‘What about that story then?’
‘What? Sorry. It’s been good beach combing today.’
‘Ice cream. You said, after chips ice cream, if we found enough.’ They feel the wind rising, watch clouds gathering over the sea.
‘Ok, let’s head for the Rendezvous.’
‘Yeah. Ice cream. Race you.’
‘You’re on. Ready steady-’
‘Hey that’s not fair you started before me.’
‘Ok this time. On your marks, get set, hey wait-’
He runs wanting the wind to carry him forever. Thinks that if he runs hard enough he’ll run back to the time his mother was still with them.
She’d left a letter, ‘What’s happened between your Dad and me, it’s not your fault. I love you no matter what.’ That’s what she’d written, what she said.
The cafe is quiet. A couple sit at a table near the window, someone is reading in one corner. He asks for ice cream and his father orders tea. They sit, listening to rain rattling the windowpane, glad to be out of the sudden downpour.
‘What about that story?’
‘The one you said you’d tell me ages ago.’
‘Yes, right. I know, the one about Fox creating the world.’
It starts like this, with Fox just by herself, existing between nothingness and nowhere. Nothing above. No below. Nothing either side, or in any direction, only silence, and an endless stillness.
‘Just was, that’s all.’
‘Am I to continue?’
‘Yeah yeah I’m listening, promise, come on.’
So Fox was by herself, and she began to feel a bit lonely-
‘She would, wouldn’t she-ok ok sorry, I want to hear the story.’
So she thought to herself and the thought became a low soft hum and then louder and louder and it turned into a chant and it pushed and pulled and went rollicking round and round dancing on her tongue and rattling the cage of her teeth so much so that she had to open her mouth and the chant flew out to beat against the silence. And it went like this.
I want to meet you I know you’re there. I want to meet you wherever you are.
And so she went on her way, humming and chanting-
‘And met Badger.’
‘And met Badger.’
And she said, ‘I knew I was going to meet someone. Where are you going?’
‘Just travelling. Where are you going? And why?’
Fox said, ‘Just wandering.’
‘Like me,’ said Badger.
‘Better that we travel together then,’ said Fox.
And so they went along together, humming and chanting until Fox said, ‘Tell you what, lets make the world, shall we?’
Badger thought about this and said, ‘How so? What do you mean, make the world?’
Fox smiled in that foxy way of hers, and said, ‘Singing. We’ll sing the world.’
And so they began to sing and dance round and round in the middle of all that nothingness and nowhere and as they were dancing and singing Fox thought of a clod of earth cool and moist, trembling with life, and she thought, ‘Let this small clod of earth be here,’ and it was and she let it tumble into nothingness and nowhere and kept on dancing and singing and when she looked again what had been nothingness and nowhere was suddenly somewhere, a very small and fragile somewhere to be sure. Fox said, ‘Look can you see what I see?’ Badger nodded and so they kept on dancing and singing and the more they danced and the more they sang the more the world took shape beneath them until Fox said, ‘This world is getting big, lets go take a look, should we? Lets sing and dance down there.’
And so they left the sky, for that’s where they were now and jumped down to earth. And their singing and dancing made the earth bigger and bigger made the mountains and the rivers and everything else, and all the animals and birds and fish too. Then Badger looked around and said, ‘Now we’ve sung and danced this world into existence we must rest, and then I will explore this new earth.’ And Fox said, ‘Yes, we can rest now, and then I must leave you, for my travels will be different to yours. But we’ll see each other again.’ And that’s what they did.
‘Think I’m getting too old for stories?’
‘Tell you what we need to be doing now, getting out into that sunshine. Still a beach to explore before the tide’s too high.’
The story the father tells is his reworking of the Miwok creation myth, where Silver Fox and Coyote Create the Earth.