“How does the Gold melt into the waves?
Night after night I watch it happen, but every morning it comes back around and reforms itself into a ball in the sky that seems to float from an invisible source. Like the birds that fly alone, I ask myself these questions.
What is that Gold?”
These were the questions from the Little Mouse.
You see, where she came from, there was no concept of physics or gravity. There was no math or science.
They had numbers, of course. Every civilization with a brain among them has numbers. But most of them have no reason to add them together to figure out how things work.
They just work. So they put things together.
Does that make sense?
Sure it does.
“I’d like to see that Gold as it melts.”
The Little Mouse thought.
She found her map, the little one of course, and began to plot her journey.
“The woods. That’s the safest way to get there. I can’t be just putzing out in the open. Surely I’d be swept up by some Hawk or other.”
With her little markings made of stone, she began to draw her way.
Out from her home and straight to the first pile of leaves on the left. Where she and her friends often meet. Sometimes to write stories, sometimes to read them out loud. A small safe place, protected by rocks and company.
After that, to the small pond with the bushes and shrubbery. Those could hide her until she reached the fallen tree that fell some time last season. A new space that she hasn’t much explored, but had heard stories of the sorts of things that would grow on its bark.
“That’s it!” She thought. “Underneath that tree will be perfect to spy the water. And with the water comes the Gold.”
That’s it, indeed. The path was set in stone. Well, not so much stone. More the tag of a t-shirt that had been lost at some point, and washed of all of its text. Now, a map of the plain land and the woods. Every one of the Creatures around the space had something along the lines. Something to help mark where food storages were, or friends holes in the grounds and trees.
She packed her bag with the wooden-flute that the red-headed Wood-Pecker gave her, a few grains and nuts to give her strength, and a small glass.
Small, but big enough to capture some of that Gold.
The journey wasn’t only to see the Gold melt, Little Mouse had decided. She wanted to capture some of it for herself. To use as light as even the giant one in the sky faded beyond the waves.
“Off to the races,” she thought.
There wasn’t much time. If she waited any longer, she’d miss it. Then who knows what would happen the next day. There might not be any time to plan such an adventure again. Or maybe she’d just be too tired. It had to be tonight. This very evening.
Little Mouse dashed out of her home, map at her side and bag along for the ride.
She didn’t know why the Flute came along. It just felt like a good luck charm for the past few seasons that she’d owned it. No harm would come her way with that at her side.
First to the leaf pile. Empty. No friends sharing stories or lounging about. Only rocks and dirt.
“Fine,” she said to no one. “I guess I’m really doing this alone.”
From there she went for the bushes by the water. “I just have to get a little further,” she thought. It must have rained recently, because the bushes were dripping. wet She took a moment to let a small drop from a leaf land on her tongue.
“There, now I’ll not be thirsty and I can capture the Gold.”
After the bushes, she knew what had to happen. One last wild flee from her hiding place to make it to the tree that had fallen.
“Huh,” she muttered. “It’s not as close to here as I thought it would be.”
She didn’t plan for any flaws. It was supposed to be a sure shot.
Above, she saw a Hawk, and knew there was only one chance to get this right.
Hitching up her bag, and digging her hind legs into the earth a little bit, getting ready to spring into action, Little Mouse took one final breathe.
She lept with such force that any other Creature around must’ve thought her a Lion! There was no going back now.
All that was left was forward!
And before she even knew how to stop, the tree did it for her.
She heard a crash.
Suddenly her bag was gone, skirted across the grassy ground, covered in bark.
She picked herself up from her fall and shimmied over to her bag; everything in tact. Except.
The glass, shattered.
“No!” She shouted as her little legs scurried her over to its final resting place.
“How will I ever capture the Gold now!”
By trying to pick up the pieces, Little Mouse cut her paws, and retched back in pain.
There was no saving it. Her glass was really shattered.
What’s worse, the Gold was beginning to melt. No time to get back to her home to retrieve another glass and make it all the way back in time. And even if she tried, it was certain that the Hawk had seen her on her run.
She’d have to wait until the Gold was gone all the way into the waves, and sneak her way back, slow and steady as a Tortoise.
Little Mouse began to weep.
“Why are you crying?” A voice from atop the tree said.
“Who’s there!” Little Mouse cried back. “Please, leave me be! I have nothing to offer you, unless you care for a Flute! And I am small and will not provide you much in ways of nourishment. Today has already been a wreck. I couldn’t stand being eaten.”
“I’ve no need for a snack,” the voice said. “I’m only here to watch the Gold. Won’t you come up and join me?”
“You promise this isn’t a trick?” She said.
“I do,” the voice called back.
Ever so slowly, Little Mouse crept up the side of the fallen tree that she’d only ever heard of until today. At the top, a Fox. Orange in fur, and black in nose.
“Huh,” Little Mouse said. “I’ve heard Foxes like you like to trick us Mice into being your dinner. What makes you so sure that you won’t eat me?”
“I’ve already eaten today. Besides, I’m tired. I’ve had a long life for being a young Fox. Sit. Watch the glow of the Gold as it melts.”
She remembered that her glass had broken and began to speak of it until interrupted. “I heard the crash,” Fox said. “You’re not the first to attempt to catch the Gold. It always ends the same. The Creatures realize that they can’t. That they’d done all this planning for a foolish endeavor.”
“It’s not foolish! I was going to capture it!” Little Mouse said with some bite.
“You captured some Gold, but maybe not the one you’d wanted, ” Fox said, calmly. “Look how far you’ve come today. Everything that you’ve accomplished.”
Little Mouse looked back at her home, that looked so far away now. And she realized how far she’d come. It took her a moment to come to that she wasn’t even trying to hide form the Hawk anymore. She was just existing, like the other Creatures of the Forest around her.
Fox grabbed Little Mouse from the ground and laid her atop his head. “It’s a better view up here.”
The Gold melted into the waves, much like it does every night. But tonight, Little Mouse knew that it was melting differently. For she had a tad of it with her now.
Or at least the memory of it.