5

5

Gareth and the beaver had an odd relationship. Neither liked the other much, but they had gradually developed a sort of symbiosis. The beaver had a particular interest in things like that. As a young kit, he had been fascinated with things like symbiotic relationships and their companion concepts like antagonism, commensalism and mutualism. He hadn’t yet arrived at a place where he was willing to commit, but there was time. There was nothing but time.

It was true that the beaver missed the pond. It was equally true that Gareth refused to flood the apartment. These things being true the beaver had decided that he would wait until the nature of their interaction had been more clearly defined before taking any sort of action. After all it seemed to him that if Gareth woke up one morning floating like a waterlogged tuber in what had previously been his immaculate bedroom, the relationship might be tilted a bit prematurely to something not unlike parasitism.

And of course there was that lemon tree in the living room to consider. True, it was small and not yet even a proper snack, but the beaver could smell the potential and, as it has been noted, the beaver was patient to a fault. Still, the beaver spent many a pleasant hour lying in the dappled light the half-meter tall Meyer lemon afforded, imaging the rough texture of that lightly scented bark sliding against his teeth and the first taste of heart wood as he slowly and delicately cleaved that delicious morsel of a shrub into tiny, tiny pieces.

Really the only downside of the whole experience vis a vis the wondrous lemon was its stupid predilection for making those stinky flowers. It was a cause of not inconsiderable annoyance each and every time the beaver was forced to nip the buds before they blossomed. They tasted bad. Waxy and sickly sweet. And in the process of deflorinating the soon-to-be-succulent snack, he often got a taste of the tender branch that had produced the flower. A tantalizing, almost irresistible taste. How anyone expected him to maintain his decorum in the face of such temptation was beyond him. It was only the aftertaste of the flower that had allowed him to develop some Pavlovian resistance to the urge to eat now, regret later.

Gareth for his part, was indifferent to all this, or so the beaver had always assumed.