The vixen lay on the knoll and watched as the two upright animals entered the clearing. She had seen these kinds of beasts before, though rarely, and only from a distance. Her mother had warned her to steer clear. They were dangerous she knew, but they hadn’t noticed her. “This could be a good opportunity to study their habits,” she thought to herself. Realizing that she was in a unique position to learn more about these strange creatures she crouched a bit lower and stayed where she was. She remained still. She watched.
Her keen sense of smell told her that one of the subjects was female and one was male, she could not be sure from this distance but, she assumed the smaller specimen was the male as the brightly colored plumage would seem to indicate. Was that feathers or fur? Impossible to tell. The larger of the two removed a hump from her back and set it on the ground. Reaching inside it she removed a covering, like an extremely large leaf, and spread it on the ground. It was red and white checked. Food was then removed from what she now realized was a sac to aid in carrying their burdens. “Interesting,” thought the fox, “they have tools,” and she filed that fact away while she enjoyed the aromas of the food that had been carefully set on the ground.
The subjects sat together on the place that they had prepared for themselves and she thought, “Now they will eat.” But that was not the case. The small one began removing his brightly colored plumage and the vixen soon realized that she had been wrong – this was the female which meant the larger, more monochromatic, one was the male. This was confirmed in due course after they rolled around in the grass, making strange noises for a while, and his less brightly colored plumage fell aside.
“A mating ritual,” the fox realized. This was truly a strange and rare occurrence. To her knowledge none of her skulk had ever witnessed such an event before. She would have great stories to relate when she returned. But she soon realized that there was a problem. The vixen was no stranger to mating; she knew that there could be no consummation if the male remained flaccid.
The smaller beast, the female, was trying hard to help – coaxing, teasing, cajoling, and for a moment it seemed that she might be successful. It fluttered for a moment, magnificent in its struggle, then wilted and lay still. The fox wished that she could understand the noises they made, so strange they were. She heard the male, “I don’t know, Ann. This has never happened to me before.” What could it mean when the female seemed to growl and snarl? When she stood on her back legs and began replacing her brightly colored plumage? Soon the male did the same. Before he was done, the female left the clearing, stomping her feet and going back the way she had come.
The male gathered the red and white checked covering and hastily stuffed it back into the sac. He reached toward the food and then, deciding against it, hefted the sac onto his back and quickly chased after the female making noises that sounded like, “Wait, Ann, Wait.”
The vixen knew that she had just witnessed the beasts failed attempt at mating. She also realized that there was a huge mound of abandoned food in the clearing. She lay still and watched for awhile to ensure that they would not return. After what seemed an appropriate amount of time she rose cautiously and began to pick her way down from the knoll towards the waiting feast.
Okay, this week’s sentence prompt, provided by last week’s winner, AZ Gringa,can be used ANYWHERE in your piece. And the media prompt is a painting of a silver fox, by John James Audubon, celebrated artist and naturalist.
“It fluttered for a moment, magnificent in its struggle, then wilted and lay still.”
The Rules tell us to “Remember to think outside the box when you write your piece. Exercise those fabulous writer’s muscles! Think about how others might use the prompts, then go in a different direction.”
This week I took that suggestion to heart!