top of page
  • Writer's pictureFlorian Hencher

'The Midnight Fox' - A true story.

Yesterday was rough. I woke with a fever and unable to hold food or water down. I managed to get menial tasks done with great effort, following an overly ambitious decision to face work which only resulted in me being sent home when the chills and fatigue kicked in after an hour of my arrival.

I knew as soon as I reached my bed after what felt like a lifetime commute in rush hour, the battle would begin, and I immediately became restless. Tossing and turning, hot one minute and shivering the next.

I eventually gave up on sleeping horizontal and took to the sofa with a hot water bottle, duvet and the intention to distract myself from the unease with mindless television. Darkness was drawing near, and my mind was now overcome with fatigue, but my stomach was churning, and this viral invasion was showing no signs of relinquishing anytime soon. It also doesn't help, that I'm the kind of person when nausea visits, I do everything in my power to resist it. It's borderline self-sabotage but I truly despise throwing up.

Eventually I manage to dose off and no sooner woke in a pool of my own sweat. I reach for the window and see it is now pitch-black outside. The streets are quiet, and I see on the kitchen clock that is it nearly midnight. I unlatch the window and notice that it's spitting rain outside. The cool air was exactly what I needed to cool my skin, so I sink my feet into my forest green wellies and throw on my navy-blue parker coat over my fleecy PJ's and take a slow and soothing walk to the nearby park.

As I reach the entrance, I cautiously make my way through a dark tunnel of trees and pause just a moment to listen for any potential dangers. Nothing, the coast is clear I convince myself. I keep my gaze forward towards the light peering through the trees and quickly arrive to an opening as it spans into a circular grove of grassy land. As I look around me, I see a foggy mist lit by the moonlight swaying across the dewy grass and into the distant hills.

The retching sensation soon returns, my knees feel weak, and my head becomes disoriented but being outside, here in nature with the cool night air comforts me far more than being cooped up inside and around a toilet bowl.

I see on my left a row of trees and pick the sturdier looking trunk to rest against. As I lean back, I discover in the darkness that I also picked the softest. The mossy trunk was like a soft and cool pillow against my weighty head.

I look up and see the moon is bright and in a wanning phase: must be a day or two since the full moon. The air smelt delightfully sweet and earthy from the sodden leaves now covering the ground. The scent of autumn I think to myself.

Then out of nowhere, I hear a rustling sound behind me and just catch sight of a light brown bushy tail floating above the tall grass. Momentarily I wonder if I had gone unnoticed and she simply hadn't caught my scent yet, or perhaps she was blind or even struggled to hear. I sympathetically watch her for a few more moments and decide she must be deeply engrossed with a hunt and following the scent of her prey. So, I remain as still as possible, careful not to disrupt, only to find myself now torn between empathy for the poor field mouse running for its little life and the hungry vixen who might have a litter to care for.

I wait a while longer before deciding to make a soft tutting sound, alerting her of my presence and half expecting her to vanish into the night. But she just looks at me, sniffing the air in my direction and as calm as though she knew I had been there the entire time. She then begins to cautiously creep closer, circling me first and then pauses just over my shoulder. I slowly turn back to look at her and she's softly gazing at me with her sharp auburn eyes.

"Hi there" I softly whisper to her, letting her know I'm no threat. I decide to remain still and resist the want to reach out a hand to her like a pet. She sniffs the air once again and prowls even closer to me, this time meandering in front of me.

A car suddenly rushes by, and the headlights blindingly expose us both as we see each other's faces in clear view for the first time. Our direct eye contact momentarily startles her, and she immediately retracts by taking a frantic step back. But only a step.

"It's OK" I say in the kindest tone. "Well, aren't you beautiful." I tell her. this time she moves even closer to me and sits a mere few feet away. A human and a fox, in a park, undisturbed by the hustle and bustle of the daytime. Simply existing next to one another.

Minutes pass and I find myself puzzled by this mysterious encounter. I try to figure out what she could possibly want: food, affection or just company on this chilly autumn eve. Or the dark humorous part of me wonders if she can sense my sickness and is patiently waiting for me to keel over, but let's not ruin this moment with such a dark twist.

I begin to notice that my nausea has gone, and my temperature has passed. Fatigue finally washes over me, and I think about returning to my warm bed. But my new friend here is still sitting with me and appears to be going no place soon. She grooms herself with vigorous licks and shudders her fur, followed by pawing motions as she massages the earth into a suitable resting bed. I felt a want to stay with her, but the sun was going rise eventually and I needed my rest for the day ahead.

Slowly I begin to pick myself up from the ground and she now carefully watches my every move.

"Thank you for looking after me." I say to her, a pitiful attempt as soothing my guilt for abandoning this bond first. "I hope we meet again." Then I climb over the nearby fence to avoid the dark tunnel of trees and make for the well-lit main road.

I follow the path that leads to a nearby alleyway to the street my home is on, and I couldn't believe what happened next...

I hear a soft pitter pattering behind me and a rustling in the bushes, then a familiar little head pokes out. It was her!

"Are you following me?" I playfully ask her and begin tutting towards her once again, like one does with a cat and I'm sure I've also heard foxes make similar sounds to one another. She appears to be understanding me and so I continue.

I wonder if she's hungry and if she's brave enough to follow me this far then she deserves a bit to eat, I tell myself.

We must have been walking for a couple of minutes together, her slightly behind me as she effortlessly leaped over garden walls and bushes to keep up.

I reach my front and turn back to see if she's nearby. I call out - nothing. I wait for the rustling - nothing. I peer out into the lamp lit road - nothing. She was gone. I thanked the night for this special encounter and look back one last time before shutting my door to the outside world.

A true story by Florian Hencher

57 views1 comment
bottom of page