She stilled, eyes locked with a sloth-like creature with mossy fur, claws like twisted roots, and a mushroom shell. It dangled from the tree, blinking first one bright green eye, then the other.
‘What are you?’ she asked, clutching her ragged shawl closer. She had encountered many creatures in the forest, not all of them kind.
‘What are you?’ it replied in a croaky imitation of her voice.
In spite of her fear, she leaned closer. ‘Can you talk, or just repeat?’
It tilted its head. ‘Can you talk?’
‘Are you friendly?’
It yawned, revealing pointed teeth. ‘Friendly?’
Already, she knew better than to fear something just because it might bite. She smiled. ‘Good. I’m in need of a friend.’ She held out her hand.
The creature grasped her hand, the roots curling around her wrist, and swung up onto her shoulder. As it nestled against her hair, it murmured: ‘Good.’
The forest was easier to face with company. For both of them.
Another microfiction for Mastodon. Image by Dorothe / DarkWorkX on Pixabay, used under Pixabay License.