The ancient red woods were enjoying the stillness when they felt the young traveler enter their sanctuary. The red mother arched her thick trunk and curled her burls as she stretched and limbered.
"Who is there?" she said, her breath sending a warm wind.
"me." replied a quivering small voice.
Mother looked down
.... down, to the ground.
A small one stood crying at her foot. In her arms was the body of a limp red fox.
"Wait." mother said bending.
....bending down, to the ground.
"What has happened here little one?" she asked gently pulling the girl to her.
The girl bit her lip as she sobbed, "He died."
The mother held her tight, and cried with the girl. There combined tears collecting in the soft red fur.
"He was my fwiend..." she whispered holding him close and laying her pale cheek on his fur.
"He was our friend too" said the ferns wrapping themselves around her.
"Mine too" cried the sun light softly lighting the red fir. "He was the lantern maker."
"What?" she sniffed and dried her eyes on him.
The sunlight twinkled and slowly danced in a dappled pattern. "He made the most beautiful lanterns. In all sizes and shapes. He lite them with his special light. You are blessed little one to have known him...."
"...I wish eberyone could know him." She sniffed hugging him closer.
A cool shadow blotted out the warm sun.
"Everyone will." came a new voice.
The tall, darkhaired woman knelt down and ran her hand lovingly over the still red fur. Tears were in her big blue eyes. "they most definitely will." She parted the wishing clover and began to dig.
the rich brown earth came up easily in her hands.
The little girl began to sob again. "I don't wanna fordet him. Or weave him where I can't see him."
The tree's began to whisper and gently sway. A shower of bright green needles rained down, and lined the hole in a soft carpet.
The woman held out her hands for the fox.
The girl hugged him tighter and turned into the trees dark bark. "I tant weave him."
The woman gently smiled. "Didn't you hear the sunlight? He was the lantern maker."
"He didn't make me a lantern!" she wailed "I haf no lantern to carry."
The sunlight suddenly blinded her and she closed her eyes. It held her face and warmed her tears. "you are the lantern dear one." it whispered. "He made you the lantern."
She dropped her face into his fur and sobbed through her understanding smile. Carefully and with great honor, she laid him on the bed of needles. She petted him for a long time as the woman, red mother, ferns and sunlight patted her quivering back. At last she painstakingly drew the dirt over him with her little hands.
"I will wanna visit him a din. How will I find dis grave?" She asked as she tenderly patted the dirt into place.
The woman looked up
...up, to the canopy.
"He isn't here little one. You want to visit him, share the life he put into you."
"Will dat work?"
"Yes," smiled the woman returning her gaze to the child. She cupped the child's face with her earthy hands. "He wouldn't want it any other way. He made his lanterns to shine for a lifetime."
In loving memory of Richard, and the gift he gave us all.
(c) 11-6-2015 Paja Russell