[Story] A Story a Week 15

[[ Prompt: A story set at a concert or festival ]]

“Come on Ara, we’re going to be late!” Tsi Ku knocked on the wooden doorframe again.

From what Aranae could see, it was still completely dark out. She groaned. “So what? What time is it?”

Tsi Ku frowned and tugged on Aranae’s foot. “You promised! We have to be there when the birds start singing. Otherwise you won’t know what’s going to happen next year.”

Sleep sounded better than listening to some dumb birds, Aranae believed, but neither did she want to disappoint her friend — not that the bear was about to let her keep sleeping anyway. “Don’t make me get the water,” Tsi Ku warned.

“Ugh,” Aranae groaned and threw her blankets back. “Fine, I’m up.”

Everyone was awake already, lamps and candles lighting up windows in the houses. The houses themselves, as well as the street posts and fences, were decorated with delicate paper flowers and ribbons in bright cheerful colors. Aranae and Tsi Ku walked along with the crowd down to the edge of the small lake. Many of the bears wore bright colors as well, though Tsi Ku had only pinned a flower into her hair. Some of the others had silk gowns embroidered with birds and flowers all over. They must keep them just for this holiday. Aranae couldn’t remember the name that Tsi Ku had told her, but it was to celebrate the coming of spring. It still didn’t feel much like spring sometimes, when the nights still froze, but the weather would warm soon enough. And Tsi Ku promised there would be food.

There wasn’t any yet, though. First they had to wait for the birds to arrive and get the whole thing started. They stood waiting on the cold, wet bank, huddled closer for warmth. Aranae wished she might have worn shoes for this, but none of the bears had shoes either. She wasn’t even sure where her shoes were. It wasn’t long before streaks of pink began to show in the sky, and along with it came the trilling song of birds, cautious and lonely at first, but soon others joined in. The bears listened carefully for a few minutes. Tsi Ku explained that the bird’s song was to foretell your fortune for the coming year, but Aranae couldn’t hear anything but bird chirping. Maybe it was something that took practice. Everyone gathered in the large clearing outside of the town, and that was where the food was laid out on tables sprinkled with flower petals. There weren’t plates, but you could take what you wanted and everything was bite-sized. There were little meat buns, still steaming from the oven, crunchy crackers with toppings, sweet fried dough, and some new things that Aranae hadn’t tried before.

“Don’t you have anything like this at home?” Tsi Ku asked, licking honey from her fingers.

“Kind of,” Aranae shrugged. “Not really. Not for spring, there’s one in summer though.” Hearing the bear call Silvermoon “home” still felt strange. She didn’t feel home there, this felt like home. It was still strange sometimes, but she felt more comfortable among the bears than she did with her family. They were honest and straightforward and always said what they thought instead of making up lies to make you feel better — or make themselves look better. Children were gathering at the far side of the clearing, around a monster. Well, it was really some bears wearing a monster costume, Aranae thought it looked a bit like a dragon but it had a long shaggy mane and whiskers like a cat. Its sides, too, were speckled with flowers and it wore a wreath of them around its neck. It began a procession around the clearing, and up into the town, escorted by the children who shouted and blew horns and banged pots to make a racket. Tsi Ku explained that the monster and the noise were to scare away the winter, and any lingering bad luck that might be hiding in the town. Aranae thought it would have been a lot of fun to be allowed to make that much noise as a kid. Maybe a monster would have scared out the bad things in Silvermoon, too.

The day was warm and breezy, the scent of blooms carried on the breeze. They flew kites with wishes tied onto their tails, and ate still more food. Bears kept bringing out plates as soon as they became empty. They must have been cooking for days ahead of time. Aranae thought it was like one of her brother’s parties must be, and she wondered for the first time in quite a while how he must be doing. Maybe he’d forgotten. No one had sent anyone to look for her in a very long time, not even her mother. Or had the bears turned them away? They were very smart about things, sometimes.

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