Stand behind yer sheriff Circulation: 176,283,343 Issue: 343 | 16th day of Hunting, Y10
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Calm After the Storm

by cdong27


Anna carefully patted in the finishing touches, then stepped back to admire her work. Her sculpture was perfect; two long, sandy ears trailed out behind a smiling, beaming face, four delicate paws supported a life-size body of an Acara. An Acara, just like Anna... except that she was green and the sculpture was sand. Anna took a few more steps back to the edge of the toy sandbox and gave a bright, wide smile, matching the one on her masterpiece. It had taken her a while to complete (all morning, in fact), but with the bright, early sun and sweet-smelling spring flowers cheering her on, she had finally finished. Nothing could ruin her joy, nothing except...

      “Hey Anna, catch!”

      A frisbee went in a wild arc over the Acara’s head, and kept going lower, and lower, and lower, until...



      The frisbee was barely visible under a vast pile of sand that no longer bore any resemblance of the Acara sculpture it had once been.

      “Dan! Now look what you did! I spent all day making that and you ruined it! YOU RUINED IT!”

      A yellow Bori slowly backed away as his infuriated sister ranted on and on.

      “Um, Anna... I said ‘catch’, I didn’t mean to... to ruin your work. There’s still time to build a... a new...”

      The Acara cast him a cold glare, and he quickly swallowed the “one” and darted into the neohome as if his life depended on it (in fact, it DID depend on it, in a sense, since the Acara was so angry).

      Anna glared venomously at her younger brother until he was out of sight. Then she collapsed to the ground, and sobbed softly over the lost masterpiece.

      * * *

      The family had a quiet, tense lunch of chili and cheese hotdogs. The owner, Carrie, constantly gave quick glances at her two pets; her Bori was staring at the ground, hotdog forgotten, trying in vain to become invisible to his sister’s stare. Her Acara had ignored her hotdog completely (which was odd; she usually loved hotdogs and ate them like there was no tomorrow), and was quietly seething, her red eyes glaring at anything that twitched; her owner, her brother, even her petpet angelpuss, who currently hid cowering under the bed in the Acara’s room, barricaded underneath by numerous toys and plushies from various rooms (in case the Acara were to vent her anger on the poor petpet).

      Carrie finally slammed the table causing both pets to jump. “Anna, I’m tired of your attitude today and your behavior to your brother is unacceptable. You’re being mean to your brother and are giving all of us bad appetites.” Carrie took a deep breath before continuing, but Anna cut her off.

      “Well, it’s NOT MY FAULT! He started it!” the Acara shrieked as she stood on her chair and pointed at the Bori across the table, her finger inches from his nose. Dan fidgeted.

      “Um... well, I said I was sorry...”

      “Anna, Dan’s apologized over breaking your work already, so you should too...”

      “Fine!” Anna’s shout caused everyone to jump. She leaped off her chair, knocking it over. “It’s obvious you like him better than me! You’re always crooning over him and taking his side, ever since you created him! So just... just... just LEAVE ME ALONE!” At these words, tears began to well up and spill out of her eyes, and she dashed out of the room to hide her tears.

      Carrie stared after her. “Oh Anna...” she sighed, then turned back and resumed eating her lunch half-heartedly. Dan still glued his gaze to the floorboards, feeling very sorry for himself and his sister...

      * * *

      Anna withdrew to the living room couch by the window that faced the street, her chin resting in her paws, kneeling on the soft pillows as she numbly watched the endless pellets of water dive-bomb from the sky, fiercely attacking the dozens of innocent pebbles and flowers that lay unprotected from the storm. There was another window facing the backyard too, but she couldn’t bear to see the sandbox after what had happened. Neighbors who had gone for a morning stroll how raced back toward the safety and shelter of their homes, their soggy clothes clinging to their wet fur.

      Anna made a mental note to herself never to trust the weatherman, who had said there would be “clear skies and sun” all day long. She stared glumly out the window, blinking as occasional droplets splattered on the glass. Well, my sculpture would have melted anyway in this rain, she thought with a start. The Acara’s angelpuss slowly crept into the room, hoping for a pat on the head and a treat from its owner. Unfortunately, it stepped on a stray toy and fell with a *thud*. Anna whirled around to face the intruder and growled. At this moment, a sudden flash of lightning lit up the window and room, creating an eerie look on the inhabitants. The angelpuss yowled and scampered hurriedly out of the hostile room to the safety of the Acara’s bed.

      Anna realized what had happened once the light faded and she could see properly, but didn’t bother to call her petpet back and calm it. She was too caught up with her anger and sadness, and instead let the steady pitter-patter on the roof gently lull her to sleep.

      * * *

      The rain slowly faded away until all that was left was complete silence. No wind blew, no birds chirped, not even the normal daily bickering could be heard through the stillness. Anna jerked awake from the sudden lack of sound, her fur bristling and her body tense, for some reason. She ran to the kitchen to find the problem, but all that was out of ordinary was a pile of unwashed, dirty dishes and an open closet door. Her brother’s room was carpeted with mounds of toys and plushies steaming out of his old, overstuffed closet, but was utterly lifeless. So were her room and her mom’s. Even her angelpuss was missing. Out of desperation she even checked the basement, hoping it was just a joke or to find a clue, but all she got was a paw full of spyderwebs and a stubbed toe.

      Outside, all was still, and the air was thick with fog, as if the weather was deciding if it should rain some more or move on. Anna was filled with worry over her missing family and almost choked on the silence, missing the rowdiness and noise from her brother she was so used to.

      As if on cue, Dan appeared beside her from the mist, still looking at the ground, and said, “Anna, I’m really sorry about your work. Can you forgive me?”

      The Acara smiled and jumped on the Bori, hugging him tightly. “I forgive you,” she whispered as tears began to come back, “and I’m sorry about being mean back then. Can you forgive me?”

     Dan finally looked up into her eyes and smiled back. “Already forgiven.”

     The fog wavered slightly, then dispersed as the sun broke through and shone brightly, dazzling the children with arrays of light among the wet grass and trees. Many newly washed and rounded pebbles glistened, shimmering by the stone steppes leading to the back, which led to more flowers, birds, and...

      “Mom!” Anna dashed across the wet lawn, regardless of the droplets collecting on her fur, and squeezed her owner around the neck. Carrie squeezed back and kissed her forehead. The angelpuss was there as well, purring happily and rubbing its head against the Acara’s cheek, as Dan came in to join the hug.

      After another moment, they broke apart. “Anna,” Carrie began, “sweetie, we didn’t know how much that sculpture meant to you. We’re all sorry.” Carrie paused to wipe her eye; Anna noticed they were red from crying. “And I’m really, really sorry, dear,” Carrie continued, looking her pet deep in the eye, “I should have noticed that you didn’t get enough attention. I’ll try to do better later on. Ok?” Anna nodded, not trusting herself to speak.

      Carrie smiled and stood up, turning and gesturing to the sandbox, which was wet but not completely soaked like everything else. The sand was clumped and patted together clumsily into the vaguest shapes of an Acara, a Bori, and a human. A pile of sand lay at the sand Acara’s feet. “Angie made that one over there,” said Dan, gesturing at the sand pile. The angelpuss meowed at the sound of its name and cuddled against the Acara.

      “We all chipped in to make, well, you,” Carrie said hesitantly. Turning around, Anna saw that her brother and owner stood rather nervously. After an awkward pause, Anna said, “Well, I don’t know what to say. It’s really... well...”

      “It’s really bad, isn’t it,” the Bori stated anxiously. Dan fidgeted again, while Carrie looked like she was going to cry.

      “NO! No, it’s great! I love it,” Anna said hastily, hoping she sounded sincere.

      Carrie gave her a small smile. “Well, Anna, it seems like sand sculpting’s a lot harder than it looks. I wonder if I should enroll you into that art class in neoschool...” Anna grinned to herself. She had always wanted to go to Mr. Lupid’s class. Dan gave her a playful grin before discussing the “pros and cons” of art class with his owner.

      Anna smiled happily and closed her eyes, relaxing and letting the events sink in. Her fur was slightly damp, but she didn’t mind. She took a deep breath, and the fresh scent of earth and pollen filled her nose. A warm breeze blew by, playing with her fur and tickling her ears. If she had looked up at that moment, she would have seen a brilliant rainbow appear in the sky, lacing the white, puffy clouds with streaks of vibrant colors. The storm had passed, and now there was peace.

      Anna slowly opened her eyes, a mischievous gleam appearing, though it went unnoticed by the Bori and owner. Now that there was peace, they should enjoy themselves, right? Anna bravely strolled over to her family, angelpuss purring contently by her side, and gently tapped her brother on the shoulder.

      “Wanna play frisbee?”

The End

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