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Adventures in Akadia

Chapter 23

The Quotidian Village

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     As the group walked into the Quotidian village, the kids' eyes widened with wonder. Everywhere they looked, there were Quotidians bustling about, each one dressed in colorful outfits that made them look ready for a party.

     "Wow!" gasped Gabriella, her voice filled with amazement.

     "They look so... happy," Elizabeth whispered, noticing the excitement on their faces.

     The Quotidians were clearly preparing for some sort of celebration or holiday. The air was filled with the scent of delicious food cooking and the sound of cheerful laughter.

     As the kids stepped into the village, the lively atmosphere quieted down when the Quotidians noticed their arrival. Eyes filled with surprise at the sight of the muddy newcomers, whispers of "kiddos" and hushed conversations filled the air. Some of the younger Quotidians looked a bit worried when they saw the kids covered in mud.

     It only took a moment for the whispers to turn into encouragement. 

     "Good luck, kiddos!" one shouted, 

     “You be great!" called out another. 

     More words of encouragement filled the air and the bustling energy from before had returned. 

     As they continued to make their way through the crowded village, a familiar face emerged from the crowd..

     "Hiya, kiddos!" exclaimed Rosy, a warm smile spread across her face. 

     "You be lookin’ like mudchubs!" she teased, a playful grin on her lips.

     By this point, the mud had dried on their bodies, leaving them feeling uncomfortable and stiff. 

     Rosy nodded sympathetically, "I think we can be helpin’ with that."

     With a gesture for the kids to follow, Rosy led them toward a cozy cottage down a nearby street. As they approached, the kids could see a group of young Quotidians sitting around a table focused intently on a project.

     The young Quotidians looked up as the kids approached, revealing the faces of Dazy, Lulu, Zookers, and Olly.

     "Kiddos!" they shouted in unison, excitement lighting up their faces. 

     They hopped from their chairs and hurried to give the kids hugs, but stopped themselves just before embracing them, noticing all the mud.

     Wink chuckled and asked, "Quotidis, you wanna show the surprise you be workin’ on?"

     “Ooh, yes yes yes!” Lulu shouted.

     They grabbed the kids by the hand and eagerly led them toward their project.

     "Ta-da!" Zookers called out, his arms open wide as he gestured toward four outfits sitting proudly on top of a table.

     The clothes were beautiful and matched the colorful and vibrant style of all the other Quotidians in the village. However, the kids couldn't help but notice that these outfits seemed a too big, even for the tallest of Quotidians.

     Elizabeth exclaimed, “Wow! These are beautiful. You guys did a great job!”

     Gabriela nodded enthusiastically, adding, “They really are beautiful. But they seem so big. Who are they for?”

     The Quotidians exchanged knowing glances, their grins growing wider as they looked up at the kids.

     At that moment, the kids realized the clothes had been made just for them. The girls' faces lit up with excitement and their hearts leapt for joy at the thought of wearing such beautiful outfits. The boys were grateful, but didn't show the same excitement as the girls. 

     With eager smiles, the young Quotidians rushed to the table, each grabbing a different outfit and eagerly handing it to the kids. All the nearby Quotidians gave their approval as the kids held up their outfit against their body. 

     "Oh, they look wonderful!" Aurelia exclaimed, her face beaming with pride.

     The kids were grateful to have a chance to get all cleaned up and put on their new Quotidian-style outfits.

     The girls emerged squealing with delight, noticing how they were now dressed a lot like Aurelia. The boys' expressions showed at least some uncertainty. But as they looked at themselves in the mirror, they couldn't deny how well the young Quotidians had done. Somehow, each of their outfits had their favorite colors and patterns.

     "I love the shoes," Jamari remarked with a grin, wiggling his toes in the comfortable slipper-like fabric. "They are so comfy."

     Dressed in their new clothes, the young Quotidians eagerly led the kids around to all the festivities.

Everywhere they looked, there was wonderful food, amazing smells, and fun games. To their delight, the kids spotted Penpen, Magoo, Sunny, and Rooby playing a game of bubblyball with a group of other Quotidians their age. Each of them noticed the kids and gave an excited wave before returning to their game.

     Looking up to Aurelia, Gabriela asked, “What are all these Quotidians celebrating?”

     Aurelia looked a little surprised by the question. "Well, they are here for you of course! They are here for the challenges.”

     In that moment, the full weight of the challenges seemed to be dumped on the kids' shoulders. They kids exchanged worried glances.

     "When is the challenge?" Lukas asked, his voice shaky.

     "First thing tomorrow morning," Aurelia responded calmly.

     Despite all the joyful celebrations around them, the kids struggled to enjoy themselves for the rest of the day. They were worried. They still didn’t know what their challenge was going to be and they hadn’t realized that hundreds of Quotidians would be watching. 

     One moment of pure joy came when Barky bounded into the village, his tail wagging furiously with excitement. It was clear that Barky was adored by all the Quotidians, who greeted him with cheers and loving scratches as he made his way through the bustling streets.

     As the sun set, the celebrations stayed alive as a series of glowing campfires were made. The air continued to be filled with the sound of giggles, songs, and cheerful music.

     The kids gathered around a crackling fire with their companions: the young Quotidians, Rosy, Wink, Barky, and Aurelia. Each of them had a plate piled high with delicious food, but despite their efforts, they felt too nervous to really enjoy it. 

     "How are you all feeling about tomorrow?" Aurelia asked, her voice gentle and attempting to be reassuring.

     The kids glanced at each other and nobody immediately answered.

     Finally, Jamari spoke up and admitted, "I'm actually feeling pretty nervous now.”

     The others nodded in agreement.

     "Tomorrow is a big day," Aurelia remarked softly, her words carrying a sense of both anticipation and encouragement.

     A moment of silence followed until Lukas asked, "Is there a way to feel less nervous?"

     Each of the others looked to Aurelia, eager to hear her answer.

     Aurelia knelt down as she added another log to the fire. She sat back down and brushed off her hands before responding, "That's a great question.”

     Another moment of silence followed as Aurelia looked thoughtfully into the fire.

     Finally, she responded, "There is a way to help you feel less nervous," she explained gently, "but it's also important to remember that feeling a little nervous can be a good thing.” 

     Her response caught the kids off guard and they exchanged uncertain glances, wondering if they had heard her correctly. 

     Aurelia turned to Jamari with a curious smile, "Jamari, do you ever feel nervous before a basketball game?"

     "Sure," he began with a nod. "We had a game a couple of weeks ago against a really good team, and I felt pretty nervous for that."

     "Did that game mean a lot to you?" Aurelia inquired.

     "Oh yeah, it was a really big game," Jamari replied proudly.

     Aurelia nodded thoughtfully, "Do you think part of the reason you were nervous was because of how important the game was to you?"

     Jamari paused, considering her question. After a moment, he nodded, "Yeah, I think so."

     "That's why being nervous is not always a bad thing," Aurelia explained, "Sometimes, it just means you are about to do something that is really important to you."

     A look of realization crossed Elizabeth's face as she spoke up. "That happens with me and my dancing."

     "Exactly," Aurelia replied with a warm smile. "So when you're feeling nervous on a day like this, the first thing to do is remind yourself that this is your body’s way of showing you how important it is to you. This is actually one way your body will help you focus and do your best."

     The kids listened intently, trying to soak in Aurelia's words.

     Aurelia continued, "But there are ways to help your body feel a little less nervous. Sometimes what happens when we get nervous is our body can forget to take in deep breaths. We can actually help our body to remember to take those deep breaths.``

     "How do you do that?" Elizabeth asked curiously.

     "There are lots of different ways," Aurelia replied cheerfully, "One of my favorites is what I call 'bubblyball breaths'."

     The kids couldn't help but let out a nervous chuckle at the name.

     Aurelia demonstrated, holding out her hands as if cradling an imaginary ball. 

     "Imagine you have a bubblyball in your hands," she said in a soft and soothing voice, "But the ball is flat and we need to get it ready to play with. So now, with your breath, fill up the ball slowly." She made a small circle with her lips and took in a slow, deep breath, expanding her hands to mimic the ball inflating.

     "Once it's full," she continued, "hold the air in just long enough for a super dooper quick game of bubbly ball. And now it's time to let it go." Aurelia exhaled slowly, deflating the imaginary ball in her hands. Aurelia repeated the process until each of the kids had joined her for a few breaths.

     She then explained, "And you can do that as many times as you want. I try to do it until my body feels more calm."

     Even after Aurelia had finished explaining the bubblyball breaths, the kids continued to practice.

     Once they finished, Aurelia asked, "How does that feel?"

     "Better," Elizabeth replied with a small smile, and the others nodded in agreement.

     "But some of the nervous is still there, right?" Aurelia prompted, observing their expressions.

     Again, the kids nodded, their faces reflecting the mix of emotions.

     "And that's okay," Aurelia reassured them, "Remember, that is your body's way of reminding you that tomorrow is an important day for you."

     "Will you tell us our challenge now?" Jamari quipped playfully.

     Aurelia chuckled warmly, "Nope. But you only have to wait one more day to find out."

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