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...

BOO!"

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."

Tawnirose! Summer!"

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.

Tulip!"

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. Aveline learned to make them in school, as I recall, and she taught me. Hers was the blue one, and mine was the pink." She slid both brackets off of her wrist and handed them to the young uni, who examined them closely.

I like the blue one." she announced, trying it on her own wrist. She had to wrap it several times to get it to fit her tiny hoof. When she waved her arm in the air and the band didn't slide off, her petite face lit up with pride, as if she had just accomplished her life's goal. "Hey!" she squealed happily. "It fits!"

Gramma Ella laughed. "Would you look at that! I think that bracelet was meant to be yours, Tawni."

Mine? But it's great aunt Aveline's! You've kept it safe for her for..." How many years had Gramma Ella been wearing those bracelets? "Forever and ever!" the little uni decided.

Then I think it's time somebody else got to enjoy them. You can have the blue one, and when your sister's ready, she can have the pink one."

Thanks Gramma!" The two unis embraced. "My sister's gonna love it! I know it."

now it was finally the day that her sister arrived, and though Tawnirose was a bit surprised to see that this 'wonderful gift' she had heard so much about was just a uni like her, she gave the baby the second band that she'd been wearing around her other hoof ever since she'd spoken to Gramma that night.

Tawnirose! What are you doing?" cried her mother as she tried to wrap the woven band around the fragile wrist.

I'm giving my sister a present."

You can't do that, Tawni." David, her father, came to the rescue. "The baby's too young to be wearing jewelry just yet. You could hurt her with that. It might cut off her circulation."

Her what?" Now Tawni was very confused. "I wasn't gonna put it on that, I was just going to put it on her hoof. Gramma Ella said she should have it."

Yes, I know she did, sweetie. But the baby's just too small right now, okay? Why don't you put that away until she's bigger."

Okay Mom." Thoroughly heartbroken, Tawnirose stomped out of the room, closing the door behind her. Suddenly she realized it was too early to sulk, for she still had a question she needed answered. "What's my sister's name?" She burst back into the room.

What did you say, dear?"

Gramma Ella had a sister once, and her name was Aveline. Does my sister have a name too?"

In all the confusion and excitement of the day, somehow it never occurred to Lora and David that they still hadn't chosen a name for their child. They had been tossing around ideas for months, but for some reason, none of the names they'd talked about seemed to fit their angelic baby daughter.

Both parents stood at the window, staring out into the black winter's night. A sudden gust of bitter wind rattled the windowpane, startling the young pink uni.

The snow still hasn't stopped, huh?"

It was the month of Awakening, but in Tawni's eyes, the world was still sleeping. And it had been sleeping since the month of Storing. It started snowing when usul skiing season began, and it never stopped. The grey snow clouds had cast a shadow over Daisy Acres. It made the days short and the nights long, and dark and cold. The babaas hated the dreary weather, almost as much as Tawnirose's family did.

Why are you two looking out at that ugly winter when you just had a baby as beautiful as the summertime?" A green uni stood in the doorway of the bedroom. It was Jakub, Tawnirose's grandfather. "What are you laughing at there, missy?" he asked when the pink uni startled to giggle.

You're right, Grandpa!" she exclaimed. "She is as beautiful as the summertime. Look, her fur is the same green as the leaves on the apple trees I like to climb. And her hair is soft like the grass in the babaa fields."

The baby's eyes, though seldom seen as she had been asleep for the better part of her time in the world, were a cool blue, and they reminded her sister of the babbling brook she liked to sail paper boats in, glistening in the morning sunlight. And even in the dead of winter, the infant uni had brought a warmth to the house that everyone in the family could feel. It was like she had brought with her her own sun, that brightened the night and made the snow seem a little less cold. It melted the ice in the hearts of the unis, the ice that had been put there by the seemingly everlasting and unforgiving winter. The warmth came from something that Tawnirose could not explain. She knew she had certainly felt it before, but where, she didn't know. Maybe it was during the annual family picnic in the apple orchard the previous summer...

Mom! I know a good name! Grandpa helped me think of it!"

Oh?" Both Lora and David turned from the window to hear what their daughter had come up with. "What is it, dear?"

Why don't we name her Summer? She is like the summertime. Isn't she?"

Her parents looked at each other. Then they each looked at Jakub, and the three of them had a silent conversation, the way grown-ups always do. At last, Tawni saw her parents nod their heads and smile.

The little pink uni leaned over the crib and kissed the infant on the cheek. "You're my baby sister." she whispered. "I love you, Summer."

~*~

For the next three months, Summer ate and slept, and did little else. Tawnirose was incredibly disappointed that her baby sister slept through such a miraculous event as the melting of the snow, and even more so when she missed the blooming of the first daisy of the year. Summer was missing the most important parts of spring, and Tawni was beginning to worry.

Mom," she whispered to Lora one day, as the two unis sat together in the nursery. "I think Summer's gonna sleep through her whole life."

The amused grin on the speckled uni's face was less than comforting to the little girl.

Babies sleep, Tawni. They need lots of rest to grow. You used to have naps all the time when you were a baby. And look how big you are now!"

I can see in the crib even more than I could when Summer was born!" she agreed, standing on her toes to show her mother how tall she was. "Do you think she'll ever be this big?"

I'm sure she will, dear, just give her time. Children grow up so fast, often we don't even have time to watch them grow."

I wish she would grow now." whined Tawni. "I want her to play with me."

Soon enough, Tawnirose. Soon enough."

Nearly a month later, Summer still hadn't grown up, or woken up for that matter. Still, Tawnirose was in high spirits as she skipped home from playing in the babbling brook, one cheerful spring afternoon. The sun smiled down on Daisy Acres, and warmed the pink uni's dripping wet fur. This put a smile on her face, and a happy song in her head. A song her grandmother had taught her about the springtime, or really any particularly lovely day.

On this wondrous, splendorous, beautiful day, the tulips and crocuses come out to play! A gentle breeze chases the rain clouds away, on this wondrous, splendorous beautiful day!" The little girl loved singing this song, even though she felt she didn't do quite as good a job as her grandmother did. She always had to slow down around the words 'wondrous' and splendorous', and sometimes the word 'crocuses' as well. If she didn't slow down, the words would get tangled up together, like a helpless mootix in a spyder's web, and Tawni really didn't want that. If her words got tangled, she might sound like a three-year-old, and not the almost-four-year-old that she was. If she was going to be a good big sister to her little sister, she would have to be mature. And part of being mature was not mispronouncing her words. Proper grammar was also important, as were things like table manners and cleanliness, and knowing which flowers had thorns and which ones were safe to pick. She was going to teach her sister many things, just like great aunt Aveline taught Gramma Ella. Because that's what good big sisters did.

Oh! On this wondrous, splendorous, beautiful day, not even these fences can get in my way!" Hopping fences! That was something else she could teach Summer. "The birdies are singing and I want to say--"

As she approached the white, wooden farmhouse, she heard a strange sound. A sharp, ear piercingly loud cry, that cut through the air like the saw Daddy used to cut down trees for firewood. It was the sound of a baby crying, and it was pure music to Tawnirose's ears.

Summer is awake!"

The pink uni raced up to the house as fast as her small hooves could carry her. She flung open the door, allowing it to slam shut behind her, darted down the hallway, around the corner and up the stairs. When she got to the nursery, she struggled to make herself skid to a stop on the slippery hardwood floors. "Wanna play with me, Summer?" she managed to blurt while gasping for breath.

Her mother shushed her as she cradled the baby in her arms. "She's going back to sleep."

What?"

Tawni! Shhh!"

Tawni collapsed onto the rug, and rolled onto her back so that she was facing the ceiling. "It's not good for her to sleep this much, mom." she complained to the upside down image of the speckled uni. "She's getting too lazy."

She's not lazy, she's a baby!" Lora said pleasantly, a little older than she had intended. "Remember what I told you about how much you slept when you were Summer's age?"

Yeah," she frowned. "But I bet I didn't sleep as much as she does. And I don't take naps anymore."

You know you still could, if you wanted to. You're never too old to have a nap every now and then. Grandpa Jakub's having one now."

Grandpa says he doesn't have as much energy as he used to. But I'm full of energy! I don't need to take naps."

Is that so? Well, whatever you think, sweetie."

At that moment there was a crack, followed by a crash, and then a splat. Then there was a cry, and momentarily Tawni was filled with hope that her sister had woken up again. But the cry wasn't a cry, but more of a call. The mocking bleat of the babaa who had broken into the uni's kitchen for the umpteenth time that spring.

Tell me that splat wasn't my blueberry pie."

Another bleat was bellowed from the floor below. Lora could picture the noise itself bouncing up the stairs, and ricocheting off the walls of the nursery to taunt her. "You can't get me!" the babaa was saying.

I..." the woman stammered. "I'll be right back."

I can watch Summer for you while you're gone!"

Lora stopped in her tracks. The idea of leaving her three-and-a-half-year-old with her four month old wasn't exactly appealing. Especially since she knew how badly Tawnirose wanted the baby to wake up...

Did you hear that, Mom? It sounds like the babaa's telling all of Brightvale that he got in again!" She put emphasis on the word 'again'. "Actually, I think he's telling all of Neopia."

Her mother suddenly went pale. "Don't wake your sister. I'll be back soon."

I won't!" she sang giddily, as the uni exited the room. She could say this without feeling even the teensiest bit guilty about lying, for she knew that she had no chance of waking her up. But that didn't mean she wasn't going to try.

Summer!" she shouted in the green uni's face. "If you wake up, we can play in the meadow! And I'll let you fly my kite!"

There was no reply.

Summer, Mom's blueberry pie might not have been smushed by the babaa. If it wasn't, you can have a slice. But you have to wake up first!"

Again, the baby was silent.

Tawnirose's eyes fell on her left wrist, where she wore her blue woven band from her grandmother. Her mind turned to the pink bracelet that Gramma Ella was keeping safe for Summer until she was big enough to wear it. "Summer! If you wake up, maybe you'll have grown! Then you can wear your bracelet like mine!"

The baby moved slightly in her sleep, but that was all.

Please wake up, Summer. There's so much in Neopia you haven't seen. There are so many things I want us to do together. Please wake up?"

Not a sound came from her sister, but she could hear her mother coming up the stairs. Her steps were heavy with disappointment, and every few stairs or so, she seemed to stop and sigh in regret that she hadn't closed that -blocked- "The babaa wrecked the pie." she groaned as she stood in the doorway of the nursery. "And as if that wasn't bad enough, the little scoundrelate it too. And he made sure that I was aware that he enjoyed it! You should have seen the smug look on his face." She scowled. "How's Summer doing? You didn't wake her up, did you? Maybe accidentally?"

No Mom." the little girl told the truth. "She's sleeping like a log."

That's good." She kissed her daughter on the forehead. "I'm going to make another pie. You can stay up here, if you'd like. But you have to be quiet."

Sure Mom."

And the speckled uni went downstairs again, leaving the children alone once more.

Okay Summer," Tawni whispered when she was sure she was gone. "I told Mom I would be quiet, but I still want you to wake up. Hmm..." What could she do to wake her up without being noisy? She wasn't having any success when she was tryingto be noisy! "I picked flowers from the meadow today," she started to tell her sister. "There were blue ones, and pink ones, and reds ones and yellow ones, and I put them all on my hat! Do you want to see it?"

Of course Summer didn't answer with way, but Tawni went and got the hat anyway. She thought she had left it in her room, but when she didn't see it, she checked every room of the house until she did. Her search ended in the last place she checked, as searches often tend to do, and the last place she looked was the basement.

How did it get down here?" she panted the question to her father, who was in the cellar fixing a light switch.

I found it in the berry fields when I was picking blueberries for your mother. I meant to bring it to you, but then Gramma reminded me about the light switch down here."

Oh yeah!" It all came back to her. She had been chasing a ladyblurg all through the blueberry patch, and when a stronger than usual gust of wind blew her hat right off her head, she said she would go back for it after she had caught the petpetpet. "But then the ladyblurg flew so high into the clouds that I couldn't see it anymore, and I decided to go play in the brook instead."

The spotted uni chuckled. "It looks like we both get sidetracked easily."

I can't get slide-tracked again, Daddy. I told Summer I was bringing her my hat to show her. I don't want to keep her waiting."

Oh? Has she woken up?"

Um, no, I don't think so, but I think she's probably gonna wake up soon."

Do you think so?"

Mm-hm."

David couldn't help but smile. His daughter wasn't even four-years-old, and she was as articulate as someone twice her age. Even if she did get 'slide-tracked' sometimes. "Alright Tawni, I'll let you go. Say hi to Summer for me if she wakes up."

Will do, Dad."

The pink uni was quite exhausted from tearing through the farmhouse, searching for her hat, and even more so from running up and down three flights up stairs. But she would never admit it, not after she had sworn to her mother that she would never take a nap. She accidentally let a groan slip through her lips when she realized the flowers from her hat were missing. "I must have left them in the blueberry patch. I'll have to get them. Be right back, Summer."

So poor Tawnirose, wishing the old oak tree Grandpa Jakub used to climb to get to and from the top floor was still there, dragged herself down the stairs and stepped out into the clean spring air. She was glad that the blueberry patch was only a short walk from the house. She could have left the flowers back in the meadow where she'd gotten them, which was a good half a mile away, or by the babbling brook which was even father than that. Honestly, Tawni didn't think she could even walk that far for a second time that day. Luckily, she didn't have to, as she found most of her flowers right where she expected to find them.

It's a good thing you guys didn't blow away in the wind!" she spoke to the colourful bouquet as if it could answer. "I have to take you back to show my sister. Come on."

She scooped up the flowers and started on her journey home. Before the could make it back, however, she had an encounter with a familiar face.

You're the ladyblurg that made me drop my hat!"

The petpetpet made a circle around the uni's head.

Oh no, I'm not chasing you this time! I might drop my flowers again." Tawnirose never considered the possibility that this ladyblurg could have been one of the other thousands of ladyblurgs in the Brightvale countryside, simply because three-and-a-half-year-olds didn't think of those things. It was a ladyblurg and it was on their farm. It had to be the same one! Right?

Hey, what are you doing? Are you trying to get me to play with you?"

Only somebody as small as Tawnirose could have noticed the minuscule petpetpet nod its head. "Oh, alright. I'll just have to hold on tighter this time. I'm coming to get you!"

And so she chased her tiny friend. Through the tall grass and over a rotten log. Then the ladyblurg tricked her by suddenly changing direction, and Tawni followed it, this time going through the hollowed out tree. Over the hills and into the stream, running along side the rickety bridge. When they had made a full circle around the white wooden farmhouse, the petpetpet remembered something terribly important it had to do at home, and flew away, high up into the clouds without even saying goodbye.

Hey! Where are you going?" the pink uni cried. But the ladyblurg had become only a dot in the endless sapphire sky.

Oh well," she yawned. "I need to wake up Summer now anyway."

As soon as she was through the door, she was greeted with the sweet smell of a freshly baked blueberry pie, wafting from the kitchen.

That smells so good, Mom! Can I have some?"

I just took it out of the oven. You'll want to wait a few minutes for it to cool first."

Okay. I'm going back to the nursery. Can you tell me when the pie's cooled please?"

Of course, sweetie. I'll bring it up to you when it's ready." The apron wearing uni smiled in her motherly way, that Tawni loved so dearly. "You look sort of tired. You don't feel sick, do you?"

No Mom, I'm fine." The small uni was not feeling sick, but at that moment she was rather fatigued. She knew she shouldn't have chased that mischievous ladyblurg. And now she had what felt like half a zillion stairs to tackle, for the seventh time that hour. "Here I go..."

When at last she reached her sister's crib, the sight that met her eyes was exactly what she thought it would be.

You gotta wake up now, Summer. I mean, you have to wake up. You must wake up now, baby sister! The pie is ready, for real this time. And I brought my hat to show you, with the flowers, see?" she waved the decorated sun hat in front of the green uni's face. "You have to wake up." she repeated, lying down on the rug beside the crib. "You're never gonna wake up, are you?"

A few minutes later, when Lora entered the room carrying a plate of pie in each hoof, the late afternoon sun was shining in the window, casting a golden glow upon her two sleeping babies. As she set the plates down on the coffee table in the corner, she looked over her shoulder to see a pair of little eyes flutter and open slowly. The eyes were nearly turquoise, and they sparked and shone like clear water in the sunlight.

Good morning, Summer. Did you have a good sleep? I'm sure if Tawni had known you were going to wake up now, she would have waited 'til later to have her nap."

Curled up on the rug between her sister and mother, Tawnirose didn't seem to be unhappy at all, in fact she was sleeping with just the slightest trace of a smile on her face. Because she knew something they didn't. Tawnirose was not really in the nursery, asleep because she wore herself out, trying to wake up her sister. She was in a meadow, one that was even more beautiful than the one she knew and loved. And she was with her sister. The two of them were picking flowers of every colour of the rainbow, including dozens of the 'first daisies of the year', which were blooming in the melting snow that somehow wasn't cold.

Come on Tawnirose!"

Summer took off at a galloping pace, and Tawni chased after her. Before long they were joined by Tawni's ladyblurg friend, and the three of them played along the the edge of the glimmering water of the brook. It was a perfect time for the two uni sisters growing up on Daisy Acres Farm. And it was only just beginning.

~*~

As the days turned into weeks, and weeks turned into months, it was becoming evident to the entire family how much baby Summer was growing. Tawni was the first to notice the fact that her naps were getting shorter and shorter, and also more spread out throughout the day. In addition to not sleeping twenty hours a day, the green uni also seemed to be increasingly interested in what her older sister had to say.

The tree at the Worthington's farm was huge! Grandpa Jakub had to lift me up so I could climb it!"

The six-month-old stared up at the older child with wide-eyed curiosity. "Gfff?" she asked in her high baby voice.

Assuming 'gff' meant 'how huge was the tree', Tawni told her with great enthusiasm. "It was the biggest tree in all of Neopia! And it had a billion acorns! I tried to pick some to bring home to show you, but when I leaned forward, I slid right out of the tree. Boom!" Her sister smiled and laughed, so Tawni said the last word again. "Boom!"

Gfff gff! Shloo!"

I didn't get hurt though. There was a pile of hay right underneath me, and I landed in it. What's shloo mean?"

At six months old, Summer was really quite advanced for her age. Only a week ago had she begun walking with the help of her mother holding her up, and already she was almost able to walk on her own, without holding onto furniture or fences or anything. As easily as walking was coming to her, Summer still wasn't even starting to talk, aside from the occasional 'gff' and 'shloo', which nobody knew what they meant but herself, and perhaps other babies her age.

Say Mama. Ma-ma." Lora would walk her through the word several times a day, hoping that she would eventually catch on.

Summer, say dada. " David would tell her almost as often. Playful competition was beginning to form between them, each of them hoping that their names would be their daughter's first word ever.

Say cauliflower, Summer!" Tawnirose, wishing that her sister's first word would be something silly, would always follow with something like this.

She's not going to say that, Tawni! It's way too hard of a word." one of her parents would say. And the mischievous Tawni would almost certainly reply with a word like 'rutabaga' or 'miscellaneous'.

Do you even know what miscellaneous means?" her father would ask.

Of course, daddy!" she'd say as if she had just been insulted. "I'm gonna be four in a few days, you know!

When the long awaited day of the 21st of the month of Hiding finally arrived, the family of unis was up long before the beekadoodles started to sing.

Today's the day! Today's the day! The day's today! The day's today!"

Even in the beekadoodles had been awake, their singing would have been drown out by the thrilled squeals of the birthday girl. "Did you hear that, Summer? Today's the day!"

Tuh dff!" cooed the green uni.

Good girl!" Lora praised her youngest daughter. "You said 'today's the day', right?"

Although it was generally a tradition to wait until after the cake to open presents, Tawnirose insisted that it would be best if she did it now, before it got too light out and the sun got in her eyes so that she couldn't see her gifts.

I don't know, sweetie. Do you really think the sun will be that bright today?"

I'm sure, Gramma. I'd better open them now."

David was the one to deliver the large gold bag full of goodies. Before he had even set it firmly on the ground, the pink uni had dove into the tissue and started fishing for her first present. Her hoof closed on something squishy and soft. Fabric folded tightly into a small, square shaped package, and tied with a pretty, mint green bow.

What could this be?" After about six seconds of fiddling with the bow, Tawnirose gave up and broke the ribbon with her teeth. Then she unfolded the little package as quickly as she could. As she rolled the fabric out on the floor in front of her, she could see that it was actually a blue t-shirt with a picture of a babaa, playing in a field. Tawni gasped. "Thanks Mom! Thanks Daddy, and Gramma Ella and Grandpa Jakub! Thank you, thank you!"

Her grandfather laughed. "Why don't you try it on?"

The pink uni slipped the shirt on over her head. She put her arms through, and poked her wings out the holes in the back. It fit like a glove, or like the floppy straw sunhat she had received a year ago a year ago on this very day. "It's perfect!"

Gff?" Summer pointed to the picture on the t-shirt. "Wa?"

What, this? It's a babaa, like ours."

Gff?"

You know, the ones in the barn. This is a babaa farm! Didn't you know that?"

Fuff."

I think she's trying to say they're fluffy." suggested Lora, wishfully.

Um, yeah, maybe Mom."

When Tawni had unwrapped every item in the golden birthday bag, she found herself with two new t-shirts and a pair of white cotton shorts, a skipping rope, a soccer ball, some chalk for drawing on the concrete barn floor, and an Usuki doll that saved herself from being too girly by being a cowgirl Usuki. She was very pleased with each and every one of her gifts. Her little sister however, liked one better than all the rest, and that was the blue t-shirt with the smiling babaa on the front.

I don't get what's so fas... fascin... what's so cool about it. I know it's nice and all, but why do you keep looking at it?"

Summer pointed to the babaa. "Wa," she said in apparent bewilderment.

Mom!" the pink uni called into the kitchen, where the speckled uni was preparing her daughter's birthday cake. "Summer doesn't know what a babaa is."

Lora actually dropped her measuring cup. "Are you sure? What makes you think she doesn't know?"

She keeps pointing to the babaa on my shirt and making a funny face. She doesn't know what it is, Mom."

The apron wearing woman looked genuinely concerned. "We'll have to show her then. We can take her out to the fields as soon as I get this in the oven."

I can take her by myself. She's good at walking now, so she doesn't need someone to carry her. And if she does, I can carry her on my back."

Lora was a bit reluctant at first to let her two young daughters leave the house together without her supervision, but as she could see the barn from the kitchen window, she decided there was no harm in letting them go. "Make sure you watch her, Tawni. I'll join you in a few minutes, and maybe I'll bring Daddy and Gramma and Grandpa along with me."

Yay! I'll go tell Summer."

She found her sister sitting on the living room floor with her legs stretched out in front of her, and Tawni's new Usuki doll's ears in her mouth.

Don't eat that! We're gonna have cake soon." She pried the doll away from her and took the young child's hoof. "Come on, we're going outside to see the babaas."

Wa wa?"

Not wa wa! Babaa! With a B, silly sister."

It was now twelve o' clock, and the sun was high over Daisy Acres Farm. The unis walked out into the humid air of a Brightvallian summer.

Whew, it's hot today!" Tawni wiped the imaginary sweat off her brow.

Whew!" Summer copied her older sister. "Wa ha!"

Mom!" The pink uni darted towards the kitchen window, leaving the green one alone and confused on the doorstep. "Summer just said her first word! I heard her!"

Lora rushed to the window to hear the big news. "What did she say?"

She said 'whew'! Like, 'whew, it's hot'." She didn't understand why her mother appeared to be holding back a frown.

I don't think that counts as a first word, dear. How should I say this... I think whew is more of a noise than a word, wouldn't you say?"

Gff!" came a voice at Tawni's feet.

Summer! Where did you come from?"

I think she's agreeing with me." their mother joked. "Summer, do you think you can walk to the barn without any help from Tawni?"

The little child's eyes were alight with excitement. "Wa!" she shouted and stumbled off to the barn.

Hey, wait for me!" her sister called after her. "You don't have to worry about Summer's walking, Mom! She's even faster than me!"

Summer reached the door before Tawnirose did, and she wasn't even out of breath.

Wow Summer, you could be a marinade runner!" the pink uni praised. Of course she had meant to say 'marathon' runner, but as the six-month-old had no idea what either meant, it didn't really matter either way.

Gff?" The green uni knocked with her hoof against the enormous barn door.

This door is really heavy, so we'll both have to push it open. On the count of three, okay? One... two..."

Wa!"

The sisters pushed with all their might, and the giant door creaked open, filling the dimly lit barn with sunshine. The smell of fresh hay tickled their noses. Tawni took a deep breath, inhaling the enchanting aroma. "It's great being a country girl, isn't it?"

Summer had already started wandering through the corridors, on a quest to find the petpet portrayed on her sister's shirt. "Wa? Waaaa?"

Not wa, Summer, ba. Babaa."

Da!"

No, not da, ba!"

The unis soon arrived at the first row of stalls, where about a dozen babaas waited for their turn in the fields.

Here they are! They're just like the one on my t-shirt, eh?" Tawnirose lifted her sister up to see the first babaa in the row of stalls, a gentle old girl named Lilac. "Say hello to Lilac, Summer."

Summer reached out and touched the petpet's velvet soft wool. "Fuf." she told her and pointed to Tawni's t-shirt.

Not fuf, silly. And not wa, and not da. Babaa!" she said with a tinge of annoyance. Just then, Lora entered the barn, followed by David and Ella and Jakub.

Does Summer know what a babaa is now?" inquired Lora, stopping at the front of the stall.

Maybe," said Tawni slowly. "But I don't think she knows what they're called. She keeps on saying 'da' and 'wa' and stuff."

She said da?" asked David. "Maybe she's trying to say dada!"

Lora didn't make any attempt to hide her frown this time. "Please say mama, sweetheart."

Ba!" the child cooed, patting Lilac's ears. "Fuf!"

Did you guys hear that? She said ba! I've been trying to get her to do that all day!"

You know, dear," began Gramma Ella. "I think her first word might end up being babaa."

Our baby's first word is going to be babaa?" Lora cried.

The sound of Summer's babyish voice brought the conversation to a halt. "Ba... Ba... Fuf..."

You can do it, Summer!" her sister encouraged her. "Say babaa!"

Fuff..."

Not fuff."

Fluffy!"

For a moment there was silence. No one spoke, no one knew what to say. The only sound that could be heard was the familiar call of the mallard, singing its lonely song. Then at last, somebody spoke. It was the speckled uni. "Didn't I say that she was trying to say 'fluffy' earlier?"

Tawnirose's mind went back to this morning, when the green uni had first looked at her t-shirt and pretended to pet the picture that was printed on it. 'Fluffy' was indeed the word she had been trying to say all along. "How did you know, Mom?" Tawni stared at her mother as if she thought she had some sort of future-seeing power.

The woman shrugged, taking the baby from her older child. "Call it a mother's intuition."

At the end of the day, everyone was happy. Summer had said her first word, which filled the whole family with joy. The word wasn't mama or dada, so Lora and David's competition could finally come to an end, without there having to be a loser and a winner. And the word was a silly word, as far as first words go. Not many children could say their first word was 'fluffy', and for this reason, Tawnirose was more than satisfied.

I wonder what her next first word is gonna be?"

The answer to that question came quickly — As soon as Tawni's fourth birthday cake was placed on the kitchen table in front of her. The cake had blue icing, and the picture on it was a petpet with curly white fur and a smiling, black face.

Look Summer," David pointed to the cake. "Mommy made the icing to look like Tawni's new shirt."

See the babaa, Summer?" said Ella. "Isn't it fluffy?"

Remember the babaas today, Summer?" Jakub chimed in.

Everyone was talking at the same time. Tawnirose could barely make out what they were saying, except for one word. One word rang out loud and clear. It was the subject of everyone's attention, the one thing that was on everybody's minds while she was waiting to blow out her birthday candles.

Smile Summer!" Her mother went to snap a picture of her sister, who was sitting across the table from her. Had her family forgotten who's birthday it was just because of a stupid first word?

Tawni!"

The room went silent. What did the baby just say?

Tawni." the green uni repeated, now that she'd gotten their attention, and to make sure everyone knew who she was talking about, she got up from her chair and went to stand by her sister.

Once again, the unis all began to speak at the same time.

Good girl, Summer!"

Two words in one day. How 'bout that!"

Can you say 'dada', Summer?"

It was the older pink uni who calmed them all down. Ella spoke in a hushed voice, in a tone urgent enough that the whole family had to listen. "This is a momentous day, isn't it? Little Summer said her first word, and now she'll be able to speak every day for the rest of her life. And today is Tawnirose's birthday, the day she's been waiting for , well, ever since her last birthday. It's funny, when you think about it. Tawni is so mature that sometimes we forget she's only had four birthdays in her life."

Tawni!" the green uni hugged her sister's legs.

A wave of remorse washed over Tawnirose's parents. Had they really forgotten one child in favour of the other?

Sorry Tawni," her father apologized. "You didn't think we forgot about you, did you?"

No Daddy, I didn't think that." Tawnirose did not admit she was feeling hurt. She chose to forgive her family and think nothing more on the matter, because she was a big girl, and Gramma Ella said that big girls didn't hold grudges. And it still was her birthday, and she had had a good day. She didn't want to ruin it now by being angry at her family.

Tawni bifday!" Summer squealed as she watched her blow out her candles. And Tawnirose was the first to tell her 'good job'.

That was really close to 'birthday', wasn't it, Gramma Ella?"

Yes dear, I think it was."

The 21st day of the month of Hunting ended with marshmallows. Giant pink, blue, yellow and green marshmallows, being roasted around a backyard campfire. Before bed, Grandpa Jakub told Tawni and her sister a bedtime story about a Brightvallian princess who would have rather lived on a farm than in her castle. There were goodnight kisses all around, and then the unis went to sleep. At this time in the lives of the two little girls growing up on Daisy Acres Farm, all was as it should be. Life was perfect, and it would always be perfect. That's how it seemed that evening, as the white wooden farmhouse was bathed in the country moonlight.

~*~

It all seemed to happen over a few mysterious days, late in the month of Gathering. The sapphire sky was going grey, as if it had become worn out and old from providing the Brightvale countryside with six months of beautiful days. As the sun was always hidden behind the clouds now, the air was growing colder, and the days were becoming shorter and darker, just as they had been in the winter.

It was clear to everyone in Brightvale that lazy days of summertime had come to an end, and it was now the season called fall. At least , that's what most of the farming Neopians called the time of the changing leaves...

I think 'autumn' is a better name for it, Daddy. It sounds nicer."

The spotted uni scratched his head. "How does it sound nicer then?"

Oh Dad, it's just a prettier word. What good ever came out of something falling? Baby beekadoodles fall out of their nests and get hurt, kids fall out of trees and their moms never let them climb them again. We fall for Grandpa Jakub's pranks and he teases us about it for the rest of our lives."

David shrugged. "I've always liked Grandpa's pranks. He used to get me and my brothers so bad when we were kids! I remember one time he used the garden garden hose, and the wheel from an old wheelbarrow--"

Yeah Daddy, you told me. So did Grandpa, multiple times."

Multiple times, hm? Who taught you that phrase?"

She shrugged, to imitate her father. "Picked it up."

This seemed to amuse David. "You're the only person I know who pays so much attention to words. Imagine how big your vocabulary will be by the time you're a mommy!"

I bet it'll be the biggest one for miles!" Tawnirose closed her eyes and tried to picture her vocabulary in all its magnificence. There was just one problem. "Daddy? What is a vocabulary?"

A vocabulary is all the words that a person knows. Multiple is an impressive word for a four-year-old to have in their vocabulary. So is autumn, for that matter."

Oh." Tawni liked the sound of this. It was an even better thought than the giant pumpkin she had been imagining sitting in her room. "Autumn is a good word for me to know, Dad? I'll keep using it then."

The spotted uni laughed. "You can call it whatever you want. But I'm going to keep calling it fall. Your grandpa calls it fall, and his dad and grandpa called it fall, and if it's good enough for them, it's good enough for me too."

An agreement was made. What Tawni didn't know at the time however, was how wonderful the word 'fall' could be. Why, if leaves didn't fall off the trees, she may never have learned an important lesson she would look back to all throughout her years.

Hurry up, Gramma! Come on Grandpa, can't you go any faster?"

The pink uni slipped and slid through puddles of mud, as she galloped down the hill ahead of her grandparents.

Tawnirose! Stay out of the mud, please!" Ella called from a few metres behind her, as she did her best not to slip while carrying her youngest granddaughter and trying to keep up with her oldest. "And slow down! The leaves aren't going anywhere."

Aww, Gramma Ella! I like the mud." No sooner than she had said it, did she happen upon a particularly slippery patch of the slimy mixture of dirt and rain water, and the uni's back hooves slid out from underneath her. She let out a quick yelp as she fell to the ground on her side and rolled like a wheel to the bottom of the hill.

Tawni!" she could hear her sister's voice call her name from the top of the hill. "Tawni, you hurt?"

No Summer, I'm okay!" she hollered back as the whole of Neopia spun around her head. "That was fun!"

Look at you," Ella scolded her when she and the others reached flat ground. "Your clothes are filthy. What's your mother going to say?"

Oh, come on, Ella." huffed Jakub, coming up beside her. "Dirty clothes never hurt any kid. And besides, I'm sure everyone's gonna look like her by the end of the day."

I suppose," Ella supplied eventually. "But Tawni, don't think this means you can get this dirty everyday. We'll have to buy you all new clothes."

That wouldn't be so bad..."

And you'll have to be having baths all the time." she added.

That was enough to keep the rambunctious tomboy out of the grime. "Okay Gramma," she said sweetly. "I'll walk on the grass instead."

Forgot, Tawni." Summer let go of her grandmother with one hoof to point to the straw sunhat that was lying a little ways up the hill, covered in leaves and dry pieces of brown grass.

Oh no!" The pink uni ran back to pick it up. "I almost left it behind."

Come on everybody, the Worthingtons are expecting us at four."

For an elderly couple and their two young granddaughters, a two hour hike through the mud was not exactly a picnic in the park. Still, they wouldn't have missed the trip for anything in the world. From what they had heard, the Worthington family's leaf pile was the most spectacular thing in all of Brightvale. Families from all over the area were flocking to the tiny farm on the outskirts of the kingdom, just to give their children a chance to jump in the mountainous pile of scarlet, gold, orange and brown. Rumour had it that even some of the adults were getting in on the fun.

Jakub, what in Neopia do you think you're doing? There are small children in there!"

Relax, Ella, I didn't land on anyone. Come on in, girls! The water's great!"

Tawni and Summer were puzzled. "There's no water here, Grandpa."

There's not? Well, how do you know of you don't jump in and see?"

While the girls were learning a valuable lesson about staying young at heart, Ella went to speak with Mrs. Worthington, the biscuit yurble who was watching over the leaf pile along with her oldest sons, Caleb and Medis.

Of course Summer can play in the leaves!" Mrs. Worthington was saying. "My baby girl, Bettina, has been in there all week."

Summer is only nine-months-old though, Mama." the older son, Caleb, put in. "And Bettina always has Holly right there watchin' her."

Well, Ella and Jakub are here. I'm sure they'll keep a close eye on her. It looks like she'll even have someone to play with in there." She motioned to the elderly green uni who was in the midst of throwing leaves at his two screaming granddaughters.

Ella rolled her eyes. "Yes, my little Jakub just loves the fall. It's a good thing Tawnirose is here to babysit them both."

The yurble got a strange look on her face, that the uni couldn't quite decipher. "Tawnirose?" she said as if she didn't know who Ella was talking about.

It seemed that the young pink uni had been listening to the whole conversation, as before her grandmother could reply, she was standing in between the two women. "I'm Tawnirose." she told Mrs. Worthington, the neighbour she had met on several occasions, and who should have known her well. "Did you forget who I was?"

I didn't forget you, Tawni dear." the yurble assured her. "I just didn't know you had come along, that's all."

Did you think they would bring Summer and not me?"

Tawni!" Ella exclaimed, shocked that her granddaughter would be so disrespectful to an adult.

Tawni shrunk back into the bushes. "I just wanted you to know that I'm here too. I can look after my sister, I do it all the time."

I know you can, sweet pea. Medis, can you tell the other kids to be careful around Summer? I don't want any accidents happening to the precious little dear."

Yes Mama." said the baby kougra who stood behind his brother, half hidden by the bushes. It was the first thing Tawnirose thought she had ever heard him say.

Come on, honey," Caleb said cheerfully. "Medis and I will introduce you and your little sister to the rest of the gang."

The gang turned out to be comprised of about twenty children, most of whom Tawni had never seen in her life. How could it possibly be that every one of them had heard of her baby sister?

My mom said Summer was walking and talking by the time she was six-months-old."

My mama said that too. She said she said her two first words within hours of each other, and she almost said a third one too!"

It was on my birthday." piped up Tawni, wondering if anyone had heard her or not.

Six months old, huh? How old is she now?" inquired a large yellow acara.

A water kyrii answered before Summer's sister could. "She's almost a year old."

She's so cute!" shrieked a pink lenny. "You're so lucky to have her as a sister, Tanya!"

It's Tawni." the uni frowned. "Tawnirose." But nobody heard her. They were too busy fawning over Summer, who was prancing around them, oblivious to all the praise and admiration. Still, Tawni couldn't help but wonder if she knew they were all talking about her, and she was trying to show just how cute she was. "Show off." she muttered under her breath. Just then, someone touched her on the arm. It was Medis Worthington.

Hey Tawni," the taller child looked down at her with his soft, honey-coloured eyes. "That's a nice bracelet you're wearing. Did you make it?"

The question took a moment to register. She shook her head slowly.

Oh. It looks like something my sister Holly would make. I was just wonderin' if you did that stuff too. That's why I asked."

Gramma Ella made it when she was a girl." Tawni told the young kougra. "It's a friendship bracelet..." She wasn't sure if it would be best to tell him the next part or not. "My sister has one too. They're special bracelets, just for sisters to have."

That's a nice idea." he said sincerely. "Why isn't Summer wearing hers though? Doesn't she like to wear it?"

Gramma says she's not ready yet. She's not big enough to wear it, I guess. Hey," All at once, Tawni realized the leaf pile was no longer flooded with children. In fact, all that was left were a few of the younger ones, stragglers it seemed, and she and Medis. "Where did everyone go?"

Although they weren't the only ones left out there, the woods were eerily silent, besides the dreary song of the wind rattling through the nearly bare maples.

I think your grandparents are in the house with my Mama." Medis could sense the small uni's discomfort. "Why don't we go see them?"

Tawni made a desperate grab for her hat as another gust of wind blew over the land. She trembled slightly. "Mm-hm."

The Worthington's house was little more than a shack, and quite a small shack at that for a family of six. It had two bedrooms, the bigger of which was divided into two for the boys and the girls to sleep. It also had a small bathroom, a sitting area and a kitchen, which was the place with the most activity in the Worthington household. On most evenings at five o' clock, Mr. and Mrs. Worthington, Caleb, Medis, Holly and little Bettina would crowd around the square table which took up a good portion of the room, to eat their supper. Today however, was a different story. The father of the family was absent from the table, delivering lumber to a neighbouring farm. Holly and Bettina had gone with him this particular day, but the postage stamp sized kitchen was more full of life than it had ever been. Nearly everyone who had been in the leaf pile was in there, each trying to push and shove their way to the table to get... What?

What are they all doing in here? Medis?" In less than the blink of an eye, Tawnirose had lost track of her friend. The children were packed so tightly that she couldn't see through the crowd, and she was nowhere near tall enough to be able to see over their heads. Beginning to panic, the four-year-old acted upon sheer mindless instinct, and sat down and started to scream. "Gramma! Grandpa! Where are you?"

We're over here, Tawni!" came her grandmother's voice from the centre of the room. "Follow my voice."

Okay!" she cried over the multitude of voices, and following her grandmother's shouted directions, she eventually made it to where her family sat. "What's happening, Gramma Ella?" Her question was answered when the large acara stepped out of the way, revealing a biscuit yurble sitting at the table, pouring glass after glass of hot apple cider. Tawni's face lit up, only to fall again in an instant when she saw who was handing the glasses to the dozens of anxious children.

Cider!" Summer squealed in her high, bubbly baby voice every time she handed someone theirs. "Cider's good!"

Aww! How cute is that?" Mrs. Worthington and all of the children were watching her intently, 'awwing' and cooing, and generally going gaga over a baby.

Sorry you got left out there, dear. We assumed you would have heard. Summer came in with the other kids, so we thought you must have been with them too."

She realized she had been daydreaming. "Um, can you repeat that please? What you just said?"

We brought Summer in with us." said the pink lenny who had gotten Tawni's name wrong. "We wanted to make sure she didn't get left behind."

Thank you kindly, Janae." said Jakub, taking a sip of his apple cider. "It makes me feel better to know you kids are watching out for her. I don't know what we would have done if she had been left out there all alone."

Tawnirose was seething now. Her grandparents would have been distraught if nobody had told her sister they were going in for apple cider, but they didn't appear to mind at all that nobody had told her!

No cider, Tawni." Summer looked at her big sister with round, sad eyes. "No cider left."

Ask for a refill then, silly, I'm sure they'd be delighted to give you the whole barrel if you asked them in that adorable voice of yours."

Aww, we're sorry, honey." said Caleb, who was sitting in the chair beside his mother.

The uni was about to ask what he was apologizing for, when again her question was answered by her own eyes. There, standing alone in the corner like a soldier who had been wounded, and was now unfit for battle, was the wooden cider barrel, as dry as the Lost Desert.

No more cider, Tawni."

I can see that!" she snapped. "I'm not blind!"

Don't talk to your sister like that, Tawni!" Ella strained her voice to be heard over the noise. "It isn't her fault it's all gone."

Sorry Tawni." Summer tried to hug her sister, who backed away.

You can give me a hug, Summer!" squeaked Janae, and a few of the other girls.

Across the kitchen, Caleb was pleasantly unaware of the trouble arising between the two unis. "Summer's a cute kid, eh Mama? And smart too. I don't think Bettina wasn't talkin' that much at her age, was she?"

Mrs. Worthington considered this. "No, I can't say that she was. Summer must be very advanced for her age. Holly didn't really start to speak until she was over a year old." The yurble seemed to be wondering whether she should be disturbed by this fact or not. "How old was Tawnirose when she started talking, Ella? Was she as young as Summer?"

At the mention of her and her sister's names, Tawnirose was alerted to the conversation just as her grandmother was replying.

No, Tawni wasn't quite as articulate as Summer at nine months..."

Tawni had already heard more than she cared to hear. She wasn't quite as articulate as her sister? How could that even be? She was absolutely certain that she was twice as articulate as Summer would ever be, whatever it meant. She had a feeling it was something to do with words, which made things all the more distressing, as words were her, Tawnirose's, specialty, not Summer's. Why would Gramma Ella say such a thing?

Because she likes her better, that's why. The thought echoed in the pink uni's mind. It filled her with rage and sadness, to the point where she wanted to tear the house down, then curl up and cry. She told herself she shouldn't be thinking such terrible thoughts, but for some reason at the same time, she was dying for more. After all these months, she wanted to finally be honest with herself. Ever since Summer came, people have been paying less and less attention to me. They don't even care about me anymore, they just pretend to. As long as they have their cute, little, articulate baby, they don't care what happens to me...

Mind clouded by her own relentless, cruel words, Tawni wandered out the Worthington's back door without even knowing what she was doing. Her first thought when she noticed that she was outside was to take a walk, and let the cool air clear her hazy head, but it seemed that the longer she was in the fresh air, the more fogged up her brain was getting. She was growing angrier and more upset by the minute, and by the time Tawnirose had reached the place where the leaf pile was, where the wide dirt pathway split in two, she had decided she wasn't going back.

Gramma Ella said a sister was a gift, but she was wrong. Sisters are terrible things, and I hate them. She slid off her blue, woven band, the bracelet she had been wearing since before Summer was born. The one that meant love, and friendship, an unbreakable bond that only sisters could have, and she threw it on the ground. "Did you see that, Summer?" she turned towards the house and yelled out loud. "That's what I think of sisterhood! You ruined my life," Hot tears were now streaming down her cheeks. "And I hate you."

And so she ran away, as fast as she could. Into a darker part of the forest where she would never be found by people who pretended to love her. As she ran, a gust of cold autumn wind blew her hat clean off her head. And she didn't go back to get it. It was too late, too late for Mom and Daddy, and Grandpa Jakub and Gramma Ella, and anything that reminded her of them. She was putting the past, her family, and everything she knew behind her, leaving them behind in the little white farmhouse made of wood. Nothing could stop her now.

~*~

By six o' clock, the cider barrel was long empty, and the people in the kitchen were running out of interesting stories to tell, funny things to laugh about, and most likely oxygen to breathe in the postage stamp sized room. So, at the request of Mrs. Worthington, everyone filed back outside into the leaf pile, where many of the children who had been dropped off had parents waiting for them.

The wind's picking up and the sky's getting darker. It looks like a storm is coming in." some of the adults were saying.

Come on, Janae, we'd better get home before the rain starts."

You too, Ruby."

Seamus, Gabby, come along!"

The black storm clouds moving in from the east were a scary yet alluring sight. Everyone was eager to get home before the rain started, but many were having a hard time tearing their eyes away from the great beasts that filled the sky.

See the clouds, Tawnirose? Aren't theyintriguing?" Jakub turned around , expecting to see the pink uni standing beside him. All he found though was Summer, sitting at his feet, her little mouth open in mid-yawn. "Getting tired there, sweetheart? I'll tell your Gramma it's time to go. Ella!" He located his wife standing by the bushes, speaking with the Worthington's oldest child. "Ella, I think it's about time we head back. Summer's getting sleepy, and we have a long walk home."

Ella nodded, but she appeared distracted by something. "Is Tawni still with Medis in the leaf pile? I haven't seen her since we were inside."

My brother's helpin' my Mama clean up." Caleb told them. "I just saw them, and Tawni wasn't with them."

She must be with the other kids then. We'd better tell her it's time to go."

When they got to the place where the dirt path split in two, they were startled to find that the leaf pile had been abandoned, save for a playful spotted tasu kitten who had stayed behind to jump at the leaves, as they were tossed about by the breeze.

Where did everyone go?"

They've all gone home, ma'am." came a soft voice from behind them. "The clouds scared them all away."

But Tawnirose... Where else could she be?"

The baby kougra's smile faded. "Tawni's gone?"

Just then, they were joined by a rather short of breath Caleb, who had been kind enough to give the tired Summer a piggyback-ride to her grandparents. "You haven't found her yet?" he puffed, putting Summer down on the ground. "There was a small group of kids in the front yard a few minutes ago, but Tawni wasn't with them. I can check in the house for you, if you, if you want."

Summer, too young to understand the dire situation, was overcome with glee upon seeing the tasu, pouncing at everything in sight. "Petpet!" she screamed, and rushed over to play with it. "Come back, petpet!" She chased it through the pile, giggling and squealing, kicking up the leaves behind her, creating a flying trail of red, orange, brown and gold. Then suddenly, there was another leaf, a leaf of a colour she had never before seen. It was the same shade as the sky on a late spring afternoon, and in the middle was heart that was candy pink and lovely. The strangest thing about the leaf was that it was a very different shape than the others. Instead of wide and pointy, it was narrow and long, and it was much more flexible than the other leaves.

Wait a mimute..." All at once, it dawned on Summer. This blue thing wasn't a leaf, it was... "Tawni's! band! Gramma, Grandpa, Tawni's band!"

What is it, dear?"

She trotted over to her grandparents, holding the bracelet high above her head for them to see. "Look here! Tawni's band!"

Jakub, Ella and both Worthington boys gathered around the green uni with the woven band wrapped thrice around her tiny wrist.

Would you look at that," Jakub marvelled. "It fits you perfectly!"

Tawnirose would never take that off," said Ella soberly. "Unless she absolutely had to."

Maybe she felt like she did have to." Medis wondered aloud.

What do you mean by that, Medis?"

By this time, Summer had wandered away from the group once more. She returned to the spot where she had found the bracelet, and was staring down the narrow pathway, which was completely in the shade of the overhanging trees, and resembled a tunnel more than a walkway. "Tawni?" she called into the dark. "Tawni there?"

What are you doing, Summer?" The blue yurble had come to see what she was up to, and the rest had nonchalantly followed.

Tawni down there." she pointed into the trees.

Do you think so?"

What's she looking at?" asked Jakub, taking up the rear.

Summer thinks Tawnirose went farther into the woods. I don't know why."

Oh, I don't think so, Summer. Your sister wouldn't just run off into the woods alone."

Ella wasn't so sure. "Jakub? You don't think she's run away, do you?"

There was a pause, after which Medis was the first to speak.

Maybe you had better go look for her. Caleb and me can search around here, just in case she hasn't left. Or she comes back."

Thank you. Would it be alright if we left Summer with you? The woods at night is not a safe place for a baby."

Come, Grandpa. Tawni down there!" the little uni tried to lead her grandfather by the hoof. "Come, Grandpa."

Jakub, let's bring Summer with us. If anyone can find Tawni, she can."

Ella, she's a baby! Besides, it's going to be raining any minute, she could catch a cold. And she was yawning away a few minutes ago--"

Jakub, I know she can find her." the pink uni insisted. "Look at her, she's sure she's in there somewhere. We have to bring her with us."

Jakub looked from his wife to his granddaughter, and then he sighed. "Can you find your sister, Summer?"

Tawni!" Summer hollered with the most passion and determination a nine-month-old could muster, and she started the unis off on their journey.

Best of luck!" Caleb and Medis sang in unison, waving to them from the clearing. "Come back soon! With Tawnirose, of course. Be safe!"

~*~

Tawnirose looked up to see the sky, but all she could see were the beaches of trees, looming over her like bullies in a schoolyard, backing her into a corner , leaning over her and trapping her in their monstrous shadows. She could hear thunder ,and she assumed there must have been lightning too, though she couldn't see it. Any minute now it would be raining, pouring from the sound of the thunder. She would have to move quickly if she wanted to have her house built before it started.

I guess I don't really need a swimming pool. Our house is fine, and it doesn't have one. I mean their house ." Tawni had promised herself that she would never again include herself as part of her family, or rather, the family who owned Daisy Acres. She was never going to see them again anyway. She was going to build her own house with her own two hooves, just like her great grandfather did so many years ago.

Let's see, I have seven big sticks and thirteen small ones. That should be more than enough to build the family room." She corrected herself. "I mean living room."

She stuck the large sticks vertically in the ground, arranging them in a square, leaving an opening at the front that would serve as a door. She used the small sticks to fill in the gaps between the large ones. When she was finished, she crawled in through the door, and sat for the first time in her new home. She barely fit.

You see, Tawni?" she had been speaking to herself ever since she had chosen to live her life on her own. "If Mom and Daddy, and Gramma Ella and Grandpa Jakub were here, your house would be way too small." She had decided that if worse came to absolute worst and she had to think about her family, she would not include Summer in her thoughts. After all, if it hadn't been for her silly baby sister, she could have still been living happily in the little white farmhouse made of wood.

Don't think like that, Tawnirose. Big girls don't hold grudges, remember? You'll be better off out here anyway, on your own, with nobody telling you what to do. And they'll be happier too, I bet. They can use my room for something else, like a pie room where they can keep their pies without having to worry about that pesky babaa coming in and knocking it over. It's better this way." Thunder crashed and caused the pink uni to jump. Then, without warning, came the long awaited downpour of rain. "It's better this way." Tawni repeated, hugging her knees to her chest.

It occurred to her as she was being soaked by the enormous, violent raindrops that her house would need a roof. The idea of a walk in a storm wasn't positively appealing to her, but as she was already drenched as she could be, she figured no further harm could come to her.

I need something flat that's big enough to fit over these sticks." She took a step back to examine her new dwelling space. She came to one conclusion: Compared to it, the Worthington's shack looked like King Hagan's castle. "There's gotta be a tree that still has its leaves somewhere in these woods."

~*~

The rain was came down in torrents, creating a mist as it pelted the ground, and shrouding the entire forest in fog. Ella's husband was right in front of her, but she could barely even make out his shape, for the rain stung her eyes, making them go blurry, almost to blindness. She could feel the mud squish under her sandalled hooves, and it was all she could do to feel, as no matter how long and hard she stared at the ground, she could see nothing but the thick, grey fog. At one time she felt something other than mud slip over her left hoof, and then the right. It was cool and slippery, perhaps a thick vine or some other climbing plant, whipping with the wind across the forest floor. "Jakub?"

Jakub had to roar for his wife to hear him over the storm. "What is it?"

It's... It's nothing." A few feet in front of her, Ella heard her nine-month-old granddaughter start to cough dramatically.

Do you still think it was a good idea to bring Summer with us?" bellowed Jakub.

Tawni." Summer sputtered between coughs. "I find Tawni."

Don't worry, sweetheart." Ella tried to sooth her. "We'll find Tawni soon."

~*~

Tawnirose," The pink uni's teeth chattered as she squeezed the water out of her dripping wet hair. "You are a lucky little girl. This cave couldn't be any more perfect for hiding from the rain! I'll stay in here until the storm stops, and then I'll keep looking for a roof for my castle." Tawni had decided that if she was going to all the trouble of building a house with her own two hooves, she might as well go the extra mile and build herself a castle while she was at it. That wayshe would never have to worry about running out of room, when she filled her home with urchulls, and eizzils and other forest-dwelling petpets. She was going to have to have dozens of little companions if she was going to live her whole life without a family.

Maybe I'll just stay here. It's protected enough, and it's definitely a decent size."

Then, she saw it. It was about two by two feet in diameter, and it was flat and blue. It only had a few small holes at one of its corners, and it was slung over the rock like it had no use, no purpose at all in the world, even though it would have been ideal for anyone's picnic, to cover anybody's table, or to be used as one particular, lonely little girl's roof.

This is exactly what I need!" She took hold of the blanket and went to shake it off, but out of the corner of her eye, she caught a glimpse of something brown, moving in the shadow of the rock. Tawnirose gasped in shock and horror. She had undermined the home of a venomous reptillior.

Oh my..."

Her first thought was to flee, but good sense told her to stay where she was. The creature hadn't yet seen her, but she knew that any sudden movement would surely alert it to her presence. Moving as subtlety as possible, the uni backed herself against the cave wall.

Mommy..."

Tawni was beginning to wish she still had a family to save her.

~*~

It had been raining steadily for more than an hour, and still the storm refused to subside. It was a miracle that the tiny search party was able to spot the strange arrangement of sticks in the blinding mist.

It's a house." observed Jakub. "A leaky one, but a house nonetheless."

Oh dear. This looks exactly like something Tawni would build. Was she planning on living out here?"

Whatever she was planning, she's not here now. Calm down, Ella. At least we know we're going the right way."

The path ends here," Ella pointed out. "Which way do we go now?"

The elderly green uni squinted through the gloom. "I see something over there," he motioned towards the west. "It looks like it's either a big tree, or a small building. Either way, it'll provide at least some shelter until the rain stops. Let's go."

Tawni there, Grandpa?" Summer whined in her grandfather's coat.

That sister of yours may have a will too strong for her little body, but she also has a good head in her shoulders. If Tawni knows there's shelter available, she's not gonna stay out in this yucky weather."

~*~

Frightened periwinkle eyes stared out the mouth of the cave. They were watching the rain, and wondering why it no longer seemed to be falling in drops, or even in streams as it had been earlier. Instead, it seemed to be coming down as one solid body of water, like somebody had opened a floodgate in the sky, and an entire ocean was draining into the small corner of Neopia that was the Brightvale countryside.It was like something from a ghost story, the way the rain left behind a mist that made the ground virtually invisible. The simple act of walking in such a storm could be life threatening, and Tawni wished more than she had ever wished for anything in her life that she could be out in it.

The reptillior seemed to be asleep at the moment, but she knew that at any second it could wake up, and then she would be completely at its mercy. She had considered attempting escape several times, but she had no way of knowing if the creature was really, truly sleeping. Its black eyes blended so well with its dark scales that if Tawni wanted to be absolutely certain they were closed, she would have to hold it up to her face, which she wasn't about to do. There was also the possibility that reptilliors didn't have eyelids, similar to some aquatic petpets that the uni knew of, and if that was the case then she would never know if the monster was sleeping soundly, oblivious to the intruder just as easily as it could be watching her every move, waiting for the opportune moment to strike.

I'm just gonna stay right here, okay? I'll leave as soon as I can, and I won't bother you anymore. I promise."

In the mind of an average four-year-old child, time goes much slower than it does in reality. A second seems like an hour when you're counting to ten in hide and seek. Days can seem like years when you're waiting for your birthday to come, and the years until you're old enough to do the things your older sibling can, can feel like centuries. For Tawnirose however, as she stood in the dank air of the cave that was meant to protect, no time seemed to be passing at all. It had been as dark as a moonless midnight ever since the clouds had blocked the sun, and Tawni had not the slightest idea of what time it really was. The rain never slowed down, or sped up, it just kept the same daunting pace, and the uni wondered if her cave would soon be washed away in the flood. As thunder rattled the world, and claps of lightening lit the sky on fire, the reptillior still sat in the faint shadow of the rock, still and silent as the rock itself.

You've been sleeping for a long time." The uni actually allowed herself to yawn. "Maybe you aren't really sleeping, and you're just not bothering with me because," she finished her sentence like a question. "You think that I'm nice?"

When the venomous petpet did not move, Tawnirose's weary mind took it as it was answering 'yes'. "If you're not going to bite me, maybe you can be my friend. I want lots of petpets to live with me in my castle. You could be the first one, if you want. And as long as you promise not to bite the other petpets either." She plopped down on the cavern floor where she had been standing, at what she had previously presumed to be a safe distance away from the reptillior. When her hoof slipped out from underneath her, sending a stone skittering past the creature, Tawni began to question how safe her resting spot truly was.

You are my friend, aren't you?" Her words came out as barely more than a whisper. "If you're not, then, just don't bite me, okay? Please?" Her knees were starting to shake now. Her throat tightened, her pulse became loud, and she could feel her heart beating in every part of her body. "You're a stupid girl, Tawnirose." she reprimanded herself under her breath. "Thinking you could be friends with a reptillior. It's going to eat you up!"

It made a loose circle around the rock, keeping one eye on the uni the entire time. Slowly but surely, it was getting closer. It was taunting her, torturing her in a way. It was playing with her emotions, seeing how scared it could make the trembling little girl before it struck.

Mom, Daddy, Gramma, Grandpa. Help me." She knew they would never hear her—she could barely hear herself. But for some reason, saying their names over and over gave her courage, and kept her as calm as a mortal in her situation could be. She pictured her mother telling her not to scream, and her father reminding her to move slowly. Her grandparents were standing at the mouth of the cave, telling her to run to them at the first chance she got. And standing besides her, holding her shaky hoof in her tiny little one, was another important member of the family. One that she could never forget, no matter how hard she tried.

I'm sorry, Summer, I didn't mean what I said. I don't hate you, you're my best friend. No, you're even more than that. You're my sister. I wish you were here now." She had started to cry again, so to stop herself she began to say her family's names again, this time including her dear little sister. The reptillior was directly in front of her now, and the five names spun faster and faster in her head.

Please help me, Summer." she breathed, almost inaudibly. And it was all she could do to imagine that her pathetic whispers were actual cries for help.

~*~

Jakub, is there something wrong? What do you see?"

As soon as the giant black shadow had come into focus, Jakub had stopped dead in his tracks. When Ella stepped into the clearing where the sky looked lighter and the mist seemed to be less thick, she could see that the shadow was not a building or a tree, but a cave. High, and dark, and menacing, like a monster from a nightmare, opening its mouth wide to show its deathly-sharp teeth.

It may be shelter from the rain, but who knows what else we'll encounter in there? I don't know about you, but I think we might be safer out here."

But what if Tawnirose is in there? We won't know unless we go in."

Jakub pondered this for a brief moment. "This cave is tall, but it doesn't look too deep. If Tawni's in there, she should be able to hear us from here."

Tawni? In there?" The only reply Summer got was the sound of her own voice, echoing several times before it faded into the darkness. "Tawni?" she tried again.

Summer?" said the pink uni as she clung to the cave wall. She didn't dare turn her head towards the entrance, lest she could be thrown of balance and fall to the venomous petpet, who was waiting for her a few feet down. "Summer, is that you?" she said a little louder.

The reptillior didn't like this one bit. Faster than lightning, it leapt at Tawni's dangling left leg, which she snapped out of the way just in time.

I don't think she's in there, sweetheart. We'll have to keep looking."

Why don't we go back to that pile of sticks we found, Jakub? Maybe Tawni's gone back there now that the rain's starting to let up."

At first she thought it had been wishful thinking, or even that she was beginning to go delirious. But now she was certain that the voices were real, and they were strong and beautiful and familiar. But why were they getting quieter?

Please don't go. I still want to be a part of this family. I still want to be your sister, Summer. Please don't leave me here. These words Tawnirose didn't even speak, in fear of the reptillior jumping again. Don't leave, don't leave, don't leave...

Tawni?" It was Summer's voice again.

Come on, Summer. We have to keep looking."

Tawni in there, Grandpa!" the nine-month-old insisted.

She's not in there, dear." Ella attempted to pick her up, but the stubborn baby refused to budge. "Summer, if Tawni were in there, she would have answered."

She did, Gramma! Tawni say 'don't leave'."

Ella and Jakub were both visibly startled by their granddaughter's claim.

I didn't hear that. Did you, Jakub?"

The green uni shook his head.

Tawni say 'don't leave', Grandpa. I know it." And without another word, she turned around and walked into the cave.

Stop, Summer. Gramma and I are coming with you."

The three unis arrived not a moment too soon. Every muscle in Tawnirose's body was on fire with the tension of being perched like a naleap upon two skinny rocks that stuck out only slightly from the cave wall. As desperately as she tried to hold on, all four hooves were starting to slip, and when she witnessed the miracle of her family coming to save her, she couldn't help but cry out with joy.

You're here!"

It was too early for anyone to rejoice, for they were not out of harm's way just yet. The reptillior made another try for Tawni's leg, but before it could reach her, the pink uni had disconnected from the wall and landed in her grandmothers' outstretched arms. The creature wasn't vexed, as he now saw a new target. A smaller, green target that sat on the dirt floor, turquoise eyes round with fear.

Summer, move, now!" Tawni leaped in between her little sister in the monster, and the next thing she knew, it was over. Her grandfather had scooped up the angry petpet in the discarded blue blanket, which he tied the ends of tightly in a knot. "That's enough activity for you for one day.

Grandpa!" Tawnirose goggled. "How did you do that? That was amazing!"

Oh, did you like that? Well, only the best for you, my granddaughter."

And Gramma Ella, if you hadn't caught me, I'd be... I'd be--"

Of course I caught you, Tawni." Ella shushed her. "You're Gramma's little girl."

But I thought..." The pink uni blushed. "Boy, I was so wrong. You came all the way out here in the rain to find me?"

We wouldn't have found you if it weren't for Summer." Jakub informed. "She said you were in here when your grandmother and I had given up."

Tawnirose knelt down and embraced her sister, as tightly as she could. "I knew you would find me." It was then that she noticed the woven band that was wrapped around the green uni's wrist. She remembered she had something she still had to tell Summer. "Gramma Ella said before you were born that a sister was a gift. I guess I never really understood what that meant. But I do now. I'm so grateful that you're my sister, Summer. I never want to get mad at you, ever, ever again."

Tawni safe now!" Summer cried giddily. "My sister safe."

As the unis set off on their long journey home, what had once been a terrible storm turned into a gentle, late evening sun shower. It was the perfect end to an extraordinary day in the lives of the family of Daisy Acres farm.

Here Summer, get on my back!"

Whee! Faster, Tawni!"

Not too fast, dear!"

Aw Ella, don't be an old stick in the mud. Let them have fun. Whee!"

Oh, Jakub," the elderly pink uni sighed. "You never did grow up, did you?"

The four unis broke into a run, laughing and playing and chasing one and other as warm drops of rain fell from a rainbow-filled sky. It was a moment of perfect happiness. The kind of moment where nothing from the past could hurt you, and the looming cloud of an uncertain future fades away like all clouds do. Tawnirose knew that the joy she felt came from the togetherness of that moment, and 'togetherness', she thought was the most wonderful word in her vocabulary, and it always would be, no matter how big her vocabulary got.

Gramma Ella, Grandpa Jakub! Look, a daisy! We must be almost home!"

A sun shower and togetherness, and the daisies of home. It was like something from a dream someone would have when they're not sleeping, or a storybook with pictures you can't see, that you have to feel with your heart. Tawnirose thought she would like to make such a storybook, and fill it with all of the beautiful words she knew. Words like 'wondrous' and 'splendorous', 'miscellaneous' and of course 'fluffy'. The first chapter of the book would be about the warmest night of the world's coldest winter, and a few evenings before it when she first learned the meaning of the word 'sister'. It would tell the story of everything that happened in the first months of Summer's life, and when she was finished writing it, she would give it to her baby sister as a present. Summer's birthday was in three months, and Tawni wholeheartedly intended for it to be finished by then. The problem was, although she knew more words than the average four-year-old did, her printing skills were only average, and she could scarcely spell more than her family's names.

But Tawnirose was a very determined little girl. She said she would one day write her book, and five years later, she did.




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