The Wondering Purglepine

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“My prickles are almost all prigged.”

“You’ve been scared many times.”

“Yeah, we both have.”

“By the light of the moon.”

“Yes. By its light, dog.”

The Purglepine thinks about his prickles, spinning the daisy he plucked between the tips of his claw. What happens, he wonders, when the prickles are all prigged.

“You will be free,” whispers a low, unfamiliar voice.

“Dog, did you?”

“Did I what?”

“I thought I heard something.” Dog scratches a loose-hanging prickle behind her ear. She scrapes it clean off, and saddened by this curls into a ball under a stump. A crack of a branch in the woods startles them. Both creatures dart their heads towards the sound.

Just a branch, the Purglepine thinks, and what is free anyways?

“Free,” whispers the voice.

“Where are you? Asks Purgle.

“I’m here,” says dog.

Purgle walks a few steps into the clearing, feeling the bright light of the moon on him. He extends his arm, looks at all the holes left from his prickles. These used to be such strong arms.

“They are still strong,” says the voice. “They are just unprotected.”

Where is that voice happening, thinks Purgle. He looks at dog, folded into herself, having not heard the voice at all. Why will I be free?

“You will be free,” says the voice, “because you will no longer worry about having enough, or not having enough, you will be what is left, after prickles, beyond worry.”

Do you think I worry too often?

“You are worried, right now. You are worried about a branch in the woods. You are worried about the question you’ve asked me. You are worried that you are talking to yourself.”

Am I talking to myself? The moon drifts down in the night sky almost out of site. With its descent the forest grows darker, colder. The Purglepine watches his breath while the gentle breathing of sleeping dog hums nearby.

“You are not talking at all,” says the voice. “You are wondering, and listening. This is a wonderful thing you figured out, without question.”

I didn’t want to bother dog.

“You have each other, even when neither of you have prickles.”

I miss them, the feeling of scraping against a tree. There are so few left to rub against bark or lift up and down with a roll of my shoulder.

“But you remember them. You remember each one. In remembering they each can serve you when you are too full of wonder. Each prickle lost is a guide.”

Are you a guide?

“No,” whispers the voice, “I am lonely too, sometimes. I could hear you very loudly tonight, so I thought I would say hello.”

Will I see you again? wonders the Purglepine, squinting his eyes to see his daisy.  

“Always,” whispers the voice, as the forest goes dark.