‘There was a fox on the road, I nearly ran over the poor little fellow. Luckily I was inching along in the car because of the fog out. He just stepped out of the ditch in front of me, I’d say he thought he would have the road to himself in those early hours, he’s a fortunate little creature all right. Would you believe he just stood there in the headlights looking at me for a couple of minutes and I couldn’t take my eyes off of him. Aren’t they the most beautiful of beasts with their long noses and ears, the red fur and amber eyes ? And, he had these little white whiskers. Anyway off he went then, back about his foxy business I suppose’ There was a gentle laugh. ‘Would you close that door, I don’t want her to wake, she needs to sleep a while longer’

The voice may have helped lower me into a deeper sleep. I must have been sick in the night and been carried into this big bed, in which I was very small. The room was fully dark and I was used to sleeping with a lamp on. Flannel sheets were above and below me and I had been well tucked in. Blankets, heavy on my body pressed me down into a deep slumber. When the door had been ajar I had been able to see the outline of my toes beneath the covers, they were a hill in my sleep place landscape. Something was tickling my neck; it was the stray feather that I had earlier peeled off my sweat-salted cheek. Feather spines poking through the fabric case softy needled my scalp. My head felt heavy.

Behind my eyelids in my silvery sleep-scape I am spinning, slowly maybe in the same dense fog I heard them talking about. It slides like fine sand into my eyes and my ears. It glides over my skin and through my hair.  

It is in this nebula that I find the fox at my feet. He is a first shy; he tangles himself in the bedding. He then winds himself around my feet and silky hairs brush over my anklebones. He rests a while lying over my shins. His is an elastic body, ready to snap into activity. Supporting the exquisite fur is the skin that glides over bones, uncushioned by even the thinnest layer of fat. It’s a body built with brutal economy nothing unnecessary is carried. There is nothing on it that is rounded or yielding like the bodies I knew.

The plume like tail now flickers over my toes. The creature wants to play. My own body is too heavy for games and besides; I have been told I need rest to get better. The animal is growing bigger or I am growing smaller. The fox rolls about the bed, his spine wriggling into the sprung mattress, he wears a broad grin. Luxuriating in the space that I warmed with my own febrile body, he digs at the air with paws poised like a ballerina’s, his pale abdomen and his wet black nose pointing to the ceiling. Even smaller now I am lost in the sheets and caught up by the fox’s deft motions. Then swiftly he rolls over onto his belly and stretches out his front paws drawing up his hindquarters his chin rests on his knees. Shrunk to the size of a mite I float alongside dust and the odd snowy feather, swept up in the air by the flickering of the fox’s magnificent flame tail.

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