Hopping into Friendship, an animal tale
By Kayla Aldrich, Read to Them Staff
Hello all! Given that Fenway and Hattie takes place in the head of a fun, furry protagonist, we have been rolling a question around our heads: what would it be like to be in the shoes of another animal? Staff member, Kayla Aldrich, will be taking a crack at answering just that…
Fiona the Fox was very orange. She had a long, fluffy tail that was white at the end and her ears were some of the best in the woods. It was her hearing that led her to the glade, a stretch of green with wild white, yellow, and blue flowers punctuating the grass— but Fiona wasn’t there for the flowers.
Something, no. Someone was crying.
She did not call out, moving on silent paws between the shadows of trees. Fiona spotted a brown lump curled among a patch of clover.
It was a rabbit holding his front right paw off the ground. There was no red, no thorns or traps to explain how the rabbit had hurt himself; Fiona, who had never been very good at holding back her curiosity, stepped into the glade.
“Are you alright?”
The rabbit jumped, landing with a yelp on his bad paw.
“Ouch, ouch!” the rabbit cried. “Oh, you startled me!”
“I’m sorry,” Fiona said. “I… I just wanted to see if you were okay.”
As if by magic, the rabbit perked up.
“That’s very kind of you! I’ve been here for a while, but no one’s stopped to ask,” the rabbit said, flashing white, square teeth. “My name is Reginald, but you can call me Reggie.”
At first, Fiona didn’t say anything, but then she introduced herself, because it was important to be polite. Reggie, brightening at Fiona’s name, told her that he’d hurt his paw in a jumping contest with his cousin, who’d gone home to his burrow while Reggie ate lunch. Hopping left him sleepy and very, very far from home. And this revelation? It left Fiona’s nose to twitch and her eyes to dart to the ground.
“I would take you home,” Fiona said. “But my mother said I’m not to be friends with rabbits.”
That made Reggie’s eyes go big and sad.
“Why not?” he asked.
“Well,” Fiona said, growing less sure of herself the longer Reggie watched her. “It’s just the way of things, is all. Foxes aren’t to be friends with rabbits. It just sounds silly! A frog wouldn’t be pals with a dragonfly, would they?”
“I don’t know,” Reggie said. “If I were a frog, I’d like to ask the dragonfly about all the places they’ve flown to!”
Fiona had never thought of it like that.
“I mean,” Reggie continued. “If you’re only friends with other foxes, think of all the stories you miss out on. I talk to the ants, who are low to the ground, and to the birds, who are high in the sky, even to the snakes, who don’t have paws, but move on their bellies, instead. You can learn a lot if you talk to creatures that are different from you.”
Fiona didn’t mind other foxes, but being sly and sneaky all the time got exhausting. This was the first conversation she’d ever had with a rabbit, and Fiona already had about a million other things she wanted to ask. For now, Fiona simply said:
“Let me carry you. It’ll keep you from hurting your paw any further.”
“Do you mean it?”
Fiona knelt, offering her shoulders to Reggie. She hoped to learn more about him, that he might tell her about rabbit things and she could tell him about the lives of foxes. Reggie hopped over and Fiona felt the warm weight of him like a hug across her back.
“Just don’t pull my fur,” Fiona said. “And don’t sleep, please. I’ll need to know where to drop you off.”
“Oh, I won’t,” Reggie said. She felt him press his face into her fur, wriggling close. “Oh, thank you, thank you!”
With the sun overhead and a new friend on between her shoulders, Fiona set off into the woods feeling light and feeling warm.
We invite you to take the time to write your own story, too! You can step into the mind of any animal you’d like— a bear, a fish, a duck, a cat, an otter, the opportunities are endless! You can even write from the point of view of your own pet, so long as you’re having fun and enjoy the story you’re bringing to life. Once you tell your tale— or should I say tail?— you can share your work with us on the Flipgrid page. Be sure to join us here again for our Friday Reconnect and know we’re looking forward to seeing your work!
Be well and be kind, all. Happy reading!