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Light Years

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Bea groaned at the Roostro that crowed outside her door. She yanked her pillow from beneath her head and flopped it over her face. When it didn’t block out the clucking hens, she flung it across the room. Her injured shoulder caught and the pillow careened off course, smacking into the bookshelf and toppling a lantern to the floor. It shattered with a skittering, glittering crash.

“Great. Awesome. Just… fantastic,” she huffed, sitting up to inspect the damage. Her sore shoulder sent hot sparks up her neck, magnifying her dull headache to a sharp, blinding pain. She tried to take the weight off her arm by sitting forward, but her knees didn’t want to bend into a comfortable criss-cross. She flopped back on the bed in defeat.

“I hope you’re happy!” She yelled at the relentlessly crowing Roostro. “Next time I feed the Slimes, you’re going first!”

This was, of course, a grumpy bluff. Things had been slim pickings as of late, and the flock was thinning at an uncomfortable speed. Three hens had stopped laying eggs before she left on her most recent excursion, which had lead to her current predicament. While on a hunt for more henhens and the elusive hexacomb, she had miscalculated a landing and ended up in the drink. After coughing up lungfuls of sea slime, she hobbled back to the ranch, soaking wet and empty handed.

Bea tried to sit up again, using her good arm for support and slowly working her legs over the edge of the bed. Her clothes and gear from the previous day were piled right inside the door. A small puddle of sea slime had oozed onto the floor and the stench emanating from the pile was starting to make her stomach turn. Gritting her teeth against the pain, she pushed herself up from the edge of the bed. She took the oversized sweatshirt from the back of her desk chair and gingerly tugged it over her baggy pajamas. With unnecessary effort, she opened the front door and nudged her clothes outside with her foot. The Roostro just outside her door ruffled in surprise as the wet laundry slapped the front step. Bea slammed the door with an extra bang, and was satisfied to hear the flock of birds scatter.

The fridge yielded two minty mangoes, half a jar of Cuberry jam, one egg, and 4 moldy carrots.

“Why do I even have carrots? I demolished my plot months ago.” No one replied, but Bea glared at her stuffed pink slime pillow. “Did you bring this in?”

Two pink buttons stared back at her.

“Well, next time, don’t.”

Two pink buttons stared back at her and pink stitching smiled vaguely.

“No. No one likes them. And I know you picked up that pogofruit last week, don’t think I didn’t notice.”

Vague smile. Button eyes.

“Whatever, dude.”

Her sour attitude was slightly mollified by the sweetness of the minty mangoes. She sat back in bed with a bowl of fruit and a glass of water, hoping she was imagining the smell of puddle plorts in the glass.

Despite the work that awaited her, Bea knew she would not be leaving home today. She would be lucky if she managed to nab a few eggs from the henhen coop before they hatched.