Tell us about the time you rescued someone else (person or animal) from a dangerous situation. What happened? How did you prevail?
This one time, (at band camp…. just kidding) I rescued a baby possum.
It was quite a few years ago. I was living in a share-house in Camberwell, and one of the girls that I lived with had a cat, Beauchamp. Beauchamp was a small tortoise shell and she LOVED attention. She also loved destroying the furniture and all-but destroyed one side of the couch.
This one day, the three girls and I were in our typical frantic morning routine. Racing around the house trying to get ready, fighting for the bathroom, and trying to eat breakfast. One of the girls, left for work, and the two (poorly) closeted lesbians and I were left.
I was in my room getting dressed, B was in the bathroom, and H was in the kitchen.
B walked out into the loungeroom wrapped in her towel to get her work shirt that was hanging up with the other washing on the clothes rack, and suddenly let out this squeal. As I walked out of my room towards the loungeroom, Beauchamp went flying past my ankles and straight out the back door.
I go into the loungeroom, and B is standing on a chair, in her towel, with water slowly dripping onto the carpet. Her face was white and her eyes had dilated to the size of dinner plates.
‘DON’T COME IN HERE’ she yelled. ‘THERE’S SOMETHING BEHIND THE COUCH!!’
‘THERE’S SOMETHING BEHIND THE COUCH. I DON’T KNOW WHAT IT IS, I THINK IT’S A RAT!!’
H, appeared behind me. ‘A rat, you say. I bet it was that damn cat! Beauchamp? BEAUCHAMP?? BEAUCHAMP!!’ The cat suddenly appeared in the doorway. It arched it back and started to growl. The ears went back and the tail started flicking from side to side, and in an instant, it had literally dived under the couch. Then there was all this commotion.
H and I crept up to the couch, and we could hear the cat clawing around and growling inside the base of the couch. Just as we lifted the couch, something dark and furry ran past our feet. We both squealed and dropped the couch and jumped up on the armchairs.
‘WHERE DID IT GO?!?!’
‘B – DID YOU SEE WHERE IT WENT?’
‘WHAT THE HELL WAS THAT THING!??!’
B was still standing on her chair, still in her towel, still dripping water. She was terrified to move. She was too scared to even look at the floor.
H saw the cat dart around the side of the couch and behind the back of the chair I was standing on. Next to the chair, between the chair and the wall, was a pile of old magazines. I could hear some scurrying around underneath a magazine that had fallen down in the space behind it, and I could hear Beauchamp growling.
I slowly crouched down on the chair, whilst H grabbed the cat. As I lifted the magazine, I saw it, and squealed again.
‘WHAT? WHAT IS IT?!?!
‘I… I don’t know, actually…” I saw this small dark brown furry thing, curled up in the corner. It certainly wasn’t a rat. I used the magazine to poke it. ‘OH MY GOD IT’S A BABY POSSUM!!!’
Just as I said that, Beauchamp clawed H in the arm, and she dropped her, and the cat tore around the back of the couch and grabbed the possum in it’s mouth and just as quickly, ran back under the couch.
H and I grabbed the couch, and completely flipped it over. We could see the cats back legs and tail hanging out of a hole in the base of the couch, and we grabbed her and pulled her out. H threw her into a bedroom and closed the door.
We saw the possum curled up amongst some of the springs, but couldn’t reach it to grab it. I didn’t know if it was dead, if it was injured, if it was even still alive. It was so dark, and I couldn’t see anything. I grabbed a pair of rubber gloves and stuck my hand in to try and grab it, but it let out this high-pitched squeal, and I panicked and yanked my hand out of there so quickly. In doing so, I cut my arm and the top of my hand on a sharp piece of broken metal spring. I grabbed a towel to absorb the blood from my arm, and as I did so, the possum ran out of the couch and under the arm chair next to me.
Without thinking we grabbed the chair and carted it out into the backyard. I wrapped my arms in towels, and grabbed the baby possum and yanked it out from amongst the springs.
It was curled up into a ball, and was so tiny, it fit into the palm of my hand. It didn’t appear to be moving and I thought it was dead. I examined it for any bleeding and / or puncture wounds, but there weren’t any and then all of a sudden, it’s tail started moving and it started squealing again.
Further down the backyard, there was a rustle in the trees, and then this giant possum appeared on the fence.
‘ahh, H, I think that’s the mother…’
‘But shouldn’t we take it to a vet first?’
‘I dunno. What if we put it on the ground and see if it moves?’
So we layed the possum on the grass and took a few steps back and just stood watching. It didn’t move. We thought the worst. B appeared on the back steps, ‘is it dead? Oh my god, why isn’t it moving? It’s dead, isn’t it!?’ She was a heartbeat away from bursting into tears.
The possum didn’t move.
‘B, grab a couple of teatowels and the shoebox out of the recycling!’ I wasn’t wasting any time. There was a vet just down the road, I was going to get them to look at it.
H confronted the possum on the fence, ‘I’m really sorry, Mrs Possum. Beauchamp did a really shitty thing, and we’re going to take your baby to the animal hospital. We’ll be back soon, so don’t go anywhere!’
We took the possum down to the vet. H and I were still in our pyjama’s and were barefoot, an I still had a towel wrapped over my cut arm, but we didn’t care. They took the possum in, and came out a short while later. It was just in shock, and they were giving it a bottle, and if we came back in a couple of hours, we’d be able to take it and release it back to it’s mother.
We went home and I called work, explaining that I was going to be late, and I made an appointment to get a tetanus shot later that afternoon.
H called me later that morning to say that she got the possum back and that it was fine. Not even a scratch on it. Phew!! She took it home and released it into the backyard, and it reunited with it’s mother a couple of minutes later.
I may have ended up with a few cuts on my arm and a tetanus shot, but it was worth it to save a baby possum. I felt so great after that. It really lifted my spirits.