A Note from the Writer
This story is intended to please the mind, for it commutes with the fascination of youth and nature coinciding with one another. It will make you smile a happy smile and cry a sorrowful tear, but probably the most important thing that will happen when you read this story is what it does to your soul and heart. Be aware that this is not ordinary writing, despite its plain appearance and style. Those who dismiss this as fiction will be mistaken, but do not read this as a true story. This story, unlike most that have been written, will be about truth and fantasy blending into one. Keep an open mind and you will learn this is not, by any means, a regular, run-of-the-mill story.
Brian was a young lad of merely nine years of age, living in a rather plain but cozy cottage at the edge of the woods. He was accompanied by his father, John, a rather ordinary-looking man that only wanted to live his days in peace. He had a strange aura about him, and he usually kept to himself. Brian, on the other hand, was a curious youth who loved to roam the plains and the forests of the nearby land the cottage occupied. The days were usually nice and sunny, even during Winter, and the night sky was always filled with gently gleaming speckles of light, seeming to beckon those gazing from below to join them.
Although his life was somewhat casual and uninteresting, Brian found many things to do in his spare time at home. He did not go to school, for he was far from the main part of the major towns. John thought that school was a way to brainwash the young ones into believing anything they wanted, which is why he stays away from the mainland in the first place. Despite this, Brian gains certain knowledge from his own experiences, obtaining new-found lessons and morals every day he ventures into the forest. He seemed to come across learning in his own way, for he grew different from the other children of the world. Seemingly ordinary like his father, although on the contrary, Brian was a special boy who had hidden talents and great wisdom, especially considering he was a child.
Even so, he was still a mere boy of nine, and he had the same traits as one would expect in him, such as a naive and somewhat timid personality. He was highly curious, but he never got himself into trouble. At least, not in his own mind, anyway.
John was a caring father, but some might consider his methods of "discipline" to be harsh. John could never understand the ways of his son, his differences baffling him. He always thought to himself, "Probably came from his mother." Whenever Brian would disobey his father in any way, such as going off on his own or trying to sneak out at night, he would give him a taste of his own tool of nature: a switch. This particular device was a long, green rod that was made of some type of vine, and he made it into a disciplinary weapon. It was skinny, yet painfully intimidating to a young child. Brian never knew why his father did what he did, but he didn't like being hurt. He thought the only time he was safe was in the refuge of the woods, where the young creatures roamed and the old oaks bloomed beautifully in the basking light of the sun's rays. This peaceful land was, in his mind, a place of pure bliss, and every time he recieved an reprimand from his father, it was as if he did not want to live with his father. It was a prison to him, but he loved his father still, for Brian was never the type to feel anger or hatred towards any living creature, no matter how cruel they appear to be.
Brian was a special child, for he seemed to be one with nature, even if his father told him of the dangers. However, Brian never feared the forest or its inhabitants, for he knew there was nothing there that would harm him in any way. No bear, cougar, or feral animal would come near the boy, but his father did not know of this strange truth. He was blind to his son's way of learning, and he only thought of his son to be different, not talented or special in any form of the word. But Brian knew, and he always found a way to be himself.
A Boy and a Fox
Brian had just awoke to greet the sun's rising glow. He stretched his arms and let out a yawn as he sat up in his small bed. It was the end of winter, a new beginning for many things in the world, and Brian would soon come to realize that his days were going to be filled with excitement and adventure quite sooner than he would have thought this year.
It was a crisp, clear morning like any other, and Brian was going to do his daily routine of adventurous searching, his mind looking for knowledge in nature at all times. John simply shook his head at the boy when he darted out of the house as soon as breakfast was consumed.
"That boy ain't right...I swear he ain't." John muttered to himself, his voice gruff with confusion.
The young boy decided to travel the path differently than he usually did today as he looked at the trees in front of him. A small, narrow passage where he always walked was covered in small mushrooms of different colors and many small saplings trying to make their way to the heights of their fellow relatives. He avoided the path for once and merrilly approached the forest with a light hop to his step. He knew he would find something new if he took a different route.
The sun shined through the leaves above like angels singing down from heaven, the sweet aroma of oak and pine filling the air at all times. The feeling of contentment seemed to be commonplace here. The beautiful forest a marvel to behold, a great example of the wonder of nature that many people seemed to ignore completely. Brian, however, believed that the world should be full of forests like this one everywhere, and people coexisting with Mother Earth at all times.
As he approached a small clearing, Brian noticed a lone stump. It was rather large, and probably used to be the base of a once great and wise tree in the past. There were no signs of where the tree went, only its stump basked in a ray of light, as if it were a stage under a spotlight. He felt the old wood with a small stroke, closing his eyes as he smiled from its feel. He decided to take a break as he sat in the center of the stump, his body not even taking up half the space it provided for him. He looked up from his spot, not a single cloud in sight. The aqua-colored sky seemed calm as he watched for any changes. He was full of happiness, and he felt completely at peace here.
A short while past, and the sun had creeped its way directly above the spot Brian had found. The bright orb beamed down upon Brian's head, for he could no longer gaze at the sky. Brian stood up, ready to leave, but he heard a ruffled movement to his left. He paused for a moment and took a glance over to the sound, wondering the cause of such a rustling noise. His eyes landed on a lone vixen, a red and white fox that had wandered to the same location as him. Brian smiled at the creature as it gazed back at him, his hands going into his empty pockets.
The fox's ears twitched slightly as she tilted her head in curiosity, trying to study the human in her midst. She had never seen him before, but he did not seem to be a threat at all. In fact, the fox rather enjoyed being in the prescense of this boy. She had no idea why, but she immediately trusted the human and trodded up to him slowly. The boy blinked as the vixen approached him, his blue, innocent eyes fixated on her. As the fox came to his feet, she sat down in front of him, looking up with the same curious eyes as Brian had. Brian smiled brightly at her, knowing she, too, was no threat. He sat down as well, reaching a hand close to her. She sniffed the hand lightly, pressing her black nose against his palm. He giggled at the feeling, making the fox's ears perk upwards. She almost seemed to smile as she nuzzled her furry cheek into his hand. Brian stroked her soft coat of skin as it past his fingers.
A vixen of the forest was now his companion. Some might claim the fox to be merely a pet, but Brian did not believe in keeping animals in that way. The fox was like a fellow person to him, a being he could call his friend. A true friendship between human and nature.
The following day, after his daily morning routine at home with his father, Brian immediately went to the forest, anxiously awaiting another sight of his new friend. He had snuck some breakfast with him to feed the fox. "Some eggs will do," he thought to himself as he went to find the same tree trunk from before.
The sun was shining excellently that day, and the birds were singing quite nicely. Many fungus of vivid scarlet and orange scattered the ground, some white shrooms even seeming to form a circle here and there. Wild flowers of many shades of lavender and turquoise blanketed the grassy floor, some of the sun's light shining atop the plant life. Everything moved as if to breathe, swaying together with the gentle wind caressing the woods. Every part of the forest seemed active as usual, every life form coexisting wonderfully with the surrounding ones. It was perfect harmony, the song of the forest soaring through the air as the free birds fly above, adding more to the day's wonder.
Brian approached the same clearing after a while, smiling at the old, familiar trunk sitting there in the middle of the miniature plain. He sat there, retrieving a small bag made of cloth from his backpack. As he opened it, he found the warm, scrambled-up eggs still intact, ready to be eaten. Not long afterward, the female fox appeared as expected, walking with a slight hop in her steps. She looked at the boy and then turned her attention to the object in his hands. She sniffed the air, licking her lips with hunger as she eyed the eggs. Brian noticed this, and smiled widely as he tried to contain himself from giggling. He placed the open cloth with the eggs down to the ground for her, watching as the vixen approached with slight haste. She nipped at the eggs to taste, intrigued at this new aroma and texture. After consuming all the food placed before her, Brian lightly petted her head and withdrew the cloth back to his pack.
The two played together for quite some time after that. The fox, nearly as long as the boy was tall, pounced Brian playfully, licking his cheek with light laps of her tounge. Brian wrapped his arms around the warm, furry friend, smiling and laughing with joyous innocence in his voice. The vixen then curled up in his lap as they lay on the forest floor, cuddling as if they were going to sleep there.
Unfortunately for them, the day was getting later, and the sun was about to set. Brian had to go home to his cottage, and the fox needed to retreat back to her part of the woods. As Brian petted the vixen the last time that day, he frowned slightly, not wanting to leave at all. He did, though, for fear of what his father would do if he had stayed any later. The boy dragged his feet back to the house, and as he approached it, he saw his father standing at the door. This sight made him gulp a bit.
"Brian! There you are, boy. I was worrying all day about you. Where did you run off to for such a long time, son?" the father questioned in a deep tone. the young boy was looking down now, almost afraid to tell him about the fox.
"Well, daddy, I was just..."
"Just what? Speak up, son."
"Y-Yesterday I met a friend in the woods and we played together, so today I-"
"Friend? In the forest? Nonsense! There are only trees and animals in the woods. Who could you have made friends with?"
The boy knew his father would react this way, but he could never lie to his father.
"Daddy, she's a friend. Animal or human, she would still be my friend."
John raised an almost angry brow to his son's response.
"You're trying to make friends with animals? It could be dangerous, Brian! Animals in the forest only want food, and would as soon kill you to get it."
"No, daddy! She wouldn't do that! She's a good fox!"
"Fox!? You were with a fox? Those things can carry all sorts of diseases, including rabies! Don't you realize how dangerous a fox can be? You need to think, boy! What if something happened to you? I wouldn't have known where you were if you had gotten hurt or even killed!"
"No but's, Brian! You can't stay out this late, especially if you see a fox or any other dangerous animal!"
"I'm going to have to teach you a lesson for this, son. Stand right here." the large man commanded the boy.
Brian was scared, but despite his fear of the switch, he obeyed his father and waited, for he would not want to get him any angrier than he already was by trying to escape. As John returned with his switch, he motioned Brian to assume the position he had been done previous times. He bent over and his father held onto him, readying the slender vine in his hand. He came down onto his son's denim-covered bottom with swift strikes, hitting the boy five times with the switch. Each strike made the young boy cry out in pain, despite the fact that his bare skin was not being assaulted. When it was over, John went back to his room and put the switch away in its place, and Brian, in tears, dragged himself back to his own room. He layed in bed, silently weeping into his pillow until he finally drifted to a deep slumber.
When the sun came up the next morning, Brian opened his eyes slowly, looking at the window. The sun was somewhat blocked by a single cloud, but the rays still shined down brightly as usual. He got out of his bed and did his daily morning routine once again, eating and getting a clean, warm shower. He left to explore the woods once again, only not as excitedly as before. His bottom was slightly sore, a painful reminder of yesterday's occurance. He used it as a way to keep himself from staying out too late again.
Upon seeing the beautiful scenery, however, Brian's mood immediately uplifted, his smile drawing back onto his face as he walked towards the same clearing. He carefully sat on the trunk, wincing in pain a bit. Still, he smiled, alert of his surroundings and awaiting the vixen's return. Sure enough, the fox did approach the boy, but she was accompanied by another fox, this one somewhat longer and taller than the familiar fox Brian knew. It appeared to be her mate. Brian smiled at the sight, leaning forward a bit to greet the fellow fox. He was a bit skeptical of the human, but with a notion of the vixen, he approached the human. After getting a whiff of Brian's scent, the male fox wagged his tail, a sign of acceptance. Brian petted both of the foxes, happier now that he had two friends he could associate with.
Brian and the two foxes played for a short while, but the young lad knew it was going to get late soon. He waved a hand goodbye to the foxes as he walked away, headed back home. The foxes went back to their den as well, for it was the time of Spring when all the animals of the forest found a mate and began the process of creating new life. It was the way of the world since its very existance began.
A couple of months past, and Brian still visited the foxes daily, often bringing extra food with him so the foxes could eat, too. Only a few times did Brian have to deal with his father's wrath, the switch used in each occasion. The two foxes, now accompanied by five young kits, had shown Brian their little den deeper into the woods. Spring had been going by, the lazy days of youth drifting along, each filled with new excitement and fun.
As Brian went to visit the den that day, the clouds above shielded most from the sun's rays, but the sky remained blue and clear, mostly. The flowers and mushrooms, still abundant, kept their places, some tree leaves falling from the wind's gusts. Summer was coming soon, which meant summer rains, but for now, Spring was still in session, and the forest was abrim with intriguing scents and wonderous sounds. Everything seemed in order.
Brian saw the small area in which the foxes made their abode, smiling as he sped up to approach it. The vixen came out first, greeting the boy again with her gazing eyes that seemed to shine always. The male came out as well, followed by the five little ones. Brian sat down and watched the seven of them watching him with familiar eyes, all happy to see him. The two boy kits in the group ran up to Brian and nuzzled against his sides, also later joined by the adult vixen Brian knew first. He had grown to love all of them, especially the vixen, for she was the first technical friend he ever had. The male and three female kits watched for a while before joining in the fun as well, all eight of the group playing and having a wonderful time together. Brian was as happy as he could be with them all, so very full of life and joy as he giggled.
After a while of playtime and merryment, Brian noticed that a light-grey cloud had formed directly above them, the light darkening a little from the massive formation in the sky. Not long after that he felt the cold, shocking feeling of a droplet landing on the back of his neck, making him shiver as it travelled down his backside. The foxes noticed the change in climate as well, the sky beginning to drizzle light drops of rain. This was unusual, for the rain hardly ever came this time of year. The foxes retreated under the safety of their den except for the vixen fox, notioning Brian to go find shelter as well. After he gave the fox a small, tender hug, Brian nodded and turned, starting a quick-paced jog towards the cottage. As he arrived, though, the rain had become heavy, and his clothes were slightly drenched. Brian was feeling odd after he got inside, a strange feeling he had never experienced before.
"I wonder why it's raining now." Brian muttered to himself. John heard him, of course, and reluctantly responded.
"Well, it can't always be sunny, you know. Sometimes things needs a hard rain like this to help the crops grow," the man scratched his head a bit as he spoke.
"Though, it is strange that it would rain so suddenly like this. I wonder what it could mean?"
Brian wasn't too happy about being forced to leave early that day, but he didn't let it get him down. He could just visit them the next day, he thought.
Brian awoke the next morning to find the air was not as it usually was. Something was different. The sun was up, but the sky seemed bleak. The once-blue sky was now a solemn shade of pale grey, but the many different clouds seemed to be white and fluffy, not like the storm cloud he saw yesterday. He felt uneasy as he ate breakfast, his appetite not as large as he would have thought. He didn't even eat everything on his plate and asked if John could finish it off for him. His father dismissed this as nothing, and reluctantly agreed to eat a little extra that morning, for the man never liked to waste.
The boy walked casually outside, knowing for certain the forest excitement would help him ease his anxiety dwelling inside him. As he walked the forest paths, however, he found himself feeling oddly worse than before. The once-busy forest full of life seemed to be deathly calm. The wind had been nearly halted, the birds had stopped singing, and the trees seemed to be solemn. The forest was silent, much different than usual. The once dainty flowers that bloomed nicely and swayed in the wind almost appeared to be drooping, as if the petals were too heavy for the flower's stem to hold any longer. The fungus even seemed different, their color almost faded to a dark brown.
Brian felt very queasy at the feeling the forest projected, but he continued onwards, hoping the fox family would help cheer him up.
Suddenly, a loud banging noise came from the distant trees, a very loud disruption that seemed to shatter the eerie silence of the forest. Brian's eyes widened as he recognized the sound from the year before, back when his father showed him a peculiar device he called a rifle. The boy stood for a brief moment, fear creeping its way into his mind. In an instant, the same shocking sound had repeated itself, the loud sound echoing ahead of him. His instinct was to run away, but for some reason, he had to find out who was shooting this 'rifle' so deep in the woods. Brian began sprinting towards the sound, his fear drowned out by worry and confusion. As Brian ran, he discovered the noise was actually close to the den of the foxes he visited, and tried to speed up his pace in desperation. As he arrived to the den, he saw ten small eyes staring back at him, the young kits quietly sitting in the home. Brian peered inside to find that the little foxes were the only ones there, the parents missing. This sent a shiver down his spine that was colder than any droplet of rain.
Brian then left the den and ran further beyond the den, deeper than he ever went before in search of the source of the gunshot. He eventually reached the opposite edge of the wood where a large field was. He saw a lone man on his knees, his face covered by a hat as he looked down at something in the tall, emerald grass. Brian jogged up to get closer, but the man raised a long, two-barrel gun. After seeing his eyes, Brian blinked and stopped in his tracks. The man with the gun lowered his weapon at the sight of the boy, sighing a bit.
"Oh, boy," he shouted a bit, the man and the boy about fifteen feet apart in the tall, grassy area.
"Where did you come from?"
"I-I live with my father John..."
"John? Oh, you mean that guy in the cottage? Yeah, I seen him around once or twice. So you're his son?"
Brian peered down to look at what the man had been looking at before but couldn't see what was there.
"Did you fire those shots before?"
"Yes, that was me, just got me some good fur, come see."
Brian nodded a bit and approached the young man. When he got close enough to see what the man had shot, Brian gasped lightly. The two foxes he was searching for had been found at last. Brian gazed down at the two motionless bodies as if in a trance, his eyes fixated on the two foxes. The man blinked at the boy, pondering what was wrong with him.
"Hey, son, you all right?" he spoke in a rather quiet tone, almost concerned.
"M-My..." Brian uttered in response, his eyes swelling up with tears.
"M-My friends..." he fell to his knees, the small trickles of tears like a crick flowing downstream. He placed his hands on the vixen's corpse, gripping parts of the fur gently. Brian's eyes closed as his tears came faster, the stream of tears flowing down his cheeks.
"You shot my...m-my f-friends..." he shook the fox lightly, as if trying to revive her.
"W-Wake up...p-please...don't g-go..." the boy's heart was filled with extreme sorrow, his tears seeming to never end. That day, Brian lost more than a friend. The boy lost a part of him, the vixen he knew gone forever. There would be no more days of play, no more happy times with his first two friends, for they were lost to him, never to return to this Earth.
The man, who watched the boy, felt a bit of sadness swell up inside him also, his eyes watery from the scene before him.
"I...I had no idea they were..." the man could not think of any words to explain himself, for he had now committed a terrible thing. He had not simply killed two foxes, but two friends. He could only sum up his feelings with two words, spoken quietly and with great truth.
The days went by much slower for Brian after that day. Who knew such a cruel fate would occur on that day but the heavens above, who now kept the vixen and her mate behind the holy gates. Brian and the young man who fired the shots that day gave a proper burial. He took Brian home and spoke with John, who actually knew him from a few times before. His name was Richard, and he was known as an expert fox hunter around those parts. After Brian and Richard explained the story of what happened, John bowed his head in grief as well. They talked through the rest of the day until night, and John gave Richard a bed to use for the night.
After morning came, Brian led the two men to where the small kits were, the den still occupied by the little ones. Brian assured to the young foxes the other men were not there to harm them, and they came out. Richard took the foxes with him and swore he would make sure they got a good home at the nearby animal facilities. Brian dissapproved of captivity, but they were not yet old enough to be out in the wild on their own, and eventually agreed to let them go with the man. After rounding the five up, Richard set them up in his truck and drove off towards town. As Brian watched him take the kits away, he shed a tear from the corner of his eye, still wishing the vixen he had grown to love dearly was there to comfort him. He almost saw the female fox as a mother since he never met his own. Brian and John went back home and they spent the rest of the day as normal as possible.
After a few weeks, Richard came over for a visit to let Brian know some good news concerning the kits. It seems they had grown up enough to be considered adults now and would be released into the wild once more. This brought a smile to the boy's face, something he had not done since the incident. John agreed to let his son visit the foxes after their release, making Brian feel even better.
The forest seemed to return to its original state of beauty after a short while, the winds calm and soothing, the colorful flowers more vibrant as they were before. The birds sang their songs and the other creatures of the forest kept the place full of activity. Brian encountered the five foxes after walking for some time and they immediately ran up to him. Brian gave each of them a comforting hug, happy to see them after what seemed like such an eternity of loneliness.
Brian continued to visit the foxes for a long time after that, even when the foxes had all created young baby foxes of their own to take care of. He grew to love all the offspring equally well as they played together, just as he did when he first met the lone vixen. He thought fondly of the old days, and even wished that things could have been different, but he was still happy as things were now. He had new friends, and they all lived in harmony. Nothing could be more wonderful in the world than what this young lad and the foxes of the woods shared with each other.