Story of the Month

Foxes by Stephen Connolly


I was sitting at my desk, thinking whose turn it was to make

coffee, when I saw the Fox. Seriously, a Fox. Trotting along the

pavement outside, tongue lolling out. Smiling. No signs of fear,

no sense of being pursued. It crossed the road at the lights and

disappeared round the corner. Nobody else noticed it, not even the

people on the pavement. Maybe they just didn’t care. Or even

recognise it for what it was.


I’d never thought about foxes, much. I’d see one now and again.

Late at night, sometimes. Heading to the 7/11 for milk, I’d see

these eyes reflecting car headlights. Dog I’d think. Until I saw

the bushy tail. Or during the day, walking to the station, a heap

of dirty orange fur lying on a road where they’d misjudged the



I started keeping track, almost as a joke. One behind the Kebab

shop down from the flat. Two in the park, eyeing kids on the

swings. Three tearing cardboard out of that skip in the station

car park. And once I’d started looking I saw them everywhere.

Behind the council offices, in that bus shelter opposite the

laundrette, down on the wasteland by the dual carriageway. Rolling

around in the supermarket carpark.


I admit, I did get a little obsessed. Did I really see one in

the library, staring out at me from non-fiction? Surely I dreamt



With the first one there was a jolt. Genetic maybe, a hunter-gatherer’s learned

response to a predator. In fairy tales foxes are not to be taken lightly. A kind of

pocket wolf.


But I’ve got used to them. When I see one sitting quietly near

the door, as the train rattles into the city centre, my only

thought is: do you get a special status? Like a guide dog?


There’s a lot more around than there used to be, have you

noticed? What do they do here? How long is it going to be before

they’re holding down jobs, paying taxes, running for mayor?!


And it makes me think: when did I last leave the city? I mean, really left it, got

in a car and drove until the city was far behind me. Out to that grey, wet place,

where fields live. What does it look like now? And what are they doing there

to drive all these intelligent creatures away to the city? There’s people queuing

at the 7/11. Maybe – just maybe, after all these weeks – they’ve finally got some