The Little Girl and The Fox, an Excerpt
By Kaeliana Yu
A little girl goes on a journey through a floating kingdom to seek out a magical fox in order to satiate her endless desire for companionship.
A little girl in a white nightgown gazes into the tendrils of an amber fire in the fireplace. She is very small, no larger than a dog if it were to stand on its hind legs. Her limbs are stick-thin, and she seems like she would fly away when faced with a gust of wind. The little girl doesn’t flinch when the flames skip too closely. She holds her hand out invitingly, waiting, waiting, then striking—but she can’t catch an orange flame. She feels disappointed, but her dismay is extinguished in a heartbeat. The little girl looks down at her hand. The skin is red and singed, but she doesn’t feel any pain. She looks back at the fire.
The girl thinks the flames look like dancing fire ribbons, waving their bodies cheerfully. She wishes she could catch a ribbon. If the girl did, she would drag a ribbon out of the fire to see if there is an end to it. Or perhaps, she wonders, is it infinitely long, like the beautiful ribbons at the fair? The Magician would pull endless ribbons out his sleeve, and the girl liked to imagine there was a tiny man spooling threads together in seconds from inside his arm. She saw the Magician at a small fair that only the sons and daughters of the wealthier families in the kingdom could attend, where the infamous Magician presented his whimsical tricks. Rumors of his feats, from surviving a thousand arrows in the back to breathing life into inanimate things, traveled so far that even the King—the girl’s father—had heard of them from up on his three-hundred-foot tall throne that had an enormous indigo gem embedded at the top. The King had wondered if the Magician’s tricks could stir some emotion into his own daughter, so by his order the maids had dragged the girl out her room and promptly brought her to the fair.
The little girl is lost in her memories while reminiscing of that magical night at the fair. Of the trinkets and toys, the bright lights and the noise. Of a particular red fox that the Magician held tight to a glittering orange ribbon. Nothing compared to it. The girl wishes she had snagged the ribbon with that fox and dragged it home. She wishes the fox were by her side right this instant. The little girl pleads to the fire desperately, asking it to give her the orange fox.
The little girl’s parents are keeping an eye on their daughter, but neither are there in person. The King, who refuses to leave his tall throne for fear of someone stealing its indigo jewel, uses his four-hundred-foot telescope to peek into the girl’s room. The Queen, too busy touching up her pristine makeup and staring lovingly into her mirror’s reflection, has her three maids running back and forth to report what the little girl is up to.
The King and Queen receive word of the girl’s interest in the fox. The King sighs because he’s already bought so many things for her. The Queen cries in her heart—she cannot afford to have her makeup ruined by real tears—because her daughter is not like other children. The King thinks it’s futile to add another useless toy to the little girl’s collection. The Queen thinks that other mothers will gossip about her poor parenting.
The King’s manservant will go to the fair to grant the little girl’s wish. He will recognize the fiery orange fox and grant the Magician an audience with the King. The King will offer the Magician a sum he thinks no man could refuse. However, the Magician will give the King the fox, free of charge, because he is secretly happy to see it go. The King will order his manservant to deliver the gift to the girl so she will have another toy.
The little girl cannot believe her eyes at the fiery fox yipping before her. She grasps the orange ribbon and drags the fox back to her room, where the fire is still ablaze. She slowly sits down and watches the fox with brimming curiosity as it probes its new surroundings. The ribbon is still held tightly in the little girl’s grasp. The fox sniffs around cautiously. Its amber eyes glint in the darkness whenever it glances at her. The fox stares curiously, and tiptoes gently towards her. The little girl holds her breath. Soon, she feels its warmth curling around her.
The girl is elated to have this new friend. She smiles, for the first time in years, from ear to ear. The little girl hugs the fox excitedly and laughs out loud, and her laughter, which sounds like the sound of twinkling fairy bells, echoes through the dark mansion.
I was inspired by early childhood favorites, like my father’s old Korean folktales and my mother’s copy of The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. As a child, I always loved drawing whenever I could, and over the years I’ve developed my skills as an artist. My illustrations for “The Little Girl and The Fox” are inspired by Saint-Exupéry’s painterly style on his cover.
Kaeliana Yu is an aspiring fiction and fantasy writer, and a senior in high school. She was born in Queens, where she was raised with her father’s old Korean folktales and her mother’s battered copy of The Little Prince. Kaeliana wrote her first short story, “The Little Girl and The Fox,” inspired by the whimsical magic of these childhood favorites. When she is not writing, Kaeliana can be found painting new artwork for her wall collection, baking her favorite cakes and going to art museums with her friends.