All Because of an Omelette
“Wake up, Jaypaw! Breakfast is ready, sleepyhead!”
At his sister’s voice, Jaypaw’s eyes snapped open on the pitch-dark void that always surrounded him. He groaned. “Coming, Breeze! Keep your fur on,” he yelled back downstairs grumpily.
Jaypaw stumbled out of bed and made his way down the short stairway. The tips of his Starry Techo fingers brushed the railing; even after almost a year in their Shenkuu Neohome, he still wasn’t used to the stairs enough to not use the rail.
When he shuffled sleepily into the kitchen, the first thing he asked was, “What’s for—”
It was supposed to be “What’s for breakfast”, but his sister answered before he could finish. “Breakfast is Bacon Omelette and Jelly Cereal,” Breeze said cheerily.
Jaypaw glared at her with his sightless blue eyes. “Why do you always have to do that?!” he complained. “It creeps me out!”
Whispered_Breezes, or Breeze, as everyone called her, grinned at him. “You know you just hate it because you do it all the time too,” she teased. “Besides, it’s the first thing you ask every morning!” Jaypaw threw a wordless snarl at her over his shoulder. The blind Techo found his chair at the kitchen table and plopped down in it.
Breeze brought over the food, the omelette steaming hot. Before Breeze could warn Jaypaw the plate was really hot, he grabbed it from her. “YEEAOW!!!” Instantly the Techo dropped the plate, clutching his hand. The plate clattered to the floor; the omelette landed with a flop.
Right at that moment, Jaypaw’s and Breeze’s younger brother, Pantherstep, skipped in with his Dandan, Pokkoli. He took in the scene with wide eyes: the chipped plastic plate, the dirty omelette, Breeze staring at the new mess to clean up, and Jaypaw sucking his hurt fingers with a furious look on his face. Pantherstep, being the inquisitive baby Lupe that he was, and not much one for telling when it was and wasn’t a good time to talk to his brother, padded over to investigate. Pokkoli leaped onto the fallen omelette and began munching on it.
“Jaypaw? What happened? Why are you sucking your hand?” the little Lupe asked innocently. This, of course, was the last straw for the already-furious Techo. He shouted at his little brother, “The darned plate was too hot and I grabbed it and Breeze didn’t tell me it was hot and I dropped it and it broke and the omelette fell onto the floor and I’M SICK OF ALL OF YOU!!!” Poor Pantherstep looked bewildered. Jaypaw felt the hurt flooding from him, but was too angry to care. Just then, the situation got even worse: their owner, Rain, had heard the commotion from where she was sitting in the garden and poked her head in to see what was wrong.
“Jaypaw?” Rain said quietly. It was more of a statement than a question. Without saying a word, Jaypaw whipped around and stormed out the side door. He raced out into the woods surrounding their Neohome; this was the place he had first learned to navigate when his family moved to Shenkuu. He ran through the forest, expertly dodging the trees and swerving around brambles. This was his and his brother’s place; he knew every tree, every stream, every Snowbunny hole. Finally he stopped when he heard the close-by roaring of a waterfall.
Walking slowly, Jaypaw caught his breath. The pounding of the waterfall grew closer. The air felt cooler, a fine mist from the falls soothing on his sweaty skin. The blind Techo came to a river and soaked his burned hand for a few moments, then headed upstream until all he could hear was the roar of the waterfall. He took a moment to figure his exact position. Then he sought out the narrow path along the mountain beside the waterfall and stepped quickly up it with the ease of long practice. A moment later he was behind the falls, in a medium-sized cave.
“Eagle?” he called. “Eagle, you in here?”
“Yes,” came the answer, after a moment. “Jaypaw, what’s wrong?” The voice grew louder, and then fur brushed against Jaypaw’s arm. It was Eagle_On_Wind, or Eagle, Jaypaw’s brother. Eagle was closer in age to Jaypaw than Pantherstep, but he was younger than Breeze. Jaypaw was the oldest in the family, besides Rain.
“Come on, Jaypaw, come sit on the bed in the observatory,” Eagle urged him, gently pulling on his brother’s arm. Jaypaw followed gratefully; he and Eagle were closer than most brothers, and he could always count on his brother for understanding and sensible advice.
Jaypaw came to an enormous cavern far from the entrance of the cave. There was a large hole in the ceiling at one side of the cavern, but it was covered for the time being. This was the two brothers’ observatory. On clear nights, they often came here to chart the stars and look for constellations. Both Jaypaw and Eagle were Starry, since they loved stargazing so much. Eagle led Jaypaw to a large bed at the other side of the cavern, turning on a few lights for himself. “Now,” Eagle said after they had both sat down, “tell me what’s wrong.”
Eagle was silent for a moment after Jaypaw had recounted this morning’s incident. “You shouldn’t have done that,” the Starry Xweetok said after a while, “yelled at Pantherstep, I mean. He looks up to you, you know. He thinks the world of you, even though you ignore him a lot. It sounds like you really hurt him.”
Jaypaw sighed. “I know all that, Eagle, it’s just that he made me so mad!”
Eagle shushed him. “Did he? Or were you mad at yourself that he should see his big brother mess up like that?”
That gave Jaypaw pause. He thought a moment, then stood. “You’re right, Eagle. I’m going back there and apologizing.”
* * *
Jaypaw rolled out of bed. “Coming!” he called. He raced down the stairs, more confident now after a week of rigorous stair-climbing in an effort to navigate them better. Jaypaw flopped into the kitchen where Breeze was already serving breakfast to Pantherstep and Eagle; Jaypaw could hear the dishes on the table. “What’s for breakfast?” he asked cheerily.
Jaypaw felt Breeze’s and Pantherstep’s astonished stare. Only Eagle seemed unsurprised. “What?” Jaypaw demanded. “Do I have drool on my face or something?”
“N-no,” Breeze stammered. “But why... why are you so happy? Why are you being so nice?”
The truth was, Jaypaw had secretly resolved to be kinder to his siblings, especially Pantherstep. Lately he had been taking the baby Lupe to the park near their Neohome, buying balloons for him, and play-wrestling with him. “Haven’t you all noticed?” Jaypaw asked, laughing. “I made a very late New Year’s Resolution: be nicer to my family!”
“You know, I have noticed you’ve not been complaining about breakfast lately,” said Breeze thoughtfully. “And you’ve done lots of stuff for Pantherstep.”
“Yeah, like playing with me and helping me with my plushie collecting and stuff!” yipped Pantherstep.
Jaypaw followed the Lupe’s voice and tousled his fur when he reached his brother. “Yeah, stuff like that,” he said.
When Rain came in a few minutes later, she found all three brothers eating peacefully, with Breeze humming at the stove, already beginning to cook lunch. Rain blinked a few times, then shook her head. “Wow!” she said. “You’re all so... peaceful!”
“Yeah!” Jaypaw told her happily. “And it’s nice! Why didn’t anyone tell me how awesome this was before?”
Pantherstep giggled, “Because you would never have listened, doofus!” Jaypaw growled and tackled his brother off his chair, but it was out of play, not anger. As the Techo pretended to gasp from pain and surrender to Pantherstep, he felt genuinely happy. He couldn’t believe he was actually liking his brother now! And all because of an omelette.