Lily & the Fox Rough Draft
(working copyright 2015)
Lily left her house one afternoon in early summer, headed for the forest at the edge of her neighborhood. She carried her fishing pole and tackle box and started down the path that led to her favorite bend in the creek. Along the way she let her mind wander, drifting through the treetops like a butterfly, wondering what it would be like to live up in the leaves. She was so ready for the freedom from schoolwork and the chance to hone her fishing skills at her secret spot.
To her dismay, she rounded the final bend leading to her favorite spot and discovered that it was NOT so secret! She quickly ducked behind the nearest tree, and peered around the bark.
Who were these 3 boys?!
And how did they know about her favorite fishing hole!?!
She watched them silently, and realized it was Peter, Joe, and Nathan from her class at school.
“Oh no!” she thought. She was way too shy to go over and join them. With a deep sigh, she turned and quietly slunk away.
Later that afternoon, Lily sat in her backyard sharpening her whittling knife. She thought about those boys, and wished she wasn’t so shy about talking to them. She felt so different from them, so awkward and nervous. They were always playing together, joking and having fun. Lily rarely joked with anyone, other than her mom.
Just then, Lily heard a voice at the fence. “Hey,” it said. “Whatcha doing?”
It was Joe. And Peter and Nathan stood right next to him, leaning over the fence as far as they could to get a better view.
Lily’s eyes widened and her heart thumped. She quietly replied, “I’m, uh, sharpening my knife.”
“What’d you say?” Joe said loudly.
“I said I’m sharpening my knife,” Lily replied, a little louder this time.
“Isn’t that dangerous?” piped in Nathan.
Lily shrugged timidly. “No, not really. My mom showed me how to use a knife safely.” She tested the edge of the blade carefully with her thumb and added, “She said you have to respect how sharp the blade is. And if you take good care of your tools, they will take care of you.”
The three boys looked at each other with eyebrows raised and walked away. Lily groaned inwardly, and thought, “Oh no, why did I say that? Now they think I’m a weirdo!”
Lily sighed and packed up her things to take off for the woods again. She just wanted to be alone. She found her way back to her favorite spot, but this time she tucked herself under the bushes off the side of the trail. She didn’t want to be seen if anyone else came down this way. She laid down and got comfortable, noticing the patterns of shadow and light from the sunlight through the leaves. She felt a tiny red spider crawling over her fingers, and watched it quietly, wondering what it was like to be so small.
Just then, she heard a nearby chickadee alarm with a “Chip! Chip! Chip!”, and she caught sight of movement in the corner of her eye.
Something with fur. Something walking.
She turned her head ever so slightly, so as to not spook whatever it was.
She had never seen one in real life!
With it’s shining eyes and shimmering coat it slipped into a crack in a tree trunk and disappeared.
Where did it go?
Lily scrambled to her feet to look at the spot where the fox had gone out of sight.
What had always just appeared to be a small crack in the old oak tree was actually the opening to a fox den! In all the time she had spent there, she never knew she was sharing this space with a red fox!
Lily knew the fox had probably heard her footsteps, but she really wanted to see it again. So she quietly backed away and settled into her spot under the bushes. She took a deep breath and waited…and waited…and waited.
She wondered how long the fox had lived there. Did it live there alone?
Did it know all about her? It must, if it had been living there all along!
Lily thought back to the many hours she had spent at this fishing hole, and started to track back in her mind for any clues that the fox had been there long. She remembered a few weeks ago, when the birds were making a ruckus. She had thought at the time that they were just alarming for her, but now she wondered if perhaps the fox had set them off. So many questions!
Lily could hear her stomach growling, and she felt the sun slowly sinking behind her back. She knew it was time to head home for dinner, and that her mom would be waiting for her. But her desire to see that fox again kept her rooted to the spot under those bushes.
Just when she thought she’d have to give up and start on home, she saw movement in the slit between the tree bark. First, a sparkle of an eye, then the crimson red fur, and all at once the fox was there staring at her.
Lily was shocked. She caught her breath in her throat, and tried not to move. She had never felt the presence of a wild animal like this before. The fox tilted its head, cocked its ears, and gave a long hard stare. Lily felt like the fox knew more about her than she knew herself.
They looked at each other for what felt like an eternity, long enough for Lily to remember to breathe into her belly, and she started to see within herself what the fox may have been seeing.
She couldn’t help but smile, and with that, the fox slipped away into the woods like the whisper of a breeze.
Lily got up, her legs shaking from sitting so long. She brushed herself off and looked around. The whole place looked different now. The colors were more vibrant. She could see the detail in the leaves so much more clearly. It was as if she was seeing the world through the fox’s eyes, with keen awareness of every detail.
She took in a deep breath, and started her walk home.
At bedtime that night, Lily couldn’t fall asleep. She lay under her covers, thinking about the fox and its home in the base of that oak.
When her eyes finally started to feel heavy, she saw the opening in the oak tree widen and pull her towards it. She felt the fox inviting her in, so she leaned forward and entered the den.
Her body glided down through the tree trunk and into the earth, through the roots and down into what looked like another world, similar to the one she knew, but more magical somehow.
Lily found herself standing on the edge of a meadow, with daisies and poppies bobbing in the slight breeze. The sunlight danced on the tips of the grasses, and Lily all at once noticed the fox again, resting there amidst the wildflowers.
She felt the fox invite her to sit in the soft grass together, so she walked over and nestled in.
The fox’s voice didn’t surprise her, it sounded like the creek flowing around every stone in its path.
She said, “Lily, I’ve known you since before the stars had names. You are a bright light among us all. I want to share something with you about the nature of being human.”
Lily’s eyes widened and she wondered what this fox knew about being human.
“When you see me here in the meadow, I’m not actually hiding. I don’t need to hide from anything. When I’m here lying in the grasses, I am not pretending I don’t exist. It’s the very opposite in fact. I am here knowing just how much the grasses and I are the same. The daisy and I are the same. We are each here, following our original instructions.
Your friends, from school, those boys at your fishing spot, they are the same as you. They are each human like you, looking for friendship and belonging. When you hide from them, you rob both yourself and them from what could be a very important friendship.”
The next thing she knew, the morning rays of sunlight were streaming across her bedroom and warming her face. She slowly opened her eyes and stared at the floating specs of dust as they danced in and out of the bright light.
She stayed under her warm covers and thought about what the fox had told her.
And she thought about those boys from school and wondered how they might be like her.
Suddenly, she had an idea.
She slipped out of bed and ran downstairs for breakfast. She ate quickly, then packed her backpack, said good-bye to her mom, and started walking.