Dling wanted to stretch out his legs, but he didn’t. He held himself tight. He was going to stay just as he was until he sorted everything out in his head. He remembered his search for Gigo. He had climbed up to Gigo’s special place for watching the ice fall but he wasn’t there. Dling climbed higher and sideways and then down again. That was when he saw the gray-tinged paw sticking out from the ice. Gigo had been crushed. Dling rushed down to tell the others and was shocked to see an eagle towering over Piff. Dling was about to kick rocks at it when he saw that Piff was feeding the bird with the red berries and sticky branches. And then Stub was behind him, kicking him down. This was where it became very difficult to remember. Dling jumped up the rocks. Stub punched his paws at him and Kijo was there too, her eyes red and crazy. The bird whirled up, swinging its great wings around and tore straight at Dling. Dling’s paws barely touched the rocks and ice as the claws caught his ears and shoulder and spun him upside down and down in fluffy, bumpy ball. He went around and around until he crashed into this place and stayed still, hunched and quiet. The shadows swirled over his head and the thumping of feet thundered all around, and then it was quiet. And he waited. He finally stretched out his legs and stood up on his hind legs. There was no one. No bird or hare to be seen. And the Great Water was just down below, an iceberg too. He went down to that and waited for the water to carry him off to a better place.
Dling didn’t sleep. There was a moment when he thought he might but his leg was tight and he had to stretch it out. And then it was the other one. And there was something wrong with his stomach. There was the constant light too. It seemed to get darker for a moment, but that was only a cloud. There was no dark in this land. He liked the idea of that, but he couldn’t sleep. He just couldn’t. He thought back to Piff. She had seemed kind. But there was something else about how she was always in the same place, in her corner, somehow scared, staring out, distant. Their first session of wiggling had went well. The little ones liked it. Stub and Kijo seemed happy. They shared their red berries with Dling and wiggled their noses crazily. The next session didn’t go as well. Kijo didn’t like Dling’s wiggling any more. She thought it wasn’t wiggling at all. She called it twitching. Stub had lost interest in wiggling and played with a young hare’s ears instead, who sighed nervously at being touched like that. Piff stayed in her corner. The next session was worse. Dling showed his nose wiggling to a young hare near Kigo, who then stamped her foot and jumped away. Piff sat in her corner, and Stub was gone. Dling jumped up the moraine and found Gigo looking over the glacier. Dling tried to explain his concerns to Gigo, but Gigo only wiggled his nose. He loved his view of the glacier and waited for a piece of ice to fall off. He was very happy when he did that. Dling told him about Piff and Kijo, and most of all Stub, but Gigo only watched the glacier, waiting for another piece to fall. Dling returned to find Piff, Kijo and Stub in a tight huddle. They broke apart, bits of sticky red flowers falling from their mouths. Piff’s paws shook badly as she explained that Dlng’s wiggling wasn’t wiggling but twitching and couldn’t be taught anymore. The little ones came to Dling the next day and asked to be taught how to wiggle their noses, which he did. And that’s when everything went very bad. Kijo bit him and Stub stomped on his tail. And Piff watched from her corner. Dling knew that he should leave but he liked the young ones. He decided to visit Gigo one more time.
Dling sat quietly by the rock. It was difficult to think. It wasn’t his brain so much as how he felt; he was confused. He didn’t understand why he was in this place, by this rock. It wasn’t a question of existence or anything like that, but more how everything had happened so fast. He tried to think back and remembered Gigo. Gigo had seemed like a nice hare, even if he was always wiggling his nose. Dling thought back to the huddle by the glacier and all of the little hares, or leverets as Poof called them. She was an old hare, and her paws shook. He remembered Kijo too and Stub; he shuddered thinking about them. And then the bird, its wings acres wide, its claws out, grabbing at him. Dling huddled up closer to the rock and closed his eyes to go through everything in his head, step by step.
He wiggled his nose to start. He was a good nose wiggler; he had taught others to wiggle their noses. He was liked for that. Dling was also a wanderer and was always getting lost until one day he was on an iceberg, looking over the Great Water and the approach of light. And then he found himself adrift and went further and further out until there was nothing but water and ice all around. He dug into the snow and found a mound of dirt and rocks with frozen grass and burrowed into that. He suddenly felt terribly alone.
There were many dreams after that – foxes with teeth in their paws, flocks of blue and green birds, whales with spikes on their heads. And then Gigo was there, wiggling his nose at Dling. They crawled off the iceberg onto land; Gigo wiggled his nose the whole time. He led Dling to a huddle of hares at the edge of the field of ice, where water ran over white and red berries with sticky branches. The biggest hare’s name was Poof; she wiggled her nose at Dling and pushed him a berry. Dling watched her paws shake as she got more of the berries and then introduced him to Stubs and Kijo. Stubs got very excited and wiggled his nose wildly; Kigo was small and had crossed-up eyes. Poof decided that they would teach the leverets Dling’s way of nose wiggling. They would all do that together.
Dling remembered this oddly, how they were so nice, so long ago, like it had never happened, like he was still on the iceberg, maybe even dead. But he wasn’t. He was by the rock. And he would have to think through what happened next if he would ever make sense of it. He would do that after he slept. He tried not to think about it. If he did that, he would never get his brain to slow down. He thought about the light on the water instead.