ONCE UPON A TIME, there was a hedgehog who thought he was a fairy.
It didn’t really bother him that he lacked wings (somebody had to balance out all that gauzy softness), or that he couldn’t produce light and sparkles on demand (those were overrated skills, and it was much more interesting to be able to sniff out beetles three inches under the soil). He knew he was a fairy, and that was that.
He led a simple life, burrowing with diligent cheer at the base of the Blue Fairy Tree. Occasionally, he found dropped shoes or forgotten jewelry made from crystallized dew-drops, which he hid in his burrow in case their owners came looking for them. At night, he’d sit up and comfort himself with the playful music and dancing lights of the fairy-fete glimmering in the branches. He couldn’t quite see what was going on, but as a fairy and member of the forest, he still felt like he was part of the dance.
Of course, none of this meant he wasn’t lonely.
He wanted to join them up there. Meet them in the Blue Fairy Tree, maybe just once be part of the dance. It seemed like it would never happen. Then one day, a cloth like a dream fell from the sky.
He didn’t see it at first. Caught in the breeze, it wafted back and forth as if trying to get his attention, and glimmered with a delicate purple so diaphanous that he had to wonder if he imagined it. But it was real; fluttering and finely woven, the dream-cloth floated down to land right in front of his questing little nose.
It was lighter than a sigh, prettier than morning sun. If he exhaled, it moved—like it was alive.
And it was magic. The moment he wriggled underneath it, he became beautiful.
He knew he was beautiful just like he knew he was a fairy: he could feel it in the way this shimmery, sparkly textile tickled the tops of his curving toes, in the way it tented in front of his face with every breath, in the way it shimmered in the light like special puddle-rainbows by the road.
He couldn’t help the next thing he did: without thinking, the hedgehog hopped into the air, and decided at once not to come down again.
The Doctor Will See You Now
“I HAVE TO DO PHYSICAL WHAT?”
“Therapy. Physical therapy. It’s a human concept.” Doctor Moore scribbled on his yellow pad and tore off the page. “The details.”
Grey took it with an expression that suggested he didn’t understand his own behavior. His long ears quirked back like a puzzled cat’s. “Physical therapy? Can you do that? Therapy is mental, isn’t it?”
Moore smiled. “I think you’ll find this sufficiently stimulating in all areas of life.”
“I’ll kill him!” Grey wrenched the spear back and forth to no effect; it stayed lodged in the cow-sized spider, making squelching sounds. “Kill him with his own pencil!”
Robin landed beside him on fours, awash with gore and happiness. “A little drastic, don’t you think?” And he laughed like a fool and sprang away to continue the stabbing.