Way out in the Brightvale Countryside, where the air is still pure, and the land is virtually untouched, there is a little white farmhouse made of wood. The house belongs to a family of six unis: Gramma and grandpa, mom and dad, Tawnirose and Summer, who have made, and continue to make their home a joyous place of love and laughter, and the noisy games of the two youngest (and clearly most important) members of the family. At the moment, however, something very strange is going on. All is silent in and around the farmhouse. A soft breeze blows through the grass, scattering the stray pieces of hay in the field, and making the wild daisies dance in the wind. The smell of a freshly baked apple pie wofts from a nearby open -blocked- All is quiet. All is peaceful. Until...
A uni with pale pink fur bursts out of a pile of hay. Her name is Tawnirose, and she is eight years old.
I found you! I found you!" shouts her five-year-old sister Summer, a smaller uni with green fur.
You didn't find me, I jumped out at you!"
I would have found you if you didn't jump out!"
If I hadn't jumped out, you mean."
Tawni was always correcting her sister. Whether it was the way she talked, the way she did her chores, or how she ate her dinner, the older girl loved to play mother. Of course, that wasn't always a bad thing. Tawni took care of Summer, and thought of herself as her mentor and protector. "And if you want to find me again, you're gonna have to catch me first!"
The pink furred uni runs away, and the green one follows in hot pursuit. They run and they run. Around the big tree with the tire-swing, and through babaas grazing in the field. Tawni has no time to fiddle with the lock, she hops the fence, and her sister does the same. They land in a pile, laughing and rolling in the soft, green grass.
Tawnirose rolls over on her back, so she can look up at the clouds. Summer copies. She always copies her big sister.
Look Tawni!" she shouts in excitement. "That cloud looks just like a warf puppy!"
Tawni tries to follow where Summer's hoof is pointing. "It looks like an oval." she laughs. "That one looks like a slorg."
A slorg? Like what was eating the corn last year? Ewww!"
I like slorgs. I wish mom would have let me keep one."
But they were all slimy!"
I like slimy."
Where Summer was a perfect princess, Tawnirose was a tomboy. Things like creepy crawlies and getting dirty, didn't bother her at all.
Look Summer, that one looks exactly like Tulip!"
Tulip was Tawnirose's own babaa. Tawni had rescued her from being trapped under a pile of firewood, when she was just a young petpet. Tulip's leg had been badly injured, and Tawni's father had allowed her to be kept in the house, just until she recovered. After a few weeks inside, however, Tulip had become part of the family, and no one had the heart to turn her back outside.
That reminds me, I have to give Tulip her supper."
Can we get a snack too?" asks Summer, her little belly rumbling. "I'm hungry."
A speckled uni, wearing an apron, stands on the front porch calling her daughters.
Mom's calling us! Do you think it's for what I think it's for?"
The speckled uni ducks into the house, and come out carrying a freshly baked apple pie.
The pie's ready!"
Tawni leaps up from the ground, and Summer does the same.
Race you to the kitchen!"
No fair, you're bigger and faster than me!"
And the two sisters run back to the little white farmhouse made of wood, where a delicious apple pie and a loving family await them.
Springtime in the Brightvale countryside was a beautiful and glorious time. It meant many things to Mommy, Daddy, Gramma and Grandpa, including the beginning of a new farming year. To Tawnirose and Summer, however, it only meant two. One, that Easter, one of the most fun times of the year, was just around the corner. And two, that there was an apple deficiency. Apples were picked in late summer and early fall. So to find them in the spring, they would either have to be leftover from last year, or just starting to grow. This was a very big problem for the two young unis, who adored apples. It was especially a problem at Easter time. Every holiday, all the aunts and uncles, and cousins would come to their house for a big family dinner. They would have turkey, and mashed potatoes with gravy, and peas and corn, and every other delicious thing you could imagine. What the kids liked most about the dinners though, was the desserts that came after, and that was usually some kind of pie. Tawni and Summer's favourite was apple pie, but they hardly ever got it at the Easter dinner.
That was the cause for Summer's mission, one warm evening in the month of Eating. She was going to find some apples if she had to turn the whole farm inside out.
It'll be like an Easter negg hunt!" she told Tawnirose. "Wanna come?"
Tawnirose did not want to come. She had problems of her own. "I can't right now, Summer. I have to find Tulip. She got separated from the rest of the flock again."
Tulip was Tawnirose's own babaa. Much like her owner, she had a deep love for adventure, and a bad habit of getting into trouble because of it. Tulip was always getting lost, getting stuck in the mud, or falling into the pond. Tawni hated the idea of her wandering around by herself. And it was getting dark. She knew she had to find her as soon as possible.
I'll help you look for her! Two eyes are better than one."
Okay! And, um, you mean two pairs of eyes?"
So the two unis set off on their search. Tawni was worried about her petpet, but that wasn't going to stop her from having fun. They played follow the leader through the grassy meadow, being careful not to trample the wild daisies that were just beginning to bloom. They hopped on rocks to get across the stream, and played tag through the empty apple orchard. Tawni chased her sister over a rotten log. She was just about to tag her when she went head-over-hooves and landed face down in the mud.
Summer rolled over on the ground laughing. "You look like Grandpa, Tawni!" she laughed, referring to her mud beard.
It's not funny!" Now that Tawni was on the ground, she could see something she hadn't seen before. "Look! There are footprints in this mud! They're really small! I bet they're Tulip's! We're going the right way!"
And to think you wouldn't have found them, if you hadn't fell." teased her little sister.
If I hadn't fallen." corrected Tawni. "And it wasn't my fault! I tripped on something."
The two turned around to see a half eaten, half squished apple laying on the ground.
It wouldn't make sense for one apple to grow. There must be more where this came from." observed the older sister.
After we find Tulip, can we look for them?"
Tawni noticed the position of the sun. It was almost touching the tops of the apple trees. "I don't know," she said. "The sun's going down, it'll be completely dark soon. We have to find Tulip now."
So they continued their search through the orchard, following the footprints until they found something unusual.
It's another apple, Tawni!"
This apple was perfect, except for the babaa sized bite it had in it.
I think Tulip's leaving us a trail. Like the Easter bunny! Instead of neggs, she's leaving apples."
I wish she would just come home. We won't be able to find our way back if we go any further," It occurred to Tawni that she didn't recognize where they were. They might already be unable to get home. "Summer, I think we're lost."
A cool spring breeze rattled through the trees, followed by the sound of footsteps.
Someone's coming!" Summer hid behind her older sister, who jumped when a white and black creature came out from behind a tree.
The little babaa trotted happily towards her owner and her sister, prancing around them and bleating hello.
We found you, Tulip!" shouted Summer.
Where were you?" Tawni scolded.
The babaa did another little leap and ran off again behind the trees.
Hey, where are you going? We just found you,"
Tawnirose and Summer chased after Tulip. The little babaa ran with excitement and enthusiasm, around the corner, down a hill and through a tunnel of trees that lead to..
Apples! Hundreds and hundreds of them!"
Tawnirose's petpet had lead them to a part of the orchard where the trees were thick with apples. And they weren't just any apples. They were the plumpest, reddest, most delicious looking apples they'd ever seen!
How is it possible, Tawni? Daddy said it's too early for them to grow."
Maybe the soil is different out here. That can affect the way stuff grows."
I think it's magic!" insisted Summer. "Maybe this is where the Easter Cybunny lives!"
Tawni giggled. "I bet the Easter Babaa is friends with him. Isn't that right, Tulip?"
After they had played and frolicked in the wonderful, whimsical place they had found, the unis began their journey home, taking back with them as many apples as their arms could carry. They no longer had to worry about being lost. Tulip knew the way. It was like she had traveled the path a thousand times.
They arrived back at the little white farmhouse made of wood, just as the sun had set, and the stars were beginning to appear. Their parents and grandparents were relieved to see them home safe.
Thank goodness you're home!" cried Mommy. "And you found Tulip!"
Where did you get all those apples?" asked Daddy.
We didn't find them," Tawni explained. "Tulip did!"
On Easter Day, when Mommy put a freshly baked apple pie down on the table, the giant slice Tawni put on her plate was not for herself. A cybunny ear wearing babaa's face lit up with delight, as her owner put the pie down in front of her. "For the Easter Babaa," she said, kissing her on the head. "Thanks, Tulip.
Tawnirose was only three when the seasons of Summer began, but she still remembers the day as if it were yesterday. She couldn't tell you how it happened, probably because she hadn't been told herself. It came to her as a complete surprise when she looked in the wooden box that Daddy and Grandpa had worked so long to build, and saw a tiny green uni sleeping in it.
Why is it in your box, Daddy?"
That's her crib, Tawni." the spotted uni was smiling from ear to ear. "Remember what we told you? That's where the baby's going to sleep."
Oh yeah. I remember." She didn't really, but the word seemed familiar to her. She often heard her parents say it when they were talking about the sister Tawnirose was going to have. Sister. Another strange word that had next to no meaning to Tawni. A few days earlier, she had asked her grandmother what it meant.
What is a sister anyway, gramma? Will I like it?"
The elderly pink uni sat down in the family's favourite chair, a big red recliner perfectly placed in front of the fireplace, and took the younger pink uni in her lap. There was a short pause while grandmother and granddaughter listened to the gentle call of a mallard, somewhere in the distance. Then the older uni began to speak. "A sister," she explained. "Is like a gift. The most wonderful gift a little girl could ever receive."
A present?" Tawni gazed up at her grandmother with wide-eyed curiosity. "Will it be nicer than my hat?" Her periwinkle eyes turned towards the floppy brim of her favourite straw sun hat, the one she had been wearing ever since it had been given to her for her birthday, way back in the month of Hiding.
Yes, dear. It will be a much nicer present than you're hat. It will even be a nicer present than the one Roy Vincent gave your great grandfather, all those years ago."
Roy Vincent? You mean the man who gave us the farm?"
The very same."
Tawni tried to wrap her mind around what Gramma Ella had just said. How could a sister be nicer than their farm? The farm had babaas, and apple trees, and so many wild daisies growing in the fields that her great grandfather had nicknamed the place 'Daisy Acres'. The farm was where her family lived, and where they had lived for four generations. Nothing could be better than the farm!
You see, Tawnirose, a sister is more than just a daughter of the same mother as you. A sister is a friend for life. A friend who will never abandon you," she smiled. "No matter how much you pester them. Oh, you will disagree at times. Sometimes you'll think your sister was more of a curse than a gift. But no matter what, at the end of the day you'll still love her."
The little pink uni was confused, to say the least. "How come, Gramma?"
Because," she told her matter-of-factly. "Sisterhood is a bond that cannot be broken. Not by pride, not by envy or hate. Nothing, and nobody, will be able to come between the two of you. Just like Aveline and I..."
Tawnirose followed her grandmother's gaze down to the two woven bands she wore on her wrist. The first one was blue, with flecks of pink throughout, and the other was its opposite. Both bands had faded over years of constant wear, and the paint on the once silver heart-shaped charms was almost completely worn off. They may not have been as pretty as they had been at one time, but considering their age, the bracelets were in remarkably good condition.
My sister and I made these friendship bracelets when we were little girls.
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