Once upon a time, a long time ago, I had been working late in the library, and was walking home to my digs. I lived with a mad old lady on top of a hill, about a mile from the school. It had been snowing all day, and everything was blanketed thicksparklyicedwhite. I was walking home, muttering to myself about idiots and arseholes and anglo-saxon history, head filled with music from my walkman, zigzagging around in the middle of the silent street to leave odd
patterns of footprints, staring at the trees and the sky. The streetlights' orange glow was making everything unreal, casting odd streaks across the whiteness and changing the colours of everything else. It was still snowing in soft fat flakes, and I could hear nothing but the music in my ears when
I spotted a dark shape walking slowly towards me in the middle of the road.
I walked more carefully now, measuring quiet paces, straight in the centre of the road, matching speed with the lithe creature ahead. As we got closer to each other, I saw it was a fox. A large fox, with careful feet and a night time certainty. I stopped, not wanting to scare it away, and sat down crosslegged in the road. The fox paused, just a couple of feet in front of me, and tilted its head, eyes bright and fixed on me.
It sat down carefully on the snow. We sat there, just watching each other. Two strange beast
s trying to work the other out. If the music had not been so loud, I would have been able to hear its breath. If the night had not been so cold, I would have been able to smell its warmth. We sat, snow falling orange around and on us, not moving, limbs chilling. I was so still the flakes were settling even on my eyelashes.
The music finished. The tape clunked loudly as it hit the end, breaking the silent spell. We both jumped slightly, realising that something had finished. As I started to uncurl frozen legs, the fox darted into the trees at the edge of the road, looking back for a moment, stopping for a moment, before vanishing in the dark.
Whenever I listen to that music now, all I can see is the fox.