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Adventures in Akadia

Chapter 20

Love and Fuzzywigs


     The hiking that day didn't even feel like hiking; the kids were so happy to be back with Aurelia. The forest path felt very similar to the one they first explored in Akadia, with many wildflowers and easy to walk. As they continued on, Lukas realized someone was missing.

     “Wait, where’s Barky?” he asked, astonished that he was only now noticing Barky wasn’t with Aurelia.

     Aurelia responded, “I’m sure he’d love to have been here, but he is helping some Quotidians with a project right now.”

     Worried, Lukas asked, “Will we get to see him again?”

     “Oh yes,” Aurelia replied, “I’m sure as soon as he’s done helping he will come find us.”

     A grin returned to Lukas’ face and the group continued onward.

     With a voice that was half nervous, half excited, Elizabeth asked, “So how far is it to the challenges?”

     Aurelia slowed to a stop and put her hands on her hips as she examined their surroundings, “Hmm. I would say we are still probably about two or three days away.”

     Aurelia pulled the map out of her pack and laid it out for everyone to see. Pointing to the map, she explained, “there we are, just below the Golden Shore.”

     The kids examined the area around where Aurelia had pointed, focusing on what was between them and Challenge Stadium.

     “It looks like there is a bridge coming up,” Lukas noted.

     “That’s right,” Aurelia confirmed.

     Gabriela followed up by asking, “And it looks like after that we have to go through a swamp?”

     Aurelia nodded, her smile oddly bright for just having confirmed they would need to travel through a swamp.

     Aurelia stowed the map away as she said, “Let’s go. The bridge should be just up ahead.”

     The kids followed Aurelia and within a few minutes, they came around a bend and could see the wooden bridge that crossed over a river. What the map hadn’t shown was what was standing in front of the bridge.

     Blocking the path that led to the bridge, the kids saw five fuzzy creatures. The creatures, a little bit shorter than Aurelia, were each a unique color and had their arms folded. Aurelia stopped abruptly, nearly causing the kids to collide with one another.

     “Oh dear,” Aurelia said in a soft voice, just louder than a whisper.

     “What are they?” Lukas asked, “Are those Brulks?”

     Aurelia shook her head, “No, they’re Fuzzywigs.”

     “Are they mean?” Elizabeth asked nervously.

     Aurelia’s face scrunched up a little as she thought how to respond, “They certainly aren’t mean. They are just very peculiar and particular. I imagine they are going to want us to give them something if we’re going to cross the bridge.”

     “What do you mean?” Lukas began, “Like money? We don’t have any money!”

     Aurelia gave a half chuckle and responded, “I’m sure they aren’t interested in money. Let’s just go see what they have in mind.”

     Before any of them had a chance to protest, Aurelia began marching forward. The kids followed closely behind, peaking their heads around her every few steps to catch a glimpse of the Fuzzywigs. As they got closer, the kids realized that the creatures were smiling. Seeing their ear to ear grins made the kids a little less nervous.

     As Aurelia approached, she confidently called out, “Good afternoon, Fuzzywigs!” 

     Aurelia stopped just a few feet short of the new creatures and asked, “Would it be alright if we cross your bridge?”

     The Fuzzywig standing in front, with dark grayish blue fur, kept smiling but let out a high-pitched grunt, almost like a hiccup.

     Curiosity got the best of them, and the kids peaked their heads out from behind Aurelia. This caught the attention of the Fuzzywigs and their eyes all became wide. The Fuzzywig in front spoke in a voice that sounded like it belonged to a kitten, “Ah! Kiddos!”

     Each of the kids had to keep themselves from giggling at the sound of the Fuzzywig's voice. 

     Aurelia looked back, silently appreciating their ability to keep their giggles to themselves, “Yes, these children are visiting Akadia. I am helping them get to their challenges. But we need to cross this bridge to get there. Would it be okay if we cross?”

     The leading Fuzzywig stroked his chin and his face took on a thoughtful expression. He then turned to his fellow Fuzzywigs and they huddled together so their conversation wouldn’t be heard. This half-way worked, the kids were still able to pick out a couple of words they were saying. After a brief huddled conversation, the Fuzzywigs resumed the exact same positions as they had before and crossed their arms again.

     “Okay…,” the Fuzzywig began, “We let you pass. But you do something first.” 

     The kids still had to keep themselves from giggling.

     The Fuzzywig explained, “You do something for each Fuzzy, then we let you pass.”

     Now feeling comfortable enough to speak up, Jamari asked, “What do you want us to do?”

     The Fuzzywig stepped forward and turned to begin pointing at his four friends, “This one like nice words. This one like presents. This one like time. This one like service.”

     The Fuzzywig then stepped off to the side, leaving the four remaining Fuzzywigs blocking the path to the bridge.

     “Alright…,” Aurelia said hopefully, “Where do you kids think we should start?”

     Gabriela stepped forward, looking to the Fuzzywig furthest to the right, “He said this one likes nice words. Does that mean he likes it when he hears nice things?”

     Aurelia smiled and nodded.

     The kids wondered what might be some nice things they could say. Noticing how neatly the Fuzzywig had combed his fur, Elizabeth said, “I really like how shiny and smooth your fur is! It looks like you spent a lot of time to take care of it.”

     The Fuzzywig’s grin became even bigger and he stroked the fur on top of his head. He chuckled and then skipped over to stand with the first Fuzzywig off to the side.

     “Three to go,” Jamari said in a whisper.

     Lukas was the next to step forward. He looked up to a bright blue Fuzzywig and commented, “He said that this one likes presents.”

     Gabriela asked, “Does anyone have a present that we could give him?” 

     Everyone began looking through their bags. They had plenty of stuff, but nothing that really fit as a present to give a Fuzzywig.”

     Everyone began to look at one another, feeling stumped. As she looked around, Gabriela got an idea and ran out into the trees.

     “Where are you going?” Jamari called after her.

     They quickly realized that she was gathering up wildflowers. Elizabeth became excited and followed after her. The two of them, with a little help from Lukas and Jamari, were quickly able to make a beautiful bouquet that appeared to have every color of the rainbow. Once they had it arranged just the way they wanted, Gabriela walked up and presented it to the Fuzzywig.

     Just like the last one, the Fuzzywig’s smile became even bigger as he graciously accepted the bouquet and brought it up to his face to smell each flower. He then gave a little bow and moved off to the side. Now there were two Fuzzywigs standing in front of the bridge.

     Jamari commented, “I remember him saying that one of them liked time.”

     “It was this one,” Elizabeth said, pointing to a Fuzzywig with green fur.

     Gabriela and Lukas nodded in agreement.

     “But what does that mean? How does someone like time?” Elizabeth asked.

     “It must mean he likes spending his time doing something special,” Lukas proposed.

     Unexpectedly, the Fuzzywig started to nod his head, confirming Lukas’ suggestion.

     The kids spent the next several minutes attempting to guess what this Fuzzywig’s favorite activity would be. But with each guess, he would gently shake his head.

     Again, the kids felt stumped until Aurelia suggested, “Maybe the what of the quality time is less important than who he gets to spend it with.”

     After having a moment to think about it, Lukas said while looking to the Fuzzywig, “So you don’t care what the activity is? You just want to spend some special time with us. Is that right?”

     The Fuzzywig nodded bigger than ever before.

     “Alight!” Jamari began while taking off his backpack, “I’ve got an idea. How about some hide and seek?” 

     The smile left the Fuzzywig's face and was replaced by a look of confusion.

     “Maybe he’s never played it before?” Gabriela suggested.

     Jamari looked to the Fuzzywig and asked, “Oh, do you want me to explain how to play this game?”

     The Fuzzywig’s smile returned and he nodded.

     “Okay, it’s easy!” Jamari began to explain, “One of us is going to count. And while that person is counting, everyone else is going to hide from them. Make sense?”

     The Fuzzywig nodded and began bobbing his feet up and down, waiting for someone to begin counting. 

     “Okay, I’ll be it!” Jamari called out as he ran toward a tree. He then put his face up against the trunk and covered up the sides of his face with his hands.

     “1…2…3…4,” Jamari began. The rest of the kids quickly set down their backpacks and ran in every direction. The Fuzzywig followed their lead and also hurried to find a place to hide. 

     “38…39…40! Ready or not, here I come!” Jamari exclaimed as he moved away from the tree and began his search. He first found Elizabeth, who had tried to hide behind Aurelia. He then found Lukas, who had hid behind a nearby tree. After a few minutes of searching, he was able to find Gabriela sitting up in a tree.

     “Now to find that Fuzzywig,” Jamari said to the group.

     The other kids began to help in the search, with no luck. Several minutes passed and there was no sign of the Fuzzywig anywhere.

     The kids returned to their starting place and Jamari called out, “Alright! We give up!”

     They were startled when a nearby bush revealed itself to not actually be a bush, but the Fuzzywig.

     Amazed, Lukas asked, “Wow! How did you do that?”

     The Fuzzywig smiled and skipped to join his friends next to the bridge.

     “One more,” Elizabeth remarked as they stepped up to the final Fuzzywig.

     “He said this one liked service,” Gabriella noted.

     “That means doing something for him, right?” Jamari asked.

     The others nodded as they all began to think of what sort of service a Fuzzywig would appreciate. They struggled to come up with an idea and Aurelia suggested, “Think about what kind of service you really like someone doing for you.”

     “I really like it when someone helps me with my chores,” Gabriela commented.

     “My dad helps me with my homework sometimes,” Elizabeth added.

     “I love it when my mom gives me back scratches,” Jamari exclaimed. 

     At the mention of this idea, everyone immediately turned to the very hairy Fuzzywig.

     “Do you like back scratches?” Jamari asked.

     The Fuzzywig answered by turning around, his back now facing the kids.

     The kids ran up and immediately began giving the Fuzzywig an eight-hand back scratch, and he loved every second of it.

     The Fuzzywig turned around to face the kids and gave a grateful smile. He then stepped off to the side, clearing the path to the bridge.  

     The kids excitedly put their backpacks back on and made their way to the bridge. They waved to the Fuzzywigs and said thank you as they passed.

     As they were crossing, Lukas asked, “What was that all about?” 

Aurelia responded, “They were teaching a lesson about love.”

     “Huh?” Elizabeth replied, “What were they teaching us?”

     “They were teaching us that there are many ways to say I love you.”

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