How the Fox Got His Cry

Flash Fiction Month 2014, Day 28

Long ago, when the forest was young, a fox was walking amongst the trees. He had not been walking far when he came across a little frog croaking by a puddle. Immediately, the fox seized the frog, and would have swallowed it down in one gulp if the frog hadn’t spoken.

“You may as well let me go, fox,” said the frog. “I can make myself far too big for you to eat.”

“Go on, then,” said the fox, “show me.”

So the frog gulped in many breaths to swell itself, and it did indeed look too big to eat.

But the fox saw how it was done. “This is nothing but air,” scoffed the fox, and he swallowed the frog breath and all.

The fox had not walked much farther when he came across a little squirrel nibbling pinecones on the path. Immediately, he seized it, and would have swallowed it down in one gulp had the squirrel not spoken.

“You may as well let me go, fox,” said the squirrel. “I can make myself far too big for you to eat.”

“Go on, then,” said the fox, “show me.”

So the squirrel bristled up its fur, and it did indeed look too big to eat.

But the fox saw how it was done. “This is nothing but fluff,” scoffed the fox, and he swallowed the squirrel fur and all.

The fox had not walked much farther than this when he came across a tiny new butterfly just emerged from its cocoon. This creature the fox did not even need to seize, for it was still too frail to escape. But the butterfly saw the fox approach, and it spoke.

“You may as well let me go, fox,” said the butterfly, “I can make myself far too big for you to eat.”

At this, the fox laughed. “You are almost too small to be worth eating! How can you become too big?”

So the butterfly flipped open its wings, and suddenly it was not a butterfly, but two huge eyes staring back at the fox, who now felt very small indeed.

“How!?” cried the fox, confused and afraid, and he fled back the way he came, terrified that the butterfly—with its great hunting eyes—would come and eat him. At night, sometimes you can hear him crying still: “How!? How!?”


If you’ve enjoyed this story, you can find my work from Flash Fiction Month 2012 and 2013 collected in OCR is Not the Only Font and Red Herring respectively.

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