Writing Resources from Fifteen Minutes of Fiction
The Fable of the Squirrel and the Bird SeedA father squirrel was teaching his son one day how to forage for food. He showed him how to find the best seeds, nuts, mushrooms and pinecones. The little squirrel enjoyed all these foods, but found the seeds most to his liking. His father cautioned him: "Son, don't let your hunger run away with you. Never venture beyond the edge of this forest for food, or you will be sorry."
The young squirrel nodded his head wisely, but he was not really all that wise; he determined, at the earliest opportunity, to sneak beyond the edge of the forest to see what he could find.
Early the next morning, while the rest of the family was still asleep, he crept to the edge of the forest, and discovered a large boxy object with smoke coming out of the top. Curious, he crept all the way around the object. On the far side he saw a strange tree growing out of the ground. It was straighter than any tree he had ever climbed, but shorter than any of the trees in the forest. Even stranger was the fact that it had no branches at all. But strangest of all was a small boxy thing sitting at the top, that all the birds were hovering around.
As the little squirrel studied this strange tree, one of the birds spoke up: "Go away little squirrel; this is our food."
It was then that the little squirrel noticed seeds scattered on the ground, all around the odd tree. Without hesitation, and ignoring the squawking of the birds, he began to feed on the tasty food.
Later that day, when he returned to his family, the father squirrel was steaming with rage. "You left the forest, didn't you?"
"No father," the little squirrel lied, with just a touch of guilt and hesitation. "But I did find a stump with some wonderful fungus growing out of it."
That night the little squirrel returned to the house at the edge of the forest. Since he had eaten most of what lay on the ground the previous day, he decided to climb the strange tree, and eat seed straight out of the boxy thing at the top. Thankfully, the birds were all fast asleep, so he was able to eat in peace.
The next morning, his father said: "You left the forest, didn't you?"
"No father," the little squirrel replied with a little less hesitation, "But I did find a lovely pine tree that has dropped all its pine cones. It's like a feast waiting to happen."
The next day, the brazen little squirrel decided to return to the strange tree in the full light of day. He crept away while the rest of his family was distracted by the pine cones. As he was eating and the birds were squawking, something odd happened: a two-legged creature with the funniest looking fur came out of the big boxy thing and began waving his paws at the squirrel and yelling. Terrified, the little squirrel beat a hasty retreat to the edge of the forest. But he didn't go far. Soon the scary creature was gone, and it occurred to the little squirrel that whatever it was, he could certainly outrun it. So he returned to the eating tree.
That night his father said, "You left the forest, didn't you?"
"No father," the little squirrel replied, discovering that lying was getting easier and easier all the time. "But I did find a beautiful pile of tasty twigs for us to munch on!"
The next day when the squirrel returned to the funny little tree, he found that halfway up there was a peculiar shiny mushroom stuck to the trunk. It was perfectly round, and it glinted in the sunlight. No matter how hard the little squirrel tried, he couldn't climb past it, because it was very slippery - more slippery than any mushroom he had ever touched. In fact, the more he thought about it, the more he concluded it wasn't a mushroom at all, but something that had been placed there on purpose to keep him from climbing the tree.
He looked around, and found another tree growing nearby. This tree was a normal tree; it had branches and leaves, and it wasn't very straight at all. The little squirrel climbed this tree and jumped across to the top of the eating tree, scattering birds in a heartbeat.
That night, it occurred to the little squirrel that father squirrel was stuck in a rut: "You left the forest, didn't you?"
"No father, But have you tasted the moss on the north side of that great boulder by the pond? It's to die for!"
The next day, as the squirrel was munching down seeds from the funny tree, he heard a loud crack, and felt a pain in his side. With a sickening jolt he tumbled from the peak of the boxy thing all the way to the ground, crashing into the shiny mushroom along the way. He lay stunned for a moment, and then raced into the forest. He didn't know it, for he had never heard of such things, but the two-legged creature had just shot him with an airsoft gun.
That night: "You left the forest, didn't you?"
"No father, but I was racing around so much, looking for food, that I've got an awful stitch in my side. I think I'll go lie down now."
The next morning the little squirrel felt much better - well enough for another journey to the edge of the forest. This time he discovered, to his delight, that the delicious seeds had been heaped in a nice little pile on the ground; he wouldn't even have to jump the tree to get to it. All morning long he sat merrily eating the seeds, stuffing his cheeks with the sweet food, until he felt as though he could barely move.
That was when the two-legged creature came after him with a shovel.
The moral of the story could be: Stolen birdfeed isn't good for you. It might be: Once in awhile your parents DO know what they're talking about. Or it could be: Just because lying gets easier doesn't mean it gets better. And maybe the moral of the story is: There are worse things in life than getting hit with an airsoft gun.
But regardless of what the moral of the story is, the last thought that went through the little squirrel's mind was: I wish my father hadn't told me not to come to the edge of the forest.
Which just goes to show that even squirrels have an absurd propensity for passing the buck.
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