August 30th



There is a certain quality to the light in the dead of winter… Not the outdoor light. The sun, one supposes, shines just the same in the cold of February as it does in the warmth of June, even if it does not feel the same. But the quality of the light in the home somehow alters. The lamp in the living room develops a certain golden glow, shimmering off of the brindled brown coffee table until it appears lit from within.

There is a certain comfort to the light streaming from a lamp in a warm living room in the dead of winter, especially when seen from a distance, but the boy sitting with his back toward the lamp didn’t notice it. He didn’t know how soothing the lit-up living room looked, with its bright lamps and soft couches. In fact, he barely knew anything at all just then, focused as he was on the task at hand.

Dark brows furrowing until they looked like angry exclamation points stamped across his forehead, he stared at the sheets of paper placed meticulously on the stand in front of him, as though trying to force the knowledge from his eyes on through down to his fingers, where it simply did not seem to want to go.

“Again,” he said to himself, voice quiet and resolute.

And again, for what felt like the thousandth time, he picked up the violin and placed it against his shoulder just so and began to play, bow glancing over the strings as if it was light made liquid, fingers skimming the surface, and music pouring from him like honey… Until that one part. That one dratted part, where the notes came too quickly and he couldn’t get the tempo right and he messed up – the violin slurring overfast through the wrong notes, like an overly-friendly drunk.

“Again,” he said, with the same iron in his voice and not a little sadness.

Why couldn’t he get this? What was wrong with him?

It was as if his fingers were frozen, betraying him.

Again. And again. And again. He would start again even before the final wrong notes of the last attempt had died, still lingering on the air as he began again.

Again. And again. And again.

Finally, he let go, placing the violin and bow gently on his chair before beginning to pace the room. The answer was not in his fingers. Hopefully, it was to be found elsewhere in the room, although he very much doubted it.

He was on his third lap of the living room and beginning to be in some small danger of wearing a track through the carpet, when he heard it: a small yelping noise, emerging from the region just below the living room window.

He looked out the window – there was no one there. All the window showed him was all it ever showed him in February at this time of night. He saw the darkness and the snow, now dim and gray in the night. He saw the nearby forest. And he knew that if he focused, he could see the road, a small black trail winding on a path away from his home and out into the great, wide world.

But the yelping continued. Finally, he walked over to the window and slowly, cautiously, opened it. And looked down.

First, he was alarmed, seeing nothing but a pair of amber, glowing eyes staring up at him, reflecting the warm light that spilled out of the window, along with a small, black nose. Then his eyes adjusted themselves a bit to the darkness and he realized that he was looking at a small white fox. It was so very white that its clean fur blended with the snow, making it nearly invisible.

The yelping stopped as the inquisitive amber eyes looked up at him.

“What are you doing here, little fox?” he asked, not really expecting an answer.

“Listening to you,” it said.

“Listening … You were listening to me play?”

“Yes.” The fox blinked up at him and gave a little purr of satisfied joy. “It was beautiful.”

“It was – it was beautiful?” the boy asked.

He wasn’t sure which he believed less – that a fox was listening to his violin practice or that anyone thought his music beautiful.

“It was,” the fox confirmed, and canted its head to the side. “Why did you stop?”

“I …. I kept messing up,” the boy admitted. “I can’t get it right.”

“Yes, you can,” the fox said. “The music was beautiful, except for that one small part.”

“Yes,” the boy said. “But I keep messing up on that part. I can’t get past it.”

“You will.”

The boy made a face, scrunching up his nose.

“You will,” said the fox, kindly. “Eventually.”

It looked up at him quietly for a moment.

“But in the meantime,” the fox said. “Why let one small mistake ruin the beauty of the whole? Simply because there’s a small patch of ugliness, does it make the whole of the song any less beautiful?”

The boy hadn’t thought of it that way.

“I suppose not,” he said.

“We cannot let the dark patches obscure the beauty of life,” the fox told the boy.

The boy absorbed the words, the winter cold stinging his cheeks as the fox looked up at him.

“Will you play for me?” the fox asked.

The boy smiled. He returned to his seat, leaving the window open with no regard for the winter chill seeping into the warm room. He picked up his violin.

And he began again.


Writing Prompt:


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