The sounds of New Years Eve music filled the room around her, making it feel like there was magic in the air. Nothing could be more beautiful, she thought as she sat in her pink and purple room with all her stuffed animals and pillows lining one wall. Furniture dotted throughout the roomy space and although she laid there on the carpeted floor in her teddy bear onesie with nothing but her stuffed animals keeping her company while her parents threw a New Years Eve party below, she did not feel alone. Chatting with her animals, Sir Plucky, her dinosaur discussing proper playground etiquette with Mrs. Dasher, her rhinoceros, kept her pretty occupied.
Every once in a while, her mother would come and check on her, she was only six and half after all (the half really mattered). It was rare for her parents to spend imagination time with her, but when they did, she treasured every second.
A yawn escaped her when the music turned to a slow tune. The soft sounds lulling her into a hazy state. The sounds of her animals talking started to blur together and became more and more dull as her eyes slowly drifted shut and her mind quieted to a silent slumber.
Awoken with a start, she was confused where she was for the briefest of moments. Her thoughts came back to her and she realized she had fallen asleep on the floor of her bedroom. Pushing up into a sitting position, her back arched and her arms stretched above her head to work out any stiffness. With a shake of her head, her muddy mind started to wake up. Rubbing her eyes with the backs of her hands her body involuntarily let out a soft yawn.
Movement caught her attention out of the corner of her eye by her dresser. Her curly brown hair whipped around to see an orangish streak whiz by her dresser. She was confused for a moment, almost thinking she imagined the whole thing but then whatever it was bumped into her bookcase and tipped over a few of her books.
A tiny gasp escaped her lips and she scooted back against her bed. Her grey teddy bear sat on the edge of her bed and she yanked it down to hug it close to her chest while her heart thudded noisily in her ears. What could that be, she wondered. So many ideas ran through her head but none of them she liked.
An odd noise came from where a pile of her stuffed animals laid between her bookcase and her bedroom door. Whatever it was must have moved and be hiding in the pile of plush. More movement had her eyes shifting downward. An orangish, furry tail, swished back and forth. The action had her mesmerized for a brief moment. She followed the tail from the tip to where it ended in the pile of animals.
The thin line of her mouth turned into a frown as her eyebrows drew together. The many ideas she had did not include a furry tail. In fact, the thoughts she concocted were more of a scary nature than the simple one she was seeing right now. The hand holding the bear eased from her lap to rest on the floor, but still clutching the bear. She began to uncurl herself from her spot to try to take a few inches forward.
After crawling a foot forward on her hands and knees the creature made another odd noise and the pile of animals shifted. She froze, waiting. The animals quivered one second then the creature scurried out from under the pile of toys and moved to the open doorway. She tilted her head. The glow of the lights in the hallway illuminated the creature. “You’re a fox!” The little girl exclaimed. Her excitement changing to worry. “How did you get in here? Does my mommy and daddy know you are here?”
The fox crouched down and stared at her. Those round eyes made into slits as the animal studied her cautiously. Its head lifted up and twisted suddenly, staring down the hallway where she couldn’t see.
“What is it?”
She knew foxes could not talk but she was sure this one understood her. The animal looked back and forth from her to the empty hallway a few times before making that odd noise again and inching its way backwards. The only sounds were of the fox’s nails lightly tapping on the hardwood floor in the hallway.
Once fully in the hallway it sat upright and stared at her again, almost as if the animal was waiting for her. The little girl stood up from her spot on the floor, clutching the teddy bear against her chest once more. The foxes neck tilted side ways and then it stood up, turned in the hallway to face the stairwell. It didn’t move, it just stood there, waiting.
“Do you want me to follow?” Her voice low, as not to wake her parents. That was the first time she thought of her parents. She hadn’t heard any noise at all since she had gotten up and normally, they would have placed her in bed if she fell asleep somewhere. The silence of the house felt off to her, but her attention fled her own thoughts to focus on the fox when the animal scurried down the hallway.
“Wait!” She slightly shouted.
Rushing out of her room, she saw the fox pause at the top of the stairs. The animal looked back at her, gave what looked like a head tilt towards the steps before disappearing down the stairs. The odd behavior was not lost on her, but she was already confused at this whole scenario, so she assumed she had two choices. She could go back to bed and forget this, or she could follow the fox and make sure everything was ok. Without giving it another thought, she started for the stairs and slowly descended.
Every step created a small noise just loud enough for her ears to catch it. The only thing she could make out was the swishing of the foxes’ tail from around the bottom of the banister as she crept closer. The house was silent except for the crackling of the fireplace. Little pops became mor distinct the closer she came to the bottom. The fire place and the holiday decorations the only lights in the space. The bannister illuminated by the garland twisting around it from top to bottom. More garland laced throughout the ceiling and mantels flowing throughout. Pillars of candles were places around the living room she noticed.
Reaching the bottom step, her hand outstretched to caress the orangish tail. It looked so soft and plus like her stuffed animals that she couldn’t resist. Her fingers just missed it when it made that odd noise again and scurried across the floor. The noise its nails made reminding her of the jar of buttons she accidentally spilled on floor last week. All the different sized buttons rolled and scattered creating tapping noises all over.
The fragrance of wreaths, pine, and vanilla all swirled around her form the candles lit around the room. The scents giving her a sense of calm. Wondering why her parents hadn’t been up when she came downstairs was fleeting as her eyes darted to where the fox now swiftly moved to lay underneath the Christmas tree that was placed by the fireplace.
“Where are you going?” The girl whispered to the creature, not expecting a response. A pointed nose with little deep brown eyes peaked out from under the tree. The fox took in a sniff before making a chattering noise again. Her head tilted to the side and the animal seemed to mimic her. Their heads both slanted to one side then then other as the animal followed her movements.
A giggle escaped her mouth and she quickly covered it, hoping no one would hear and wake. She didn’t want anyone scaring her newly made friend. Her eyes darted around the room and she listened intently. Waiting for any noise she could hear, but none came except for her own heart beating in her ears.
When she was sure no one was awake, she turned her attention back to the fox. Its tail peaked out from under each side of the head as it swished back and forth. She noticed that the tips of creature’s ears were black. A beautiful contrast to the orange hue of its body. Deciding she would love the feel of the fox’s fur, even without having touched it yet.
Her feet treaded lightly towards where the animal lay. “Do you like to play?” Her question barley above a whisper. Not wanting to frighten her friend, her movements were slow. “I love to play. I bet you love hugs too, just like me.” She cooed, inching her way closer. The animal’s eyes pinned on her. The tail languidly swished back and forth, almost copying her footsteps.
When she was about a foot away, the little girl eased onto knees. “I won’t hurt you. I want to be your new best friend.” The fox hadn’t moved an inch, except for it’s tail still making that slow rhythm back and forth. “You are very pretty.” Her onesie pulled snuggly against her as she shifted to lay onto her tummy. Her arms moving to lay flat on the floor under her chest. “I bet you want to play. Do you know hide and seek?”
Little eyes stared back at her with interest. She saw a tiny tongue slip out and swipe at the pointed nose. It had her giggling with delight. The noise she made had the fox patting its feet and it made another chuffing noise before it darted out from under the tree and ran around her, coming to lay right in front of her. A gasp escaped at her surprise and the fox rolled around a few times before laying diagonally close to her.
She watched all this with amazement. She loved the way the animal moved and how the low light in the room made the animals fur shine. Shyly, she reached a hand out to try to pet the animal once again. Her heart beat in her ears and her breathing slowed the closer her hand got. She hoped she could reach it this time.
Even with her hand extended all the way out she still wasn’t close enough. Disappointment grew in her belly, but the fox seemed to read her emotions and inched forward till she could caress his head. A wide grin broke across her face at gesture. His fur was soft but not like her blankets. He was a different kind of soft. You could feel all his hairs, like when she used her fingers to brush out her own hair. Her hair usually was more tangled than the foxes though. She didn’t feel any knots in the light fur but could feel the soft skin under the fur. The fox made a soft noise almost like a purr but not quite. It vibrated through the tips of her fingers and into her hand. It tickled and she giggled.
Suddenly, the fox’s head shot up. Ears moving back and forth. The little girl was going to ask what was wrong, but nothing came out before the fox scurried under the tree again. Confused, she followed. “Nothing is wrong. It’s ok.” She said trying to coax the animal into coming back, but to no avail.
Wiggling herself under the tree was pretty easy. She tilted her head to peer up into the branches. She saw the fox was slowly crawling up the branches. “Hold on!” She cried out but the animal only paused for a second to look down at her before continuing its climb again.
The little girl shot a hand out to pull on a branch. Deciding this would be difficult, but not impossible, she began pulling herself up into the tree. Limb after limb she followed the fox. Barley keeping sight of it while she tried to focus on what branch to grab next. The fox looked back at her a few times as she followed him but still kept itself out of reach.
On one particular branch, her foot slipped, and her hand tried to clutch to the limb she had but her fingers couldn’t hold on. The animal made an odd noise as she began to fall backwards. A tiny scream flew form her lips as she fell.
“Honey, it’s ok.” Familiar words filled her ears. She was unsure where they came from. The little girl felt her whole body suspended in air as she was falling. Closer and closer to the bottom of the tree she went.
“Shhhh. Mommy is right here.” The smell of her mothers Vanilla perfume surrounded her. The scent easing her racing heart. “Wake baby.” A soft rubbing on her back. “Wake for mommy.”
With a jolt the little girl’s eyes flew open to see her mother’s eyes staring back at her. Her breath caught and she looked around wildly.
“Yes baby.” Blankets were bunched under her arms and she blinked a few times.
“What happened?” She questioned in a sleepy voice. Her tiny hands rubbing at her eyes.
Her mother gently pushed a stray lock of hair back behind her ear and lightly kissed the top of her head. “You had a dream little one. It is ok now.”
Her mind still foggy, trying to understand. “But where is my friend?”
“What friend honey?”
“My friend the fox.” Her big round eyes looked up at her mother. Tears filling her eyes, “I was trying to reach him, but I fell.”
“It was a dream baby.” Her mother cradled her in her arms. Softly rocking her back and forth. “Sounds like an adventure though.”
Tilting her head back far enough to see her mothers face she nodded. “Yes, but I miss my friend.”
“Well, that is the good thing about him being a dream friend.”
The little girls’ eyebrows furrowed, and she frown in confusion.
“If he is a dream friend, then all you have to do is go back to sleep and dream of him again.” Her mothers hand rubbed her hair and she kissed her head again. Gently she laid her back down in bed. The little girl shuffled under the covers as her mother pulled her blankets back up to her chin.
“How do you dream of a dream again?” Her curious thoughts expressed on her little face.
“When you think of something hard enough,” Her mother kissed her head again, “it will plant in your mind. Then when you dream, all your dream thoughts will be of that.” Standing her mother rubbed her little cheek with the back of her hand. A yawn escaped and her eyes felt heavy. The smell of vanilla filling her nose.
“Now sleep my little one. Dream of sweet dreams. I love you.”
“I love you to Mommy.”