Fox 8 by George Saunders, The Guardian, Oct 2017

Fox 8 is one of the saddest stories I think I’ve ever read. It paints a really tragic picture about the loss of habitat and why foxes are so seldom seen, but also a lot of other stuff.

It’s written in the epistolary form, which is to say, in the form of a letter to humans from a fox. His name is Fox 8.

I’m typically not interested in stories that use a lot of weird spelling as dialect, but seeing that this is a story written by a fox, I forgive all it’s misspellings, mainly because Fox 8 asks that the reader to disregard his spelling because he is the only fox to know Yuman language.

When the rest of his den finds out he knows Yuman, he is asked to read a sign. While he doesn’t know what FoxViewCommons is, readers will automatically fear the worse–and for good reason. Soon the developers come in and destroy the foxes habitat and many of the foxes die.

It is up to Fox 8 to save his den–but not everything goes the way we hope–which is perhaps the point of the piece. Part magical thought piece and part eco-fiction, this piece had me on the edge of tears multiple times and makes me so sad at seeing animals scrounging for scraps near urbanized areas.

A wonderful tale that we could all learn from. (B)

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Anisha and the Rocks

When Anisha went down to the beach near the river mouth and out by the houses that were nothing more than shacks of wood and scrap metal, corrugated to look like the waves or the sand blown by the wind, she didn’t expect to find anything more than sand, shells, and the Rocks.

“Alright there, Nisha!” her mother called as she headed off. “You’d better be home by summer–your daddy’s cookin!”

But Anisha was already out the door and her strappy sandles were slapping the hard packed gravel road as she ran.

If she was lucky Mica would be down by the river mouth and his friends all of them. They always told the greatest stories, picked up from the fisher village that doubled as a meazily sea port.

Once she was out of eye sight from her house she slowed to a walk. Her skinny legs seemed to dangle out in front of her with each step she took. They’d begun to seem unruly to her, which wasn’t a good feeling, more like someone had added on some inches that she wasn’t aware of and she kept stubbing her toes. She’d thought she’d broken one the other day. Smashed it into one of the rickety kitchen chairs.

“Nisha! You gotta be more careful!” cried her mother, as Anisha hit the deck and squirmed around on the ground in pain.

But her toe hadn’t been broke. It felt fine now, and she flexed it just to make sure.

The unpaved road was lined by trees. They arched over and gave a smattering of shaded shimmers as the wind blew and brought the sound of tree-whispers and the smell of sea salt. She knew, just through the trees on her left was the river. If she listened real close she could just make out it’s murmur. But with the shivering of the trees it was difficult.

It took her ten minutes to get to the place where the road ended and the trail began, then another five to come to the river mouth and the beach.

Nobody was there but the gulls. They wheeled in the vast blue sky that met the vast blue ocean out in the distance. Thirty meters out to see the Rocks of Boheama loomed. Anisha had heard stories from Mica that young men from the village climbed the tallest, Bo’emata, nearly a full grand in height. But you had to climb it in at low tide, and more than one man had died in the attempt over the years, Mica said.

The Head

There were no stars in the deep ocean. From his place on the rig, Dylan looked down into the choppy water. He’d never understood the navy blue and white and dark camo they wore until he stayed his first night here.

The constant smell of sea and grime and grit was enough to sour anyone’s taste buds for fish or crab and oil.

The squeak of wet rubber boots on the metal grating made Dylan turn.

“Smoke?” asked The Head.

“I don’t smoke,” said Dylan. He’d quite as soon as he’d got to the rig–not an easy task, most guys who worked on it did–but Dylan found something perverse about smoking on an oil rig. He’d gone 5 weeks without, now. Those first 2 had been hell.

The Head shrugged. “Mind?”

Dylan shook his head and turned back to the dark night.

The flood lights along the rig illuminated everything, made the spray from the swells visible as a mist.

The Head breathed out and the wind caught the smoke and pushed it toward Dylan. He hated the smell these days.

“Why you come here?” asked The Head.

Dylan shrugged. “The money.”

“Bullshit.”

“I needed a good night’s sleep,” Dylan tried again.

The Head laughed.

“This is the place for it. This or a fishing boat up north.”

Dylan smirked. The Head was black. As black as they came–said his family immigrated from Kenya. First generation. He said he wouldn’t take reparations. His people hadn’t been slaves, not on American soil, anyhow.

Dylan looked to the sky but the lights of the rig didn’t let for stars.

“Do you ever go back to Kenya?” asked Dylan.

“Did once. With my mama. Didn’t get far though. Didn’t fit in. Didn’t feel right. I mean–good to see some places and people that I came from, but I’m American.”

Dylan didn’t know what that meant anymore.

“American,” he said.

“Yeah,” said The Head. “Like the stars and stripes. The Grand Canyon. The Rocky Mountains.”

“The Rockies are also in Canada,” Dylan pointed out.

“Canada is also part of the American continent,” The Head countered.

Dylan was about to respond but the words never came. The klaxon sounded and before he knew it his hands were over his ears. The Head’s eyes were wide and shocked. He spoke but Dylan couldn’t hear a word he said. Dylan knew what he was saying though. When The Head began to run, Dylan followed.