by Exander & Raf
Chapter 1 - Lonely Days
The swampy plains were a nice setting for the windy symphony brought on by a storm that was touring nature’s untouched, unpaved forests throughout the country. The storm had decided to stop by a beat-up old shack of a house that some people had put work into setting up and maintaining. The storm did what it could to get its musical talents through to what inhabitants may reside inside and, with all its might, it paved against the still structure, making the rusty plates clang as vibrantly as possible and give the insides a little bit of breeze.
There was one fur to appreciate what the storm was attempting to conduct. Jonas, a hoary fox of about 14, was inside pacing back and forth between rooms. The music getting through from the outside did its job. It evoked emotions in him. His imagination was spooked. All that wind outside sounded like more than the sum of its parts. Was the storm outside really so loud because it had to be, or was it trying to cover up another force that was outside, out of Jonas’ view, and just outside past the walls shielding him from the strong force of the atmosphere?
The huge place – a labor of love made with whatever its original builders could get their hands on – was shielding Jonas from these possible forces and the young fox’s entire world. As far as he could remember, he had spent his entire life in this place’s rustic 8 rooms and surrounding make-shift garden. For all he knew, he was born here. From since his memory started kicking in at around age 3, all he could recall was wandering around these very same walls encompassing him now.
"Who are my parents? Where are they and why did they leave me?" He pondered that question very often.
He had friends to venture out and bring him food. How long were they gone? Jonas could never tell. They seemed gone longer than usual. He measured this feeling by hunger. No one was at the door, yet. The storm symphony kept him entertained while he was waiting. Hopefully, they would be entertaining his friends, too, as they ventured home. Would the windy gusts outside in any way seriously hinder them to return? He was pacing back frantically at this point. The rousing orchestra outside made him all the more agitated.
Suddenly, the back door swung open. It surprised and shocked Jonas like an orchestra sting. The themes the storm was playing appeared to be changing tone in a subtle but noticeable way. With this threatening feeling, brought on upon by the slam and enhanced by the loud wind, Jonas expected an intimidating figure to be standing by the doorway or walk into the room. It was more than just the drenching of the entrance that brought Jonas closer to the door, he had to take a peek outside – where were his friends?
He stepped outside, the rain cooling his face and fur as well as his feelings. Jonas was facing the apple tree garden, surrounded by a thick wooden picket fence, with the wood close together and further held together crudely by spiked chains, obscuring any view from beyond. Usually, he did not like taking apples directly from these trees, but always preferred to have them served in one special way or another. If it would take too long for his friends to reach home, his hunger would overpower his patience for a more satisfying, prepared meal, and he would give in to take an apple.
Aside from the food, he had a different kind of hunger: he had to see his friends again. He could never keep track of how long they were really gone, but he felt that they were gone longer than they usually were. He had to get a glance over the fence to look out for them, no matter how painful the barbed wires would be on his hands. He dashed over to the fence and clung to the wires and, despite all the pain, managed to pull himself up. To his shock, he couldn’t make out anything over the fence. Everything came across as pitch black. It felt like there was nothingness right beyond that fence. There was no illumination beyond the house.
This evoked a surreal feeling in him, as if there was nothing more to the world than his tiny home. Jonas rushed to the front door and, with slightly bloodied hand, turned the knob and attempted to pull the door open. He could hear the wind drift increase as he tried. How could it be so hard to pull this door open when the other door practically invited him outside?
Another orchestra sting! This one was very loud. Lightning had struck very near. Jonas jerked into the direction of the BANG! It was right outside the back door. He approached it carefully. Would lightning strike again? The uncertainty of the outside world had always terrified him and this was something quite new he was experiencing. It felt like guided forces were behind what was happening at the moment.
The rain was slowing down by the time he was carefully walking outside again, as if comforting him, reassuring him that nothing was going to strike again anytime soon. He took a look around the garden, then heard a creaking sound behind him! He felt very much relieved. His friends were home!
Jonas ran towards the slowly opening door, eager to greet the figures that were about to be revealed. His heart sank when there was no one standing there. The door had opened on its own, apparently.
Nevertheless, he continued towards the door. He wanted to look out and wait for his friends, anyway. Not wanting to fully step outside and have the door slam behind him, Jonas sat, leaned against the door and looked out into the horizon. After such long isolation, the outside seemed like extra company to wait for his friends with. And the landscapes were the guaranty his friends could come from somewhere. Jonas decided to remain there until they arrived.
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Upon waiting by the open door, sitting down and leaning against the edge, slight rain dropping against his furred face, Jonas started getting nervous fantasies about what could be out there in this unknown world he was inhabiting and yet not existing in, and whether or not his friends were ever going to appear on the horizon. He sat there, just staring, occasionally blinking. All the excitement and false hearings had worn him down and he was drifting into a deep sleep …
Jonas was sound asleep by the time two figures walked up to the door. One of them carefully carried him up as the other closed the door behind them on their way in.
He could briefly open his eyes, but only briefly. His eyes were still heavy and he could only halfheartedly put effort into focusing his vision. There were two adult forms, cutting apples, but Jonas was unable to recognize them. They blurred way too easily and Jonas let himself drift off into a sleep again. Him imagining they were his friends was enough to make him feel safe and cozy. He had gone through too much to care enough to force himself awake.
- - - -
Familiar footsteps soothed Jonas into a more awake state. It felt cruel to Jonas that his friends had to be gone for such long times, without any indication of when they would return. But here they were. He slouched up from his couch and walked with slightly blurred vision to one of his friends – to the person who just made those footsteps. Jonas hugged him from behind in a soft gentle way, yet also in a way that indicated that he never wanted to let go.
“I missed you!” As Jonas spoke those words, his friend patted his hand. He had hugged him like this before and yet something seemed off this time – something wasn’t quite right. And why didn’t he answer him? Did Jonas make a mistake in assuming that this guy was who he thought he was? Letting go, he took a few steps back, leaning against the kitchen counter, so he could focus his vision. Jonas shut his eyes tight, then opened his eyes as wide as he could. But he wasn’t there anymore – he had vanished.
Where did those familiar footsteps go, that Jonas was sure were there a minute ago? Surely, he would have heard them had his friend retreated into another room. Did he even hear those in the first place? For that matter, could Jonas so much as see and feel his friend, either? Even yesterday, as he was falling asleep? He recognized he was driven crazy by being overly lonely and worried about the only 2 people he practically ever knew. And he was in a terribly weary state.
Then Jonas heard more familiar footsteps, this time of his female friend. A feeling of heartbreak nested in his heart; was she just going to disappear as well? He felt as if he was living out a nightmare where all his wishes would be presented to him within arms length only to be retracted. He slowly turned around, finally without a blurred vision, and took a good long look at his woman friend standing on the other side of the kitchen counter across from him.
“Is that really you? Are you really there?” He slowly reached his hand out across the counter to touch her face, but was . “Boop!” She surprised him by playfully tapping his nose.
Jonas wanted to jump across the counter to hug her. Instead, his arms started to retract: he was hugging himself. A tear rolled down his face. His woman friend reacted to that quickly and rushed around the counter to quickly hug him. Now, he was hugging her.
A third pair of arms was now enveloping him. His male friend was finally there, for real. His arms felt real. The three of them were finally together again. They stayed this way for a long time, just enjoying each others real warmth.
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Jonas had fallen asleep next to his friends on a sofa bed. This time, he was set not to take them for granted and enjoyed every bit of last evening with them as he could. He was dead set on enjoying them as best as he could today, too, and could already hear their footsteps again walking around the room as he was waking up. Those creaking sounds the floorboards made were music to his ears. Now, he was just lying in bed listening to his favorite symphony, much better than what those storms had brought him. Listening to it could make him fall back asleep. The creaking sound of the door opening, however, played a false note, and it made him sit up. Were they leaving again? So soon? That sound had the effect of someone turning up the stereo suddenly. It made him sit up and ask why someone had suddenly tampered with his ideal listening experience. They were going out the very next day already.
(7th May 2018)