Sniffing the night air, Rusty nodded to himself before snorting steam through his nostrils.
“And just what is this dance of life?” I asked.
Grinning, he bowed his head so his nose touched the scattered leaves on the ground.
“It’s the very place you’ve been looking for.”
“I wasn’t aware that I was ever looking for a such a place?” I exclaimed.
“Oh, come now” he quipped. “You’ve been searching for it ever since you were old enough to walk. Certainly, your entire adult life has been dedicated to proving its existence.”
Circling me as I sat there with one eye on him and the other on the light emanating from the forest, there were so many questions I wanted to ask, and yet it seemed as though he knew each one before they even begun to formulate in my mind.
“Ever since you can remember, you’ve felt out of place—as if you’ve never quite belonged with those you found yourself rubbing shoulders with. Am I correct?”
Following him as he continued to sniff the air for some particular scent, I nodded in agreement.
“And isn’t it true that with each action—each thought—you’ve been deliberately pushing yourself away from this world? Pushing yourself further and further into the arms of a state of being where the only goal has been to see yourself break free of your chains?”
There was no need to respond.
“After a lifetime of searching, today is the day you finally broke those chains. It wasn’t easy, and yet here you are. What’s quite remarkable is that the two of you changed within hours of each other. I’ve never seen that done before. Most that make the journey are lone stars, and yet although you’re apart, the two of you are linked in the most fascinating of ways.”
With my ears standing on end, he smiled at me with a glint in his eyes.
“Prudence is like me now? A fox?” I asked.
“No, not quite,” he said. “Whereas you find yourself covered in fur, she’s now adorned with feathers. Not that it makes much of a difference. She sensed your transformation, and although not knowing the consequences, she left it all behind and came in search of you. Quite the deed considering the two of you haven’t been a part of each others lives for so long. As I said, it’s something I’ve never before come across.”
“How do you know all of this, Rusty?”
The grin on his lips made me smile half out of frustration and half out of excitement.
“I was once like you, and like you—and her—I too sought a way out.”
“And just where does this way out lead?” I begged.
“It leads here. To this very moment.”