Squatchie“Oh Squatchie, you shouldn’t have!” I said coyly. I laid my hand on the matted fur of his left shoulder and pushed my hand off again playfully.

“MOOG!” he said loudly.

He hated it when I called him Squatchie, but I just couldn’t help myself. I mean, what was I going to call him, Bob?

The dead bat he had brought me was just exquisite; its wings spread wide and pinned with small wooden stakes to a large piece of bark. I loved it when he brought me presents. Especially dead ones. They were way easier to deal with than the ones that were still squirming. I held up my new bat wall hanging and looked at it, and then back at him. I smiled and placed it with my ever-growing collection on our makeshift cave mantlepiece.

My name is Brenda, and I am the bride of Bigfoot. I prefer to think of myself as “Squatchie’s domestic partner,” but shortly after my arrival in these mountains there was a really weird kind of Sasquatch dance party, where they painted my face with mud and stuck leaves in my hair, and ever since then I’ve been living with this thing in some kind of weird domestic situation. Ring or no ring, it sure felt like marriage.

I was captured by a group of Bigfeet, led by Squatchie, about five years ago. I think it’s been about that long. My cell phone was confiscated (read: stomped on by a Bigfoot) when they took me, and they don’t exactly have wall calendars up here in the mountains. But I know I’ve been through five very cold winters so far.

At the time I was taken, I was working at a national park outpost. I was in charge of counting trees, and as you can imagine, it was arduous work in a forest. One day I needed to clear my mind, so I took a walk.  I guess I wandered a little too far because before I knew it, seven pairs of big yellow eyes appeared from the trees and I was surrounded. I made a calculation of my chances for escaping. And here I am.

Squatchie sat down on a pile of branches and looked at me expectantly. I knew what that look was for. Dinner. Even though we shared no common language, he wasn’t too hard to understand. Like most guys, his face said it all. FOOD.

I sighed, and began the evening ritual of serving him dinner, and asking him how his day was. It was a rhetorical question, since he never once answered me, but I felt like I should at least ask about his day before I launched into telling him about mine. I started describing my afternoon, as I stirred up his favorite roadkill stew over the fire. I put some in a carved-out piece of tree trunk and turned around to give it to him. But I stopped in my tracks after seeing what he had in his hands.

He had brought me another present. A Patagonia fleece pullover! I almost dropped the bowl of stew in excitement. I swear, Squatchie was the absolute best at foraging. Over the years he’d brought me nice warm winter clothes, some summer outfits, and a dutch oven – perfect for homemade roadkill stew (he would also bring the roadkill, when he would venture far enough down the mountains). He was nothing if not resourceful. God bless his big furry heart.

I know what you’re thinking. Why am I still living with a Sasquatch after five years of supposedly being held captive? Surely I could have found a way to escape. And especially being such an ardent feminist! Cooking and cleaning for a cryptid all this time? How does this jive with my worldview, you ask?

Well, as hard as I try, I can never seem to slip anything past Squatchie. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve tried to escape. But he just seems to have a sixth sense about my whereabouts, and even when I tried to get him drunk, in hopes of him passing out long enough that I could get a head start down the mountain, he would magically wake up and I would never get past the stream right outside our cave.

I admit, it looks bad, me “cooking and cleaning” for a Bigfoot. Like I’m some weird forest domestic goddess, right? Like I know how to get pine tar out of fur and the best way to remove unwanted Sasquatch nose hairs. Well I do happen to know those things. But if not those handy bits of information, then what? Why is my life up here any less legitimate than the lives of those yahoos counting trees at the bottom of the mountain?

And as for being a feminist… yeah, at first I was kind of pissed about being held captive by a mythical dude. It’s not like he forced me at gunpoint to cook and clean for him, but if he’d had a gun, he probably would have. A lot of menacing looks and broad arm gestures by a 7-foot tall furry manbeast was just as effective.

I thought at first that Squatchie and his friends were sexist. But it turned out I was wrong. We didn’t get together with large groups of other Sasquatches very often, but a few times a year everyone in the area would get together for a big party. It was always a big to-do and a real sight – twenty or thirty Bigfeet partying in the forest, everyone drinking too much and ending up passed out around the fire, bellies full of rodents and forest liquor.

It was at one of these parties that I noticed one of the other Bigfeet also had a human companion. One of the Ladyfeet had gotten herself a real-life man. It turned out that they were gender-neutral when it came to abductions and forced cooking and cleaning.

I didn’t get a chance to talk to Jordan alone very often, but over the years he and I had become friends, and I looked forward to swapping recipes and stories when we did see each other. It turned out he had been captured about six months before me, while he was hiking with his girlfriend. A female Sasquatch had gotten infatuated while stalking them and had decided to take matters into her own hands.

I don’t think they wanted us for their love slaves or anything like that. It was as if they were more fascinated by us than anything else. I asked Jordan once if his domestic partner had made him – how can I phrase this – “put out.” He said no, she hadn’t gone that far. I admitted that Squatchie hadn’t broached that subject with me, either. We suspected that even the Bigfeet knew not to combine the waters of those two gene pools.

“Aw, Squatchie, this is so great!” I said, taking the fleece pullover from him and putting it on. It fit perfectly – he had an uncanny knack for bringing me things that were just the right size. I had to hand it to him, he had good taste too. He sucked at picking out books, though. Maybe it was because he couldn’t read. Go figure.

“Moog,” he said, a little less adamantly. Then he banged his spoon on the rock loudly over and over again until I brought him his bowl of stew.

I had already eaten, so I sat with him while he devoured his meal and continued telling him about my afternoon.

“And then Fwa came by and borrowed a cup of pine nuts – again! I told her, ‘Fwa, you need to just get your own damn pine nuts next summer, okay? I’m not your personal pine nut lady!’” I leaned back along the wall of the cave and ran my hands over the soft fleece material of my new pullover. “Maybe you can talk to her, okay Squatchie? She can’t just come over here all the time like our cave is her personal grocery store.”

He nodded at me before leaning back, patting his belly, and producing one very loud BURRRRRRRRRRRP. He continued pretending to listen to me until he fell asleep. I’m not sure how long I had been talking before I noticed. It was okay. I knew he’d had a busy day foraging. A lot of energy went into remaining unnoticed while looking for choice items.

I went to the back of the cave and got the sleeping bag that he had brought home the winter before and laid it across his long furry body. I stepped back and looked at him. I don’t think I felt love exactly, but I appreciated Squatchie and how nice he was to me. Once more I considered sneaking out of the cave while he slept. But it was cold out, and I was sleepy too.

Copyright 2018 by Andrea C. Neil