A Relaxing Cup of Hot Cocoa


Image Credit: Wendy Brannon


In a snowy northern forest, in a snowy clearing, in a snow-covered cottage, in front of a crackling fire, a puffy little arctic fox stretched open its little mouth and yawned. It stood up from the nest of blankets it had been snuggled in and arched its back. Red firelight reflected off its white furry coat, rendering it red and gold. The fox shook its head and trodded around its nest in a circle before laying down again.

“You’re quite energetic this evening, Flykra,” The fox twitched an ear but made no other motion of acknowledgment. The speaker pushed up his glasses and leaned against an old wooden table, steaming mug in hand. His spoon clinked against its side as he stirred his drink. 

Fat, fluffy snowflakes danced outside the small kitchen window. They took their partners across the stage of the sky, twirling them around until they settled in the empty garden bed below. The boy, who often insisted on his being a man, but was really only about twelve years of age, observed the flakes dance in anxious silence; they were prettier and much more elegant than he.

“How can you be so calm, Flykra? Casually falling asleep on one of the scariest evenings of my life?” the boy asked the fox. She raised her head and glanced over at him groggily at the familiar sound of her name. “I mean, whatever happens to me will happen to you, too,” he said as he shuffled over to the fireplace. “We’ll become Jonn and Flykra, a council-approved transmutation wizard and his familiar,” he huffed as he climbed onto the couch, “or we become failures, and then we have to run away to the mountains, where the jӧtunns live. Then they’ll put us in their soup and eat us! Jonn and his familiar Flykra, the disappointments.” 

This statement was only half true. A transmutation wizard, who could change one thing into another, had not been acknowledged by the High Council for years. Bloodlines that carried transmutation magic were few and far between. But Jonn, little orphan Jonn, was found to have some of that magic within him. And this brought the end of his apprenticeship under his master. These are the facts.

Being included in a jӧtunn’s stew as a garnish, while certainly not unbelievable, was not likely. The boy’s wild imagination had escaped him again; he’d probably just end up as a tailor’s apprentice.

“Or,” Jonn sipped his hot cocoa, “we’ll be forgotten.”


“Aha! So now you speak! What’s with that look?” Flykra gave him an icy stare. “These are reasonable things to think about!” he proclaimed. One should know that these are not reasonable things to think about. “Good lords, I’m so nervous!” He took another sip of hot cocoa.

Jonn sighed and sank into the couch, pressing his face against the cushion. His glasses shifted and slid, no longer allowing him to see, not that it mattered. He was too busy thinking about his future to care about the present. Flykra chirped at him. 

“What makes you so certain?” The boy believed he understood what she thought; surprisingly, he was never far off. “I’m cool and strong and amazing and . . . cool?” For the most part, he was never far off. Sometimes, he was.

Truthfully, Flykra was very proud of her human. Despite beginning training far later than others, Jonn progressed quickly in his studies. And now, on the evening before the Winter Solstice, sipping his hot cocoa, Jonn undervalued skill. His thinking irked Flykra. To her, the little human boy she cherished — and who fed her more treats than necessary — seemed a little out-of-touch with himself. But what would it matter? She knew he would do fine during his trial.

Jonn watched as Flykra settled down again. She seemed confident in his abilities and coolness. So did his master. Why wasn’t Jonn?

“Maybe you’ve got the right idea, Flykra,” he admitted. The boy pursed his lips. “Relaxation might do me good.” He took a sip of hot cocoa and closed his eyes, listening to his surroundings — to the present.

A log on the fire shifted and fell. The dried sap inside another popped and fizzed its way to the surface. Flykra snored. Somewhere, water dripped slowly through a hole in the ceiling. A single broken window shutter tapped gently against a wall of the house. The fire continued to gently crackle, and Jonn basked in its warmth. 

The rest of the cottage did not seem worried about his trial tomorrow. So why should he?  John relaxed his shoulders and fixed his glasses. He then took another sip of hot cocoa.