A Burdensome Beast

A Burdensome Beast

“If you try to escape this purse one more time, I will…I will…” What will I do? What do you do to a mythical beast that is three times your size?

She couldn’t just show up at a shelter. Hey, have you heard of kitsunes? Well, there’s one in this purse you can totally have. She laughed. Then she sighed.

“I guess I am stuck with you. And I will just do nothing except continue to shove…” she gave the creature a push, “you…” she turned and put her back against it, knees bent, “back…” with a grunt, she heaved with all her might, “into the purse!” The creature inside now, she zipped the deceptively small magical purse closed. She bent over, hands on her knees, panting. 

What am I going to do?

If her best friend was going to leave her a mythical seven-tailed fox in her will, couldn’t it have at least been one that would do what it was told? Technically, Kate’s will said she left her with the purse that she carried everywhere. The purse just turned out to be the home of a kitsune. And Kate meant for her to care for it. Which was proving extremely difficult. Kate had only been gone for three weeks, and this creature had nearly ruined her life. 

She’d had to rush out of meetings when her bag started rustling, popping open seemingly of its own accord. She’d practically shoved visitors out the door of her home when she caught a paw or snout sticking out of the purse from the corner of her eye. She could barely leave her house anymore. How had Kate controlled this beast? It always seemed to come out at the most inconvenient times. 

She’d just finished chasing it around the backyard and herding it into the purse after it had escaped yet again during a Zoom meeting. She had quickly dropped out of the call to go after the kitsune, but she’d better get back now and feign technology problems.

As she was about to stand, she heard whimpering from the bag. Was it…sad? She hesitated. 

The noise came again, and she made a decision to do something she had never done before. She opened the purse and climbed inside.

She knew the interior would be big enough to hold a giant fox comfortably, but she hadn’t expected this. She was inside a sprawling forest that led up to the edge of a mountain. A creek flowed through the trees nearby. At the sight of her, the kitsune leapt around playfully, making her laugh for the first time in weeks. 

It pushed a worn ball up to her with its snout, looking at her with sad, questioning eyes. Kate must have tossed this for you. She felt like she had been punched in the chest, the grief came on so suddenly. Tears came to her eyes, and she could hardly get a breath down. She had to get out of here. She fled up the stairs and zipped the bag tight, before returning to work. 

Frustration built within her as the kitsune kept disrupting her life. She couldn’t face that forest-land inside the purse, but she couldn’t have such a mystical creature in her ordinary world. Everything was a mess. And she missed Kate.

So does the kitsune, a voice inside her whispered. 

But I’m not ready. To face what, she didn’t know: those sad eyes or her own broken heart.

So she continued to ignore the bag and its occupant until she couldn’t anymore. Then, she would wrangle the creature back into its home as quickly as possible. This time was proving more difficult than usual. 

It was running around her house, continuing to evade her, when it stopped. She was about to pounce on it, when she saw what had caught its attention. It was a stuffed dragon that Kate had gifted her. They both has loved fantasy worlds and magical creatures, and dragons were her favorite. 

The kitsune padded forward and sniffed it, before letting out a heart-wrenching whine. Her chest felt tight and tears blurred her eyes, but she rushed forward and held out the stuffed animal to the kitsune. It took it from her gently, and then curled on the floor around it. She sat down beside the fox and began stroking its fur. 

“I miss her too,” she told the kitsune. “I miss her too, Akira.” 

The fox perked its ears at the sound of its name. She’d never used it before. Kate had told her its name in the letter she left with the bag, along with some advice on caring for it. But she had neglected Akira in her own grief. 

She felt ashamed now. It hadn’t occurred to her that a mystical creature would grieve too. But it was clear to her now that it was. It had felt just as alone as her, all these weeks.

This time, she didn’t make the kitsune go back into the bag. She left the purse open on the floor when she crawled into bed, but she didn’t tell it to go inside. When she woke in the night, Akira was curled next to her in the bed, the stuffed dragon between them. And though the grief was painful, she found she could face it, because she wasn’t alone. 

What did you think of the story? What would you have done with the kitsune? Let us know in the comments!

Thanks so much for reading!

-Clever & WTF

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