Shokshok and the Brown Airax
Once there was a red Peophin. All her life she felt that her red color was an embarrassment. She had difficulty making friends because other Peophins would glance at her judgingly for her bright color. Some of the more insensitive ones would taunt her "Hey, Tomato!" "Are you part Crabula by any chance?"
Among the blue blue sea and blue green Peophins, the red Peophin stood out like a sore thumb.
As Shokshok grew older she became accustomed to living in deeper and deeper depths of the sea, where the light was so sparse she would look no more than a dark shadow amongst the eternal black water. Such days passed insipidly, but it was much better than the taunting she feared that she would have to endure in the bright daylight.
One day a heavy storm raged a crossed the ocean. The sky was enshrouded with thick black clouds day and night, and while the other Peophins swam back into their underwater coves for safety from the raging sea, Shokshok eagerly swam up to welcome the dark surface. Breaking the water, Shokshok felt the black clouds pour down sheets and sheets of rain. She ducked under every wave that came crashing down on her, but for the first time she also felt a thrill in contrast to the dull life she had made for herself before. "Hey Tomato, is that you?" a handsome Peophin shouted at her. "You look like you're having fun! Wanna chat? Whoooooooo!" but saying that, the handsome young Peophin surfed against the waves and disappeared, much to Shokshok's relief.
Shokshok hadn't noticed the storm growing stronger winds, and with that another huge wave crashed into her, this time against a rock and she was knocked unconscious.
Shokshok woke up confused and blinded by the glittering sun. "Ouch..." She could feel the sting from the salt water against the big purple bump on her head. She felt the firm white sand underneath her legs that could barely support her latter half of the body without the buoyancy of the dense salt water. She could barely keep her eyes open in the bright daylight since they had been adjusted to the murky depths of the sea. Blinded and immobile from the sunlight that reflected off the white sheet of sand all around her, she felt herself in the depths of despair. But she resolved to at least adjust her eyes to the light.
At sundown she could finally keep her eyes completely open, and she saw that the crystal-like sand had created cracks under the heat and clung to her skin like brittle glue. With an effort she raised her eyes towards the horizon but could see no water or no ocean no matter how hard she squinted. She was utterly lost. How far away was her home? She could not feel that she would last much longer without water, the dry air she breathed in hurt her, and she already felt her skin crackling under the morning sun. She dismayed at the thought of another long day without the strength to move forward.
"SQUAAAAAACK!" a hard thunder-like shriek cut through the air.
Startled, the Peophin looked up towards the foreign noise. A brown Airax had just fluttered towards the white sand, a couple steps away from her.
"I've never seen your kind around here," said the Airax, its beady black eyes were curiously staring at the Peophin from behind a huge nose-like beak.
"How did you find me?" Shokshok managed a croak, each breath of word sending a sharp pain against her throat.
"With that bright color of yours I could spot you from past over the horizon!"
For the first time in her life the Peophin never felt so grateful for the color she felt her entire life was an embarrassment.
With an immense sense of relief, Shokshok slowly spent the entire afternoon telling the curious bird her story.
"Well, hm. I think I know what it is that can save you." And with that, the Airax flew away into the still night, reassuring her that it was going to be right back. The Peophin could still hear the beat of its wings flap into the distance, even if its small size made it completely lost in the dark to see.
The Peophin slowly waited a full day, and another. She passed her time by taking long naps throughout the day, partially to save her energy, partially to forget the boredom, and partially to forget the pain of the unforgiving sun.
"Here!" The Airax landed in front of her, catching her in the middle of one of her naps.
The Peophin woke up and saw that it was proudly carrying a large stick with a blue and yellow glob at its bristly end in its beak.
Shokshok was dismayed. She had expected some sort of moving device, a swimming pool with rollers underneath, water, at the very least food from the Airax.
"How is that supposed to help me?" she asked in the most polite tone possible while trying to hide her disappointment.
The Airax was sharp enough to sense her disappointment. "Ugh, I know what you're thinking--just hold still for a second."
Saying that, the Airax flew over to the spine of the Peophin and let the globby end slide down her back. The immediate cool and moisture revived the Peophin like no other salt water cool she felt in her life. She immediately imagined herself back in the ocean with the waves calmly lapping at her sides. She felt her legs growing stronger and her tail felt light enough to carry itself like she was back under the--what? Shokshok turned around: her tail was no longer the brilliant red that she had tried for so long to hide. Instead it was a sandy dark brown with golden bangles, and a thin gauzy cloth flowed down from her jeweled neck. Her mane was no longer a wavy blue that looked almost transparent against the color of the sea. Instead it was a heavy dark brown that was braided into the most refined porcelain beads.
Shokshok couldn't contain her surprise.
"What is this? I thought you were giving me moisture cream massage!!"
"Hah! That's the first time I heard that one. But I hope you feel much better now. I had that paint brush lying around but it was no good for me. I'm glad I finally found a use for it! " the Airax explained in a chatter. "Otherwise I would've just left it by my nest. I collect shiny things, it's a hobby you know. Anyhoo, there's a slight alteration to your look! But I hope you don't mind. It was a life or death matter since it didn't seem like your skin took the heat so well."
Shokshok, the desert Peophin, was at loss for words. "Thanks." And a large grumble followed her words.
"Oh! You hungry?" the Airax asked.
"Yeah, a little..."
"How long was it since your last meal? Forgot to eat cuz you were so excited for my return?" it winked.
"W-what? No. But seriously, I think it's been at least five days..."
"Yeah.. It's only sand here. How could I've found anything to eat?"
The Airax rolled its tiny beady eyes. "Ugh, now I look stupid, thinking that all you had was a skin problem..."
"I don't have a skin problem!" protested the Peophin.
"So are you telling me that the red wasn't actually a first-degree sunburn?"
"No! I've always been that color! Even under the waves!"
"Look closer, there, five feet in front of you," said the Airax.
Shokshok stared at the mound of sand in front of her.
"Um, I only see sand."
"Ugh, silly." The Airax flew over to where it had been pointing to and picked up with its beak from what at first just looked like a clumped ball of sand, but like a necklace made out of sand, formed a string of balls and balls of tightly compacted sand.
"Here. Sand Grapes," the Airax explained. "Oh hey, right underneath you, a Sand Pita!" The Airax glanced towards the Peophin and couldn't contain its excitement. "And what's that, a Sand-y Pita? Oh my god, those are so difficult to get across sometimes, today must be my lucky day."
"Um, I don't think I know your name yet..."
"I'm Ayadori! What's yours?"
"Nice meeting you, Shokshok."
"Yeah, thanks for saving my life!"
"Oh please, that was nothing. You're so silly sometimes. Anytime, by the way!" And with that, Ayadori the Airax became the close guardian and companion of Shokshok.