Children Fiction posted March 19, 2012

This work has reached the exceptional level
Whimsical Animals Contest Submission

Freddy Fox Finds A Family

by Idamarty

Whimsical Animals Contest Winner 
``Freddy! Freddy wake up!``

Freddy Fox stirred restlessly in his bed trying to go back to sleep. He didn't feel like waking up yet. He had been having such a hard time sleeping lately. He kept dreaming about his mom and dad. How he missed them!

``Freddy. Are you going to sleep all day?`` Ricky Raccoon was tugging at Freddy's blanket trying to wake him up. ``Come on Freddy. Get up! It's almost time for breakfast and you know mom doesn't like it when we're late.``

Freddy slowly opened his eyes and stared at his best friend in the whole world. Freddy had been living with the Raccoon family ever since he could remember. Ever since the terrible tragedy had happened. Freddy didn't know exactly what had happened to his parents but he knew it wasn't good. He had overheard Mr. and Mrs. Raccoon talking one night when he had awoken from a terrible dream and had gotten out of bed to get a drink of water. He had listened at the top of the stairs to the conversation...

``Such a terrible loss,`` Mama Raccoon had said. ``Poor Freddy. To lose both parents at such a young age.``

``Yes I know.`` Papa Raccoon had responded. ``But we must never speak about it. We will raise Freddy as one of our own.``

``Yes, we will.`` Mama Raccoon had lowered her voice so that Freddy had to lean over to hear the next piece of conversation, almost falling over the banister. ``It's too bad we didn't know another family of foxes that could raise him ... for Freddy's sake. I mean don't you think that at some point he will realize just how different he is from the rest of us?``

``Of course he will.`` Papa Raccoon had answered. ``The children have already noticed and I have explained the situation. Not all of it of course but enough so that they know to accept Freddy as one of us ... a part of this family. One of our children. And they know not to say anything as well.``

Freddy had returned to his bed that night not waiting to hear the end of the conversation and cried himself to sleep. He had already known that he was different and as time had gone on, the differences had become very obvious. He had red fur and stood higher off the ground than the Raccoon family. They had grey colored fur and really big black circles around their eyes, as if they hadn't slept in ages. And they had stripes on their tales! Freddy had never let on though, that he knew that he didn't belong here. But he knew that they knew including Ricky and Rachel. Rachel was Ricky's annoying sister. Always following them, trying to get them into trouble. And Freddy knew that they sensed that he knew. It was just too obvious! No one spoke about it though. They just lived together as a family.

``Freddy! Ricky! Come on downstairs my darlings, breakfast is ready.`` Mama Raccoon called.

Ricky jumped on Freddy tickling him until he laughed. The Raccoon family had been so good to him. Loving him and giving him a home. But Freddy dreamed about having a family of his own. A family that looked like him. A family of foxes. And that is why he planned to run away that day to find a real family where he could belong.

``I'm not going to tell you two again.`` Mama Raccoon yelled up the stairs. ``If you're not down in one minute then I will assume you're not hungry!``

``Come on Freddy. I don't know about you but I'm starving.`` Ricky jumped off of the bed taking the blankets with him. Freddy got out of bed and the two of them ran down stairs to eat breakfast. Papa Raccoon was having a conversation with Mama Raccoon.

``Yep. Got away just in time.`` He was saying.

``Got away from who dad?`` Ricky asked.

``Charlie the coyote.`` His father responded.

``What's a coyote?`` Rachel asked with a mouthful of berries.

``Rachel!`` Mama Raccoon said sternly, ``I told you not to talk with your mouth full!``

Rachel giggled mischievously.

``But I want to know what a coyote is.`` she demanded swallowing her breakfast.

Papa raccoon laughed. ``He is a wile critter that one is. You had best stay away from him. He is as sly as a fox ...`` Papa Raccoon's voice faded as he realized what he had said. Everyone stared at Freddy waiting for his reaction but Freddy said, ``It's okay. I know I'm not a raccoon. I mean it is sooooo obvious. And I know that something happened to my mom and dad and that you don't want to talk about it.`` Everyone at the table was silent as Freddy continued, ``One day I'll find out and one day I'll find others like me. Right now I want to know what sly means.`` Papa Raccoon could hear the trembling in Freddy's voice as he fought to be brave.

``Oh ... um ... sly means ... um ... clever.`` Papa Raccoon stumbled over his words not wanting to hurt young Freddy's feelings.

``Wow,`` Freddy said, his voice sounding better. ``I'm clever. Is that the same as smart?``

``Well, I guess ... um ... yes it is the same as smart. You are one smart fox Freddy and Charlie is one smart coyote.``

``Well aren't you smart too?`` Freddy asked in youthful innocence.

``You bet I am!`` Papa Raccoon responded smiling. ``Now finish your breakfast you rascals. It's a beautiful day and you don't want to miss it.`` Papa Raccoon watched as Ricky and Freddy gulped down the rest of their breakfast and headed for the door.

``Freddy?`` Papa Raccoon`s voice stopped him as he was opening the door.

Freddy turned, ``Yes?`` he asked.

``We love you. You're part of this family, now and always.``

``I know. Thank you for everything you have done for me.`` Freddy responded smiling warmly and headed outside.

Outside was a magical place for Freddy. The forest was a land of adventure and, quite suddenly, everything had turned green. Spring had sprung. It was much warmer and so he and Ricky could play for hours and hours. They played hide and seek and tag and had races. Of course Freddy always won but sometimes he would let Ricky win.

On this particular day Freddy knew that playing hide and seek would be the only way he could run away without it being discovered for quite a while. Their games of hide and seek could last for hours because the forest was so thick with trees.

``You count first,`` Freddy said to Ricky, ``and no peeking!``

Ricky hid his face against a tree and started counting. Freddy disappeared into the forest running as fast as he could. He had been running for quite some time and decided to stop for a rest. He listened to the silence, missing Ricky and the rest of the Raccoon family. But he knew he had to find his own family now. Suddenly there was a sound behind him. His ears perked up and he sniffed the air. Yes, there was definitely something following him. Something was running towards him and he noticed, just in time, a large animal on four legs coming after him. Freddy started to run not realizing where he was running to. His head struck a branch hard and he felt himself falling and then blackness.

``Freddy ... Freddy.`` A voice was calling his name softly. It was a voice he did not recognize.

``Mama?`` Freddy opened his eyes to see a tiny creature staring at him. It had wings and small pointed ears. It had long hair but did not cover its whole body. The creature was glowing and Freddy found it quite beautiful. He was not afraid for it's voice was so gentle and it's eyes so warm he knew it was not here to harm him.

``Why are you running away Freddy?`` The creature asked him.

``What are you?`` Freddy asked wondering if he was seeing things.

``I am a woodland fairy. I take care of this forest along with my friends. My name is Fantasia and I have been watching you Freddy. Now tell me, why are you running away?``

``But what about the monster who was chasing me?`` Freddy asked looking around anxiously.

``Who Charlie?`` Fantasia began laughing. ``That old coyote will be out for a while. A sprinkle of fairy dust put him to sleep. He won't be bothering you. Now, for the third time Freddy, why are you running away from home?``

Freddy looked at Fantasia and tears started to well up in his eyes. ``That's not my home. Those aren't my parents. I d..d..don`t belong there.`` The tears were now spilling down Freddy's cheeks.

``Why don't you belong there Freddy?`` Fantasia asked in a soothing voice.

``Because I am a fox, not a raccoon. I'm different from them. Do you know what it's like to be different?`` Freddy asked sniffling and wiping his eyes.

Fantasia smiled and a soft laugh escaped from her. ``Freddy look at me. Everything and everyone is different. That is what makes us special. My goodness, where would we be if everything and everyone looked the same? Being different doesn't make you any less lovable.``

``But I want to be with a family that looks like me.`` Freddy responded.

``Oh Freddy,`` Fantasia said still smiling, ``No two people, or animals or even trees or flowers ever look exactly the same. Their coloring or markings make them different and unique in their own way. No two roses look exactly the same even though they are both roses, but both are beautiful and special in their own way.``

``I'd still like to be with my own kind.`` Freddy said stubbornly.

Fantasia looked deep into Freddy's eyes and said, ``Freddy, has the Raccoon family not loved you and taken care of you as one of their own?``

``Yes but ...``

``And have they not given you a place to stay, a place to call home? Freddy that is what family is all about. You must look deep into your heart before you can truly see.``

Freddy was confused. Fantasia went on saying, ``Do you not love the Raccoon family Freddy?``

``Yes I do, very much but...``

``Freddy,`` Fantasia said softly, ``If it is that important to you there is a family of foxes that live just beyond the clearing next to the big old oak tree. Go there, they are waiting for you.``

``Really? Oh thank you! Thank you!`` Freddy cried out and ran to the clearing in the forest. As he ran towards the big old oak tree he began thinking about his best friend Ricky, Mr. and Mrs. Raccoon and even Rachel. The more he thought about them the slower his steps became. He stopped before the old oak tree and saw a family of foxes. They were watching him approach with welcoming smiles on their faces. Freddy turned to look back from where he had come and saw, to his amazement, Ricky, Rachel and Mr. and Mrs. Raccoon standing there at the opening to the clearing of the forest. Freddy looked at the family of foxes and then back at the Raccoon family. He searched his heart and realized what Fantasia had been trying to tell him. He began running shouting, ``Mama! Papa!`` The Raccoon family began running towards him. With arms outstretched they welcomed Freddy with a big hug. Freddy knew that Fantasia was right. It didn't matter that he was different from them. He loved them like a real family and he knew they loved him too. He was the one who had made his differences matter but now he knew that he belonged just the way he was.

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