A golden-haired girl who lived in a small white cottage in the mountains had a red parasol.
It was supposed to be for when it rained, or when the sun was too bright, but she carried it everywhere, even on medium days when the clouds were soft in the sky and the sun was pale and far away.
Sometimes the parasol whirled around her like a bird. Sometimes it was content to let her spin it herself.
Sometimes it got angry and threatened to tear itself on the wind, and she held it close and whispered to it until its spiny curves relaxed and the red silk lay softly moving with the breeze.
There were days when they didn’t leave the house at all, but sat together piecing puzzles and arguing softly. Some afternoons they visited the park together, the parasol bobbing in dignified step with the golden-haired girl.
After the fourth afternoon, the Fox knew their habits, and one day decided to introduce himself.
Foxes are crafty. They can make themselves look like anyone, except they can’t change their face. Most people are easily fooled, and this detail does not signify. The little girl paid close attention, however, and if she hadn’t the parasol would have poked her rudely until she noticed that the Fox stood before her, dressed exactly as she was. On his right shoulder was another red parasol, mean and haughty looking. Somehow its points seemed sharper than that of the red parasol on the little girl’s shoulder.
I suppose you think if the girl was in any danger, her parasol would find a way to fly away with her. But that is ridiculous, because parasols can barely fly on their own, relying instead on the element of surprise and a stiff wind.
The little girl wasn’t worried. She knew a few tricks of her own.
She wished the Fox good morning. He lingered like a shadow behind her as she tried to walk past.