Snowcase #22 • 24 August 2007 • The SnowBlog
Vaughan is a web producer at the BBC, who is looking to take his writing beyond the 'blog that is not quite a blog' which he writes as An Unreliable Witness.
A sequence of fairy tales for adults who never quite grew up, and for those strange, solitary children who grow up too soon. Animal Fables
Once upon a time, there lived a squirrel called Cynthia.
Cynthia was the most generous squirrel you could ever wish to meet. Indeed, she was generous to a fault, and in her case it was a very big fault.
Like any squirrel, most of her day was spent scurrying around the forest foraging for nuts. She was quite the best forager around, a fact to which every other squirrel would jealously attest. They really didn't need to be quite so jealous, however, because all they needed to do was ask for a nut, and she would hand it over.
"Oh, I'm so very hungry. That looks like a wonderfully tasty nut you've got there, Cynthia. Can I have it? Please?"
The scene that followed invariably played itself out in exactly the same way, time and time again. Cynthia would glance down at the nut she was clutching between her front paws, the nut she had often spent most of the morning arduously carrying from the far end of the forest back to her drey, and then - with only the briefest hint of sorrow crossing her face, just enough to cause a flicker of guilt in whoever was asking for that prized possession - she would pass it to her fellow squirrel with a beatific smile.
Of course, squirrels are always looking for a quick and painless way to build up their secret larder in preparation for meaner months, and so throughout the forest it became an easy, though entirely lazy option to simply flutter one's eyelashes, praise to the treetops the lusciousness of Cynthias latest nutty acquisition, and watch as she surrendered it gladly and without so much as a word of complaint.
Cynthia's best friend, however, was puzzled and concerned by such generous behaviour, and told her as much. "Cynthia," she said, "I'm puzzled and concerned."
"By what?" asked Cynthia.
"By your generous behaviour, of course. Why do you give away all of your nuts? You're a fabulous forager, and you should be keeping them for yourself, or at least selling them to the other squirrels in exchange for seeds or berries or " Cynthias friend paused and absentmindedly licked her lips " those crusts of pizza that the humans discard whilst walking through the forest."
Cynthia blinked, wide-eyed, at her friend. She pondered for a moment, then silently walked to the rear of the drey, placed a paw gently on the doorknob of a cupboard and slowly, slowly pulled it open.
The tiny drey shook with a low, ominous rumble. Then suddenly a torrent, a cascade, a veritable landslide of nuts came pouring out. Thousands upon thousands of them. More nuts than any squirrel could dream of, even in their wildest fantasies. The clattering sound they made as they fell to the floor was deafening.
When the noise finally ceased, Cynthia couldn't be seen anywhere. She had seemingly been engulfed by the nutty avalanche. Eventually, however, there was movement from underneath the debris, and she appeared, popping her head above the surface then clambering on to the piles of nuts that now covered the entire floor.
"You see," said Cynthia, as she sucked in a breath and regained her composure, "theres really no sacrifice in being so very generous with the odd nut or two when you're far and away the best at what you do."
Author: Vaughan Simons
Email: mail [at] unreliablewitness [dot] com