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Fiction Kids Fantasy

The Forest was alive with birdsong.

The sun would not rise for another hour, yet the robins, blackbirds and thrushes had already started to fill the crisp morning air with their sweet melody.

Squirrel shifted in his den, awakening slowly. He rubbed his face with his back paws, followed by a thorough grooming of his bushy speckled tail. When he was satisfied with his job, Squirrel rose out of his stick-house and perched on the nearest branch.

All around him, the leaders of the dawn chorus twittered and chirped.

Squirrel noticed Crow perched near him. She was not singing.

“What is wrong? All your friends are filled with joy, but you look terribly sad this morning”, he said, lowering his tail in concern.

Crow ruffled his feathers and looked at the ground.

“It is my nest. I was almost finished building it, when the Men came with their heartless tools and tore it down. I am due to hatch my eggs any day now. How will I ever collect enough sticks in time?”

Squirrel furrowed his brows, wanting to ask her more about the Men with heartless tools. But he had much work to do and could not be late.

He quickly gathered a substantial pile of sticks from his den and passed them to Crow.

“What is this?” she asked, puzzled.

Squirrel told her that she was welcome to take as many sticks from him as she liked as he would be hibernating soon and had little need for them. Crow knew that it was still a month till hibernation season and Squirrel would suffer if she took too many. She was so touched by his gesture; she only took 5 sticks (Crow was good at counting) and promised she would repay him back one day.

As Crow flew off in search of a new home, Squirrel scurried down the Tree. Upon reaching the ground, he stood back and admired the trunk. Every part of it was covered in tiny scratches.

This was a culmination of a year’s work, his pride and joy.

With this system, Squirrel would never ever forget where he placed his nuts.

He knew that others of his kind were simply able to remember all this information in their head. But Squirrel possessed one fault which hindered him greatly.

Despite his kind nature, he tended to be very forgetful.

Once, when he was still a babe in his Mother’s nest, he set out on one of his first adventures in the wild. When it was time to come home, Squirrel forgot his way back and spent the next few months of his life desperately searching for his home.

Alas, his attempts were in vain.

Now in his fourth year, Squirrel had developed a complex system to make sure he never forgot anything important again.

After inspecting the trunk, Squirrel bounded off towards the edge of the Forest. Upon finding a suitable place free from prying eyes, he set off to work digging holes to bury the pecans he had collected yesterday. Within a few moments, the ground was covered in earthworms and beetles, desperately trying to scurry back into the ground.

Regrettably (for the worms) Squirrel was quicker, and he swiped them up with his sharp little claws. Once he had collected enough, he carried them along the Forest path until he reached a small pile of leaves. Nestled inside was his friend, Hedgehog.

“Hedgehog, are you in there? I have brought something for you” Squirrel asked, peering into the gaps in the leaves.

A tiny black nose poked out. This was followed by two small beady eyes and a small body covered in spikes.

“Squirrel, is that you? My eyes have never worked too well. Oh – yes! I can smell what you have brought me. You are ever so kind to your old friend.”

Squirrel placed the squirming insects in front of the pile of leaves and left Hedgehog to enjoy his meal.

Returning to the holes he had dug; Squirrel buried his pecans ensuring that he dug some fake holes to trick the prying eyes of the Forest.

By now, the sun was setting down over the Horizon. The furry rodent scampered home to his favourite Tree.

The next morning started off much like the last. Squirrel meticulously groomed himself before stepping out onto the branch of the Tree. Crow was not here, and Squirrel wondered if her eggs had hatched.

He carried out his daily inspection of the trunk until the warm feeling of reassurance permitted him to begin his day.

As winter was approaching, Squirrel worked diligently till noon. The fingers on each paw enabled him to make quick work of the acorns he collected, peeling back the outer shell to retrieve the juicy meat inside. Each time he buried a group of nuts, he ran back to the Tree hastily noting down its location.

On one of these trips back to the Tree, Squirrel noticed a small creature scurrying across the Forest floor. On closer inspection, he realised that it was Mouse. She had found a small piece of fruit amongst the leaves and was heartily nibbling away at it.

Squirrel was just about to leave when he noticed another creature high up in the trees. ‘

It was Owl.

Squirrel watched in horror as Owl took flight circling the skies, ready to pounce on poor Mouse.

The red-haired rodent remembered when he was a young pup lost in the trees, so far from home. He remembered how much he wished he had a friend to guide him, to save him from the predators that lurked in the shadows.

He knew what he had to do.

Ignoring the nauseous feeling in his stomach, Squirrel bounded into the middle of the Forest floor. He stood on his hind legs and pounded his little paws onto his chest taunting Owl. Mouse looked up bemused but failed to notice the danger soaring above her.

Owl swooped down towards Squirrel, almost grasping him in her talons.

But Squirrel was quicker.

He darted up the nearest tree frantically leaping from branch to branch until he neared his home. His heart was beating so fast, but he knew that he was only a few trees away from safety.

He leapt blindly, expecting to land on the branches of his Tree. But he fell onto the ground, leaving himself woefully exposed to Owl. A small tear escaped from the corner of his eye as he watched the ominous figure dive down towards him.

Suddenly a loud CAW sounded from the skies – it was Crow! She drove her body into Owl’s, deterring her away from Squirrel. Owl ruffled her feathers in anger and flew off into the darkness in search of easier prey to catch.

Squirrel’s tiny body quivered, realising how close he was to death. Crow landed softly next to him.

“I’m sorry that happened to you, friend. But a greater tragedy has just occurred. Shortly after you left, the Men came with their heartless tools and chopped down your Tree. Just like they did to mine. I am so—”

Crow continued to speak but Squirrel had stopped listening. The news of his home brought him out of his shock, and he leapt up, frantically looking for his Tree.

Alas, all that remained was the stump.

Squirrel ran towards the stump, wailing inconsolably. Every scratch, notch and carving were gone. He would never remember where all his nuts were.

As he collapsed on the ground with grief, Crow took flight to fulfil the promise she had once made.

The sun dropped below the horizon engulfing the Forest in darkness. The other creatures had long returned to their homes, safe from the night-time predators.

Yet, Squirrel remained. There was no point trying to hide. Without his precious nuts, he would succumb to starvation. It would be kinder if Owl killed him first.

So lost he was in despair, Squirrel did not notice the nuts dropping from the sky. It was not until a particular large acorn landed on his tail that Squirrel jumped into the air, wondering what was happening.

All around him, the Forest creatures gathered each carrying one nut (or two if they could manage). Amongst those he did not recognise stood Crow, Hedgehog and Mouse whom he saved earlier.

“Crow! What is happening?” Squirrel asked, bemused.

Crow ruffled his feathers.

“I have watched you bury your nuts all year and like most of my kind, I have a very good memory. I have instructed all our friends to retrieve your collection. It might take a few days, but I promise we will gather enough food to see you through the winter.”

Squirrel was astounded. The grief that consumed him started to lessen.

“But how could you possibly know you’ve found all of them? I have buried countless nuts over the past year”, he asked.

“Countless for some. However, I am quite good at counting. This year you buried a total of three thousand and twelve nuts.” Crow replied, smiling.

And so, the kind creatures of the Forest continued to gather the nuts night and day until enough had been found. Soon the winter chill had crept into the Forest and it was time for Squirrel to nestle into a deep sleep.

As he closed his eyes for the last time that year, he knew he would never forget the kindness of his friends.

April 24, 2021 19:55

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3 comments

Scarlet Gratto
16:23 May 05, 2021

good story!

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Sachi Shah
16:35 May 05, 2021

Thank you :)

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