I’m delighted to announce that my first book ‘CHANGES’ is on Amazon count-down from this TUESDAY 29th AUGUST until Saturday 2nd September. What this means is the price will drop drastically on the first day, gradually increasing over the period until it reverts to full price when the countdown ends.
In other words, if you haven’t yet read it, put a note in your dairy to buy it on Tuesday for the best value.
To help me keep track, it would be really helpful if you would post a comment if/when you buy it, and a review on Amazon would be a treat for the Unicorns. 😉 The links are
So, with no further ado, here’s a free short story to keep you going.
When Cheeky first appeared he was skittish, and even when I offered him food would keep his distance until I was safely out of sight. Over time he learnt to trust me until he got bold enough to claim the conservatory chair as his own, and come inside the house. Eventually he passed over and I missed his presence.
A year or two later I happened to glance out the window and saw a young fox, lazing in the summer sunshine on top of the shed roof. It sounds funny to call a male beautiful, but that’s what he was; slim but not skinny, with soft, brown fur and deep, liquid eyes.
‘Come on. I won’t hurt you,’ I called softly so as not to frighten him. The smell of the food enticed him, and before long he was visiting regularly and taking the place of what could have been his father. I called him Chico.
Many people think of foxes as vermin, but to me it was like having my dogs around, without the responsibility of twice daily exercise trips. Since the car crash I had difficulty walking, so it wouldn’t have been fair to get another pet, although I missed the companionship of park visits. That was nothing to how bereft I felt at the loss of my beloved partner, and my guilt over his death.
‘Look out! Mind the fox!’
If I hadn’t distracted him when we were coming home along the narrow, country road perhaps he would still be alive, and I wouldn’t be reliant on sticks whenever I ventured out. Without the interaction with humans I became somewhat of a recluse, and I know people in the village began to look on me as a weird old woman. Old? I was only just 50 and definitely not past it, Cheeky had proved that.
Crash! The sound of broken glass brought me from my reverie.
‘Quick, scarper. Before she comes out.’
‘What about our ball?’
‘You get it if you want, but don’t be surprised if she turns you into a frog.’
Shards of glass from the small window lay strewn across the carpet, close to a brightly coloured football. I was just in time to see three young boys I recognised running off across the field. Accidents happen, and the glass could be repaired. More important was the struggle I had to kneel down and pick up the broken fragments before Chico appeared; I couldn’t risk him injuring his paw. The comment from the boys saddened me. I would willingly have returned their ball if they had knocked and asked for it back, with the only retribution being to clear up the mess they had made.
If the boys were that scared of me it would seem my reputation as being odd must be spreading around the village. I loved people, at least I did most of the time, apart from those occasions when I needed to be wary of them. Sometimes I longed for someone with whom I could share my secret, but it wouldn’t be fair to burden them with the truth.
The television advertising the usual festive repeats reminded me that Christmas wasn’t far away. Chico had been a regular visitor for around six months now, and I needed to make a decision. In fox years we were a similar age, but with each passing month he was aging the equivalent of eighteen of mine. Neither of us were getting any younger and whatever we decided would have to be arranged soon. Was it worth the risk, and which way round should it be?
It wasn’t the right time to be able to find out in the traditional way, but I knew he understood, and hoped he would be able to leave a sign to show me how he felt. Sighing I set out to tackle some housework and the growing pile of laundry, knowing I would have to wait until the 3rd December for the super full moon. By January he might have found himself a mate, and set up home elsewhere; it would break my heart to lose him but nature was a hard mistress.
He didn’t show up that night and I began to worry he had been hit by a car, or was lying ill and vulnerable somewhere, calling for my help. I woke frightened by the vividness of my nightmare, and the screams of foxes fighting outside my bedroom window. Looking out I wasn’t sure whether to be relieved or worried when Chico wasn’t amongst them.
‘Where is he?’ I called, the sound of my voice stopping their squabbling, and increasing my bizarre reputation if any neighbours had heard me. Glancing at the bedside clock I saw it was only four in the morning, but with all chance of sleep shattered I went downstairs to make myself a hot drink.
It was unusually mild for the end of November, and noticing the washing basket I decided I might as well get the ironing out of the way now, even if it would add to my eccentric reputation. How odd. I checked through the basket again but there was no sign of my favourite lingerie set. I knew I had hand washed it only the day before, and left it with the others ready to take upstairs. No, it was definitely not there.
A noise outside made me open the back door, and the light from the kitchen reflected on a flash of red and black lace as I caught a glimpse of Chico vanishing over the back fence. At least he was safe. Then it occurred to me, by taking something so personal he had given me the sign I needed to know his feelings. Decision made, I went up to the attic and retrieved my Grandmother’s book.
I had been studying it ever since the accident, and Cheeky had given his consent to try to reverse the spell, but had died before I could complete its invocations. We had left it too late, but I wouldn’t make the same mistake again. Now the only thing left to discuss was which one of us would be prepared to change. Thinking about my life I decided it would be me. After all, Chico had done his time, and without the love of a partner I had little left to inspire my present life.
The night of the full moon arrived, the book was on the table, and everything was prepared to try to overcome the curse imposed when we had inadvertently taken the life of the tod. Chico arrived and I watched as he stretched and grew. The beautiful brown fur retracted into a honey coloured skin, and he stood before me, a full-grown man, his dark hair streaked with touches of silver.
‘It’s been a long month, Vix’ he said, as he took me into his arms. ‘It’s so good to see you again.’
‘I’ve missed you so much Chico. This time I’m coming with you when you change back.’
His glance strayed to the book, and his eyes widened.
‘No. If it works I’m ready to resume permanent human form. If it doesn’t, then at least we have our monthly visits. When I’m gone I’ll send my son to take my place. For now, let’s enjoy our few days together as always.’
He was determined so I said no more as I didn’t want anything to destroy our precious, stolen time. It was a wonderful few days, perhaps because we both realised it could be our last. On his final evening he kissed me soundly, then we made our way to where the book lay waiting.
‘Ready?’ he asked.
‘’Ready,’ I replied as I took up the book and started reciting the words which hopefully would mean his shape-shifting days were over, and we could stay together in human form.
The dark clouds drifted across the full moon, and I waited for him to resume his fox persona as the clock chimed midnight. Nothing changed. He still stood before me as a suave, handsome, middle-aged man. The spell had worked!
The delighted words I tried to utter came from my throat only as a high-pitched scream. I felt myself shrinking, and watched in horror as my pale skin turned a ruddy brown before I dropped to all fours on the floor. The evil spirit had released him, but taken me instead. Tears filled my vixen eyes as I took off into the wild to find a mate, leaving my love behind me. I knew I only had a few months left, but was determined a daughter would be ready to take my place when my remaining short life was done.
© Voinks August 2017