Illustration by Sabrina Alirkan

The Curious Case of Miss Fox

I’m going to be a tale of a cautionary sort. Most of us are cautionary.

Once upon a time, there was a little gopher who lived for his burrow and sleeping within it. This was a vice of his. In the popular opinion of his brother and sister gophers, he had seven vices each holding a separate tale of their own.

This particular tale is about this gopher’s overzealous love for his burrow and sleeping in it. His brothers and sisters would nickname him “Sloth” when speaking about him behind his back. Sloth was sloth-like, but not deaf or dumb, so he caught on.

One early summer day, while the skies above hinted at hope, he met a fox. Miss Fox, as she was called, was very, very curious by nature. On this particular day, she was digging with stubborn interest at an enclave of one particular burrow far from her den. Sloth noticed immediately Miss Fox was everything he didn’t know he was looking for: determined and cunning, yet innocent. This fox embodied the perfect combination of logic and contradiction. Luckily for this sloth-like gopher, her curiosity made her easy to approach and after he introduced himself, they became fast friends.

Sloth had a nice time with his new fox friend, the number of comfortable silences shared at level with the number of moments where the conversation was simply inspired. Sloth was smitten and naturally, could not wait to go back to his burrow to sleep and dream of Miss Fox…

::

Not much later, Miss Fox fell under the line of vision of a charming wolf. He lived in a glamorous den atop a cliff overlooking the entire plain. Mr. Wolf was reputable, known to be popular with the local females. The numbers had grown so large, it was impossible to keep track of who his ex-girlfriends were as well as what had become of them. When he approached the ever-interested Miss Fox, she just politely assumed he was single again.

While she did remember some rumors about his involvement with a few lady turtles, his winning wit quickly distracted her. Mr. Wolf was extremely taken with her. He had an ability to be full of surprises which held her interest. When Mr. Wolf asked her out, she couldn’t help but give him a try.

::

Miss Fox quickly moved into Mr. Wolf’s den. Mr. Wolf’s ex-girlfriends had all been turtles because beneath his charming exterior, he was quite controlling. He felt that turtles would be pretty easy to control. There must have been around seven turtle ex-girlfriends, but all were as hardheaded as the one before. After repeated disobedience, he had killed them and buried their carapaces in various burrows near gopher territory. This was one of the reasons Mr. Wolf decided to try his luck with a fox. Imaginably, Mr. Wolf was so fond Miss Fox, he didn’t want her accidentally coming across any of the shells. He grew displeased that she still often dug in burrows. When he asked her to stop, she laughed, wondering aloud why anyone would try to halt an innocent hobby of hers. He told her that he felt like he was not entertainment enough for his girlfriend, which didn’t bode well for his ego, and pleaded with her again.

She ignored him and would still go off and dig in burrows while conversing with her dear gopher friend, Sloth. On his third request, Mr. Wolf had lost a good amount of patience, and threatened violence if she would not stop digging in burrows for one full week. Miss Fox relented, deciding she would try to compromise because she was still interested in Mr. Wolf.

Not three days after her agreement to compromise with Mr. Wolf, Miss Fox already couldn’t help herself. Her inquisitive nature endlessly yearned to dig in those burrows. Most of all, she couldn’t come to terms with being treated like property by anyone. She strongly missed Sloth, who never made her feel like anything but an equal.

That afternoon, Mr. Wolf was going on a hunt with some friends of his, so without further ado, Miss Fox ran for the burrows. She missed digging so much, she spent extra time and effort on the task. This led to a ghastly discovery: She found turtle carapaces everywhere — there must have been about seven! The connection was pretty clear. She immediately left Sloth a little message saying:

Darling,
Something happened that’s forcing me to go on a perpetual adventure. Do come with me. Meet me behind the biggest rock at 7 sharp. I’m unable to wait a minute later.
Love,
Miss Fox

Miss Fox ran back home before Mr. Wolf could discover where she had been. When she got there, he had just returned from his hunting trip and found her just outside of his den. She lied and said she was just looking for something she dropped on her way home from digging three days ago. Mr. Wolf had no way of proving it, but distrusted this. Still, he allowed her to go further and look for it, but didn’t let on his decision to furtively follow behind, find proof, and perhaps kill his dear girlfriend for her blatant disobedience.

Luckily, her head start was enough for her to lose him — momentarily, anyway. She quietly waited behind the biggest rock on the plain.

At 7:02, there was no sign of Sloth. Sloth had read the note and it caused his heart to soar ecstatically. Unfortunately, he had fallen asleep in his burrow, deciding he would need the energy for the “perpetual adventure” with the fox of his dreams. On that note, the lure of dreaming of Miss Fox was also much too much for him to resist.

By 7:08, Mr. Wolf was starting to become visible in the distant plains. Flustered at her inability to wait for her gopher friend, she decided this was the time to flee. I mean, Mr. Wolf was a murderer.

She took off and never looked back for the safety of her life.

All in all, Sloth’s vice, sloth, cost him. What it cost him is something he will never know, and this is perhaps what ailed him the most.

As I’ve said before, all us tales are cautionary. You snooze, you lose.

::

Author’s Notes:

I based this fairy tale after Charles Perrault’s “Bluebeard”. How it went was that I picked out what the moral would be first. Upon reading Perrault’s and many other versions of “Bluebeard”, I saw that I could borrow some of its elements to create a more complex, developed fairy tale, rather than a simple fable. I think this is a more child-friendly version of “Bluebeard” because it involves animals rather than people. The fox, being cunning, also got away, so I decided that this particular Bluebeard, “Mr. Wolf” would not be killing off our heroine. I also thought it important that curiosity is highlighted as something worth the trouble rather than a negative feminine trait. Even though Miss Fox isn’t exactly rewarded for it, it is what is attractive about her character. She also goes with her gut, never letting Mr. Wolf consume her (both figuratively and literally). This fairy tale serves as a cautionary one for women who might encounter “Bluebeards” in their lives as sometimes the wrong person might seem like a good one. It also encourages them to make sure to get away any way you can and not to allow for defeat. There is also the addition of another moral which is pretty clear — the one Sloth learns about how it is better to get out there than to snooze your life away. He is sort of a contrast to Miss Fox because she is all about gaining experiences, and he is just losing them (and even Miss Fox herself) because of his own deleterious habit.