The trees, looming and casting shadows over the river, were vivid in colors. Most of the leaves were ready to fall to the ground, but still maintained a light grasp on the branches. Coming here during this time of the year relaxed me. I leaned against one of the trees and allowed myself to slide down until I was sitting.
All the grass in the area had changed to a dry yellow. I closed my eyes, and listened to the river’s dull hum. I took in a deep breath and could almost taste autumn. After a moment of listening to the river, I heard some leaves rustle somewhere in the distance. I glanced around and my eyes widened as they settled on the copper-colored beast.
The fur-covered beast was standing only a few feet away from me; it seemed to be a fox, but much larger. Under normal circumstances, I think I might’ve been scared; its eyes gave off a peaceful warmth with their amber glow. I would’ve fled just at that moment had it not been for the mere size and peculiarity of the beast, which captivated and held me there. It stared at me for a moment, then took shelter under a tree nearby.
I stayed there for a while. A light breeze came along, rustling some of the leaves loose from the trees. There was movement to my right, and when I looked, I saw the beast digging into the ground. It struck me as an odd creature. Curiously, I got to my feet and inched closer to get a better look.
Its claws were enormous, and ripped into the ground with ease. It didn’t seem to notice me, or, if it did, it didn’t care. After a few minutes, it turned and met my eyes. The amber had shifted to what was now an almost burning red. Suddenly I felt unsafe and backed away.
As soon as I stumbled back a few steps, the fox’s eyes dulled to amber and it turned its attention back to digging. Whatever it was digging up must have been important, or maybe it just didn’t like me being that close to it.
The fox dug for a few more minutes, then lifted its head into the air and howled fiercely. It turned to glare at me and waited. Cautiously, I walked toward it, studying its eyes as I moved; just so long as they stayed amber, I felt safe.
The closer I got to the fox, the more apparent its size became. I wasn’t particularly tall, but this fox’s shoulders were almost square with mine. The fox took one loping step toward me; I nearly recoiled in terror. It howled again, then pointed at the hole with its nose. I looked down reflexively.
A small, silver amulet, flecked with gold spots, was nestled into the ground, surrounded by dirt and a few roots. Thin, intricate designs branched out from the middle of the amulet, almost like a spider’s web. I looked back to the fox. It nodded, its eyes still glowing a relaxed amber. I reached down and touched the amulet.
Thoughts started to pour into my head; not normal thoughts, though; they were images and feelings. They cycled through some other parts of the forest I recognized: the steep hill, with the rotten log I sometimes sat on to admire the blueberry patches; the bridge, in the middle of the forest, that allowed passing over a small stream which connected to the river nearby; and then to a meadow, where fireflies buzzed and outshined the stars.
I dropped the amulet, and the flood of images stopped instantly. The fox whined. I stared at it for awhile, and it stared back. After a few moments, it brushed past me, grazing my leg not unlike a cat. It dipped its head into the hole, and pulled the amulet up with its teeth.