By A.P. Runke
Spikey considers himself rather lucky in life for an ornamental hedgehog. Maybe it wasn’t always that way but life tends to twist and turn things around. Spikey was glad for it. It wasn’t too long ago on a November morning that he had his first turn of fate. Spikey first knew life in a factory; a loud but rather cheerful machine built him alongside many other ornamental hedgehogs. And at least Spikey assumed the machine that made him was cheerful, for although he never spoke to Spikey or the other hedgehogs he did always quietly whistle as he worked. From this factory Spikey was packed into a box and was shipped off. At the end of this time where Spikey knew only the inside of a very dark box the little hedgehog made of burlap, sticks, and twine was put on a shelf to be sold to the masses of mothers and daughters and mantle piece lovers who came by.
Shoppers came and went and various curios for homes were picked up. Turkeys and squirrels were picked up as was a rather impudent ceramic rooster Spikey happily saw leave one evening. However it seemed before Spikey knew it, he was the only one and the times were changing. Tall pine trees were being erected and boxes of baubles, and snow covered flowers unloaded. Spikey was removed from his shelf. No longer would he view the cuddly pajama section or smell the perfumes on women with gnarly stones adorning their fingers. Spikey was put on a new shelf. Here were decorations Spikey hadn’t known, a cat black as they come and more orange leaves than he had ever seen. A small red tag was attached to Spikey, ‘clearance final sale’. A tall spindly witch patted Spikey on the back in condolence. Spikey refused to give up hope, he was adorable gosh dang it! And someone would see that. Christmas cheer continued to surround Spikey and the others hidden away in the clearance shelves. Spikey gathered dust on his button nose and at night he’d let loose all the sneezes he had kept in check while customers had shopped the day away.
Then on one December morning that all changed. Two women sidled down the aisle, glancing at the clearance shelves. In their basket were tree ornaments and glittered snowflake placemats. Spikey’s heart deflated just so. But then with surprise in his eyes, Spikey found himself picked up off the shelf. The women babbled and thought and Spikey held his breath tight. And when they placed him in their basket he held back a squeak of joy with all of his might. A home! A home would be his! A mantle awaited him and with this job he couldn’t wait to begin. From the basket to the bag in the car to the kitchen of a brand new home Spikey went. The lady who had bought him set him on her counter and pulled out a ribbon with a plaid pattern. Spikey could have danced with joy when the lady gave him a new little touch, a plaid ribbon scarf just for him. He wasn’t just a new mantle piece anymore. Now he was Spikey the CHRISTMAS hedgehog.
Spikey was then placed in his spot. It was atop a column of drawers by a picture frame and Santa Claus ceramic candleholder. From his perch he could see the whole front room of the house. A long couch stood against the wall, two bookcases and a large television. The windows high up in the wall let in sun on the plush carpet. And directly there just inside the front door was the tree. A Christmas tree with lights and ornaments treasured and held dear. It was a handsome tree that glittered when lit and filled the rom with a luscious Christmas scent.
Over the hours Spikey learned the ways of the house, there was a woman and man and their all grown up children. But along with these people who he so sought to please were three little doggies always at their knees. The three dogs all seemed happy and cordial enough animals to Spikey. Though he doubted he’d let the young yellow one anywhere near him, slobber and all. However it was the smallest dog that ended up playing the biggest role in Spikey’s new life.
The whole story begins early one morning not a week into Spikey living in his new home. The sun wasn’t up yet but his house was. And the tree glittered in the early morning deep still with sleep. Spikey was admiring the tree when the smallest dog meandered in unaccompanied. Her tail was tucked close and her nose was held high. She walked slowly and carefully trying to look ever so sly. When the dog saw she wasn’t seen (for she could not perceive Spikey’s gleaming eyes) she ran to the tree with a nose for the ornaments hung not so high.
The little doggie started to wreak terror, pulling penguins, and snowflakes, and heirlooms down from the tree! Spikey held back his breath; this dog was tearing apart the tree and Christmas right with it. As his mind tumbled and his jaw did drop the only thought he could think was that this…why this little Beastie, for a beastie she was, just had to be stopped! Spikey shook off his astonished dismay and quickly turned his burlap head every which way. He must stop the beastie! These people gave him a home, a ribbon, and a job. He was a mantle piece hedgehog with a Christmas tree to guard!
Even though Spikey’s heart was courageous and his will determined he was stuck in his spot for it was a very, very long way to the ground. As Spikey scratched his head, knowing he must move quickly a bit of time was bought him, something had distracted the wee beastie. Another animal did call this house his home. He was small and fluffy and dark as obsidian stone. He was a cat. The only real live one Spikey had ever seen and just like the dear hedgehog this cat loved the bright Christmas tree. This kitty would take its long naps beneath the pine needles, stretched out enjoying its glory. It never tried to climb it, leap from it, or bat at the baubles. Spikey rather liked this cat and was thankful just now for his arrival.
When the beastie saw this body of fluffy black fur its attention was torn from the tree and its ornaments to try and get the kitty to play with it. Spikey recognized this was his chance. But how! How was he to get down? Carefully Spikey peered down the column of drawers and to his mind came an idea quite inspired. For every drawer instead of knob had a small iron wrung for the humans to pull on. ‘Aha!’ Thought Spikey ‘I’ll climb down with those, it’s just like a ladder though it will swing and sway. I have to do’ he says, ‘it’s the only way!’.
So with a gulp and squeaky small prayer Spikey heaves his feet out and over to start his descent. His spikes quake as he nervously climbs down and down; each wrung a welcome find. He was two wrungs away when his attention was grabbed by a hiss. The cat had become fed up with the beastie and wanted to escape it! Hurry he must hurry there were only three wrungs to go. He scrabbled to climb down and landed on the tile floor with a thump. Now was his time, to fight off the beastie and save Christmas for his new home! With a deep breath to stable his resolve Spikey stood facing the beastie. He spread out his feet and stretched his spikes before turning down his nose hoping his aim was just right.
For in a flash Spikey did charge a little ball rolling onward. His aim was true for from inside his huddle he heard a small yelp. The beastie was hit! Spikey unfurled himself to look and see what he had wrought. And he saw the little beastie shake out its head for Spikey had come straightforward and rolled over the beastie’s long ear. The beastie though was not deterred, it opened its mouth to give Spikey a bite but when its tongue touched his spikes however, it reeled back with fright.
Off it went! It’s whines following behind, Spikey had saved the tree and perhaps his tale, he thought, would even be told for generations to come on Christmas Day! Spikey took his win as graciously as any burlap and twig hedgehog can. He smiled and nodded at the tree, whose light was no longer as bright. For daylight was coming, chasing away the night. With that realization Spikey ran back over to the column of drawers. He nodded his thank to the once again lounging black cat and quick as he could scrambled back up the iron wrungs and at his spot he sat. Soon in came the woman and she gasped seeing the havoc the beastie had wrought. She scolded the small doggie and cleaned up what Spikey hadn’t been able to salvage. Still Spikey sat comfortably knowing the majority was safe.
Once all was cleaned up and the room was once again quite merry Spikey felt ready for congratulatory snooze. The people were waking and the beastie was gone. Spikey watched lazily as one of the other dogs meanders in and looks all about him to see if he’s seen. A shiver works it’s way up Spikey’s spine in dread. The dog sniffs the green needles of the newly saved tree and as Spikey’s eyes widen with horror the dog turns from the tree and lifts his hind leg.