Readers' novels no 4: Where's your fur?

A fox
Image caption "How can you only have hair on your head, and nowhere else?"

The Magazine's feature on why people take part in the month-long novel-writing event NaNoWriMo prompted dozens of readers to send in 350-word long excerpts. Here is Tashi Haig's Where's Your Fur?

She woke up to the warm tickling of Sionnach's bright red fur against her cheek."The mists are gathering," Sionnach whispered. "It is time to go out." Aislinn opened her eyes. Curled at her feet, Sionnach's pups squirmed as the fox licked them with her rough tongue. Rising out of the leaves, Aislinn crawled from under the brush covering their bed. Stretching, she peered into the woods. Sure enough, her view was obscured by a growing wall of white. It swirled and puffed like an ocean of snakes, slowly moving through the trees. As Aislinn watched the mists gather, she heard the sound of the pups waking behind her. A chiding voice rose above them. "Now, Brigid, if you don't let me clean you, your fur will grow cobwebs! Mrs. Spider and all her children will move right in."

Aislinn laughed, remembering. When she was younger, Sionnach could never decide how to clean her. "I don't understand!" She would bark in agitation. "How can you only have hair on your head, and nowhere else? Surely you must be cold, all bare like that. Where's your fur?"

Though the other pups had grown and left, Aislinn remained. She knew that she could not do everything her fox brothers and sisters could. Indeed, she was different from all the animals in the Wood. Once, she had tried to be like Cat. After following him across a slim log, she had watched as he leapt gracefully to the forest floor, all four paws splayed out. "Wait for me!" she cried, and jumped too. As the wind whistled through her hair, she felt a great surge of excitement.

Then the ground was rushing up to her, and Cat yowled in alarm, "Use your tail Aislinn!" She pondered briefly over the fact that she had never noticed not having a tail, then was jarred into silence.