Short Story: “Panda”

I wrote this a few years ago as a writing prompt in one of my creative writing classes. I am having a great time digging these random stories out and sharing, otherwise they just lay there forgotten and some of them are amusing (at least to me!)

I think the prompt was something along the lines of:  A panda reads Kafka and visits New York City.


When I was a kid, I was obsessed with Pandas. I had a panda bedspread, and wallpaper and curtains. Also TONS of stuffed animals.

When I was a kid, I was obsessed with Pandas. I had a panda bedspread, and wallpaper and curtains. Also TONS of stuffed animals.

“Panda”

The panda was having a hard time of it. The world was too big and lonely and it was hard for anyone, he thought, much less a panda, an endangered species, to find a companion in this world.

On a hope, he went to New York City. He read Kafka on the airplane as the old lady next to him peered at him over her spectacles and slapped irritably at some of the white fur which kept falling on her scarf.

The ten year old on his other side fell fast asleep and hugged him close and breathed him in, like he was a vast pillow pet.

He ordered two mojitos. He asked politely to the stewardess if she wouldn’t mind to please, please turn that Tropical Thunder down, it was giving him a headache. She had stared at him.

At the airport, the panda had a hard time finding his luggage. The baggage claim people were rude to him and people kept staring. Sure, he was a large panda. All pandas were and if he was a panda that happened to like Khaki shorts and large brightly colored tropical t-shirts, why so let it be. By the end of the day, he needed a drink.

He went to a club. One of those fancy kinds in Manhattan where all the cool, under-aged kids go. He ordered a mojito that cost him close to twenty dollars. He tried to find a corner to himself. Perhaps the club hadn’t been a good idea.

Outside in the fresh air, the Panda decided to regroup. He thought about all the things he wanted to do in NYC. It was perfect night for a walk.

Two blocks away from the club, he saw a woman several feet ahead of him stumbling up the sidewalk, swaying back and forth in a dance to the music in her head.

She was tall and wore a dark green dress, silver pumps and silver eyeglasses and red lipstick. Her hair was a vivid red.

“Are you hurt? Can I help you?” asked the Panda once he had hobbled up to her.

The woman swayed where she stood. “Who the hell are you?”

He put out an arm. She grabbed at his fur, nearly tipped over and tugged some tuffs of hair out. He gritted his teeth as he folded his arm around her waist and she leaned against him as they stumbled along.

“You’re quite hairy,” she observed. “Don’t you shave?”

“No,” said the panda.

“Black and white too…how old are you?” said the woman.

“Not too old.”

“Can you help me get home? I think my ride’s missing.”

“Yes. I could do that.”

“You’re such a nice one. So soft, and caring,” said the woman, as they swayed along.

“Yes, I am,” said the panda.

“And you listen…oh, why can’t all men be like you?”

“I don’t know.”

“Such big arms you have too!” She laughed. “I like such large shoulders on my man.”

The panda felt his face warm. “I work out.”

“I can tell…oh such, lovely, lovely fur you have!”

Fur? Yes, yes…he did have fur…

The woman stopped dead on the sidewalk as she looked up at him. “Wait a minute…”

“Yes?” said the Panda, daring not to move.

“You’re so very tall too!”

He sighed as she clutched his large arm in both of hers as they wobbled down the street.

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