It was impossible, that’s what I would’ve said if anyone had asked me about it. I would’ve told them in no uncertain terms that conversing with the dead was simply not possible. But then it happened. The impossible happened and as it turned out it wasn’t so impossible after all.
The morning began ordinarily enough. I was awoken by the unwelcome and unmistakable sound of my alarm clock. I pressed the snooze button and briefly considered unplugging the thing. As tempting as the idea was I discarded it, knowing that if I did my mother would only come wake me moments later, and be nun to happy about having to do so.
With a resigned sigh I rolled out of bed and started getting ready for the day. If I had been a more pragmatic person I might have had my clothes laid out on a nearby chair and my lunch already packed and waiting for me downstairs. As it was I spent the next 20 minutes racing around my room trying with varying degrees of success to find first my car keys, then my homework, and finally and most elusively of all, a matching pair of socks. This last was made all the more complicated by Rosie, my three year old Rottweiler. She apparently thought it was great fun to snatch each sock as I discarded them in an attempt to find the pair I was looking for, and race around my room hiding them in a variety of places. These included but were not limatted to my closet, under my bed, and somehow she even managed to get one behind my dresser.
I just made the executive decision to worry about putting my socks back in their proper place later, when my mother shout it from downstairs,“Amy, if you don’t hurry up you’re gonna be late for classes. “
One of the most enjoyable things about going away to college, or so I’d been told, was not having your parents around to nag you about things like being late for school. One of the most frustrating things about staying home for college, was that the dynamic between my mother and I really hadn’t changed. She still nagged me about everything from being on time to class, to doing my homework, to how much money I was spending on clothes.
Glancing around my room to make sure I hadn’t forgotten anything I called back, “I’m coming.“ When I reached the kitchen I found a plate of eggs and toast waiting for me along with a glass of orange juice. I guess there were some advantages to living at home after all.
15 minutes later I was driving down the quiet streets of my suburban town. I considered the day ahead. I had a math test for my calculus class which I was in no way looking forward to. Then there was the research paper proposal I kept putting off for my psychology class and…
Something raced out onto the road in front of me, totally derailing my train of thought and nearly running right into my car. I gasped in alarm and yanked the wheel frantically to the right trying not to hit whatever it was. It looked too small to be a deer but too large to be a dog.
The creature was a fox. I registered this only vaguely as all my attention was focused on keeping the car, which was skidding as a result of my abrupt turn, from crashing into one of the many trees wich lined the road on either side.
Careening to a stop mear inches away from one of the elms which gave the street its name, I hurriedly shifted into park and grabbed my phone from where it was resting on top of the consul. I didn’t think I had hit the animal, but I should notify the park and wildlife service about the Fox’s presents here regardless. Precautions should be taken to make sure that wild animals like this one wouldn’t be able to wander onto residential streets and put themselves in harms way.
Apparently we had more varieties of park and wildlife organizations than I realizeD because I was still skimming through search results as I opened the car door. The moment I did the smell hit me. It was overpowering and unmistakable, sharp with a salty tang. Blood.
Oh no, I must have hit the animal after all. I doubted there was anything I could do to help the poor creature, but I figured I could at least look to see The extent of the fox‘s injuries. Closing the car door behind me and pocketing my phone I made my way slowly around the front of the car. The last thing I wanted to do was startle the injured animal and cause it to react aggressively.
The fox’s coat was covered in blood, so much blood that it was impossible for me to tell where one wound ended and another began. What I could make out was that there were several long, deep looking gashes along the animal’s body. Gashes which, I was certain, could not have been made by the impact of my car. For one thing, if I had hit the animal with enough force to leave those kind of injuries I would’ve certainly felt it, and for another the formation of the wounds simply did not match those which could have been inflicted by a vehicle. Their contours were not that of tire tracks, nor were they the marks that would’ve been made by coming into contact with my car’s grill. Instead, their were these jagged looking slashes witch crisscrossed the Fox’s coat in bloody stripes. They looked almost like…
The fox’s eyes opened and my train of thought was scattered like birds fleeing before an approaching storm. The animal‘s irises were the brightest most vivid shade of green I had ever seen. The fox’s gaze met mine and I found myself utterly transfixed, completely unable to look away.
There was something about the fox’s eyes, more than just the intensity of their color. There was an emotion there, pain and fear, that made sense given the circumstances, but there was also something else, something I couldn’t decipher. I could see the emotion as plainly as the pages of a book, and yet it’s meaning was as incomprehensible as words written in an unfamiliar language.
I took a step closer to the animal, and then another and another. There was a voice in the back of my mind telling me that approaching a wild animal like this, especially one who was injured, was probably not a very wise idea. But I ignored it, captivated as I was by the fox’s strange gaze.
Desperation I realized, that was the look in the fox’s eyes. But not desperation born of fear of the human nearing it, nor out of pain from its injuries. This was a different kind of desperation. I couldn’t have said how I knew this, but I did. I knew it with the same unequivocal certainty that I knew my own name. The fox’s gaze held a kind of desperation that was unmistakably human. It was the kind of desperation born of knowing, be on the shadow of a doubt, that you were in a situation from which there was no chance of escaping.
I acted without thought or hesitation. I reached out a hand and rrested my fingers gently on the Fox’s head. The moment my skin came into contact with the fox a jolt went through me, like a small electric shock. With a yelp born more of surprise then pain I drew my hand away and took a hasty step back.
The fox‘s body began to tremble. What was happening? Could animals go into shock like humans? I pulled my phone from my pocket and franticly resumed my search for the parks and wildlife number.
I hadn’t gotten very far when the shakes that had been racking the fox body stopped, as suddenly as they had begun. Relieved I gazed at the animal trying to tell if it’s injuries appeared any worse. And that was when The impossible happen. It was the first impossible thing I experienced that day, although not the last.
One minute I was standing beside an injured fox, and the next, the animal was gone. The fox vanished as suddenly and silently as falling snow, and in its place, in the exact spot where the injured animal had lane, a boy appeared.
I screamed. Stumbling back so quickly that I tripped over my own feet and felt painfully onto the asphalt. Through my haze of shock and disbelief I noticed that the boy had the same bloody gashes across his skin that the fox had had a long its fir. “It’s impossible,“ I spoke the words out loud hoping that doing so would convince me of their validity. “It’s not possible.“
The boy started slightly at the sound of my voice as though he had been unaware of my presents until that exact moment. He turned his head toward me and I saw that his eyes were the same piercing green as the foxe‘s. He opened his moutH and I was almost surprised when words came out, half expecting to hear animal growls.
“I make it a habit,“ he said in an accent I didn’t recognize, “to accomplish 10 impossible things before breakfast.“
I laughed. It sounded hysterical even in my own ears. The boys lips twitched as if he was fighting against a smile. His efforts were only partially successful and one corner of his mouth turned up slightly.
“What… I stammered barely able to finish the question “what are you?“
This time the boy made no attempt to suppress his smile. He let it spread unchecked across his face and there was such unabashed joy in the expression that it’s stole my breath. “Wouldn’t you like to know,“ he said clearly relishing my Curiosity and equally the fact that he had no intention of indulging it.
I opened my mouth, to say what exactly I didn’t know, but before I had a chance to speak the boy began to shake. Just as the fox had done a few moments before he started to tremble, slightly at first but then with ever increasing intensity. He clenched his teeth together and I got the sense that it was all he could do to hold in a scream.
I half expected him to turn into a fox again, but instead of forming into something else, his body simply went still. Too still, I realized in alarm I couldn’t see his chest rising and falling. I jumped to my feet and hurried over to him. Dropping to my knees, I put my hand on his wrist to feel for a pulse. There was nothing, not even the slightest flutter. “Oh my God, oh my God.“ Their had to be something, I must just be missing it.
I leend forward and put my ear to his chest listening desperately for even the faintest trace of a heartbeat. But there was still nothing, not so much as an echo of sound. He was dead. The boy was dead and I had nearly hit him with my car, well no, I had almost hit a fox but then he had turned into a boy and… I could just hear myself trying to explain this to the cops. What was I going to do? A boy was dead, and no matter what he’d been before he was a boy now, he was a dead boy, and and…
My frantic tangle of disjointed thoughts were brought abruptly to a halt as the boy’s body disappeared from beneath me as silently and suddenly as the fox had vanished moments before.
I leapt to my feet staring down at the spot on the pavement where the boys body had been. I counted the seconds, then the minutes as they passed. I waited for the boy to reappear, or the fox to materialize. I waited for something, anything to happen which would mean that the boy was alive in some form or another.
I waited, and waited, and eventually I gave up. Nothing happened, no creature materialized fox, human, or otherwise.
That night I lay awake in bed, unable to sleep and consumed by the day’s impossible events. I kept turning everything that happened over in my mind, trying to make sense of it. But my efforts did nothing, I gained no clarity, no logic, and no idea what to do. There seemed no point in calling the cops, or the wildlife service. After all, there was no dead boy, no dead fox, there was nothing to indicate that what I had seen had ever taken place, nothing except my own memories of the inexplicable events.
My thoughts were interrupted by a sound. I’d been hearing it for a while I realized belatedly, but was only now becoming consciously aware of it. I glanced around my darken bedroom trying to pinpoint its source. Tap tap tap, there it was again. It was coming from my window.
Perplexed, I rose from my bed and crossed the room, pulling back my curtains to peer through the glass at the night beyond.
There was a boy standing on the roof just outside my window. And not just any boy, a boy with peercing green eyes. It was the boy from that afternoon, the boy who had been a fox, the boy who I had watched die.
I had never seen a ghost. But like they say, there is a first time for everything.