Jens sometimes forgets the name of the city. It's just another place of stone and metal built by the humans. And sometimes he forgets he is Jens. It's not his real name after all. That is a secret. He has lived in cities most of his life but he hates them more and more each day. But the humans will put their ugly concrete buildings everywhere someday and cities are as good a place to hide in shadows as any other.
Today Jens is begging. He is neither proud nor ashamed of this. It is hard to find a job without proper identification and government aid is out of the question without even a birth certificate. It's important to find the right place. Somewhere where the police won't pass by too often, but somewhere wealthy humans walk with money in their pockets.
He often goes days without eating, and even though he needs less food than a human he's become quite thin, enough so that some people do feel sorry for him and give him coins. It's not much but it's enough for a bit of fruit. Jens doesn't eat bread. Bread is for humans and it does not nourish him or his siblings.
The coins are shiny and Jens likes them better than fruit, but he needs to eat.
About an hour after he sets out his blanket and cup he sees two young humans who are wearing black leather and look angry. He doesn't know what the symbols on their clothes mean but he is certain these men have bad intent. Before he can get away they stand on either side of him and bark questions at him. One of them asks if he is a foreigner. He is not, of course; his people were here long before the humans, but he can't tell them that. And it doesn't matter. No answer is good enough to satisfy men like this.
They begin to laugh. One hits him in the face and the other kicks his side. For a split second Jens worries that he is going to be killed right here, and end up buried in the middle of these damn cities and not in the place his people hold sacred. But then he hears someone shout and the youths run off, leaving Jens clutching his side and bleeding from his nose.
Two women run up to him. One of them is speaking into a phone, and Jens shouts incoherently at her. He does not want the police, and he cannot go to the hospital. They might test his blood, and they will see the place where his tail was cut off. The women are frightened now, but he thanks them in his hesitant speech and stumbles away. No one follows him and he reaches home. Home for now is an office in an abandoned building. One of his brothers has a gift with steel and opened the locks. They live without much light, not wanting to attract any attention.
His brothers are both there and they give cries of dismay when they see him. They bring him inside and wipe the blood from his face. His older brother helps him to lie down on one of the mattresses, and his younger brother feeds him honey from a jar. Honey makes his people sleepy and sometimes cuts the edge off the sadness. They surround him with the few trinkets they have not been forced to sell for food. Before he falls asleep he hears his older brother playing music and he dreams of the home he left when he was very small.
When he wakes up, he realizes he left the money behind. He will have to go out again today. Perhaps humans will take pity on him when they see the bruises on his face.
On his way out the door, his older brother smiles at him gently and presents him with the violin. They all enjoy playing but Jens is the one who has the gift. It is a human instrument but not so different from their own, and music is music. Usually Jens refuses to use his gift to earn pity and money, but today he takes the violin gladly.
He stands on the corner, drawing the bow across the strings and playing an ancient song, from the days when his people danced in revels he has never seen. He sees not streets and buildings but a forest, lit up with torches and filled with the cries of the old peoples of the land. He is surrounded by those who love him, and by all the shining silver he has ever dreamed of.
Jens stands tall and plays proudly. The humans don't know the meaning of the music he plays but he knows they recognize the passion, and the sadness for what has been lost. He earns many coins that day, and he doesn't stop playing, even though when he opens his eyes he is still far from home.