Hedgehog and Little Bear
In 2015 a friend and I worked on translating a cute tale about a hedgehog and little bear. Sergei, my friend, translated it from Russian to English, while I transformed it to prose.
The story is based on a Russian tale and its original writer is still a mystery to me. If you know its origins, please tell me so I can learn more. Hedgehog and Little Bear are frequent characters in Russian fairytales. Sergei knew I liked to use animals as characters in my stories so it was a good exercise for me to turn this piece into a tale you can read.
I dedicate this story to Sergei, Eugenia, Kiva, and Mia. Thank you for welcoming me into your home and for reading my short stories even before I told the world I was a writer. You believed in me.
To all, happy reading.
/// Hedgehog and Little Bear.
“I promise, you hear? I promise.” said little bear.
“I promise I will come to you no matter what happens. I will be next to you.”
Hedgehog was quiet.
“Why are you not saying anything?”
“I believe you,” said hedgehog. “I believe you.”
A week had passed and the day was grim. For seven days and seven nights little bear was worried sick. Nowhere could he find hedgehog. Exhausted, he searched the entire forest. He was worried something terrible happened. He needed to find hedgehog and make sure he was safe.
Something terrible did happen. Hedgehog fell into a wolf’s hole and was trapped there for days and days.
In the dark hole he was alone.
Hungry. Afraid. And frail.
Nearby, a squirrel found the hole by accident. She heard hedgehog’s cries and saw him at the bottom of the pit. In haste, she hopped to the other side of the forest to find little bear and deliver the news.
Little bear ran to the hole as fast as he could. He pulled hedgehog out and brought him home.
“Don’t look at me like that. I can’t stand it when you look at me like that.” little bear grunted.
It was nighttime and hedgehog was very ill. He could barely keep his eyes open and little bear feared his friend was dying. Little bear sat next to hedgehog who laid tuck and frail in bed. He needed to do anything- anything- to keep him awake.
“Don’t close your eyes! You worry me when you close your eyes.” little bear was frantic. “Smile! Smile for me instead.”
Hedgehog tried to smile but he had no energy. He was tired. He looked very weary.
“Let me feed you soup.” said little bear. “Our friend squirrel gave us fresh vegetables, so I cooked you soup.”
Little bear poured broth into a bowl and lifted hedgehog’s head.
“Sit up!” commanded little bear.
Hedgehog refused to cooperate. He was too weak.
“Endure! This pillow will prop you up." Little bear forced a pillow in between hedgehog and the wall.
“I’m cold.” hedgehog whispered.
Little bear climbed to the attic and grabbed an old sheepskin coat. He draped it over shivering hedgehog.
“How is it that you didn’t freeze in the hole? The nights are so cold!” asked little bear.
“I was jumping. I was jumping throughout the night.”
“For seven days? What did you eat?”
“I had nothing to eat. Are you going to give me soup?”
Silly bear. He forgot about the soup.
Hedgehog gulped twice and closed his eyes drifting back to sleep.
“Drink, drink!” begged little bear.
“Drink for me.” little bear pleaded and hedgehog slurped.
“One for the squirrel!” Hedgehog slurped again.
“One for the rabbit! You know he helped find you as well.”
“No. Let me rest.”
“Drink for the rabbit. He tried very hard to find you.” after much pleading hedgehog took another sip.
“Now drink for the hamster.”
“Now, what did he do?”
“Nothing. He came by everyday and inquired.”
Hedgehog was tired. He lifted his head and sipped the broth. This would be his last. He wanted sleep and rest.
“Now drink for the owl! For him you will drink three spoons.”
“What does the owl have to do with it?”
“I flew on him for three nights searching for you.”
“On the owl? You are lying.”
“Let me be cursed if I am lying!” defended little bear.
“How did you climb on him?”
“He is very sturdy, you see. I sat on his neck as he flew. You should have seen how terrified the rabbit was when he saw us take flight.”
“Why was the rabbit scared?”
“Finish the soup and I will tell you.”
Hedgehog was curious. He took three sips of broth. “Tell me. Why was rabbit scared?”
“Ah. Imagine I am flying with the owl and there he was… sip another spoon.” Hedgehog drank immediately.
“Rabbit watched us fly above him and whooooosh we almost crashed into a tree! Here, take another sip for the owl.”
“No, no. I can’t anymore. Let me lay down.” Hedgehog pushed the bowl away.
Little bear laid hedgehog onto the bed and tucked him under the sheepskin coat. “Are you warm now?”
“Tell me, did you make up the story about the owl? Tell me.”
“What are you talking about? Get better and we will fly together.” said little bear.
Hedgehog closed his eyes.
He murmured, “let’s fly” and went to sleep.
A note from Nica: When editing this story I practiced writing dialogue and scene breaks. Thank you for reading my live exercise. I hope you enjoyed the story.