The Wandering Feather
Written by: Kevin (KS) Sharbaugh
"Two roasted acorns on the wall, two roasted acorns," Dale sang gleefully, "Take one down, pass it around... One roasted acorn on the wall." The chipmunk took a deep breath, and continued, "One roasted acorn on the wall, one roasted acorn. Take one down, pass it around... No more roasted acorns on-n-n-n the-e-e-e wa-a-a-all!"
"One more time!" Doohickey yelled out enthusiastically.
"Are you cuh-razy?!" cried Chip, almost muffling the sound of the freight train on which they rode, "We sat through Romulus and his Hundred Slabs of Meat', Monty and his Hundred Wheels of Cheese' and Dale's Hundred Roasted Acorns'..."
"Just kidding," Dee' assured her fiancé as she nudged him playfully. "I could practically hear your teeth grinding when Dale started up," the mouse explained, "I knew it would just take a little bit to get you to blow your top." She hugged her chipmunk close as she cooed, "You're just so cute when you blow your top!"
"Just don't go settin' im off in front off yer kids," Monterey Jack suggested, "Provided you have any, that is."
The full impact of what becoming a married munk might mean weighed on Chip's mind for a moment. "Having kids," he muttered, "Mom's going to be glad to know there'll be the pitter-patter of little Maplewoods in my life."
"Hawkfeathers," Dee quietly corrected.
"And maybe my Dad's right," Chip continued, his fiancé's comment not having sunk in yet. "Maybe having children around will help Dale grow up a little!" he laughed.
"Hey!" Dale protested at the insinuation.
"Huh?" Chip blurted out simultaneously with Dale's comment, his fiancé's finally having registered.
"Well, at least on the reservation they'll be Hawkfeathers'," Dee clarified tenderly, trying to minimize the bruising of her future husband's ego, "They can be Maplewoods' everywhere else."
Dale just sulked, being so completely ignored by Chip. Foxglove sought to sooth his ego by wrapping her wings around him tenderly and resting her head on his shoulder. She was a little fuzzy about what exactly had been said due to the wads of cotton in her ears (the roaring of the freight train being quite uncomfortable otherwise) but knew that Chip's preoccupation with Dee was once more benefitting her preoccupation with Dale.
"What do you mean?" Chip asked, hoping for greater clarification on what his future wife had stated.
"It's tribal custom that children inherit the family name of their biological mother rather than their father," she pointed out, "It's been that way ever since we adopted the use of family names'."
"Why would you do something like that?" Dale asked, his curiosity overcoming his sense of being snubbed' by Chip.
"We adopted matrilineal nomenclature for the same reason Europeans adopted patrilineal nomenclature," Dee pointed out. She smiled contentedly as Dale's mouth hung open.
"She means using the mother's name for the same reason Europeans use the father's name," Gadget clarified for Dale's sake.
"I knew that," Dale claimed.
"The European custom of naming children after the father is because their societies, like many others elsewhere, were patriarchal: only the males had power," Dee proceeded to explain, "So you would be judged by who your father was, therefore your name included mention of your father's family. My tribe, on the other hand, is a matriarchy: controlled by females. Your status is determined by who your mother was... and, since tribal and clan membership are both traced through the mother's family, retaining the mother's family name makes it easier to tell who is and is not a member of our tribe or clan."
"So that means I'm a member of your tribe too, right?" Gadget surmised.
"Yep," Dee replied simply, "Both you and Raven are Seneca mice of the Wolf Clan."
"Hold on," Monty joined in, addressing Dee, "Not only were you adopted into a wolf pack but you were already a member of a wolf clan?"
"Ain't it neat the way that works out?" Romulus, the alpha wolf, piped up as Dee nodded happily.
"I woulda' thought you were a member of the Hawk Clan," Monty speculated, "Being a Hawkfeather and all." Before Dee could get out a response, he asked, "There ishere a Hawk Clan, isn't there?"
"Sure," Dee assented, "There are eight clans... Wolf, Deer, Beaver, Bear, Turtle, Snipe, Heron, and Hawk." Having answered Monty's question, she proceeded to clear up the discrepancy in her family's nomenclature, "When the Clan Mothers originally decided to hand down names for the families in their Clan, they wanted to use names that had some relevance to it. However, some members of the tribe already had informal names that people inside and outside the tribe referred to them by, so they were given preference... less work that way. Since the progenitor of our family, Asani, was already known for carrying around a lucky hawk feather, she officially became Asani Hawkfeather." There was a small pause before Dee finished, "Of course, some of the original names have died out and some non-tribal' names have been included through adoption."
"Wait a minute," Chip intoned, "You said your tribe was a matriarchy, but last year when we were staying with you, people referred to the head of your tribe as a Chief... as a he. In a matriarchy, wouldn't the head of the tribe be a she?"
"Well, that's just being picky," Dee laughed as she poked Chip, "Yes, the Chief is a he', but he is elected by the Clan Mothers, and if they aren't pleased with his performance, he is removed from power."
"What if he doesn't want to give up power?" Dale asked.
"Most of the males who become Chief aren't that stupid," Dee answered quite seriously, "According to our oral history, one was that stupid... he was killed." She then continued n a lighter tone, "But generally it's understood that the Clan Mothers would basically have nothing more to do with him, and since most people in the tribe turn to the Clan Mothers for counsel, when they turn their back on the Chief the rest of the tribe usually follows... especially if his own Clan Mother chooses to shun him."
"How do the Clan Mother's get their authority?" Gadget inquired, "Is it inherited, mother to daughter?"
"No, it's just general consensus," Dee answered, "The most respected female in the Clan is the Clan Mother. That's basically it... no elections. In fact, our own grandmother was the matriarch of our Clan before she died. You'll actually get a chance to meet the current one, I'd like to get her blessing before I get married."
"You mean she has to approve of our marriage?" Chip incredulously asked.
"It's not required by tribal law or anything," Dee comforted him, "It's just a tradition when females marry outside the tribe." She then smiled happily at her fiancé as she continued, "Besides, I don't see why she'd have a problem with you, after all, you've all gained a certain amount of celebrity status after busting up that gang last year."
The sounding of the train's whistle alerted all within earshot that it's next stop was approaching quickly. The Rangers and their companions proceeded to load baggage aboard the two wolves who were to provide transport the rest of the way to the pack's den, and Dee's home. This baggage included not just typical carry along luggage but both of the Ranger's aircraft and Dee's one mouse flyer. Both Foxglove and Fangs were looking forward to being away from the incessant rumbling of the train. As the train slowed to a crawl, the wolves pulled the door to the freight car they were traveling in open. Crouching down, they waited for their rodent companions to climb aboard. Then, once the momentum of the train had made doing so sufficiently safe, they leapt to the ground and darted into the weeds that bordered the rails. The wolves trotted for some distance before they were sure that the train's human crew couldn't spot them, the lateness of the night making it rather unnecessary.
"How long till we get to the city?" Raven asked once it was learned no one had fallen off their lupine transport.
"We're already there," Dee replied with a laugh.
"You sure?" the girl asked as she looked about, finding no signs of civilization whatsoever, just darkness and weeds.
"Sure I'm sure," the mother responded lightly.
"Judging form the condition of the ground I'd say we haven't had rain here in a while," Romulus surmised, "The river should be no problem to cross."
The weeds through which they passed soon grew to a small forest. If it weren't for the sound of a car racing by along the road cut into the side of the hill up above somewhere, Raven could have sworn they were miles from human habitation... much less a whole city. To the side, from between the trees, she caught a glimpse of light in the distance... it wasn't much, but it was clearly a flourescent streetlight. The growing sound of rushing water brought forth the familiar image of water emptying from a treatment plant or factory into the river. However, as they all emerged from the trees onto the riverbank, the hoped for manmade drainage turned out to be a constriction in the river. But at least there was obvious civilization on the opposite side.
As the wolves made their way across the natural choke point in the river, Dee looked towards the same streetlights that caught her daughter's eye. But it wasn't the faint image of human homes, illuminated by artificial lights and obscured by trees, upon which her gaze fell, but the wall of blackness that ran between them and the river. She thought about pointing out the significance of the site to her sister and daughter, but decided the pain doing so would bring up in her own heart could wait till later.
Leaving the river, the wolves trotted over a small spit of gravel before ducking once more into some weeds. This time, though, there was a definite trail. Trees once more loomed overhead as they made their way along the dirt path. Raven eagerly looked forward as she caught site of a streetlight very close. But the mouth of the trail opened onto a road with no markings, no curbs, beyond which was a guard rail and then even more trees... this still didn't look like much of a city. Quickly crossing the pavement to a sidewalk, the wolves made their way uphill towards the homes Raven had spotted earlier.
Passing a large yellow house on a corner lot, whose doors were boarded up and whose empty windows stared blankly into the night, Raven felt a chill run through her. Even though the road had grown curbs, and the apparent wilderness was giving way to manicured lawns and phone lines crisscrossing overhead, the prevailing silence was unsettling for the young mouse. Even insulated deep within the inner walls of the department store where her adopted parents had raised her, the sounds of a living city were quite audible... traffic, honking horns, an occasional police siren, even low flying aircraft. But here, there was nothing, no sounds at all save for a cricket. The sudden rustling of leaves overhead startled her. Raven actually felt embarrassed by her reaction.
"Up ahead, where the street comes to a stop," Dee started to direct Romulus, "Off to the right across the intersecting street there's a long narrow field between the houses... At the end of it there's a trail into the woods up to Titus Creek... We can follow it up to the overpass of the expressway. We'll be less visible that way."
"Thank you," Romulus sighed, "I don't think I could have stood going all the way through the city along the sidewalks like last time."
They came to the intersection and stopped as the wolves waited for a lone motorcycle to make it's way past before crossing. Raven felt a little better with the roar of an engine coming by down a clearly marked street. As their conveyance proceeded to trot across the pavement, the young mouse instinctively looked up and down the length of the street for traffic, but only caught the tail light of the motorcycle and the blinking of distant yellow traffic lights. Up a driveway, onto the sidewalk, then a sudden left turn towards the open field... Again Raven realized they were once more to be swallowed up by the blackness beyond. With the streetlights to their backs, her eyes adjusted to the lack of illumination and saw a vast willow tree standing squarely along the centerline of the long green field, beyond which there appeared to be nothing, as if the tree was the gatehouse of oblivion. Passing beneath it's branches, Raven observed the old platform of a partially collapsed tree house. Unbeknownst to the young mouse, the children for whom it was built were now grown and had lives of their own and the mother who crafted it for them was now beyond such feats of one-woman engineering, though it was a testament to her skill that the original platform remained even after nearly two decades of harsh winters.
As the wolves entered the dark wood, and the sound of the crickets grew louder, the sharp yaps of a small dog nearby drew everyone's attention. Both Romulus and Honker stopped to determine if the loudmouth was loose and coming towards them or tied up. To their relief, the source of the noise seemed to be stationary. Then, carried on the wind and only faint enough for the bats and wolves to hear, a male human grumbled sleepily, "Bear, shut up and do your business."
Traveling along a winding path, the lupine caravan came upon a wall of earth. Up and over they went into a little stream. As they passed the foundation of an abandoned railroad trestle the trees to their right grew sparse and a gust of wind was free to play past them.
"What's that smell?" Raven groaned, her little snout wrinkling in disgust.
"That would be the dairy farm," Dee pointed out, "Just inside the west end of the city."
"You have a farm inside the city?" the incredulous youth asked.
"Yup!" her mother confirmed, "And we bring the cows even further into town for the annual Meadow Muffin Mardi Gras... or, as I call it, the yearly Cow Crap Festival."
"I don't wanna know," Raven replied, shaking her head.
The travelers left the shelter of the stream just long enough to cross a road, the passage beneath being too small for either wolf, before continuing towards the expressway. The rushing of highspeed traffic became more prevalent the closer they approached. Then, in the distance, Dee noticed the raised earth that supported the lanes through the city.
"Okey-dokey," Dee stated as they approached another local road, "Follow this road past the overpass."
It took very little time to cover the distance. Both wolves stood with some unease under the light of a street lamp, looking about to determine if there were any locals still up who might see them, "Well, we're past," Romulus confirmed, "Now what?"
"See those trees at the base of the hill to your left?" Dee asked.
"Yeah," Romulus replied.
"That's the Park," the mouse explained, "Head up that hill till you come to a road and we'll unpack the planes... You'll be able to find your way from there."
"Okey-dokey!" the wolf replied excitedly as he bolted for the trees, happy to be beyond the humans' habitat and within reach of his own.
Save for a couple startled deer, no one noticed the wolves and their companions as they reached the secure embrace of the forested hills of the Allegany State Park. Then, having found a suitable site off to the side of ASP Route 1, the Rangers, Dee, Raven, Foxglove and Fangs dismounted the wolves and unpacked both the Ranger Wing and Ranger Plane. Within minutes, Gadget and her half sister had gotten both craft ready for flight. The heavier items of luggage, including Dee's flier, would be carried to the mill with the wolves as the rest made the trip as the crow flies'.
"I really wanna thank you for putting up with the trip through the city," Dee intoned as she snuggled up beside Chip as he piloted the Ranger Wing over the hills, "But with all Romulus and Honker had gone through over the past few weeks I just couldn't have taken anything happening to them this close to home."
"It wasn't something to put up with'," Chip assured his fiancé, "I know how close you are to Romulus... and his pack, and besides, they're friends."
Dee smiled happily at how understanding the munk of her dreams was. Without any conscious intent, she just happened to glance over her shoulder at the passengers in the rear. Both her daughter and her chiropteran bo had their heads craned back with mouths agape. "Asleep or stargazing?" she asked.
"Hm?" Raven asked.
"Oh... stargazing," Fangs answered.
"Don't get a sight like this in the city, do you?" Dee inquired knowingly.
"Uh-uh," Raven replied.
Nearby, in the Ranger Plane, Foxglove cozied up beside Dale. "Have you ever seen so many stars?" she asked.
Dale thought for a moment. "Yeah, when we were here last year," he answered plainly.
"Yeah, but this time you have somebody to share the sight with," the chiropteran cutie intoned sweetly. Dale gulped nervously in response.
After a little aerial searching, the camouflaged mill that both Dee and the wolves called home was located. Chip deposited his sweetheart at ground level near the entrance to the den so she could go in to open the hanger door. On entering the den, though, she was set upon by several excited wolf pups.
"Did Romulus and Honker catch up with you?" Virginia inquired concerning her mate and brother-in-law, once the pups had backed away from their furry godmother.
"Yep! And it's a good thing they did, too," Dee answered, "They showed up just in time to save me and the Rangers from a trap... But he can tell you all about that when he gets back in a little while."
"Daddy's coming home! Daddy's coming home!" the pups chanted as they bounced around happily.
"Is the tv still working ok?" Dee asked when the pups had settled some.
"Sure," Virginia replied, "Why?"
"I was afraid that was the reason he made the trip," the mouse explained, "after all, I'm the only one here who can repair it."
"No, it was genuine concern for your well being," the carnivore clarified with poorly veiled jealousy.
Dee nodded. "Well, I have to get things unlocked upstairs... I have guests waiting to come in the hanger," she eventually stated as she made her way towards her lodgings, "including my fiancé."
Virginia thought about spouting off something about whether Romulus had approved of someone stealing his mouse, but thought better of it and simply stated, "That's wonderful!"
Outside, both Ranger aircraft hovered near the closed door of the hanger, awaiting some notification that Dee had things turned on and unlocked within. In time, a thin slit of illumination appeared. Growing in height at a steady rate, the long rectangle soon revealed the interior of the spacious hanger and workshop. Standing near the edge, Dee motioned for the Ranger Wing to enter first. Then, after Chip had landed the craft, Gadget proceeded to bring in the Ranger Plane. However, it was a little too tall. Before anyone could offer a suggestion, Gadget began fiddling with the controls. The plunger-like landing gear of the craft reached forward and grabbed hold of the hanger floor. Carefully, Gadget used the landing gear to pull the dirigible into the structure, the red balloon that provided the added lift sliding in under the frame of the door. With a plip- plop' sound, the Ranger Plane walked it's way inside until it stood beside it's propeller driven sibling.
"Maybe I should consider raising the doorframe," Dee thought aloud as her guests disembarked from their respective aircraft.
"Golly, I was just thinking I should shorten the straps holding the balloon," Gadget returned.
"Ooh!" Dee blurted out excitedly, "What about installing gears that could reel in and spool out the straps as needed!"
"That's a great idea!" the elder sister concurred, "Can I start working on that now? I mean, I want to have your permission before I start rummaging through your storage bay."
"Go right ahead!" the younger mouse replied, "But I want to introduce the rest of you to the rest of the pack." After descending the stairs down to the ground floor, Dee pulled back the curtain that separated her map room from the wolves den and showed Fangs, Foxglove and Raven inside... Chip went in afterwards, beside his fiancé. "Virginia," she called over, "These are the guests I was talking about."
The pups, who had been collected into a semicircle before the tv, raced over to greet them. The mouse and bats soon disappeared behind a ring of wagging tails as the young wolves clustered about to sniff the newcomers intently.
"All right, you got to sniff them," Virginia spoke to her young, "Now stand back and let your Aunt Dee introduce them properly."
All but one of the pups backed away. The lone straggler gave Fangs a few more sniffs, then looked up at it's mother, "This one smells yummy, Mommy!"
The vampire's blood ran cold at hearing the pup's discovery. And it didn't warm any when the matronly she-wolf leaned in for a few sniffs of her own. "By gum, you're right!" Virginia declared, "He smells delicious!"
Seeing Fangs tremble slightly, Dee walked up to help calm him. "They probably smell the blood on your breath," she pointed out.
"Blood?" Virginia inquired.
"Yeah, this is Darkfire, but everyone calls him Fangs'," Dee proceeded with the introductions, "He's a vampire bat."
"Oh cool!" one of the pups piped up, "Can you turn into a bat? Huh? Can you?"
"He's already a bat, you dork!" another pup replied to the first.
"And, no, he's not the kind of vampire they show in horror movies," Dee pointed out.
Virginia leaned in to ask Dee discretely, "Did Romulus know that?"
"No," the mouse answered with a sigh.
"Did he scream and try to kill him?" the she-wolf inquired further.
"Yes," Dee replied.
"Do I know my mate or what?" Virginia asked rhetorically, to which Dee released a little snicker.
Continuing with the introductions, Dee walked over to the other bat. "This is Foxglove," she stated, "the one that's madly in love with Dale." Foxglove blushed noticeable at the added comment. "And this one here," Dee proceeded as she stood beside the young mouse, "is Raven, my daughter."
"Wow," Virginia muttered, "I... didn't think we'd ever get to meet you." After awhile she mentioned to Dee, "I guess this means we don't have to keep the fact that you're a mother a secret anymore."
"Nope," Dee chuckled, "We weren't reunited under the best of circumstances, but everything worked out." Before any discussion could be made of the matter, Romulus and Honker wandered into the den.
"Daddy! Daddy! Daddy!" the pups chanted happily as they bounced over, then, seeing the packs he and Honker were carrying, started chanting, "Presents! Presents! Presents!"
"No," Romulus responded kindly, "No, you little beggars. It's the luggage our guests brought." Romulus removed the baggage and handed it to Honker, who had removed what he had been carrying also, "Put these in the map room."
As Honker meandered off with the luggage, one of the pups piped up excitedly, "Daddy- Daddy, did you see the vampire?!" The pup raced behind Fangs, grabbed him by the scruff of the neck and carried him over to show his father.
"You shouldn't go around treating our guests like toys," Virginia rebuked the youngster.
"Sorry," the little wolf replied after setting the unsettled chiropteran down. Raven quickly walked up and led her love out of the area before he could again become the focus of unwanted attention.
"Well, you all have things to get caught up on," Dee stated, "Stories to tell and all... We'll just head back upstairs." She and Chip then led the other three from the den. Up in Dee's livingroom, Monty, Dale and Zipper were settled in watching the television.
"If no one minds," Foxglove interrupted politely, "I'd like to head out to get something to eat."
As there were no immediate objections, Dee pointed out the lack of airborne predators in the vicinity and wished Foxglove happy hunting'. Allowing the others to set themselves down after their friend's departure, she wandered off to her bedroom. Dee quickly returned carrying a small photo. "Raven," she stated happily as she leaned over the back of the couch between her daughter and Fangs, "I've got something to show you!"
Raven took hold of the photo that was handed to her and looked it over. In it, a young mouse that looked remarkably like herself was holding two infant mice as she lay reclined in a hospital bed, the look of joy on her face mirrored almost exactly that of her mother as she had handed her the photo. Turning it over, she read the reverse: Doohickey w Rebecca + Raven. The adolescent's mouth hung open for a bit as she turned it back over. "This is you, me and... my sister," she eventually said.
"Mm-hm," her mother acknowledged cheerfully, "This is the first time I've been able to look at it without breaking down!" As tears began to well up in her eyes, Dee reached down and embraced her daughter tightly.
Raven at first felt slightly awkward, but there was something in the way Dee held her that overcame the thirteen years they'd spent apart. The young mouse's heart was moved to return the embrace, in as much as the unusual position allowed for her to do so. As she looked at the picture and felt her mothers arms around her, Raven was overcome by a sense of shame. She recalled the pain and misery she had intentionally inflicted on Dee after discovering that she had given her up for adoption. "I'm sorry," she offered.
"For what?" her mother asked.
"For what?" Raven returned incredulously, "For treating you the way I did!"
"Hey, we're past that," Dee replied, "Kicking yourself over past mistakes isn't going to do anything but ruin the vacations you're supposed to be on. Oh, and about that," she broke her speech to stick her muzzle into her daughter's ear and whisper something to her. After the transfer of information, they smiled at each other.
Dee straightened up and wandered off as Raven returned her gaze to the photo in her paws, but her mind was on other things. "Anybody else wanna see the picture?" she asked as an idea presented itself.
"Sure, I'll take a look at it," Monty opened up as he took hold of it from the young mouse. Dale immediately bounced up from his seat to take a peak at it as well.
"There's something I wanna check out," Raven whispered to Fangs as she got up from the couch, "C'mon." The two walked over to the sliding glass door that sat opposite the couch. Walking out onto the balcony, Raven led with Fangs following behind, uncertain whether his love actually knew where she was leading him. Around the angular corner that wrapped around the pantry and past the second sliding glass door that would lead into Dee's bedroom she led him. Around another corner the found a staircase that led up along the wall and to a door on the left.
The waning moon created a bizarre patchwork on the moss covered floor as it's light shone through the camouflage netting above in the room they entered. Raven quickly located the string her mother had told her to look for and gave it a healthy tug. Both mouse and vampire jumped a little when the camouflage roof swung up and back. They looked up in wonder as all the heavens were revealed to them. Raven laid back on the moss first, continuing to stare off into the sky. Fangs soon joined her as he lay by her side.
Before long, Raven let out a little giggle as she reached a paw out. "I know it's trite, but it does almost seem like you can reach out and touch them," she pointed out.
"Odd you should say that," the bat responded, "For me, they're there, but they're notthere... y'know?"
Raven looked at him for a moment before it hit her, "Because you can't hear them, right?"
"Yeah, I can send out all the pings I want," Fangs elaborated, "but never get anything back... like they're an illusion." The two lay on the moss for awhile in quiet reflection before Fangs spoke again, "This is what Dee whispered to you about, isn't it?"
"Yep," Raven conceded, "Y'know what it's like to have someone stick a cold wet nose in your ear canal and try to whisper something?"
"No," Fangs laughed, "I can't say that's ever happened to me."
"Wanna find out?" the mouse offered.
"Okay...," the bat replied with a little hesitation.
Gently, Raven leaned in with her muzzle. She knew she couldn't fit her snout in his ear quite the way her mother had done with her, but she was certain to get the two important elements involved... a cold wet nose and twitching whiskers. Poking her nose against the interior of one of the vampire's enormous ears, she waited until both sets of whiskers were pressing against the outer edges before she said anything. But what she said was irrelevant as her subject burst into laughter.
As Raven leaned back, Fangs rubbed the edges of his ear with his wing as if trying to wring out the ticklish sensation. "Why didn't you do anything when she did that to you?" he asked, utterly perplexed.
"It was so unexpected that it didn't register at first," Raven explained, "and when it finally did I had to hold back so that I could finish hearing what she was saying."
"Ok, lets try that again," Fangs demanded lightly, trying to see if he could hold out. Once more Raven leaned in. And once more the vampire burst into giggles as the mouse frantically wiggled her whiskers.
Leaning back again, Raven caught sight of a bright flash out of the corner of her eye. Quickly she turned about for a good look and for the first time in her life witnessed a shooting star. "WOW!" the astonished youth blurted out. "Ooh! Gotta make a wish!" she immediately added. For a moment she stared off into the night as the faint trail the falling star left in her vision faded, then she spun back to look at Fangs and gave him a broad smile.
"Well, what did you wish for?" he asked.
Raven's smile grew a wicked edge to it as she replied, "Here, let me whisper it in your ear!" The vampire was soon reduced, again, to ridiculous giggles. Overhead, unnoticed by either lover, a little brownish-pink bat zipped by, chasing down a big juicy moth.
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