Fox at night

Say you’re like me and you’ve always lived in a city. You like the sounds at night, the still and the quiet and the echo of shoes on pavement, the solitary shouted voices, the sudden blare of a horn or rumble of a car.

You like the silence and the sharp rustle of a hedgerow on your fur, the thrill of the bin whose lid is not fully closed, the food inside so fresh and sweet, the clatter of the falling lid worth every risk.

Say you like being alone, the adventure of stalking cat after cat and bird after bird, and that quiet dawn return to your den. And say that one day all that ends.

You find yourself away from your usual haunts and in an open area, green and vast and devoid of bins or cracked pavement. In the distance by an old tree you see one of your own, not completely at first, but their shadow around the bottom of the trunk, and your curiosity gets peeked, because you haven’t seen one of your own in an age and you think – hope – that maybe it’s not like you and that you don’t have to fight it because it’s a vixen.

Which it turns out to be. Something you knew all along really but didn’t want to believe, because things like that don’t happen to you.

And say you walk up to her, not directly of course but in ever decreasing circles until she sees you and starts and moves away and hides and makes a few circles herself, her feet following your feet, her nose in the grass sniffing, considering, both of you making the same circle until eventually your wet noses meet and you know from the pattern of white on her red fur and the glisten of her eyes that she’s your mate and you’re hers.

She leads you back where she’s from and you follow, away from the city, to a place even greener and vaster than the place where you met and, when there, you mate and have cubs and live in a den that you have to keep extending and working on.

And when you finish, your mate sends you out for food which you find and bring back and see little of, because as soon as you put it down it’s gone, the cubs have had it, and you have to go out again to get more which your mate then takes the greater portion of.

And say that you do these things night in night out and find food harder and harder to get so that you take more risks. You leave the green areas and go to grey patches where you hear sounds you remember from the city, the crush of tyres on gravel, the echoey sound of feet in the night, and you remember what it was like on your own and that sweet rubbish bin smell.

You get food and you take it back, but you begin to wonder why you bother, those dogs nearly got you and that light nearly caught you, because if you were on your own, you could just have it all yourself and go back to your den in the weary dawn light and rest on your own instead of having to extend the den again and feed another mouth that barely acknowledges you before devouring the chicken you carried for miles, trying not to get caught.

Say you do this, all of this, for years.

You mate, you hunt, you feed, you build until one day, a chicken in your mouth, you find yourself rushing as fast as you can to get home and away from the hounds that are chasing you.

And you think that hedge, that’s where I’m going to stop and feel the rustle and remember the bins and wait, wait for them to get me like I’ve got this chicken, because I’m tired and I’m not in the city and I’m never going back to see those empty cub eyes again, they’ve killed me, just as these hounds will – you’d be forgiven, wouldn’t you, for thinking that was all you could do and that that was the only option left to you, a city fox in a hedge, horns tooting, hooves pounding around you, the chase finally coming to an end.


4 thoughts on “A City Fox In A Hedge, Hounds Growling

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