An elephant calf followed her father down a dusty trail. The path had withering trees, and was overcast. Far behind and beyond the bend, their herd grazed in sunshine basked savannahs. Father and daughter stopped at the top of a hill. It overlooked a barren, mud-cracked plain, covered in massive bones and broken tusks.
“Why are we visiting the graveyard again?” the calf asked. “Why can’t we romp with the herd?”
The father swatted his daughter, and she cried.
“How many times must I tell you?” he said without looking at her. “We are visiting your grandpa.”
“But…grandpa has passed,” the calf whimpered.
“Want another spanking when we get back to the herd?” the father asked and the crying calf shook her head.
The father gazed at the graveyard. “Your grandpa’s spirit still roams here, and I must understand.”
“Understand…what, father?” the calf moaned.
“You must know your origins to understand who you are,” the father said. “Your grandpa was an unkind elephant—distant and disciplined often—for reasons I do not know…and I am angry for it.”
There was silence as father and calf stared at the cold graveyard.
“What is he saying?” the calf asked but was immediately hit by her father’s trunk.
“I can’t hear with all your complaining. It’s no use. Let’s return to the herd,” he said and the two turned up the path.
“I am starting to see why origins are so important,” said the calf. “Do you think my children will be as angry as us one day?”
The father elephant stopped and looked at her daughter. He slowly shook his head and his large ears flopped from side to side. “So the spirits do speak, child. Only if we let the anger escape this moment.”
It was then the father embraced his child and the two returned to the sun and the merriment of the herd.
The hunter was bathed by moonlight as he stalked through the forest. His long breaths shook his slender frame, and his body, only covered by a few cloths, tensed to quell his groaning stomach. There was a low growl just beyond the next bend. He tightened his grip on his spear and emerged thru the brush. In the opening was a fox that struggled to escape from a snare. He stopped at the sight of the hunter, spear posed to strike.
The snared animal spoke, coolly. “Why kill me?”
The hunter lowered his spear. “To eat, I must kill you so I can live.”
“You cannot fault neither you nor I for that,” the fox nodded.
In that instant the moonlight broke through the forest canopy and shone off the fox’s pelt. It was golden.
“What…are you?” the hunter asked. “Your fur…it glitters like the rock veins from the east river!”
“I am only a fox, but…” he calmly turned from the spear to his body. “My fur is gold. It will fetch you a mighty sum with the traders.”
The hunter’s stomach groaned loudly, and he aimed his spear at the golden fox. “Yes, it will!”
“Hungry?” the golden fox asked.
“What?” the hunter stopped mid-throw.
“If you sell my pelt, you may eat for a few months. But if I take you to my clan, and spare me, with their pelts you will never need to worry about eating again…”
The hunter stared at the golden fox. “How can I trust you?”
“You cannot. But if you think this is a trick, you can always kill me.”
The hunter freed the golden fox and leashed him. The two ventured deeper into the forest, to a place where the moonlight did not shine. The golden fox, now black in the shadows, stopped just before a large cave. It looked like an abyss.
“There,” the golden fox pointed with his nose.
The hunter did not take three steps into the cave before a massive paw swiped his feet from under him. With another powerful swing his spear was splintered. He was trapped beneath a hulking bear.
“This was a trap!” the hunter yelled at the golden fox. “I hunt because I need to eat! You cannot fault me for that!”
“And you cannot fault me,” the golden fox began to walk away. “But you did not come to this cave for that.”
The hunter’s screams were drowned out by the bear’s roar before the dark forest returned to silence once more.
A crocodile rolled and toiled in a brackish lake, clamping its jaws, and flapping its tail. The lake rippled and stirred and slapped onto the murky shores. All about the beast was a swirl of water and waves.
A butterfly tittered by, and was struck by a rush of water. She fell suddenly, her wings wet, onto the crocodile’s nose. And just as sudden as the butterfly’s descent, the crocodile took a jagged breath and stopped.
“Why are you thrashing so?” the butterfly asked, her voice was soft.
“I am cross.” The crocodile answered, his voice a gurgle.
“Why are you upset?” she asked. She fluttered her wings, drying them in the sunlight.
“The water is too cold, my skin is too dry from the sun, and the fish in this lake are too small to fill my belly.”
“Then why not find more temperate waters?” she twitched her antenna. “Why not bask in the shade? Why not hunt for more fitting prey?”
“Do not tell me what to do!” he roared, launched the butterfly into the air, and leapt after her. “I am the fiercest beast in this lake and can swallow you whole!”
But the wind caught hold of the butterfly, whose wings were now dry. It carried her away.
“And your rage can swallow you.” she said. “That is, if that is the kind crocodile you want to be.”
The crocodile calmed. He stared at the butterfly that was now a spec wavering in the distance.
“There is another kind?” he asked no one.