The Scorpion and the Fox

Once upon a time a Fox, traveling from one place to another, came upon the bank of a river. The current was steady and not too swift, and there was no bridge in sight.

As it approached, a Scorpion hailed it from the stones by the water’s edge. “Well met, friend Fox!” it cried, waving a pedipalp. “Do you also seek to cross this river?”

“I do,” replied the Fox, “but I am of a mind to do it alone. Your kind carries a mighty poison in its tail, and if you were to sting me with it, I should drown.”

“But that would be the most foolish thing I could do,” the Scorpion argued. “If you were to drown, I would drown with you, and we would both be lost.”

“You have a point,” conceded the Fox. “Here, hop onto the tip of my nose, as my long muzzle will be the driest place for you during our crossing.”

The Scorpion did so, and the Fox waded into the water and began to swim. As it paddled, it sighted down the line of its muzzle, the far bank blurry and indistinct at first. The closer they drew to the other side, the clearer it became. In the meantime, the Fox kept its eye on the Scorpion like a hunter sighting with a rifle.

Suddenly, about halfway across the river, the Scorpion raised its tail in an imposing arc. Instantly the Fox thrashed its head from left to right, breaking the Scorpion’s foothold on its nose and tossing it into the water.

“Treachery!” cried the Scorpion, paddling furiously. “I never stung you! I only raised my tail!”

“Yeah,” called the Fox over its shoulder as the Scorpion sank below the surface, “but I heard the story about the Frog, shithead.” And it paddled the rest of the way across the river, shook the water out of its fur, and continued on its way.

Meredith L. Patterson

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I build things with language. Some of them are even in words.