A long time ago, when time or day of the week didn’t matter as much as the sun in the sky and the leaves on the trees, there was a forest. And in that forest lived many foxes. Most of them wore fur of gray, but one little fox was bright red, and her name was Mae.
Mae’s parents dropped her in this unfamiliar place when she was but a pup. She tried to follow as they ran through the trees, across the meadow, to a place the other foxes called “Gone Forever” beyond the field. At first, she stayed at the tree line, waiting to see her parents trot back. Eventually, Mae knew they’d never return, and she found shelter under the cover of heavy branches.
The forest was a wild place, and on most nights, howls and growls filled the air around her. The leaves shook and stirred from all the loudness. Some came from rambunctious young kits playing in their dens. Others came from foxes on the prowl for supper. Sometimes Mae swore the others just wanted to hear their growls echo through the woods.
Mae thought maybe her growler was busted. Her parents never taught her these noises, and she felt no need to raise such a ruckus. When the trees were too noisy, Mae wandered back to the meadow for peace and quiet.
The meadow was a different world all together. The sun, its rays tangled and stuck in the forest branches, warmed Mae’s fur as she lay in meadow’s tall grass. The air was lighter without a blanket of pine needles and leaves. Butterflies danced in the meadow – they would never chance the shadows in the woods. Out in the open, Mae felt at home.
The older foxes warned her it wasn’t safe out there. “There’s no cover! No place to hide!” Mae laughed at their worry. The creatures in the field were softer, sweeter things, like bunnies with fluffy tails, and crickets and frogs that sang together all night. Mae thought the sun must have warmed them up and softened their teeth. She didn’t worry that these animals would harm her. So she kept finding herself sleeping in the grass as the sun shone down, then catching fireflies as the field grew dark.
The fireflies were her favorite. She loved to chase them, trying to predict exactly where they would flash next. She had no idea what a jar was, but if she did, she would fill them with her flashing friends.
The little glowing bugs seemed to love Mae, too, as if they witnessed her parents leave that night and wished they could have intervened. They flew straight to her as she stirred at dusk, the glow game just starting as Mae woke. If she held out her paws, the lightning bugs would land on them, blessing her hunt for the evening. It was as if some magnetic force brought the fireflies back to her each night, a tail on her foxy comet. What a sight to see!
One evening, the forest was exceptionally loud. Mae couldn’t reach the field fast enough. As she stepped over the last of the pinecones and saplings, the fur on her neck stood on end. Something seemed wrong in her meadow. She looked around, searching for her firefly parade, but the grass was heavy with darkness. The noise, which always kept itself in the woods until tonight, leaked out and filled the air around her. But this noise was different, bigger than normal, and not from her fellow foxes. This noise was new, and it wasn’t good. She was certain she was in danger.
She crouched down, searching to find the source of the noise. Parts of the field appeared somehow darker than normal. As she lay close to the ground, she realized the fireflies hid with her, too scared to shine their lights. Mae motioned to them. Their soft greenish light slid next to her, and they worried there together.
The darkness moved towards them with heavy, angry footsteps. Mae knew there was no hope in staying hidden from the darkness as it grew closer. She thought back to a warm night when she’d hunted a bunny, and how the fluffy snack eluded her by dodging this way and that. With no trees to scurry behind, or dens to dive into, she knew she needed to do something, and she knew she needed to be fast.
Mae lifted up from the grass and was off like a lightning bolt. Behind her came a thousand glowing fireflies! She ran towards the far edge of the clearing, where she last saw her mother’s tail fall below the horizon, darkness nipping at her heels. Mae jetted to the left just as the blackness shifted into jaws snapping at her, then vanished into nothing, unable to clamp down on her.
As she ran, her swarm lit the scene. They lit the grass that was no good for hiding, they lit the frogs and crickets that had halted their singing, and from time to time they lit the edges of something big, something dark. Their light fell briefly on the darkness, just barely illuminating the shape as it hissed and pulled away. But mostly, they lit Mae, blanketing her in strange light, until she looked as if she glowed of her own accord. Lit up by her lightning bugs, the world around her could not help but see her for what she was.
Mae was a fox, a red one in a world of gray. She wasn’t from this forest, but she had made it her home. Others warned her away from the meadow, but it welcomed Mae as if she belonged. The darkness continued its chase, and she kept sprinting just out from its billowing edges. Her rabbit impression was a good one, but she knew it’s major fault. The bunny got away because it did what bunnies do. In order for her to survive, she needed to remember what it was to be a fox.
She slowed to a trot, right in the middle of the grassy clearing, the fireflies surrounding her like a halo around her foxy ears. She stopped, watching as the darkness wisped around her in long tendrils but not daring to come all at once. Her orange fur on fire with the green glow, she bared her fox teeth towards the noises she’d been hearing.
Her paws were tired, her fur matted with sweat and mud, but standing there in the center of this meadow Mae was a fox princess with a crown of yellow-green lights. She started to see the sky changing color, losing the deepness of pure night and being filled with the light of morning. As the rays reached into the meadow, the darkness crept back into the nothingness of where it lived. She smiled at the dawn, and at the power she had found in her bravery. Mae took a look back towards the forest, then the other way toward Gone Forever, and said, “Let’s see what’s beyond this field,” and headed straight down the middle of the two.
Alexis Fortuna Caoili loves woodland creatures. If you have any doubt about it, just check out her collection of tattoos! Foxes and wolves and bears oh my! So she is right at home writing about foxes and fireflies. She created this website as a whimiscal storybook to enjoy online.
When Alexis isn't web designing, she is usually blogging about stuff she wants to buy, or looking for the next adventure to go on. In the summer, you can usually find her in a body of water - whether it's a pool, a quarry, or a river on a tube, Alexis is most happy when floating along. She lives with her husband, Eric, and their cat Hemingway who has a surprisingly high pitched voice for such a big cat. Let her know if you need a new website, or help with one you've already got: email@example.com or check out her portfolio site SaintLexi.com
Geri Shields is a Cincinnati artist who likes ice cream and animals! She draws, paints, illustrates and designs things. Her clients include The Flying Cat, Team Stray, The Hextalls, Army Coach, Riverside Rollergirls, Aglamesis Brothers and many others! You can check out her paintings at local galleries and boutiques like Popp=d Art, Fabricate, and Broadhope Art Collective in Cincinnati, Ohio. You should contact her and commission an amazing piece of art! Email her with any questions: firstname.lastname@example.org