For the third tale of Flashmas the Wildwood gave to me …

Fox’s Feathered Den

Photo of a lit round lampshade covered in feathers against a black background.

The Wildwood is a real wood, with real trees and plants, inhabited by real animals and birds. And at the very same time it is The Wildwood, old beyond time, well spring of myths, legends, and folklore. If it pulls you into a story then it is the place where Once Upon a Time is now, magic is real, and wishes and dreams do come true. But if you happen upon the Wildwood without having attracted its attention then you could walk every inch of it and see nothing you would not expect to find in a British wood in the twenty first century. In other words you might see a fox but you wouldn’t meet Fox. It doesn’t even matter if you believe in the Wildwood or not; you’ll only see the Wildwood if it wants something from you and even then you’ll only see exactly what you need to and not one thing more. 

However for the denizens of the Wildwood this is not so. They get everything everywhere all at once, so to speak. The foxes do not see Fox as one of them any more than Fox feels more than a passing affinity to the foxes but they live side by side all the same. When Fox goes to the Village he is treated as if he is human by the residents. Any tourists who encounter him either see him as human or simply don’t notice him at all, depending on if the Wildwood needs them to interact with him or not. It is the same for Wolf, Bear, Stag, Owl, and the rest. They are neither animal nor human but a strange mix of deity and anthropomorphic personification, their concerns and lives being very different from both their real counterparts and the humans who have, in part, created them. That said, they will always hold a deep and abiding link to the creatures they share their features with.

All of which may go some way to explaining just how Fox’s latest foray into interior design caused Chicken to rush shrieking out of his front door and cross not just the road but most of the Wildwood in order to complain about him most vociferously to the Witch.

‘And I can’t say I blame her,’ the Witch said, two hours later as she looked around Fox’s den which was full to bursting with feather covered lampshades and cushions. ‘It’s a bit much, even for my taste.’

Fox took in her expression and had the grace to look abashed. ‘But surely she knows that I see absolutely no relation between the feathers of some frankly delicious Poule d’Alsace and Chicken herself.’ He gave a half shrug and gestured to the corner, where his latest creation was sitting. ‘Besides, I find the appliqué process quite meditative.’

‘That’s as may be but you’ll have to stop. The feathers are exactly the same shade as Chicken’s own.’

‘But I-’ 

‘But me no buts, Fox. No more feathering anything and what you’ve already made must go too.’ She eyed him sternly. ‘Or shall I source a fox fur for Chicken to use as draft excluder?’

Fox winced. ‘Point made. Perhaps I should take it all to the Village this afternoon. Eleanor and Sarah might have a use for them as decoration for Doves …. Yes,’ Fox nodded decisively, ‘that’s what I’ll do. And while I’m there I’ll pop into the butcher and ask him to supply the hens fully plucked from now on.’

This story is the third of a twelve part series that was written at the start of December 2022 in response to daily prompt emails from Writer’s HQ for their 12 Days of Flashmas challenge. It is presented here pretty much just as it was originally written on the third day of the challenge. If you’d like to know more my explanatory post can be found here.

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