There was a fox that lived all alone in the midnight forest. Fox longed for a family. She had tried talking to the trees, but the trees were indifferent and turned their branches away. She had tried babbling with the brook, but the brook was only interested in conversations about how it was just too cold to babble. Even the persistent snow was timid and did not flutter down to greet Fox, only hid under her paws and cowered from her prints.
The midnight forest was a harsh and wild place. Thorns grew long and thin like needles and the trees prodded and jabbed with their spiny fingers. The only comfort Fox found was in the night sky and the stars which winked their lights for Fox when she left her den. But the night sky was always too far away. No matter how much ground Fox covered, the sky remained as remote as ever .
But still Fox loved the night sky. The stars spoke of things beyond the midnight forest – lands of grass, and snow, and water – things that Fox could not believe to be true. They also spoke of Moon who guided their movements throughout the skies. Fox had never seen Moon and wondered whether Moon would help her too. So Fox balanced her wish for a family on the fragile edges of her breath as it dissolved into the cold air, unsure whether the stars would listen. The wind carried the dying embers to the stars, who called for Fox to follow.
The stars guided Fox across the rushing brook. The water was so cold that, as it soaked through Fox’s fur, she thought it would numb her heartbeat. Torrents pushed and pulled Fox’s paws as the brook tried its hardest to make Fox stray from her path. But steadfast and sure, the stars led Fox to solid ground and did not let her be whisked away. Fox shook her fur dry and followed the path picked out by the pinpricks of starlight.
The bramble vines ran broad and thick across the midnight forest path. Fox followed the stars’ lights through the brambles. They grabbed and snagged Fox’s russet coat but the stars prevented her from getting tangled. The thorns, creeping their way through the undergrowth, threatened to slice Fox’s paws but she nimbly picked her path free of thorns by the light of the stars .
Even though the trees’ stern faces turned their flinty gaze onto Fox, she leapt higher and scampered faster to reach the edge of the midnight forest. The tree branches loomed over Fox, and occasionally swiped, grazing the top of her furry back with their bony fingers. But the stars punched holes of light through the trees and Fox followed their beams confidently to the edge of the midnight forest.
There Moon was; majestically luminous against the night sky. Fox sat dumbfounded in the snow as she turned her eyes Moonward and Moon turned her gaze Foxward. Fox sank a little lower in the snow, half out of fear, and half in deference. The stars twinkled merrily and whispered Fox’s wish for a family together in a harmony that sounded like rushing water. Moon silenced them with a tender hush.
“You may have three wishes.” Moon’s voice was soft like the rustle of dry leaves.
“I wish that the trees were talkative.” And the trees covered themselves in coats of green and yellow leaves, and the brambles replaced their thorns with succulent blackberries. “I wish that the brook had a warm heart.” And the brook shook off its cold skin and babbled to itself quite happily. “I wish that I had a family.” Fox sat in the snow, her tail curling round them, waiting patiently as Moon mulled over this final wish.
“We are your family. We will be your guides during the night if you will be our guide during the day.” And stars cascaded down in a river of light and transformed into owls and badgers, and hedgehogs and bats. The snow under Fox’s paws did not flee from her as she padded along and the cold air dulled its edge and wrapped Fox in a cloak that smelled sweetly of the forest floor and of home. Fox leapt her crescent moon leap and shrieked a joyful undulating cheer.
There was a fox that no longer lived all alone in the midnight forest and Fox had a family.
By Nicola Wallace