Friday, 9 December 2011
07:10:10 PM (GMT)
A littoral lined the edges of gentle, deep blue water. It stretched
on as far as the eye could see until the horizon paused the range of sight. Behind
the fine, peach coloured sand was a plateau adorned with small shrubs and beyond that
was a forest rich with plant life. The air was cold, yet comfortable, as the day
passed far into the late afternoon. At that time, it was supper for a vast group of
hedgehogs that teemed the icy sand.
“Hey, Jav,” said one of the larger hedgehogs. “why don't you go and fetch us
something? We've been working all day trying to dig holes and loosen up the soil to
make our stupid habitat and what've you been doing?”
Jav, a very curious hedgehog beginning to molt to white, for winter was approaching,
toyed with the sand below his feet. A frigid breeze swept from the shore. He stuck
his nose high into the air and sniffed lightly. “The snow is coming,” he said
with a blissful tone. “I really do like the snow, Kekka. It's really soft and
really cold and it tastes – like snow.”
Kekka sank his teeth into the back of Jav's neck and dragged him toward the open
water. “Food,” he muttered from behind Jav's skin, unclenching his jaws to drop
the younger hedgehog into a shallow part of the water. “Go fetch us some now or you
won't be part of our club anymore.” The hoard of hedgehogs then snickered and left
the tiny thing alone on the beach.
But, surprisingly, Jav did not mind the isolation. He rose from the water, stretched
his little paws, and trotted along the sand as the sun began to set and hide behind
the ocean. A soft fritinancy of crickets and other insects erupted from the forests
unknown to Jav. His curiosity overwhelmed him and he leisurely strolled far into the
forest of the unknown. Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of insects fluttered about and
crawled throughout the soil and trees. It was a feast of many kings to the tiny
hedgehog. And so, he began to engorge himself with such pleasantries in complete and
Abruptly, his eating ceased. There was a presence upon him. Shoving a few beetles
between his jaws and chewing quietly, he cautiously crawled along the soil into
shadowed grounds. Light, fluffy snow fell from the night sky above and landed upon
all that it could reach. Jav waited for a long while, watching the snow pile up over
the next half an hour. With a smile, he nibbled at the blanket of icy snow and felt
it melt upon his tongue. “Snow,” he cooed happily. “Snow tastes like snow.”
“Who goes there?” a sharp voice growled.
Jav held his breath. Fear had never washed over him so strongly before.
“I heard a voice. Please, don't look upon me, for my appearance is that of
But the little hedgehog gave no care and popped his little head out from under the
snow. His black eyes fixed onto a larger creature whose fur was, too, snow white. As
he examined further, he found that the fox was blushing. “What's wrong?” he
asked. “You don't like the snow?”
“This is embarrassing!” cried an arctic fox who buried his face deep into the
Jav looked around but found nothing to be embarrassing. “What's embarrassing?” he
“We foxes are not supposed to molt into our white fur yet!” the fox shouted.
“Oh, how embarrassing! Oh what dishonor I bring to my pack! Oh, why couldn't I just
been born a stupid dragonfly?”
“I think you look beautiful,” said Jav as he ate more of the snow. “Besides,
dragonflies are rude and fly all over my face, so I eat them. I don't want to eat
The fox pulled his head from the snow and stared at the smaller creature before him.
“You're a hedgehog,” he said. “You're ravenous, malicious! Attack me,
Jav gave a yawn and wandered over to a berry bush to eat. “Fighting is mean,” he
Puzzled by that reply, the fox sat beside Jav with his head tilted to the side.
“What did you say before?” he asked.
With sticky, sweet berry juice seeping from his muzzle, the little hedgehog replied,
“You are beautiful.”
Then, the fox realized that Jav, too, was molting to a snowy white. He lowered his
head in shame. “My name is Lehle,” he said softly.
Jav wandered over to another bush, beginning to gnaw at the wooden stems to drink
their sweet sap. “They call me Jav,” he said.
Lehle gave a sheepish smile. His stunning eyes were the colour of amber with a thick,
black skin lining around them, giving off the appearance that his eyes were glowing
like maple syrup against sunlight. A gelid breeze began to pick up from the North.
Lehle shivered gently and pressed his whiskered muzzle against his own, fluffy tail.
“The nights are colder now,” he said. “but I can't return to my family. They'll
hate me for what I have become.”
“Live with me,” Jav said as he scurried toward a few bundles of creepers coiled
around the bark of a tree. He pulled the vines away from the bark and began to tie
knots into them.
Ignoring the question, Lehle asked, “What are you doing with that?”
Jav tightened the knots and smiled. “It's a sack,” he said. “I have to collect
food for my family or else they'll throw me out like last time.”
“Throw you out?” Lehle questioned.
Jav made a sharp nod, beginning to gather berries and insects into the small sack
that he created. “Come on, let's go by the shore,” he said.
The two creatures walked to the coast. Snow melted into the waters as it tried to
land upon the sand. Jav quickly skittered across the shallow water, while Lehle sat
on the sand.
“You're looking for fish?” Lehle asked.
Jav nodded. “I need lots of fish, tons of fish,” he declared with another nod.
With that, Lehle dashed along the waters, sinking his long canine teeth into the
thick scales of the fish and shoving them into the sack. He gathered about nine of
them before the icy waters grew too cold for his flesh. “Do you think that's
enough?” he asked.
“We have a lot!” Jav exclaimed.
Lehle stared at the tiny creature before him. “So,” he said. “you're not
embarrassed at all by your early white colour?”
“We're all the same,” said Jav. “But personality is what makes us different. We
are all made from skin and innards and a coat of some sort and we all have a heart
– something I fear that is not noticable in others.”
The sheepish fox looked down. “I want to hug you,” he whispered.
The hedgehog looked up to Lehle. He was young and did not have a thick coat of fur
for protection. With that, Jav slowly backed up. “But my spines,” he spluttered.
“You accept me,” Lehle said with tears welling within his beautiful amber eyes.
“No one has accepted me before. You make me – happy! Can I make you happy,
“Happy?” Jav whispered. His mind sank into pensive thought. What did happiness
feel like? Was there truly such a thing to feel? “I've never been happy,” he
The fox shook his head. “What a pity to hear,” he replied sadly. “I'll tell you
what. I'll make you happy, I promise. You just have to trust me. It's only a small
hug, a simple hug. That's all I want, and if you don't like it I can leave you alone
forever. Please, just this one time?” Without Jav's answer, Lehle wrapped his paws
around the tiny, spiked thing. He buried his muzzle into Jav's spines and held him
close to his chest as the deadly, inevitable weapons pierced his soft flesh.
Jav frowned and squeezed his eyes shut. “Please,” he whispered. “my spines are
piercing your skin and you're soaked in blood. I don't want to hurt you like this. I
can't be happy if I see you in pain. Please, Lehle, let go of me.” He struggled and
wriggled, but to no avail the fox kept a tighter grip as he struggled and more of his
spines sliced Lehle up. “I am in pain if you are in pain,” he sobbed.
But Lehle smiled as wide as he could as hot, salty tears dripped from his eyes to his
furry jaw. “Please smile,” he sobbed. “I don't know how to love. To me – love
keeps hurting me. And so I'll keep hugging you tighter and tighter until you smile
– until you smile.” It was hard for the fox to breathe after a few of Jav's
spines pierced his throat.
The little hedgehog began to whine and sob heavily as Lehle grew weaker. But then, he
gave the biggest smile he could manage to make, even through hundreds of tears.
“See? I'm smiling, I'm happy,” he choked out. “Please let go of me.”
And the fox did release his grip, but collapsed to the sandy shore before the water.
He continued to smile, even through his immense, burning pain. “I'm glad,” he
whispered, blood spilling from his lips. “I'm glad.. that I have.. a friend to
love.. and to share my love with.”
“Lehle!” Jab cried loudly.
Beyond the trees, beyond the sea, the voice of the little hedgehog carried on as a
fearful, loved echo. It pierced all that moved, it froze what time was then. And at
that moment, the world slowed for the two.
“This is worth it – the pain of impending death,” Lehle uttered as his lambent
eyes began to close. “Smile for me as I pass on into another world – where we
will meet again.. over the rainbow bridge.” And there, the fox's eyes closed tight
and his chest ceased to move. His heart slowed into a soft drum that decreased in
volume – until it died out.
The ocean waves of the icy night wrapped around the corpse of Lehle and dragged him
into the water, forever to be lost at sea. In the midst of night, where all was
silent, little Jav could still hear his own echo shouting, 'Lehle!' over the vast
seas. It was then, that he realized, that in his silence, he was truly – and
utterly – alone.