Eventually the other animals returned to the rock. The mouse and the chipmunk were both breathing heavy from their efforts, having climbed the tallest objects they could find. The fox sat on the ground and struggled to remove a cactus needle from her paw.
“I can get that for you.” The mouse said, gesturing for the fox’s paw. He attempted to pull it out but lost his grip as the fox jerked away from the sharp pain. The chipmunk fared no better and nearly tumbled off the rock. The turtle made his way over, gripped the needle in his mouth, and simply bit down as the fox pulled away. The needle stayed in his mouth and the mouse managed to pull him back before he went over the edge of the rock.
“That’s quite a bite you have, I couldn’t have done that on my own.” The fox licked her paw and set it down on the ground tenderly. The turtle dropped the needle and it rolled off into the sand to find another foot to bother. Something occurred to him and he looked back at his jar.
“I think we may be doing this all wrong.” The turtle said, starting to shove his jar to the middle of the rock.
“I can’t think of what else to do, we can’t get high enough.” The mouse said.
“If we could fly maybe we could reach the stars…”
“I don’t think even the Raven flies that high.” The fox put her front paws up on the rock to be at eye level with the others.
“I think it’s more about what we can’t do than what we can.” The turtle found a position that satisfied him, looked off at the horizon, and then turned back to the others. They didn’t seem to be following his line of thought, giving him only confused looks, “It’s gotta be a fair contest, right? So it has to be something we *all* can do.”
“Like what?” The mouse asked, staring down at the empty jar in his paws.
“Well none of us can fly, so that can’t be the answer.” The chipmunk offered.
“And the turtle and I cannot climb well, so that’s not a good answer.” The fox added.
“I can’t really jump, or dig, and there’s no water so swimming isn’t the answer.” The turtle added. They all sat thinking for a moment.
“So… it has to be something even a turtle can do… and you can’t do much of anything. No offense, of course.” The mouse added hastily.
“I know my limitations… and I can’t even get off this rock on my own.” The turtle gestured to his jar, “I can’t even lift the jar well. So I’m betting the answer doesn’t require getting off this rock.”
“Do you have an idea then?” The chipmunk asked.
“I have an answer, and I think it’s the right one.” The turtle spoke with more confidence than usual. The others perked up considerably at this news.
“So how do we catch a star?”
“Just put your jars next to mine, and when morning comes if I’m right we’ll show them a star.” The turtle said.
The others hesitated initially, wanting to know turtle’s idea, but he refused to elaborate other than helping them place their jars. The fox joined the others up on the rock and curled her tail around them to keep them warm as they waited for dawn.
“I wonder what the winner gets.” The mouse said aloud.
“If it’s something the Coyote wants, I’m sure it’s ridiculous. Probably a silly hat.” The turtle said, eliciting a chuckle from the others.
“It’d have to be a shiny hat, the Raven only ever wants shiny things.” The mouse said, causing even the turtle to laugh at the image.
“It’d have to be tall too, or the Rabbit’s ears won’t fit.” The chipmunk said.
“Or have a hole in it so they can stick out.” There was more giggling all around.
“They’d have to make it tiny though, or the Spider would get lost in it.” The fox startled laughing so hard it threw the others into fits and the mouse had to grab the chipmunk to stop her from rolling right off the rock.
The rest of the night passed with them telling stories of their respective companions, and when the sun began to rise the others reappeared. First the Rabbit and the Spider returned, then the Raven swooped down out of seemingly nowhere. They sat on the other side of the almost dead fire waiting silently.The companions were too nervous to speak, and when the Coyote finally meandered in, looking pleased with himself, the sun has just begun to appear over the horizon.