Short Story: Pumpkins and Chestnuts

Down in the forest, with vibrant leaves strewn about the earth and trees almost bare, there was a small
homely town inhabited by animals of all shapes and sizes. Every woodland animal was a friend to all and each grew
even closer with one another as winter neared, for Mr. Mauricio, the eldest mouse in the town, held a feast before
hibernation.
“Come quick, Dash!” Teeny, one of the grandchildren of Mr. Mauricio called out. Dash loudly grumbled as
he walked through the mossy log that was considered a ‘shortcut to grandpa’s cottage.’
“Can you stop being so demanding? I’m fat.” Dash mumbled, struggling to pick up his newsboy cap that
fell as he tried to catch up to her. The two were rushing back from the creek from counting fish. Teeny ignored his
complaints and waved to the Bears that were setting up the table with pies.
“Hi Gregory, is my mom in there?” Teeny asked, waving to the youngest cub, who was adjusting his collar.
He nodded,
“Yes’m. She’s gatherin’ the small pies from the cottage.” He replied in his southern accent. Dash insisted
that he stayed with Gregory while Teeny went to go find mom. Her feet crunched under the leaves as she scurried
below the past the moving feet of the deer and rabbits to reach her grandpa’s quaint cottage built from wood and
fancy stones. She ducked under a sprouting, red mushroom. Standing outside of the door, she could already smell
the spices of autumn: nutmeg, ginger, cinnamon. Her mouth watered at the thought of the nicely frosted pastries.
She adjusted her scarf as a small chill passed by and waltzed in.
“Teeny!” Her mom greeted from across the room, arms filled with pies. Teeny took a couple from her and
followed her back out to the garden.
“Where’s grandpa?” Teeny asked, putting the pies in a basket for Carl the cardinal to take up to the too-
high table.
“He’s setting up the name tags,” Her mom replied, wiping her hands on her apron, her twitching nose
searching for which direction Mauricio was.
“Don’t distract him too much!” Her mom called out as Teeny walked away. Mr. Mauricio was holding a
giant brush made from the badger fur, labelling the names of the attendees in a curly font. He was concentrating on
keeping the paper from blowing away or worse, having an unsteady hand. Teeny’s eyes skimmed through the guest
list that was by her feet.
Otter, Squirrel, Badger, …
As expected, no “Fox” showed up on the list.
“Grandpa,” Teeny tapped her small foot. Mr. Mauricio pushed up his petite glasses and looked down at her
from the high ground.
“Well, if it isn’t my fiercest granddaughter,” his belly jiggled as he chuckled to himself. “What brings you
here?” He noticed the guest list in Teeny’s hands and sighed, knowing the question.
“How do you think Mr. Fox feels knowing he’s left out of there things?” Teeny stomped her foot.

“I don’t intend for him to be left out, Teeny,” he moved down the steps of the tall ladder he was on to talk
closer to Teeny. “He’s never home when I do try to give him an invite.” Teeny helped him get down the last step of
the ladder.
“You’re a kind mouse,” Mr. Mauricio smiled at his granddaughter. Teeny toothily smiled back.
“It just feels right including every animal to the dinner.” and with that, she was on her way back to the
cottage.
More of the animals showed up as the sunset was approaching. Teeny helped her mom take the last pie out
before asking her a question that seemed to itch .
“Why doesn’t grandpa like Mr. Fox?” Teeny’s mom paused while removing her apron, almost like she had
struck a nerve.
“I’m not in any place to say anything about that,” her mom replied calmly as she tossed the apron over her
head and smoothed the dress she wore under.
“I thought families didn’t keep secrets?” Teeny started to get annoyed with hushed whispers that always
seemed to come this time of year. She was old enough to understand, at least she thought so. She was more mature
than the rest of her siblings.
“Teeny-“
“No, mom, I want to know!”
“The Foxes ate his mom!”
Teeny’s nose twitched. In the corner of their eye, they saw Mauricio enter the room.
“Go find your brother,” Teeny’s mom quietly said. She’d find her brother alright and they won’t be back.
Teeny stormed out of the house and saw Gregory and Dash under the oak trees. She ran to them as fast as her small
legs could take her. She exchanged curt hellos on the way, until she reached them out of breath.
“We need to bring Mr. Fox here,” she exclaimed. Dash and Gregory looked at each other and back at
Teeny, before laughing. She rolled her eyes.
“I don’t want him to feel lonely,” she narrowed her eyes at the two and shut them up.
“Don’t you think he’s gonna eat us?” Dash whined. Gregory nodded his head to that. Teeny rolled her eyes.
It’s possible he could, but the chances were very low.
“Gregory you’re smart aren’t you?” Teeny climbed into his front pocket that Dash was also in.
“I’d like to think so,”
“Great. Then follow the river until we see a red house.”
And with that, the two ventured along the stream.
The house appeared after a little ways of walking. The skies turned to orange and their family would start
to worry about them, but Teeny was on a mission.
Gregory slowly approached the door. It was tidier than the three had thought it would be, yet the curtains
were drawn, giving away the fact that Mr. Fox was an outcast, or he just hated kids like them lurking.
Teeny looked up at Gregory and gave him a nod. The bear cub reached for the doorbell. The house was so
empty, the ring echoed through the yellow door.

“Maybe the fox isn’t here,” Dash’s stomach rumbled as he grumbled to Teeny.
“Just wait for a bit,” she said. She had hope that the fox was going to answer and she wasn’t going to leave
without seeing him. Suddenly, steps were heard, but they weren’t coming from inside.
“Y’all, I think we should start heading outta here,” Gregory said. But Teeny insisted that they stayed
longer. The footsteps grew louder and she was slowly getting more nervous than enthusiastic.
“What are you kids doing here?” A timid voice asked from behind Gregory. The bear cub turned around,
and the three of them all saw a well groomed fox with a plaid vest. His eyes looked kinder than expected.
“Hello Mr. Fox!” Teeny said from Gregory’s pocket. The orange animal looked towards her and gave a
curt wave, but didn’t maintain much eye contact.
“We’d like to invite you to our pre-hibernation feast, sir,” Gregory said. The fox looked shocked.
“A feast?” The Fox’s eyes widened in horror. It was as if he’d never been asked to a gathering, yet alone a
social event.
“I couldn’t! Shouldn’t! The mice hate me! I shouldn’t even be talking to you two mice- Are there more of
you behind the bushes? Is this the end for me?” The fox rambled on and his chin started to quiver. Teeny felt bad for
him. She didn’t realize how much he thought the was hated.
“Nobody hates you,” Teeny softly said. The fox looked shocked.
“I’m sure my grandpa will forgive you,” she then said with a small smile. That seemed to ease his tension,
and he went the tiniest of a smile back.
“Are you sure?” The fox sniffed.
“I’m sure of it.”
The fox gave in and smiled.
Once they returned, fairy lights were strewn about and music from the Toads were in full swing. Dash and
Teeny climbed out of Gregory’s pocket and stood next to Mr. Fox’s side.
“There you are!” Her mother ran up to Teeny and hugged her small frame. She then went on to hug Dash
before she noticed the orange and white animal stand behind them.
“Mom, this is Mr. Fox. He’s here to apologize.” Teeny feared what her mom’s reaction would be. With
careful eyes, she watched her every move, only to be shocked when her mom reached out her hand and saw that the
fox lowered to her level to take her hand and shake it.
“It’s nice to meet you Mr. Fox,” she said. Her mom waved at the four and went to the small tables for mice.
Teeny looked at Mr. Fox and motioned him to follow. He shuffled his feet to the table.
“Grandpa, this is Mr. Fox.” The entire table went silent. The music stopped and Mr. Fox felt nervous was
all eyes were on him.
“I’m sorry for what happened in the past. I’d like to apologize.” Mr. Fox looked at the ground and swayed
back and forth. The small patter of Mr. Mauricio’s steps grew closer. He pushed up his small frames and looked up
at Mr. Fox’s timid state.

“Someone give him a pie! We have a new friend.” Everyone cheered and Mr. Fox’s eyes sparkled in awe.
Teeny put her small hand over his paw. He smiled at her and mouthed a thank you. The rest of the night, the music
was lively, and all the animals were celebrating a new friendship.

By Angelina Silva, Contributor

Silva says, “In this piece, I was in a very autumn mood and I think Aesop’s characters made me think of autumn, although this story isn’t really a fable.”

Featured Photo by Jan Huber on Unsplash

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