“He’s barely breathing.”
“I know. Help me with his head, will you?”
The wise owl gently raised the old badger’s head while the old fox arranged a soft pillow of leaves under it.
“There, that should make him more comfortable.”
“He’s so cold. Maybe we should try to cover him with something?”
“No, he’s always loved to feel the breeze on his fur.”
They sat in silence watching the sleeping body before them.
“Do you think he’ll make it thru the night?”
“I really don’t know. He’s always been tough, but his body is giving up on him.”
“You never told me he was so close to you.”
“That’s because he wasn’t.”
The owl gave the fox a surprised look.
“Why are we here then?”
The fox drew a small sigil on the ground.
“Because we care for him.”
“Yes, even if we didn’t share much more than a rare and distracted hello with him, he’s part of the collection of familiar instants we call reality.”
The owl let the words turn around her mind for a while.
“Now that you mention it…” She finally said. “…I’ll miss seeing him every morning, enjoying the sun at his favorite rock by the river.”
“Yes, he will leave a bunch of small but noticeable scars in our everyday lives, things we’ll only notice once he’s gone.”
“I think I understand why you want to keep this deathwatch on him.”
“It’s not a deathwatch… we are just keeping a friend company in his final moments.”
“So he’s our friend?”
“Oh yes…” answered the fox. “…He’s just one we didn’t know we had.”