Adam was tired of all of the noise of city life. He knew that if he could just get away from it all, he would be able to write the perfect novel. It would be intellectual and witty and change the world.
So, Adam bought a cabin at the edge of the wilderness. It was far away from everything. It had a well, and he brought enough bland, boring food to last a year. He was prepared. He set out and settled in, ready to write.
The first day he wrote for hours and hours. Everything he’d wanted to write down for years just poured out of his pen onto the paper. The second day, he spent a lot of time looking out the windows and trying to decide what to write next.
On the third day, he decided to go on a walk and see if it would help him think. He started walking down the path to the stream when he heard a honking noise behind him. He turned around, startled.
There was a goose standing on the path. “Hello, human,” the goose said. It was apparently a talking goose.
“Hello,” Adam said.
“I have a question. Do humans breathe fire?” the goose asked.
“We don’t,” Adam said.
The goose flapped its wings and huffed. “But I saw it. I know I did. The other geese don’t believe me, but it’s true. We stopped in a large grassy area by a pond. A human sat nearby and stared at the water. And then, he breathed a big cloud of smoke out of his mouth.”
“Some humans burn um, little sticks,” Adam said. “They breathe in the smoke and breathe it out. It’s terribly unhealthy. I wouldn’t recommend it.”
“That’s what I saw?” the goose asked.
“He wasn’t breathing fire?” the goose asked.
“Thank you for answering my question,” the goose said. “I’ll go tell the others.” The goose turned and flew away.
Adam returned to his cabin and started writing again. Two days later, he was staring out the windows again. He decided to shave off his beard because he didn’t recognize himself in the mirror anymore. And then he went on another walk.
“Hello, human,” a tiny, high-pitched voice said from the bottom of the porch steps. “What happened to the fur on your face?”
“Hello,” Adam said, looking around. Ah, there was a little brown mouse looking up at him and twitching its nose. Adam ran a hand over his chin. “I shaved my beard off. I didn’t like how it looked.”
“But isn’t your face cold at night without fur?” the mouse asked.
“Not particularly,” Adam said.
“Hmmmm,” the mouse said. Then it darted away.
Adam went back inside and looked at himself in the mirror again. Then he started writing. Three days later, he was sick of writing and the cabin and the terrible, terrible bland food. He rushed out of the cabin and down the path to the river.
And then he realized that the large shadow in the path up ahead was actually a bear. Adam paused, not sure what he was supposed to do. Was he supposed to play dead or run away in a zigzag pattern or climb a tree?
“Hello, human,” the bear said. A talking bear? Well, that was convenient. Maybe all the animals talked around here.
“Hello,” Adam said. “Did you have a question for me?”
“Do you change your skin like the trees change leaves?” the bear asked. “The last time I saw you, your skin was green, but now it’s red.”
Adam looked down at his red plaid flannel shirt. “This is a shirt,” he said, pulling it away from his body a bit. “I wear it outside my skin to protect my skin. It’s made from plant fiber.”
“It’s not skin?” the bear asked.
“Not skin,” Adam said.
“Strange,” the bear said. He shook his head and lumbered away.
Adam went back to the cabin and started to write again. He realized he was writing about a talking duck. He checked his manuscript. The first half of his novel was a biting satire about city life. The second half was full of talking animals. The two halves didn’t work together at all.
“I could start over and write a biting satire with talking animals as characters, but that’s been done,” Adam said. Really, it would take a lot of editing to turn all of this into something that would work as a story.
Adam looked at the calendar. He had at least eleven more months of boring food and talking animals to look forward to here. Or he could give up and go home and try something else. He looked out the window. A breeze blew through the branches of the tree outside. The leaves shivered.
“I’ll give it a few more months,” Adam decided. “But maybe this time I’ll start with an outline.”
“Good thinking,” the mouse said. “And try to grow the fur back on your face. You still look terribly cold.”
“What are you doing in my house?” Adam asked.
“It was my house first,” the mouse said. And it scampered away.