The story below was submitted to Writer’s Digest for a short story competition (https://www.writersdigest.com/your-story-competition/your-story-97-submit-now) based on the picture attached to this post. Let me know what you think:

Dev had never seen one up close before. Sure, his parents had told him about the magnificent creatures, but it was different to actually spy one cavalierly tromping through the underbrush, completely oblivious to the burs clinging to its coat. He watched as it let out a joyful yelp before pouncing on a grasshopper.

Dev heard soft padding of feet through the lush foliage, and he didn’t have to turn his head to know his sister Vi was now standing close beside him. “They’re not all one color, like I thought they would be,” she murmured. “This one’s red and white and brown.” She let out a soft intake of breath, somewhere between a pant and a gasp. “It’s beautiful.”

Dev wondered if anyone thought his own titian mane was beautiful, but he merely nodded in reply. He crept several inches forward, but Vi cut in front of him.

“What are you doing?” she demanded.

“I’m trying to get a closer look.”

“It might notice you.”

“So?”

“‘Soooo’?” she repeated, the annoyance evident in the way she drawled out the word. “If you get too close, it might take off into the woods, or worse, it could attack us.”

“I don’t think that will happen,” he countered. But even so, he held back.

As they both watched, another one appeared, larger than the first. Dev tried to remember if the male or female of the species was bigger. The second one began to nudge the first, which resulted in some shrill barking.

“I wish I knew what they were saying to one another,” Vi whispered.

“Me too.” Dev sneaked nearer to the pair, his eyes never leaving their forms for a second.

Snap!

His foot landed on a twig, cracking it in half. He froze, but when he realized they hadn’t noticed him, he inched forward again. He shimmied up to a tree, hiding his body behind the bulky trunk. Then without a word of warning, he scampered up the trunk and onto a low hanging branch.

“Devoss, what are you doing?” his sister hissed from the ground.

“Leave me alone, Vixen,” he retorted. “I told you I wanted a closer look.”

The humans had stopped yelling and had linked appendages–hands is what they were called. They were marching out of the woods. The smaller one with the brown coat and red hair trailed a step behind the larger one. Soon their receding forms would be gone from sight, but for a moment longer Devoss could enjoy the view.

“Beautiful,” he whispered.

(Image from Getty)

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