written by: Daniel S. Liuzzi
Kinapak the Polar Bear crawled out of his hole and stretched in the sunlight. His large feet pressed in the fresh snow which crunched with each step, as he strolled from the icy landscape to the forest where his friends lived, there was Anna the Arctic Fox, Spencer the Snowy Owl, Wyatt the Marten and Marla the Snow Hare. The five friends frolic in the woods together to their favorite hillside where Anna, Spencer, Wyatt and Marla all sit on Kinapak’s back as he slides on his belly down the hill. After sliding down the hill, Spencer would gently carry Marla in his talons back up to the top of the hill while Wyatt rides on Kinapak’s back as he plows up the hill and Anna follows behind hopping from each of Kinapak’s large paw prints in the snow. Once at the top of the hill again, Kinapak turns himself back into a sled and lets his friends ride on him as he slides down the hill.
After sliding on the hill, each member of the group would demonstrate how they make a snowball. Marla and Wyatt’s were small, Spencer’s claws prevent him from being able to successfully make a snowball, Anna’s ball was not much bigger than Marla and Wyatt’s but Kinapak made the largest one. Kinapak set his snowball down as Marla and Wyatt place their snowballs next to one another in the front of the larger snowball, before Anna placed her snowball under the others, before taking her finger and making a smile on the newly complete snow-head that the group made. After a midday nap in the wintry sun, the group ventured forth through the woods in search of more fun to get into.
As the group rode on Kinapak’s back through the snow-covered trees, Kinapak’s nose caught the scent of something new in the woods he’s never smelled before. Anna noticed the scent too.
“Do you smell that?” Anna asked Kinapak.
“Yeah.” Kinapak nodded his large head.
“Is it a human?” asked Wyatt who was now standing tall trying to get a better view.
“Not a Human, but it has the smell of human on it.” Kinapak answered before turning his large body in the direction of the smell and lumbered towards it.
“Are you sure it’s safe to look?” Spencer asked as he fluffed out his feathers.
“Could Humans still be around?” Marla whispered.
“No, Kinapak said the smell of a Human is ON something.” Anna turned her head back and smiled to her frightened friend.
Kinapak walked with his nose in the air till finally finding where the smell came from, a scarf tied around a tree branch. Kinapak sniffed the scarf rapidly. The scarf was red with an argyle pattern towards each end.
“I’ve seen those before!” Spencer flapped his wings, “Humans wear those around their necks!”
“To keep their heads on?” Wyatt’s mouth hanged open with fright.
“No!” Spencer poked Wyatt with his foot, “I think it’s to keep their necks warm when it’s cold.”
“Why can’t humans have fur?” Marla whispered.
“Some have a lot of fur on their faces this time of year I’ve seen.” Anna said.
“Some have fur just on the top of their heads.” Wyatt sat back down.
As the others talked on with their theories and observations about humans, Kinapak reached with one paw, pulling the scarf from the branch and putting it around his neck, “It’s comfy.” He said.
“It is?” Marla asked, this time in her natural voice, not her whispering tone.
“It actually looks good on you!” Spencer turned his head upside down.
“It clashes with your white fur.” Wyatt said.
“I thought your fur is clear.” Anna leaned and whispered in Kinapak’s ear.
“It is, it just looks white.” Kinapak sighed.
“Do you think a human lost it whatever that is?” Wyatt asked.
“Scarf, I’ve heard humans calling it a scarf.” Marla corrected Wyatt.
“OK, do you think a human lost that scarf?” Wyatt continued.
“I don’t think so. If a human lost the scarf they would not willfully tie it to a branch.” Kinapak said, “Someone wanted to leave it here.”
“The scent is not that old either.” Anna sniffed at the scarf around Kinapak’s neck, “Maybe a couple hours ago.”
“But why leave it if it keeps you warm?” Marla asked now standing on the back of Anna.
“I would keep it.” Spencer said as he ruffled his white feathers.
“Look!” Wyatt pointed before jumping off Kinapak’s back and hopping through the snow over to another tree pointing up with his little hand at green scarf with large silver snowflakes on the ends of it.
“Another one?” Anna said as she came to sit beside Wyatt and sniffed the scarf, “It’s just like yours Kinapak.” Anna said to Kinapak who now stood behind his two friends.
“Help me up!” cried Wyatt excitedly. Kinapak lowered his head down allowing Wyatt to stand on it as he’s lifted to the scarf and with quick work with his little hands; Wyatt pulled the scarf from the branch. “It’s too big.” He said disappointed.
“It’s just right for me!” Anna said taking the scarf and wrapping it around her neck. “It’s lovely!” she said bouncing around in the snow.
After showing off her new scarf to her friends, the group decided to follow the scent of human since this was the second scarf they’ve found to have been left behind. As the group of friends traveled, the breeze began to sway the trees in the forest, knocking the fresh snow from the canopies down to the forest floor. Spencer used his wings to shelter his head along with Marla, Wyatt and Anna’s head from the snow that fell like dust made of crystals. Kinapak did not mind the falling snow; in fact he actually loved it. As the breeze picked up it brought along another scent which made Kinapak change direction slightly before leading them to a tall pine tree where yet another scarf was tied up high on a pine bough. Since it was high up, Spencer took flight and flew up over the tree and circled it before swooping down and grabbing hold of the scarf pulling it from the tree and back down to his friends.
The scarf was blue and on each end were snowmen. Wyatt hoped that this scarf would fit but again he was disappointed to learn that it was a little too big for him but just the right size for Spencer. Kinapak chuckled at the sight of his Owl friend flying around with the scarf on his neck almost reminding him of something out of a book about wizards. After the exciting show ended, the group continued on their quest to see if there were more scarves. The journey brought them past many more scarves of different colors and sizes which none of them fit Wyatt or Marla. The curiosity grew among the friends as they kept finding these scarves with these unique images sewn onto them. Marla has since fallen asleep curled in a white ball of fur almost camouflaged into Kinapak’s fur, but was held onto by Anna who was about to fall asleep herself. Wyatt sat watching the trees as Spencer stood on Kinapak’s head rotating his head in all directions.
As he walked sniffing the trail, Kinapak began to notice little details in the snow, old tracks that were barely covered by drifting snow, the tracks were probably made thirty or forty minutes ago! With his nose to the ground, Kinapak picked up the pace gently rocking his friends on his back, waking up Marla.
“What’s going on?” Marla asked.
“We’re close!” Kinapak said in-between sniffs.
“Close to what?” Asked Spencer spinning his head back to its normal direction.
“To the human leaving these scarves!” Kinapak snorted.
Kinapak gently began to pick up the pace, nearly breaking into a full gallop as he and his riding friends rode past scarves every couple of minutes before the tracks in the snow became more detailed and fresher causing Kinapak to slow his pace to a slow walk. He can now smell the human not far away. Kinapak lowered his body to the ground to try to stay unseen as he crept slowly at the now strong scent of the human till finally he and his friends saw it through the trees.
There was a girl, not much older than ten with a bag over her shoulder full of bright-colored scarves. Standing on her tip toes in the snow, she tied a blue scarf to the tree branch before standing with her hands on her hips and sighing. A smile appeared on her face pinked by the cold air. Marla’s nose wiggled causing her to become even more curious of the human child and hopped off Kinapak’s back and hopped through the snow and hid behind a tree with only her head peeking out from behind. The little girl looked and saw Marla and her smile grew bigger as she squat down with her hands on her knees.
“Hello there!” The little girl whispered to Marla.
Marla became her usual shy self and lowered her ears slightly.
The little girl looked at the scarf she just hung up and looked back to Marla, “Would you like a scarf?”
Marla’s ears perked up and her eyes widen with excitement as she hopped from behind the tree and came up to the girl and sat in the snow, her nose wiggling fast as the girl sifted through the scarves in the bag before pulling out a little white scarf with a gold star on each end. The girl handed the scarf to Marla who took it in her little hands and wrapped the scarf around her neck.
The little girl smiled, “Merry Christmas!” she said before standing up and turning to walk along the path in the woods.
Marla sat in the snow and looked at the scarf before looking back at her friends who still sat like statues among the trees trying not to be seen, Marla’s ears perked up even more after noticing Wyatt. Without hesitation Marla turned and ran through the snow towards the little girl.
“Wait! Wait!” Marla cried out to the little girl, catching her attention.
The little girl turned to meet Marla before noticing Kinapak and the others who were slowly coming out of the tree line along the trail. At first the little girl was startled by Kinapak’s size but noticed he was wearing one of the scarves she left behind earlier in the day.
“Wyatt! Wyatt!” Marla said excitedly as she hopped up and down.
“What?” The little girl asked as she knelt down to hear Marla better.
“My friend Wyatt wants one!” Marla said looking back at Wyatt who was standing on Kinapak’s back pointing to himself as if to question if she really meant him.
The little girl giggled, “I’m sure I have one in here for him.” She said as she looked in her bag.
Kinapak slowly walked over to where Marla and the little girl were, Anna hopped off his back along with Spencer who hopped in the snow to get a good look at Marla’s scarf. Wyatt stayed on Kinapak’s back, his fingers fidgeting with curiosity. The girl stood and pulled out the perfect sized scarf for Wyatt, a bright gold-yellow scarf with green Holly leafs on each end.
“This is for Wyatt.” The girl said as she reached over to Wyatt and gently put the scarf around his slender neck. The girl stood and looked at all the animals in front of her wearing her scarves and noticed that out of all the colors she used for the scarves, they all had the scarves that were the colors of Christmas. “It’s funny, today is Christmas and all of you have Christmas colored scarves!” she said gleefully.
“Why did you leave these scarves in the forest?” Kinapak asked tilting his head to the child.
“I love the forest and all the animals that live in it. Today’s Christmas and on Christmas you give gifts to those you love. This year I learned how to sew, so I decided to make scarves for my family, it was so much fun and I thought I’ll make scarves and leave them in the woods for anyone to find!” The girl’s smile became brighter.
Kinapak looked at his friends and to the child with a smile on his face, “Merry Christmas.” He said to the child.
“Merry Christmas!” Spencer and Anna said at the same time.
“Me-Merry Christmas!” Marla called out as she hopped.
“Thank you for the scarf! Merry Christmas!” Wyatt said as he waved his little hand at the girl.
The little girl continued along the path and turned one last time to wave to Kinapak and his friends who all sat in the snow waving their paws, except Spencer who waved a wing. Once the girl was out of sight, everyone got back on Kinapak’s back, turned around and returned back to their part of the forest. Along the way they saw other forest animals wearing the scarves while complementing each other’s looks with them. The light in the sky began to fade as a gold light of the sunset spread through the woods. Kinapak and his friends arrived back at their hill where they like to play, everyone got off of Kinapak’s back and they all sat in a line next to one another and watched the darkening sky. As the purple sky faded to black, the stars began to poke through the nightly ink before finally the cosmic light show began. Gently flowing through the sky like colored dye in water, the Northern Lights made the dark heavens above look as they have cracked allowing light to seep into the world. Greens and blues mixed as reds seem to fade to pinks and purple etched in-between. The five friends all looked at one another as they wore their Christmas scarves before all huddling together in front of Kinapak who wrapped his arms around his four friends and embraced them all, as the lights danced in the sky and the stars twinkled and snow gently began to fall from the cloudless sky adding to the magic of this Christmas evening.
Daniel had two poems published in the June 2011 issue of the Taj Mahal Review and in the past contributed to Far Horizons E-mag.
Daniel is inspired by the works of Franz Kafka, HP Lovecraft and Vince Flynn.