Way out in the woods, off a long and winding road, a baby was born. The mama and the papa were so proud, as they both gazed down at the newest addition of their hedgehog family. It was the youngest to be born in a litter of four. There were a few other hedgehog families here, but no others had babies at this time. The mother overwhelmed with joy, slowly looked at the proud father, with a smile.“She has your eyes; we should name her Missy, what do you think?”“Yes, Missy is perfect, but I think she looks a lot like her mama. She is beautiful.”The family is so happy to have them all here, but they were growing up so fast. The youngest of the babies, Missy, was now taking her first steps, and saying her first words. In a short time she was up first to play, and then eating big hedgehog food. As they all got older, one by one they would have to go and live in a new home. It was at a certain age that they would be sold, and then sent off to live with a new human family; it was just how life was for a hedgehog here. One morning Missy woke to see that her last sibling was leaving, saddened with tears in her eyes, she ran over and kissed her sister goodbye.“Bye, I will miss you; I hope you have the best new home.”Mama and papa waved farewell to her while holding their last baby. Missy’s mom and dad knew that it was just a matter of time, and she would be taken too. So they spent as much time as they could with her, teaching Missy all the ins and outs of being a good hedgehog, especially how someday she too may have her own babies to take care of. “Mama, will I see you and papa someday, after I have to go, I mean when I’m older?”“Oh, I’m not sure, maybe we will, but if not we both will always be thinking of you.”“But I don’t want to leave. I want to stay here with you forever.”“Oh, baby, us too, but you also have to make a life of your own, we know you will make us proud, no matter what.”A few more days had passed and it was time, time for Missy to go, someone had bought her. Crying while saying their goodbyes’, she took one last look at her ma and pa, just as she was lifted out of her home.“Goodbye sweet Missy, be your best and be happy.”“I am scared!”“Don’t be, you will be fine, just be yourself. We will always love you.”Waving bye, just like that, their last baby was gone. Missy was scared she didn’t know where she was going, or what type of people had bought her. She was in this small box. The box was filled, about four inches deep, with little shavings of paper. She was so frightened and now shaking, she dug a hole to cover her body up. Hedgehogs like to bury themselves, especially when they are scared. Off and on you could hear, and see the shavings of paper shake; she got startled at every new sound and movement. After a long drive they came to a stop. The box was lifted; a door opened then it closed. Missy wasn’t sure where she was going now. She could hear faint voices, another door opened and closed, and then she was placed into a large cage. Scared and not even looking around she quickly dug a hole, and buried herself once again. Out in the distance she could hear people laughing and talking, sometimes soft and then really loud. It would make Missy shake. She could hear footsteps back and forth and then more talking. But whoever was speaking was really excited and happy; but not Missy, she was scared and all alone. Soon the voices were gone. As it became silent, she thought for sure no one was around her. Feeling brave, she crawled out of the hole to take a quick look around; but there was no one around.“Hello, anyone here?” Her voice echoed in the room, startling her, she quickly went back in. But Missy popped her head out again, to take another look around. Was this her new home? She didn’t like being all alone, and it didn’t smell very good, not like her mom and dad’s place.“Hello, anyone in here with me?”As Missy walked out she started to look around. She wanted to get out, leave, and find her own place. It was not comfy here, it wasn’t like her home. After walking around she had found that the latch on the cage door was not locked all the way, allowing the door to be easily pushed open. Being anxious and scared she pushed it open, and left the cage. Running as fast as she could, she searched for a place to go and hide. Off to the right she saw a bit of light, and could feel a cool breeze of air. She had never felt something so fresh; so she quickly ran to it. Her new owner had also mistakenly left the front door to the house open; through the doorway, she ran out to find herself in a large beautiful green grassy area. The sun was shining down on everything. She looked all around. She could see all sorts of beautiful shapes and colors. But, she was still all alone, and really didn’t like that feeling. She missed her family. Being brave again, she called out.“Hello, anyone here?”Unsure of what to expect when she called out, she took off running again. The green grass rubbed against her belly; she liked it, it kind of reminded her of her mom, when she would give her baths. She giggled a little and stopped to sniff to see if she could smell her mom, but nope no mom. Off she ran again tickling her own belly on the grass. Out of nowhere she heard a voice. “Eeewww, what is that thing, it is so ugly. Go be gone you ugly thing. Stay away; go back to where ever you came from.”She stopped dead in her tracks. Missy couldn’t understand why or who was saying those mean things to her, she wasn’t mean to them. Missy was even more scared now, and was on the verge of crying, so she called out to the mean voice. “Who are you? I’m all alone.”“I’m the prettiest creature ever, and you should be gone now.”Missy followed where the voice came from, and there on a branch of a small bush was this caterpillar. But startled she ran off. She thought to herself, she wasn’t very pretty at all. And why would she call me ugly, my mom and dad are pretty, and had always told me that I was the most beautiful hedgehog ever. This deeply saddened her. She had never been spoken to like that before. She had always been told nice things about her; she only heard voices that were always full of joy and laughter. She slowed to a walk, and then started calling out again.“Hello, anyone here, anyone around, to maybe play with me, or be my friend?”“I will play with you alright. Friend, I don’t think so. But, I will eat you!” The voice had an evil sort of laugh; it had come from a large Cat that was swaying its tail. Missy ran away, but the cat followed closely behind trying to catch it, and probably would have if Missy weren’t covered in spikes. Hedgehogs are small creatures, and have quills all over them, except on their face, their bellies, and on the bottoms of their feet. The quills lay flat on their bodies, but when scared, the quills pop out in all different direction, and sometimes they will curl in to a ball. This is to keep any predators form biting or even clawing them, so she was a little safe from that mean old cat. Keeping a sharp eye out for Missy, the cat was walking slowly around the shrubs, while wagging its tail.“Where are you, you are so weak, so dumb and small, come out so I can squish you.”Missy was now hiding in a bush so the cat couldn’t get to her. Too scared to come out, and now curled into a ball, she started hissing and shaking at the mean bully cat; hoping to scare it off. Not changing things by shaking and hissing, she decided to just sit quietly hoping for the cat to wandering away. Missy could here in a low voice.“Don’t worry wimp I will get you when you come out.” The cat wondered off and went to take a nap in its favorite napping area. Missy poked her head out to see if the cat was gone. She was so alone and wished so much to be with her parents, who would surely show them that they were wrong about her. Thinking to herself she knew if her dad were here, he would beat them up for her. Being brave again, she crawled out from under the bush to see what she could find, hopefully nice creatures, and maybe a real home.“Hello, anyone, does anyone want to be my friend?” The little hedgehog wondered on, she was walking slowly through the grass. Thinking of all the mean things that everyone here was saying, but then remembering what her parents had said to her. They told her she was pretty, she was strong, and not to let anyone tell her otherwise. They said that she could do and be anything she wanted, as long as she just tried; this made her feel better. But, she was still all alone. She didn’t like being alone; she wanted someone to be her friend, or even just someone to talk to. Still calling out, little Missy wandered even farther from the door that she had escaped through. Wishing she were still at home, at her real home, a home that was full of love, where she was liked. As she walked on with her head down, she heard someone call out.“What is that, I’ve never seen anything like it, so poky, so weird looking as that, I don’t like it.” “Ooooooh, I see what you mean, icky, I don’t like it either, do you think it will give germs or bugs?”“Probably, we should stay away from that.” As Missy looked up to see two birds fly away.“Aw, no one likes me, everyone hates me they don’t want to even be around me, unless to hurt me.”Just then smack, right in the head, then again, and again. Up in a tree, Missy could here laughter and giggling. Missy curled into a ball, putting all her spikes out, to holler out at whoever was throwing things at her.“Ouch, stop it, stop… hitting me on my head.”There next to her, on the ground, were empty nutshells. Where were they coming from? But then she heard more giggling.“Nice one bro; hit it again.”“Oh I will, its right next to the walnut I buried yesterday. It better not try to get it or I will drop a branch on its head.”“Heehee, I will get it for you.”“Sweet, sis, see I told you just a little flick of the wrist and a perfect shot every time.”“Oouuch… please stop! That hurts! I don’t understand why you are hurting me, please quit throwing things at me.”Missy curled into a ball hissing and shaking. High up in a tree were two squirrels, laughing at the hedgehog. They were picking on Missy, and she was defenseless, except her quills, which bounced the shells right off her. She couldn’t even see where the shells were coming from, except from up in the tree. But soon they stopped throwing things at her. Then, something else, far off into the distance caught the two squirrels attention. It was a loud squeak, and they quickly ran from limb to limb, then tree to tree, and off far from Missy. With a faint sound, she could hear the girl squirrel calling out.“Coming mama, we are coming.”It was quiet again, but with no rest she suddenly heard another voice, only this one was soft and nice. “Oh, you are quit unique, and kind of cool looking too. What’s your name?”As Missy brought her head up, she saw the prettiest thing ever, and with a slight smile she answered. “Hi, my name is Missy, what is yours?”“I am Amanda, what are you doing out here, I have never seen one of you before. What are you?”“I’m a hedgehog, and what are you?”“I’m a butterfly.” “You are the only one that I have met that would even talk with me. Others call me names, pick on me, make me feel bad, and I just want to go home. I don’t want to be here anymore, I am all alone.”“Well, there are many types in this world, and it is a big world. Never mind them; they don’t know what they are talking about, besides only you can let them hurt you. I don’t listen to the mean creatures, just be yourself, and when there is someone who is worth having around, they will like you just the way you are.” The butterfly started flying into the air. “Wait where are you going, you’re my only friend.”“Oh I must go now, have so many stops to make before I go to bed, but don’t you worry you will meet many others, just be yourself and be patient, you will find the right type to be around. Bye now, it was nice to have met a hedgehog, and maybe someday we will meet again.”As the butterfly flew away, again she was all alone. “I don’t think I will ever find anyone to like me, or want to hang out with me.” Sad and alone, Missy just sat and decided she wasn’t going to try anymore. She was done trying to find someone who actually cared enough, someone that would even talk with her. Just then she heard in the distance, a voice, it sounded similar to the one she heard when she first got here, just before she escaped from that cage she so didn’t like.“Mom I found her, she is over here.” Then the voice got closer and closer. “There you are; I was so scared I thought I had lost you forever, and I just barely got you. How in the world did you manage to get all the way out here? You are the cutest thing in the whole world.” While carrying Missy back to the house, she would pet and then scratch her chin; Missy liked her chin being scratched. Calm and brave she popped out her head to look around, this human made her feel safe and happy. She gave out a big smile; it was nice to find someone who actually liked her and was being nice, just like the butterfly said. In a soft, quiet voice Missy whispered towards the human creature, as if she was speaking to the butterfly.“I think she loves me, me just the way I am, and she thinks I’m the prettiest.”“I have a new home for you, it is all set up, and I got you all the best things to play with. I hope you like it.” She had taken her back to her new home. Missy was remembering what her parents and the butterfly had said to her. Saying that she was beautiful, and there were many different types in this world, that she would find the right type to be with. Now that cage didn’t really smell so bad; it actually was kind of nice. It didn’t take long for Missy to fall in love with her new home; as long as someone was there to love her, it was the best. In this new home, she had a round thing that she could run on all day, ramps to go up and down, and it seemed like it had all sorts of space to tunnel. It was her favorite thing to do, and of course she had fresh food and water. It was the best new home ever, and a new best friend that she could play with every day. It had now become late in the afternoon, Missy all settled in her new home, no longer all alone, needed to go to sleep. She was very tired from this long day. She really should have been asleep all this time, after all hedgehogs are nocturnal, and they like to be up only at night and sleep during the day. Maybe one day Missy will have her own new hedgehog family here, in her brand new happy home. As Missy dozed off to sleep, she heard a soft whispering voice.“You’re my best friend, I will love you forever.”~THE END~
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