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Once Upon A Fox

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Once upon a time, a girl was looking for a story.

She found a fox.

These things are related.

But neither of them is more important.

When the girl came back from the dream, awakening to the sound of the machines, the fox was still there. She remembered the feel of the fox as she rode, even as she saw the fox that she had folded to keep by her side.

She had learned the power of the words. Words that lit a fire and burned away any pretense in their path. Words that left a spark running in the mind, zipping from place to place until they could only go from where they had been for so long. Words that could freeze anything where it was and slow things that threatened to grow faster than they could be contained. And when none of those words could persuade, she had words that roared and gusted and scattered the things in her way, a powerful wind that could not be stopped, only survived.

There are several foxes now. They accompany her words as she speaks them onto whatever is handy. Ears, papers, canvases, electrons arranged in the shapes of letters and colors, all were places where the words would go.

But the chitinous creatures thought left behind in another world chattered and clacked, and her words were not powerful enough to overcome them.

Let me try that again.

Once upon a time, a woman was looking for a story.

She found a fox.

These things are related.

Her world was shattered through no fault of her own, but as the story she sought unfolded in front of her, she could find no life in it, save for herself, her fox, and things that did not belong.

A piece of metal from the outside set ablaze something that had been long since left to creak on until it fell upon its own. In the ashes left behind, a core of inner fire remained. The fire made the words she spoke burn away the defenses she had built, piece by piece, on the idea that being an adult meant leaving her passion behind, and that girls should abandon their foxes.

With the dam she had built removed, the wave behind it crashed through the palace full of artifacts built by academy. Stone faces and ideas were thrown from their pedestals, their stories seized and dragged away in the flood. But what remained refused to change, and their disapproval cooled what had been loosed until it had frozen. Learning what she could, from those halls she went, and the ice she spoke froze all in their tracks.

The same things in nature can give cause to fire or ice. Enough potential in one space only needs the right conditions to rain down all that it has gathered. Once there are enough words together, the story begins to take shape. With the raw material mined for inspiration, the edifices are built, the machines are ready. All it takes is a spark.

Capturing lightning takes a focus. To channel the sparks as they jump from place to place, synapses firing, to transform potential into work, to pick up the pen or the brush, there has to be something on the other end to receive it.

What started with one fox, folded and ridden, becomes a game of foxes, both present and hidden. Only one step left, to turn the inward out,
and risk other people applying their clout.

Ugh, what was I thinking?

The fox is still important.

Fire from the belly, knowledge sharp as ice, the spark of creativity, all those were the woman's. Her power burnt away her enemies' defenses, froze them in awe, and arced between them, devastating groups at a time. She had found a story, and she was ready to tell it to everyone.

But everything is always calmest before the storm.

Her words were strong, but theirs were stronger. Finding a spark is easy, young fan, protecting it is harder. The funnel of words came and threatened to tear apart everything the woman had created and displayed. She sought a shelter from the storm, trying to thread its eye with the words she had, to disperse the power it held, but the storm would not be moved or called from its purpose. She could not outrun the angry buzz of wings and the chattering of the creatures that sought to corrupt her.

But before all was lost, there was a girl. With a fox. Not big enough to sit astride, folded wide, but still right there by her side. Was the girl herself alive? Or was she some fragment of memory, merely along for the ride?

The girl stood in middle of everything that had been created and shown, everything in the path of the swarm, and said what her opinion was. Her words were quiet, but they carried the spark. Her words were quiet, but they were sharp as ice. Her words were quiet, but they held the storm at bay long enough to show the woman what could be done.

Where the girl had whispered, the woman roared. She held her will strong against the storm, and slowly, it retreated. Thus, the woman learned the last of the magic she needed to stay alive. Now complete, she awoke from her coma to the fullness of possibility, no longer shackled by memory, bright sparks kindling fire carried on the wind, ice in her veins, and ready to begin. A fox, folded neatly, a reminder of where she'd been.

Are you alright?

Once upon a time, a girl was searching for a story.

She found a fox.

Once upon a time, a woman was struggling to survive.

She found a fox, too.

These things are related.

But neither is more important.

She teaches the words to girls looking for stories. She teaches the words to women struggling to survive.

She paints and folds words and foxes alike, because the creatures are here, too, chattering still, just better disguised.

When she dreams, she returns, finds her fox, ready to ride, and then astride, tends to the world she thought had been left behind.

H… hello? Is… is anyone there?

Once upon a time, there was a girl searching for a story.

She found a fox.

And she found the woman, too.