The immortal grasshopper

Chris Falcoz

Image of Chris Falcoz

Chris Falcoz

The grasshopper hated winter. She could feel it approaching, with its gusts of cold air that left her continuously shivering, and knew there was nothing she could do about it.

The few insects she'd encountered and sometimes dared to ask for help would always say: "Yes, but it's your fault; grasshoppers aren't meant to survive winter! You shouldn't be here! That's why you're cold. Go somewhere else and come back in the spring!"

This sounded like a fine plan to her, except that going somewhere else was easier said than done. She wasn't a migratory bird, nor was she a hibernating bear! And there was definitely no need to remind her that grasshoppers weren't made for winter. She was well aware, she thought sadly as she desperately—and uselessly—tried to stop herself from shivering.

The trouble was, they were right. Winter was not for common grasshoppers, the ones that only live for two seasons: spring and summer.
But she was not a common grasshopper. She was an immortal grasshopper.

She was immortal because an old wicked witch cast a spell on her.

So it wasn't her fault. Truly!

Not her fault if the witch didn't appreciate her jumping on her head on a beautiful summer evening. Not her fault if she got tangled in her hair. Not her fault, either, if the witch decided to punish her, shouting, "Like the warmth, do you? We'll see how you like the cold," before casting a spell on her.
Oh, well. Anyway, that was in the past. Today, the witch was probably sitting comfortably by her fireplace, while the grasshopper sat outside in the middle of winter surrounded by newly fallen snowflakes. She was so cold she couldn't even sing anymore. She tried to chirr, just to warm up her throat a little bit, but it was no use. Resigned, the grasshopper stopped jumping, stopped trying to sing, and stood still under the falling snow.

That's when a fox spotted her, her head barely sticking out from a snow pile.
"Who are you? And what are you doing?"

"I'm letting myself die," she replied automatically, before realizing her mistake.
Yes, she was letting herself die—or trying to, at least, although she knew it wouldn't work. After all, she was immortal now. What a joke, right? So she started to laugh and laugh! So much so that the vibrations of her laughter melted the snow around her, and she could free herself.

"Your voice is lovely," the fox said, surprising her a bit.
"Didn't you hear me during the summer? It's even prettier when I can sing, you know."

"Oh, well, I tend to come out when it's quiet, and at night. It's safer. Can you sing for me then?"

"Unfortunately, no, I can't. I'm too cold . . ."

"Well, come on, then. Jump into my fur! It's warmer in winter."

The grasshopper didn't need to be told twice. She jumped on the back of her new friend, sinking gloriously into his thick, comfortable, and, above all, extremely warm fur.

"Oh, you're so warm! That's wonderful!"

"So, can you sing for me now?"

And the grasshopper started to sing, delighting her new friend.

"What a voice! I only know how to yelp, so I'm very admiring. Tell me, if I keep you in my fur during the winter, can you sing for me from time to time? It will brighten up my lonely nights."

And so it is that, on some of the coldest winter nights, you can hear a single grasshopper chirring joyfully. Occasionally accompanied by a few yelps.
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