall. She had gone rabid in her later years and it’s all that you really remember her for. That, and driving away your father.

It’s time to get on the beaver bus! What could be better?

You are running late and you almost forgot your beaver pants, beaver shirt, and beaver lunch. Quickly clamoring it all together, and nearly maiming yourself twice somehow in the process, you’re out the door before you know it and on the beaver trail.

The frosty dew moistens your little bitty beaver toes, but you don’t have time to worry about all that. It’s the industrial revolution. Just now! Lucky again!

Oh, to be born in a time when a beaver can be so industrious. And to think that the matter was only settled last Tuesday when the North American Animal Committee voted unanimously to “just have a civilization already.”

It’s hard for you to imagine a time when there wasn’t a post office, ground coffee, a lumber mill, or a job that you had to go to. It’s hard for you to remember before last week. Lucky! You should smile! You are a beaver, after all.

Your mind is a blank slate as you amble down the road, half awake and half zombie. You are the perfect canvas for a painting of any choosing. Good boy!

Before you know it, you almost bump into the beaver bus bench set up at the beaver bus stop. Seeing that it’s already quite crowded here, the other beavers you don’t talk to, your neighbors, Mrs. Liddel, and the Evil Day Owl are already here and sipping on some coffee from the new cart up the block.

Everyone tries to get to the bus stop early to watch the bus arrive. It’s fascinating every time. A pop, a fizz, a sudden jarring explosion and a plume of smoke. That’s the beaver bus! Nuclear powered and government sanctioned. 100% safe. With a paint job that is part bargain bin and part psychedelic, how you could not immediately fall for its charm and whimsy?

You shed a single tear as you watch. You are so goddamn proud of your community and all the other beavers you are too afraid to talk to at the bus stop. When the bus arrives, you don’t even make eye contact with the driver.

It’s time to board the bus! This is a hoot!

You wait until after everyone else gets on, of course. Be polite like your crazy old mother would have wanted. How blessed is this day, though? All the seats are taken so you will be standing on the forty-five minute, stop-and-go, claustrophobic, sea-sickening ride. It’s good to stand! It promotes circulation in your beaver thighs and that could prevent you from dying prematurely of a heart attack, deep vein thrombosis, or “ringer’s illness”, which has just been invented. What an exciting time to be alive and addicted to beaver porn.

Your hands will ache during the trip from holding on tightly, nervously, to the cold metal bar, but it prevents you from being flung to the front of the bus whenever the beaver bus driver, a mongoose, slams on the brakes. It is really tragic, from my perspective, knowing that you’re going to die before you get there. You’re going to be half-asleep when it happens. That’s truly fortunate for you because you won’t want to be alert for this.


You had thought about calling in sick today. Calling on your sweet brand-new beaver phone! It’s a party line, but no one else on your block is ever on so you can talk to Gary all night about Sigfried and Roy, who happen to also exist in the dimension where animals have medical insurance and depression. Talking to Gary makes you miss high school. Talking to Gary makes you realize things used to be simple.

You pull out your notepad and write down “today’s gonna be your day” as a special note to yourself. You really like the way your handwriting looks here. It’s a sign of optimism, they say, when a beaver’s pawwriting goes up the page as the sentence goes on. It’s like the sentence itself knows that things are on the up-swing.

You are so fortunate because you have managed, despite all these things, to look kindly upon yourself. You sweet beautiful beaver! Look at you! You’re optimistic because you knew, the whole time, that you never had a choice.

Smile! Smile so big! Smile and say “better now than never”, baby!

Jeremy Johnson

Image by Hulki Okan Tabak from Pixabay 

6 thoughts on “Smile, You’re a Beaver by Jeremy Johnson”

  1. Thank you, Jeremiah for your penetrating look into the Beaver psyche. Beavers are more than tree dropping,pond damming, flat tailed creatures whose name once was maliciously appropriated by cases of arrested development for use as a clueless synonym for women, as well for a character on a show that continues to mystify for entering yet another year in syndication. No! This fun, clever little thing proudly proclaims: “I am Beaver, here me roar!” Of course, Beavers don’t roar, but maybe this story will motivate some to try.



  2. Very droll…. lucky it was a mongoose driving the nuclear powered bus and not a coyote! I feel sorry for the poor beaver, his/her cold toes and his/her random fate. Everyone’s living a comedy on the edge of tragedy. When I was a kid, one fine afternoon the local farmer dynamited the beaver dam along the river. “They’re just too damn busy!” he said.


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