Despite vowing that I would write less this time since my writes are so long, I had also decided in advance to do a children’s story regardless of the prompt, to try another new genre. It ended up being the longest yet.
Prompt was: mixed emotions, from the Rolling Stones lyric “you’re not the only one with mixed emotions”.
Badger and Skunk sat on the grass and looked at the house. It wasn’t a big house. More like a cottage, with a thatched roof and a little garden with roses. The front door was bright yellow, and Badger and Skunk were looking at it now.
“Do you know who lives there?” said Badger.
“I do,” said Skunk, “I hear she comes outside sometimes.”
“We call her Food Lady,” said Badger, “because she brings food.”
“And you say she hasn’t been out lately?” Skunk asked. He was wearing his leather jacket, so it was hard to see him in the dark.
“No,” said Badger, tapping his claws nervously. “That’s why I asked you to come.”
Skunk had a reputation for helping when things were difficult. Among the animals, not everyone liked him. Some thought he was hard to work with.
“Who does she bring the food for?” asked Skunk.
“Well, it is supposed to be for her cat. But there is plenty left over for us.”
Skunk looked nervous. “Where is the cat?”
“Oh, don’t worry,” said Badger, “he sleeps all night. Not much like a cat at all, really.”
They were quiet for awhile. Then Skunk said, “Let’s look in the window.”
“I can’t get up to the window,” said Badger.
“No problem,” said Skunk, “I will climb onto the flower box.”
They cautiously approached the house, and crouched under the window. Skunk began to climb up slowly. An owl hooted, making Badger start.
“Can you see anything?” asked Badger.
“Yes, she’s there. But she doesn’t look well.”
“What do you mean?” asked Badger.
“Looks like she’s sick in bed.” Skunk had seen sick people before. They moved less. He liked it when people moved less.
“Oh, poor Food Lady,” said Badger. “That’s why she hasn’t come out to feed us.”
Skunk scampered down off the flower box. They crept back into the garden. They sat together and thought awhile.
“Perhaps we could do something for her,” said Badger.
Now doing things for people was not really Skunk’s sort of thing. People didn’t treat him very well. In fact, they tended to run away when they saw him.
But Badger looked very sad. Skunk thought maybe this was about more than food.
“What do you want to do?” said Skunk.
Badger thought a bit. “I’ve seen when people are sick, other people get them a cup of tea.”
“What’s tea?” said Skunk.
“It’s a drink with hot water. You put it in a cup and the sick person drinks it and feels better.”
Skunk looked at the door again. “Do you think it’s open?” he asked.
“Let’s try,” said Badger, and they carefully approached the door. The handle of the door was very high. Skunk tried but couldn’t reach.
“Let’s go round the back”, said Badger. Skunk wasn’t sure. Did he really want to help a person, when people treated him so badly? Was it worth all this trouble?
But Badger was sure, and was already headed into the back. Skunk followed.
The back door wasn’t open, but Skunk noticed a swinging door built into it. “That’s a door for the cat,” said Skunk, proud of his superior knowledge.
But Badger was ahead of him, going through the flap. He saw the cup already on the table, but wasn’t sure about what to do next.
“I’ve seen them boil water. You do it on the stove,” said Badger. He reached up, but his claws scraped the dial without turning it.
“I’ll do it”, said Skunk, and twisted the dial. It was the wrong dial. A flame went up on an empty burner, not the one under the kettle.
“Try again,” cried Badger, “or there will be a fire.” So Skunk turned it back and twisted another dial. This time the fire went on under the kettle.
“Now what?” said Skunk. He didn’t like that he didn’t know what to do. After all, he had been called in on this case. And he still wasn’t at all sure this was worth it just for a person.
Badger told Skunk what to do, so he got up on the counter, opened cupboards and looked at boxes.
“Which one?” Skunk asked. Badger thought a moment.
“Smell them,” Badger suggested, “Find one that smells like flowers or mint or something people like.”
“I have no idea what people like,” Skunk grumbled. He knocked a green box down to Badger.
“Yes, this is perfect!” said Badger. The kettle was making noise. “Oh dear,” said Badger, “we’ll both need to manage the kettle.” He began pushing a chair toward the counter so he could crawl up.
They carefully poured the hot water from the kettle. Skunk used his nimble paws to unwrap the tea bag and put it in the cup. They were very careful not to fill it too full, otherwise they couldn’t lift it down. As they passed it carefully, paw to paw to chair, paw to paw to down, Badger was very happy.
Skunk put the teacup on Badger’s back, and they set off down the hall.
The door to the room was open, and Food Lady was sleeping and sniffling at the same time. A low table was next to the bed. Skunk lifted the cup carefully and put it on the little table.
They sat for a minute, but they did not want to stay in the house. It felt so enclosed, so uncomfortable. What if someone else came in?
“People only like cats and dogs in houses,” said Skunk, “Can you wake her?”
Food Lady’s hand was hanging down outside the covers. Badger took his nose and nudged her hand. When they heard Food Lady snuffle and start moving, they ran. Back to the hall, down to the kitchen, and out the flap in the door. They ran all the way around the house and back to their spot on the lawn.
They saw the window, and the light was now on. Food Lady was sitting up. Now she was reaching for the tea, looking all around and smiling. She snuggled back down in bed, drinking the tea.
“Well,” said Skunk, “I guess that wasn’t so bad.”
“No,” said Badger, “it wasn’t.”