Writing Resources from Fifteen Minutes of Fiction
The Fable of the Rat and the SkunkA skunk, recognizing the tempting smell of three-day-old ripe garbage, ventured out of the woods to explore the dumpster behind an old elementary school building. There he discovered a rat chewing on apple cores, cookie crumbs and discarded balogna sandwiches.
"May I join you?" the skunk asked. He had learned through experience that even in the lowest of neighborhoods skunks are typically unwelcome.
The rat, having lived his life amidst the squalor and stench of moldy basements, oily furnace rooms and rotting dumpsters, had developed a finely honed ability to ignore most smells. Since there was plenty of garbage to go around and the rat had few friends of his own, he decided it would be nice to have some company. "Sure," he replied.
Together the skunk and the rat ransacked the dumpster, and ate until neither could hold another bite. As the skunk was preparing to return to the woods, the rat stopped him. "Where are you going?" he asked.
The skunk explained that he lived hidden under the ferns deep in the woods, but perhaps he would come back tomorrow or the next day for more food.
Quickly the rat suggested: "Winter is coming on, you know. You could stay with me; it's warmer inside the school than out in the woods."
The skunk looked in awe at the large brick building. "You live in there?" he asked.
The rat nodded, full of pride. "In the big underground room with the box of fire. It's the best, warmest place in the whole building, but no one ever comes down there except the man who comes to put wood in the box of fire. I just hide behind the door whenever he shows up!"
The skunk liked the idea of sleeping in a room that stayed warm all winter, so he agreed, and followed the rat through the holes in the walls and down to the furnace room.
The next morning when the rat heard the custodian coming downstairs, he whispered to the skunk, "Follow me!" The two companions scurried behind the door and waited in the darkess. But this morning the man did not put wood in the box. He stood there in the dark, just inside the door, and sniffed. Then he muttered under his breath and walked out, slamming the door behind him.
That night, as the two friends left the furnace room, they found something new; just outside their door there was a strange metal box with peanut butter, cheese, and other good foods. Without hesitation or discussion, the rat and the skunk raced for the food and as they entered the metal box, a door slammed behind them, trapping them inside.
The moral of the story is: Just because you don't realize your friends stink doesn't mean everyone else is oblivious!
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