Invisible Paint Brushes rock Circulation: 189,095,624 Issue: 548 | 8th day of Relaxing, Y14
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Finding Aiko

by tooxie


The sunshine felt wonderful against my back. It was warm, but not to the extent of melting my fur. The floral scent of blooming, bright flowers floated through the air. Roses and lilies swayed in the breeze, and every now and then a tiny carmariller would flutter by and land on a flower. The sunflowers reached up into the sky, soaking in as much sunshine they could. In the distance, I heard birds singing and water trickling.

     I had no idea what I was doing here.

     Or, more importantly, where I was.

     I squinted my eyes as I tried to recall the path I had taken to come to this beautiful, lonely garden. All I could remember was running through the tangled weeds, jumping over thorny branches, and bursting out of the woods in my desperate need to get away... I couldn't remember why the tears had started flowing. Probably something that my classmate had said.

     I wiped my eyes again, and I became frightened as I surveyed my unfamiliar surroundings. What if I never found my way back?

     I sniffed, and sat down dejectedly onto an unusually flat rock. I was already dead either way. Boy, I would hear it from mom when I came home. IF I ever came home. This was not my first time running away from my classes, and I had promised that I wouldn't run away anymore. I could already imagine the lectures she'd give me, the miserable weeks that I'd spend at home, grounded. And on top of all that, I'd probably get another week of detention. Again.

     Right now, detention didn't sound too bad to me. I would probably take it with a smile just to escape this horrid loneliness, the feeling of panic that was starting to slowly crawl down my back.

     My heart suddenly broke into a sprint. My chest thumping, I started pacing around the garden, looking frantically around me for anything that even looked remotely familiar. The panic started rushing through my veins; the sun suddenly felt too hot, the chirping of the birds loud and eerie, the breeze was starting to make me nauseous. I called out, softly at first, for help. My voice became louder and louder until I was shouting at the top of my lungs for somebody, anybody to come and take me away from this foreign place. My voice was breaking, the tears were streaming down my face again, and sobs started to erupt from my throat.

     The daisies to the left of me quivered and collapsed. My heart skipped a beat of its rapid drumming and the tears thinned, and I quickly grabbed a nearby stick in case there was something unpleasant lurking underground. I tried to control my sobbing to listen for anything out of the ordinary. A soft rusting followed, and I watched incredulously as the daisies slowly started to rise from the ground. I stared at the patch of soil where the daisies had been planted in a moment ago, and jumped in shock when I caught sight of of a tiny petpet grasping the daisies in its little black paw. A Juma. Its fur was a striking yellowish orange with markings that alternated between a dusky taupe and a creamy yellow. Its bushy little tail was waving, and its tiny mouth was curved upward in an unmistakable grin. I couldn't help but smile back through my tears.

     "Hey there," I whispered shakily in the sweetest voice I could conjure up, kneeling down and extending my arms. I giggled, swallowing up the tears, as the Juma scampered up my hand and nudged my arm. Its gorgeous fur was unbelievably soft and smoother than velvet. It was so friendly and adorable that the fear I had been choking on not minutes ago had started to fade away at an amazing pace. Something about the Juma's adorably silly grin and playfulness had a calming effect on me. It leaped off of my paw and scampered off with a deceiving smile, and I chased after it, giggling as we scrambled through the dancing flowers.

     Of course, after I tickled and played with the Juma for a while, my panic started to trickle back into my mind. The Juma stared at me curiously, wondering why the smile had disappeared from my face. I shook my head at it and gazed out to the sky. How long had I been out here? The sky was already starting to darken, and dashes of magenta and purple replaced the blue as the sun lowered a microscopic bit. The clouds suddenly looked threatening; I could have sworn they were a few shades darker than when I first got here.

     "Do you know how to get home?" I sighed miserably, stroking the Juma's silky fur mindlessly as I thought about what I would do next. I could probably build some sort of ramshackle tent out of the branches and leaves of the surrounding trees, but who knows how long that would take me? I could look around for edible plants, save up some water, scream for help a little more, build a fire and arrange rocks to spell out a huge "SOS"... It stared back at me for a while as thoughts bustled through my head, sniffed at my shirt, and leaped out of my hands. I gasped in pleasant surprise as it looked back at me and gestured its tiny paw for me to follow. I'd heard about petpets who had an amazing sense of smell, but was it really possible that a lone little Juma could smell its way though the woods?

     Apparently, it was. I scrambled after it as it loped its way through lilies and dandelions and into the woods. The woods were terrifyingly dark now; hardly any sunlight filtered through the trees anymore. I could still make out the shape of the Juma ahead of me, and amazingly, I began to feel at ease as I gracefully weaved through the rocks and tree roots. I could spot a familiar white fence that I had jumped over in my haste to escape. I knew it well; it was right behind my neoschool and only a few blocks from my neohome. Relief pulsed through me, and I grinned at the Juma that was a few yards ahead of me.

     "Hey! Ummm... Juma!" I called. I definitely needed to give it a name. "Hey, Aiko! Aiko! We can stop now, I know where we are!" I sprinted ahead to catch up with Aiko, and I scooped the clever little Juma up. Aiko grinned at me, and I kissed the top of its head.

     "Thanks so much, Aiko! Hey, do you want to come home to live with me and my family?" I asked hopefully, leaping over the fence and jogging in the direction of my neohome. Aiko nodded. Or maybe that was just its head bouncing as I ran, but that didn't matter.

     "Really? Great! My mom is a really great owner and you'll love my siblings, Jhovan and Rysaile..." I rambled on and on about my life with mom and my siblings until we finally arrived at home.

     And that's how Aiko came to join our family. Sweet, isn't it?

The End

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