every once in a while, stu got the feeling that he wasn’t long for the world. his feathers ruffled in an odd way after a chill went down his spine, but it only lasted for a moment, then it was gone.
the thought didn’t last long, though, as his job was more important than thoughts on his own mortality. he may not have been the most good looking or the best at evoking jubilant reactions, but he tried his best to spread gratitude as best he could.
stu was relatively new to the scene. when he met with the others at the solstices, he could tell that they’d been around a while. they had enduring a lot of humanity, and stu’s job was to bring out humanity’s thankful side. not all of the others sought that, or even had much contact with humanity, for that matter.
now that the end of the year was looming, it was extra work for stu. he knew that thanksgiving was his time to shine, his peak performance of the year. he wasn’t sure how exactly he spread thankfulness, since he hadn’t been in this position very long, but he knew he was key. so stu kept on doing what stu did best: being stu.
he headed outside the day before thanksgiving, strutting down his front porch and ruffling a bit to let the chilly air perk him up. he stared at the dead grey sky before thinking it was a great day to alive. almost immediately, he noticed two squirrels and a chipmunk fighting over some remaining corn cobs that were in a nearby garden. stu strolled over and immediately the animals stopped fighting and divided up the food for their winter stores. this was pretty common for stu; all he needed to do was be in the presence of disagreement and it dissipated.
stu walked a lot every day, finding strife and spreading gratitude. he considered himself to be a great peacemaker.
but this day before the big day, he was feeling especially good about his work. he covered a lot of ground and spread a lot of cheer, fairness, and justice among a lot of creatures.
it was dark when he finally made his way home that evening. he frowned when he saw the lights in his small home were on, but pushed open the front without a second thought.
there was a woman standing in the corner fussing over a box with a light over it. she turned her head as stu cleared his throat, and he saw it was the hedgewitch…what was her name?
“stu, you’ve made it home. you were out longer than the others,” she said, walking toward him slowly. he peered around her and saw a large egg sitting in the box, cracks along the surface. mariah. that was her name. she was nice to him at the solstices and other get togethers. nicer than the others, except maybe the yeti. but stu thought that had to do with the yeti being a yeti.
“you’ve done great,” she said, smiling, coming closer. well, she was right about that. stu felt really good about the day he’d had. it was especially nice coming from her. she had a sad look on her face as she reached out to give him a hug. stu opened up for the hug.
“i’m really sorry about this stu,” and he heard the sound of a blade coming out of the side of her boot, but he was already in her vice grip, and struggling was useless.
“shhh, it’ll be over soon. thanksgiving needs a sacrifice.”
the egg cracked open.