In an animal's world of life and death, there is a fine line between almost and certain. I nearly crossed that line this morning.
My eyes caught a flash of gray too near to my tires on a rainy sidestreet and the good graces of German-made brakes, and my own still-responsive reflexes, kept me on the merciful side of that fine line. There was no impact. A life spared.
Still, I pulled over. I had to be sure by seeing the squirrel's face. I had to look into the eyes that, seconds ago, had been as terrified as mine still were.
I would see reassurance there. And I did. Briefly. All I saw after that was a scampering, spark-like, the flame of life still lit.
All I saw was the quickening of small feet followed by a tail, up the side of a stockade fence. I had not crossed that fine line, at least not in the rainy world of life and death this morning.
I exhaled and wiped my palms on my jeans, shifting back into drive. I went forward, following the squirrel's example.