The next morning dawned bright and clear, but it wasn’t until mid-day that Malcolm roused himself from inside Ozzie’s napping tree. He shook out every inch of his body, from the tip of his little black nose to the end of his scruffy tail. Then he yawned, trying to remember where he was and what he was doing here.
“Good afternoon, Malcolm!” called Ozzie’s chipper voice.
Then it all came crashing back to Malcolm – berry night and playing in the waterfall with his new friends. It had been much later than Malcolm was used to going to bed and he moved more like a turtle than a fox this morning. His brain trudged on in the same way too and it was a few more moments before he remembered the most important point of all – Nana Owl was no longer on the Western edge of the forest.
“Good afternoon, Ozzie,” said Malcolm in a voice that was decidedly less chipper. His mind was already whirring around and around with what to do about Nana Owl. Should he stay or should he go?
“Late night?” Ozzie chuckled at his own joke.
“Something like that,” Malcolm said with barely a glance at Ozzie.
“Oh, come on now,” said Ozzie, who must have sensed Malcolm’s preoccupation because he added, “still thinking about Nana Owl, aren’t you?”
Malcolm nodded, but didn’t say anything.
“Well there’s your problem, then,” said Ozzie who had come over and put a paw around Malcolm. “You’re doing too much thinking.” He then tapped Malcom’s head. “Give it a rest, would ya?”
“But I can’t give it a rest,” said Malcolm. “How am I supposed to figure out what to do?”
“Maybe you’re not supposed to figure it out.” said Ozzie.
“That’s helpful.” Malcolm snorted, though, because he found it wholly not helpful.
“What I mean,” said Ozzie who rolled his eyes at Malcolm in exasperation, “is maybe you should listen to here,” and he put his hand on Malcom’s chest right where his heart beat, instead of here,” and he moved his hand to tap Malcolm’s forehead.
“Ow,” said Malcolm, rubbing his head. But maybe Ozzie had a point. What was it Malcolm really wanted?
Malcolm thought back to why he started looking for Nana Owl in the first place. It was to help him find his waterfall and mountain. He didn’t know if they really existed or not and that’s why Carl the cardinal had recommended Nana Owl. Maybe she can help you, he’d said.
Well, she had, thought Malcolm. In searching for Nana Owl, Malcolm had met Jersey the squirrel and Ozzie the skunk. He’d also met Ozzie’s friends. He’d been shown kindness and given food and a place to sleep. He’s also come to Evergale Falls, the most beautiful place he had ever been. Searching for Nana Owl had so far been quite the adventure. What would happen if he kept going? Would he find his mountain? Would there be a place more beautiful than Evergale Falls?
All of sudden, Malcolm realized what was happening. He was afraid. This time it wasn’t the night creating his fear, but the worry that he would never find what he was looking. He remembered what he thought at the start of his journey which now seemed a very long time ago – he would never know if he didn’t try. And right now, he wasn’t trying. He was letting his fear slow him down. Not that he wasn’t grateful for his new friends and their hospitality, but he had a dream. And there was no time like right now to get it back on track.
Malcolm felt a surge of energy rush through his body. He immediately brightened at the prospect that lay before him.
Ozzie chuckled again. “You seem to have perked up. I guess you ‘figured it out.’ “
“That’s right,” said Malcolm and he gave Ozzie a hug. “Tell Arthur and Milo I said goodbye. I hope someday soon I’ll see you again.” And just like that off, Malcolm took off running through the forest. He had places to go.
To be continued….