An Evening to Remember
The day had been spent and the evening shadows were stretching themselves across the land of Calico. The sun had done her task for the day and was retiring from her daylight shift so that her brother moon's nightly watch could begin. Silently the celestial pair passed one another, one to bed, the other to rise as the shimmering moon heralded the night ushering it forth to blanket the land.
The "closed" sign rested on the doors of the Sweet Shoppe and all the visiting patrons had departed, leaving the girls to clean up the shop in their wake. But, it was light work, moping this and washing that and in no time, they knew that their store would be cleaned. What was more, it was Friday which meant that the shop would be closed to following pair of days. Very few shops in Catriona were open on the weekends. Weekends were times that were to be enjoyed with family and friends. Only necessary establishments, hospitals, emergency rescue facilities, certain bathhouses and a scattered other businesses remained open at this time, but the Sweet Shoppe was not one of them, much to the delight of the staff who chattered away endlessly as they went about their tasks.
Amber had joined the girls tonight as her sister was going to be working a bit later than usual. Normally Sweetheart opened the store while Plum closed it. It was easier this way for both females. Sweetheart had only her sister to help aid in getting ready for school while Plum had a small tribe of younger siblings to make ready for the day and though she had able bodied brothers, they were no use to her or anyone in the small morning hours. But, they were helpful in getting the kittens ready to end the day which made closing the store a task for her to handle while she entrusted the care of her younger siblings to the capable hands of her littermates. Tonight, however, both managers were at the store. Plum was organizing in the kitchen while Sweetheart handled middle year paperwork. It was never a fun task, but it was a task that needed carrying out, nonetheless.
Yet, Amber always got a little anxious when her sister returned home late from work or when she wouldn't return home at all on those evenings when she and Boomer would find themselves sharing each other's company only to lose the time in one another's tender embraces. Amber remembered well the day that her family was shattered by the mercilessness of nature and always feared that some force would move in again to take those who had once escaped the wrath of nature's fury, her sister or father or worse, both, away from her. It was a terrifying thought, one that often kept the sunny kitten awake at night, or which would lead her to her sister's bed where she knew she was safe from all the bad things in the world.
Sweetheart had long since realized her sister's fears and made efforts to help assuage them. She would read to her at night before she went to bed so her voice was the last thing her sister would hear before surrendering to slumber. She and Boomer made great efforts to end their dates before the night was too long or would at least call home when it was late to let her know that she was alright. But, when Sweetheart knew she was going to have a late night at work, she would simply bring her younger sibling along with her to help pass the time for them both.
Amber always loved working with her sister and the other girls and even had a little shop uniform to wear when she was helping out. It made her feel as though she were a part of a team who valued her help and gave her a greater sense of purpose in her tiny world.
"Hey, Amber, wanna help me sweep?" Candy asked of the tiniest worker.
"Okay!" the girl cheered, dashing over to where the pink cat had a pile of debris ready for the rubbish bin, if only she could get it off the ground. In truth, Candy could have carried out the chore on her own, but the way Amber beamed whenever she was asked to help with any little thing made all the difference. "Do you want me to hold the dust thing?" she asked, eagerly.
"Yup. If you can hold it steady, I can sweep this trash in and the floor will be ready for moping."
"I can do that!" she sang, dashing off to fetch the dustpan.
Candy chuckled to herself as she watched the girl run off. "Hey, Tange, what are we doing tomorrow?" she asked as she folded her hands atop the broom handle and lazily leaned against it.
Tange, who was busy wiping tables, looked up when her friend beckoned her. "Well, about that, I was thinking that we could go to the beach."
I guess I could go for that." Candy agreed. "They just put up a new volleyball net and-"
"Oooooh no!" Tange interjected. "We are not going out to a perfectly serviceable beach just to sit under a hot sun smacking a giant ball around in the scorching hot sand! If we are going to the beach we are getting in the water!"
"Ugh!" Candy groaned, righting herself up as Amber appeared with the dustpan. "You can go splash around in the water if you want, but I'll just watch from the sand where it's dry."
"How can you say that?" Tange asked, formally abandoning her efforts in cleaning to direct her attention to her water wary companion. "Of all people I'd think that you would just love swimming!"
"I would love swimming if you didn't have to get wet to do it." she remarked as she swept the rubbish into the pan.
"Me too! I don't like getting wet." Amber chimed in. "I only like getting wet when I take a bath because I'm gonna be dry again real soon."
"SEE!?" Candy chirped. "Amber knows what I mean. Besides, I have a giant mop of hair on my head. When it gets wet, it gets heavy and when it's heavy it's even longer than it is now and I don't want to go tripping over my hair when I could be spiking a ball clear over a net under the blazing sun.
and anyway, I'm a cat. I don't have to like water!"
"WHAT!?" Tange exclaimed. "Where did you get a nut-brained idea like that? I like water and I'm a cat, so what does that make me?" she challenged.
"WEIRD! That's what it makes you!" Candy teased.
hey, wait! Mint, didn't you once say that you liked water?" she asked.
Mint, who was busy cleaning blender pitchers beyond the handoff counter, looked up with a smile as she said, "Indeed I love to swim. We had a garden pool that I would swim in for hours when I lived in Kitwa." she said, as the memory of those times lightened her heart. "When I am swimming, I feel like I am in a secret world that only I know. I think and wonder and dream when the waters hold me in their sway. I can forget any trouble that I may have and exist just in that moment when the water surrounds me. I can be wherever I want to be and see farther than I ever could when all I see around me is a hidden world of blue."
wooow." both Candy and Amber breathed as they listened to Mint's dulcet voice reciting her tale of a secret romance with an aqueous lover. Their chores, like Tange's had all but been forgotten as they enjoyed the rhapsody of the cool green cat's song of remembrance.
"Still think me weird?" Tange sighed, perched upon a nearby tabletop.
"Maybe not so much
" she admitted, taking her friend's lead and settling upon an adjacent table. With a child's urgency, Amber scampered up the rosy cat's legs to nestle upon her lap as the conversation continued. "Hey, Mint, why did you move to Calico?" Candy asked.
"Eh?" she gasped, surprised by the sudden change in question. "I
" she started to say
tried to say, but an explanation for a past she could not convey eluded her. "I just wanted to see what Calico was like. I had never been away from Kitwa before and after talking with Meelah, we both agreed to come to Calico to see more of the world."
"Well, now is a good time." Tange said. "With our second prince and your third princess engaged to marry, I bet travel between Calico and Kitwa will be booming. There will be lots of Kitwanese around here, soon enough, so you'll have little reminders of home all around you to help make Calico feel more like home for you."
"Ah, right." Mint replied, forcing an elegant smile to her visage. Hoping to retire the present subject and restore the former, she spoke again. "Sugar, what about you? Do you like the water?" she asked of the girl who, in that moment, was standing nearby counting the money in her register.
Sugar looked up when Mint spoke her name, a little surprised to see that everyone had given up their tasks in favor of conversing. It was the way of things at the shop, so much in fact that it really shouldn't have surprised her in the least that work had ceased. Yet, every time, she found herself giving a little start when she realized that the girls had thrown responsibility to the wind and simply enjoyed the pleasure of each other's company.
which wasn't to say that she didn't enjoy it herself.
"Well, I do like water." Sugar said. "Swimming is fun and a good source of exercise, especially when it's hot. But, I really love water best when it's not water at all."
"'Not water at all'?" Amber asked. "I don't get it."
"She means when water is not wet and watery," Tange explained, "but when it's cold and hard. In other words, when water is ice."
"Ooooh!" the girl cooed. "I like ice, too. It's really, really good when ice is ice cream!" she sang.
The girls chuckled. "Oh, not that kind of ice, Amber." Sugar corrected. "I mean like ice and snow. I love snow." she cooed.
"Snow?" Candy mused. "Where on Calico do you find snow?"
"No where on Calico." Tange informed her. "Except for the high mountains of Kita and Caton, Catriona doesn't see snow."
"I bet Sugar found snow." Amber beamed. "Did you find snow on Calico?" she asked, hopefully.
She actually wished that she could have said yes, if only for Amber's sake. "I'm sorry, Amber, but Tange is right, there's no snow here on Calico, but there is a place where there's so much snow that when you step out of your house, all you can see is white all around you. And the trees are so lovely with snow covered branches. They look just like forest cakes with vanilla frosting." she giggled.
Tange gasped. "Sugar, you don't mean
The azure girl sighed, wistfully. "
Adohi." she cooed, whispering the word as though it were somehow holy or worthy of reverence.
"WOW!" Candy exclaimed. "You've been to Adohi?"
"What's it like?" Tange cried.
"Are the people REALLY as big as they say they are?" Candy wanted to know.
"Did you see any wolves?" Tange needed to know.
"Were there any other cats?"
"What's Adohi?" a small voice asked. Just as soon as the tiny question was asked, all eyes fell on Amber, the little sprite who presented it.
A bit overwhelmed by the barrage of questions, Sugar was grateful for Amber's attention grabbing query which silenced further questions, for the moment. "Adohi is the continent just north of here." she explained. "It's the second largest continent
on all of Okanu. Only Panthros is larger."
"Oooh. Is it bigger than Calico?" the girl mused.
"Much, MUCH bigger."
"Wow!" she breathed, her small voice filled with awe.
"Yes, it's an amazing place. Daddy and Mummy take my sisters and brother and me up to Adohi every summer to enjoy the snow."
"But, doesn't snow melt when it's hot?" Amber asked, innocently.
"Yes, but when it's summer here, it's winter, there. Adohi has twice as many seasons as we do, but they're flipped and go opposite of ours. So when it's hot and dry here, it's cold and snowy there."
"Oh." the girl chirped. "What do you do there?"
"Well, we go up there for about a week and then come back home. While we're there ee go skiing and sledding and all sorts of things. But, what really strikes my fancy is ice skating."
"Ice skating is when they put these little shoes on your feet that have long pieces of metal on the bottoms of them so that when you stand on ice, you can glide across it
just like as if you were flying. That's what it feels like." she sighed, resting her elbows on the countertop with her chin nestled upon her upturned palms. "It's such an amazing feeling. I can't imagine anything else more incredible."
"I'm sure there's at least ONE sensation more incredible." Tange said, suggestively. Yet, although Mint understood the direction in which the orange tabby spoke, the remaining three offered a collective, "What?" displaying their ignorance on the matter. "Never mind." she said. "Anyway, what are the people like, Sugar? And did you see any wolves?"
"What's with you and wolves?" Candy asked, brow quirked.
"I just heard that they have amazing voices and when they sing, you can't help but stop and listen and be lost in their song. It's rumored to be just the most enchanting sound you'll ever behold!" she breathed, longingly.
Sugar joined in her contrarily colored companion's sigh, very nearly melting into the countertop. "Oh, Tange, it is, it really is." she breathed.
Excitedly, Tange leapt from her perch upon the table and bounded over to where Sugar was merged with the counter. "What did they sing? Do you remember the words?" she asked, her normal reserved composure all but gone as anticipation shattered its residence.
"There were no words." Sugar, still one with the counter, sighed. "There was only song and melody and
it was so amazing
" she breathed.
"Ooooh." Tange cooed, melting into the counter beside Sugar who euphorically rested upon its span.
Candy groaned, inwardly. It was no secret that Tange and Sugar were art appreciators and in that space, music held their highest esteem. But, Candy wasn't as fond of the arts as they. Although she did enjoy a rocking beat blasting across the radio, she just couldn't turn to mush the way the complimentary pair seemed to whenever talk of music arose. "Say, Sugar, was the wolf as tall as they're all rumored to be? I mean, did you have to bend your neck backward to look at him?"
"Hmm?" Sugar murmured, slowly returning to the present. "Oh
oh!" she exclaimed, fully coherent, once more. "No, he was
I mean yes, he was
" she stammered. She took a moment to take a deep, steadying breath as she found herself and her thoughts. "No, they're not all as tall as people make them out to be, but yes, some of them are very tall."
"How tall?" Amber asked.
"And which some?" Candy added.
"Well, the really tall ones are not as tall as the trees like some people think, but there are some that are only as tall as we are. For example, there was a very nice fox that I met, once, who taught me how to skate when I started learning not too long ago. But, he wasn't quite as tall as even Daddy is. But, there are some that are much bigger than any of us, like the wolf who sang for us. He was very tall. With him, I actually did have to bend my neck back a bit to see all of him."
"He was that big?" Amber asked.
"Oh yes, he was."
he wasn't bigger than Boomer, right?" a hint of trepidation tingeing her voice. "No one was bigger than Boomer, right?" she asked, cuddling a little closer to Candy as the thought of something or someone even bigger than her sister's lover loomed inside her head.
"Actually, there are lots of people bigger than me, Amber." a deep, masculine voice announced, drawing everyone's attention to the side door of the shop where Boomer's impressive form filled the frame. "Just not that many here on Catriona."