Traveling to other places is bound to change your perspective at least a little, maybe even a lot. At times, when you return home, it feels as though nothing is the same because everything is. Sometimes the change is for the better; sometimes it is not. Sometimes it is hard to tell the difference.
This is a tale about change. It is a tale about love, and a tale of simple joys. It is about someone I once knew, someone called the Little Prince.
But I have forgotten to introduce myself. I have no name, but if you have read a certain book, you may know me as the Fox. But don't worry; I don't bite. For I am a tame fox. I guess that's precisely where the trouble lies.
Years ago, I was an untamed fox, whose life consisted only of stealing chickens and avoiding hunters. But one Thursday night, as I was sneaking into the chicken house, I heard music. Oh, what beautiful music it was! I once would have paid anything to hear it again! I followed the sound until I came to the garden of the farmhouse, where lights had been all strung up, and a man played the fiddle. There, the hunters – the ones that I so despised! – were dancing with the village girls, dancing so beautifully.
I came back every Thursday evening, the one time when I did not have to fear being hunted. So Thursdays were beautiful. But I was missing something. Something I could not give name to.
I finally realized what it was one day, as I saw a farmer with his dog. I was not tamed.
I left that town - although I would miss the chicken and Thursday dances - to find the one who would tame me. I searched for a few months before finding he who was called the Little Prince. He claimed to be from another planet. I was skeptical at first, of course, but then I thought, "Why not?" I've heard stranger things and I wanted to believe the child.
Perhaps at first my reasons for speaking to him were purely selfish. I wanted to be tamed. No… I needed to be tamed. More than anything else in the world. It was my obsession. I didn't even know what the word meant back then. Yes, I'd had a definition: to create ties. But that seems so rough a phrase now compared to what it really means to be tamed. Even my speech, with my talk of wheat fields reminding me of his golden hair, were only words. How foolish I was when I was young.
But eventually I grew to mean all that I had said, about taming and rites, as I listened to all he had to say. He spoke of his planet. He spoke of his journey to other planets and all the things he saw there. But most of all he spoke of a flower, a rose more beautiful than any other, although demanding. He seemed to long for her as he spoke.
Day after day, the Prince came back, the same time every day after the first couple of visits. Day after day, we became closer, gradually became friends.
And I finally meant what I had said, and I loved the sound of the wind in the wheat.
But they say all good things must come to an end. The saying itself would bring a tear to my eye if I were human and could cry. The Prince began to speak more and more of the rose, and I knew in my heart he would soon be leaving. She had tamed him first. I knew this. She was vain and selfish and needy, but his all the same. So I gave him a few last words of advice, and we parted ways.
The next day he did not return, but I waited for him under the apple tree anyway. And the sound of the wind in the wheat was the same color as his golden hair.
I guess it was my own fault for being tamed.
Ten years passed, although it seemed like more to me. A fox should not live this long, but I had. Although I sometimes felt my age in my bones or in the weariness that sometimes overcame my mind, especially when I thought of the prince, I was still young at heart in many ways. I believe it was the memory of the prince that both kept me young and alive and at the same time aged and tired me.
But that was long ago. I wondered where he was and how he was doing occasionally, but for the most part life went on. I returned to the countryside where I had previously lived, and once again enjoyed life's simple pleasures of stealing chickens and watching humans dance, my two main hobbies. Being a fox isn't all that exciting, to be honest, but excitement wasn't really my forte anyway. I was happy and that was all.
Until a stranger came to town. A stranger around 17 years of age, with wavy golden hair. My once very dear friend, the Little Prince, was now not so little, and worse yet, a stranger.
I was just sitting on a hill, feeling the sun on my fur, when I noticed someone sitting under an apple tree not far away. I didn't believe my old-fox failing eyesight at first, but after studying him for a moment more, I knew it could be no other!
I ran to greet him, and was shooed away by the toe of a white leather boot.
My heart was broken all over again, because it was like letting go of him all over again.
Of course he had changed. So many years had passed. But why did he not remember me? I tried to remind him of who I was, but he only looked at me in confusion and disgust. Could he not even understand what I was saying to him? I stared at him in disbelief as I realized he was only hearing the yelps and barks of a fox, not the conversation of an old friend.
I wish foxes could cry. I truly do. I would have if I were human, but instead I had to keep the pain inside until I thought my heart would explode and my insides flop over inside of me.
The prince brushed the grass off of his white suit and straightened the circlet that rested on his golden curls, then began to walk away. He looked so vain and arrogant, nothing like the young boy I'd once known. I was just about to completely give up hope when I saw, tucked into his suit where one could barely see it, a tattered, familiar scarf.
And my heart leapt for joy.
Why is the prince back and what has happened to change him? Is there anything left of the old him? To be continued…