Gisella looked into the fox's yellow eyes to show her she wasn't afraid and that she would stand up for what was hers. She also looked to see what she would find there, to discover what it was her great-aunt had warned her against.
The fox's eyes were dark gold. They looked at her with calm curiosity, to see what she would do. They challenged her to look deeper. They were the color of flame and they flickered. She looked deeper and saw a golden meadow under golden clouds and she saw a yellow-gold rabbit running for its life. She smelled its joy at being a rabbit and its terror at being pursued, and it seemed she was right behind it, running like the wind. She could almost taste it and thought she almost had it, when she heard laughter. She blinked and she was back in the grassy clearing. It was as if she'd wakened from a dream. In front of her stood a girl of about her age. The girl had a red kerchief and long black braids like Gisella's. Her blue flowered skirt was like Gisella's also, and she held a crossbow.
"So this is what it's like to have fingers," the girl laughed, and pointed the bow at Gisella. "How does the world look from the other side of the crossbow?"
Gisella knew this girl. She was so very familiar that it took a moment to realize who she was. Gisella was looking at herself. She looked down. The grass was suddenly close, and instead of hands, she had two little black fox feet. Behind her she found a long, white-tipped fox tail. The fox had changed places with her. This was what Great-Aunt Tanteh had warned her of. While Gisella looked into her eyes, the fox had slipped into Gisella's body, and now Gisella was in the fox's.
Now I am a fox, she thought, and the fox is me.
From The Old Country by Mordecai Gerstein. Copyright 2005 Mordecai Gerstein. All rights reserved. Reproduced with the permission of Roaring Brook Press.
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Southern Gothic fantasy with a contemporary flare set in Savannah
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