The birds in the forest often tweeted in rages of jealousy over a lone woodland creature.
Marilyn the fox was as white as the first December snow, and she was the object of all the other animals' curiosity and hatred. Her brothers and sisters, mother and father, and cousins and uncles all wore the same suit of copper red. Inexplicably, Marilyn had been white like a fresh sheet of paper since the day she was first born in the warm, fern-covered den.
Clustered together on the boughs of a pine, the birds took turns passing their judgments of Marilyn.
"It just is not practical for a fox to have a white coat. Shows all the dirt," chirped the chickadee.
"Who does she think she is, growing white fur. Was red fur not good enough for her?" wondered the woodpecker.
"I heard she's really the bastard child of a wolf and a poodle, and not even her own parents want her," warbled the robin.
"A fox that looks like that must be too proud to be get her damned paws messy," conceded the crow.
"Slut," finished the finch, voicing the collective opinion in a ringing note.
In fact, Marilyn was too proud to get her paws messy. Which is exactly why it was her strong jaws and sharp teeth she used to break the necks of the birds who so envied her beauty. When all the meat had been cleaned from the toothpick bones and the forest floor left a mess of dull feathers, Marilyn would lick her blood-red lips in satisfaction and dip her paws into a pool of water, clearing away any mess. In this way, her coat always remained the most pure white.
Forest life was too boring for a fox like Marilyn, though. The broken rays of the sun descending through the canopy of tree branches, the music of the creek cutting through the mossy rocks, and even the temporary thrill of the hunt only provided her with transient happiness. Marilyn was meant to be more than a fox.
She had heard the birds, in their early morning hours of gossip, talk of a place that was frozen in time.
One, a crow, had reached a field covered in fresh kernels of corn. Beady eyes glinting with greed, the crow picked and pecked half the morning, getting fat on this heaven-sent bounty. The crow's gluttonous feast was interrupted by the piercing sounds of gun shots, coming from a nearby cabin. Flying away just in time, a view inside of the cabin had remained engraved on the bird's brain.
Eyes wide and voice low, the crow told the others, "None of them were moving. They were as still as a tree stump. All around the room, held captured in time. The owl from across the creek and the bobcat from the mountain. And the moose! The moose was just a head, floating on the wall! Not budging one inch!"
The birds erupted in a chorus of worry and fear.
"Shhh," hushed the crow. "I haven't even told you the worst part. Their eyes were as steadfast as the rest of their bodies. But there was something different about them. They were as glossy as...as the back of a black beetle!"
Flying off in frenzy, shedding feathers through the air, the birds feared this place the crow had spoke of. The thought of their wings being rendered incapable of flight, their beaks unable to gossip, struck terror in their pea-sized hearts.
Marilyn, on the other paw, had never been so excited. She wanted terribly to go this place frozen in time, where she would not end up like the rest of them.
She had witnessed them all in the passing of winters, fall to the ground and rise no more. Marilyn was not afraid of immobility. She only feared the soiling of her white coat. The thought of bugs and worms working their way through her spotless fur made her shiver. She would rather not have been born at all than to die in the mud. She prayed only for delivery from her fate.
It happened one day, when the sun was particularly bright and the water unusually clear. These circumstances provided a perfect view for Marilyn -- her own reflection. Lazily, she spent the day by the creek, watching her dancing eyes now and then in the smooth surface of water. Crossing and uncrossing her dainty paws, she wished there were other things to look at as marvelous as she.
It was then that the rustling came through the brush on the other side of the creek. There he was, the only thing in the forest as beautiful as her. Shiny and black as night, his one eye was locked directly with her two.
"Here he comes," thought Marilyn, hopping to all four paws in uncontainable excitement. "At last, my salvation has found his way to me."
Smiling, she began running towards him, knowing from some place of animal instinct built centuries strong, that this would be the beginning of a life frozen in time.
A shot rang out.
Blood, only red once it touched the oxygen of forest air, spouted down her white silken face.
Cawing and screaming, the birds flew away. Shrieking in fear and laughing in horror that the beautiful creature was now dead.
Today, Marilyn stands in the cabin, one paw raised like the gesture of a queen. The blood was all removed; no dirt marks her coat. Unlike the others though, her eyes are not still like black beetles shell.
They are dancing.