Chapter 3: Almost There
"See you tomorrow Finnick!"
Finnick, with his back turned, waved his spatula at her. “See ya, Jude."
Judy grabbed her coat and stepped out into the cool afternoon air. She shut the door soundly, relieved that her shift was over so early. Seeing as it was a breakfast-only café, they closed around noon. She enjoyed her job and loved to mingle with the diners, but today she was more than anxious to clock out. A giddy feeling rose in her chest, as she thought of the amount of money Fru-Fru gave her. Her eyes sparkled as she practically danced down the street. Her feet seemed to move of their own accord as she hummed to a tune all her own. Judy knew where she was going. She went there every day after all.
In a few minutes, she was standing in front of an old-looking, yellow sugar mill. The paint was severely chipped, and pieces of wood were scattered around the front. To any passerby, it would have looked like a poorly kept, gloomy mess of a building. To Judy, however, it was the most beautiful thing she had ever laid eyes on. She gazed at the building until a slight cough caught her attention.
She whipped her head around. A kudu and oryx pair stood near the "For Sale" sign next to the sugar mill. Judy, in her dizzy state of happiness, had nearly forgotten the brief call she gave to the Oryx-Antlerson Realty, alerting them of her new financial development.
"Oh! Yes, that's me. Judy Hopps."
The kudu replied, "Great, we've just come to remove the for sale sign."
The oryx added, "Yeah, seeing as it isn't for sale anymore."
Judy grinned, "Thank you! When will I be able to sign the contracts? I'd like to have everything in writing and documented as soon as possible if you don't mind."
The kudu and oryx looked at each other and narrowed their eyes, on their way to a heated argument on when to deliver the paperwork to Judy.
Judy sensed the tension rising and quickly put a stop to it, having seen the two argue before.
"Wait, I'll do you one better, why don't I sign them tonight when I see you two at the Big's masquerade ball?"
The two realtors looked at each other.
The kudu spoke first, "Yeah, that seems pretty reasonable. What do you think, Bucky?"
"I think you drive a hard bargain, bunny. Alright, we'll deliver the paperwork at the masquerade ball. Let's go, Pronk. See ya later, bunny!"
Pronk and Bucky sped away in their small black buggy as Judy waved goodbye. She grinned at the departing buggy as it drove off into the distance. They were right, she did drive hard bargains. It's how she was wired. Without such determination, she might have not gotten to this pivotal moment in her life.
"Table for one, please?"
Judy spun around to see an older grey bunny holding a large beat-up pot. The older bunny looked slightly out of breath from walking all the way to the sugar mill.
Judy put her paw to her chest, "Mama?"
Bonnie Hopps tenderly smiled at the most optimistic and independent daughter she ever had. "Here's a little something to help you get started."
She held up the pot as Judy put her paws on either side of it.
Judy's eyes started to water. "It's...Daddy's old gumbo pot." Judy and her mother hugged each other comfortingly.
"I know sweetie, I miss him too. Well now, why don't we hurry up and open the door to your restaurant?"
Judy wiped her eyes quickly and smiled softly, letting go of her mother to open the door. She threw open the door and walked in, her eyes jumping from left to right and her ears standing tall.
She spun around, grinning wildly. "Just look at this Mama, doesn't it make you want to cry?" Her voice echoed through the building.
Bonnie took in the dusty cobwebs and pieces of wood scattered around the room. She glanced uncertainly at Judy. "Yes..."
Judy's body was nearly vibrating with energy, and her eyes shined with enthusiasm as she went on, "The maitre'd is going to be right where you're standing. Oh! And over here, a gourmet kitchen! And hanging from the ceiling, a big ol' crystal chandelier!"
Bonnie chuckled and shook her head at her spirited daughter. "You're your daddy's daughter alright! When he was set on owning a restaurant, he would go on and on about this old sugar mill too. Bun-Bun, I'm sure this place is going to be just wonderful, but you're working yourself to death. You need to take a break Judy!
Judy had taken up a broom while her mother was speaking and stopped sweeping to respond.
"How can I let up now when I'm so close? I have to make sure all Dad's hard work means something."
Bonnie set down the slightly rusted pot on a stool with an angry thump. Judy winced.
"Judith! Your Daddy may not have gotten what he wanted, but he had something better. He had love. And that's all I want for you, sweetie. To find your Prince Charming, and dance off to your happily ever after."
Judy rolled her eyes at the implication of a husband. Bonnie took away her broom and raised an eyebrow, proving her point as she gestured to the broom. Judy put her paw to her chin, thinking of a way to make her see reason. Her eyes brightened as she had an idea.
I know what to do. She always did like musicals.
Judy looked at her mother and grinned, shaking her head.
Mama, I don't have time for dancing!
That's just gonna have to wait a while
Bonnie shook her head and chuckled. "How long are we talking about here?"
Judy ignored her mother and smiled slyly, pushing her to a seat at an empty table near a window.
I don’t have time for messing around
And it's not my style
Bonnie had a playfully annoyed look on her face as she put her paws to her hips. "I want some grandkits!"
Judy pushed up the curtains on the window and dusted a bit as she sang.
This old town can slow you down
Mammals taking the easy way
Judy placed her father's revered "Judy's Place" restaurant paper in her mother's paws. She wrapped her arms around her as she sang.
But I know exactly where I'm going
I'm getting closer and closer every day
Judy stood up and gestured around her future restaurant.
And I'm almost there
I'm almost there
Mammals down here think I'm crazy
But I don't care
Trials and tribulations
I've had my share
But there is nothing to stop me now
'Cause I'm almost there
Judy took the broom and began dusting the windows as she sang.
I remember Daddy would tell me
'Fairytales can come true
You gotta make them happen
It all depends on you'
So I work real hard each and every day
Now things for sure are going my way
She swept the floors with flourish, spinning as she sang.
Just doin' what I do
Look out boys I'm coming through!
And I'm almost there
I'm almost there
Mammals are gonna come here from everywhere
And I'm almost there
I'm almost there!
She slid from one side of the large building to another, spinning her broom around enthusiastically. Her mother continued to watch with shining eyes and a sweet smile. Judy slowly came to a stop and turned to her mother. She slowly strolled up to her mother with a tender look. She hugged her mother tightly as she sang softly.
There's been trials and tribulations
You know we've had our share
Judy and her mother looked at each other, with a slightly sad smile as they thought about their past tribulations. Judy pulled her mother off the chair and softly spun her mother around. Bonnie's eyes brightened and she grinned as she realized Judy was bringing her into her musical dance.
Climbed a mountain
And crossed a river
And we’re almost there
We’re almost there
Judy handed her mother a spare broom and they both spun around as they swept. Together, they brought down random shutter pieces on the windows left up from past hurricanes. They continued to dance together as they quickly cleaned Judy's future restaurant. Bonnie threw stray pieces of trash into a small bin as Judy dusted the cobwebs. As they finished their rapid, momentary cleaning of the old building, Judy grabbed her father's old pot and linked her arm through her mother's. They happily skipped out, shutting the door together with cheerful vigor.
As they walked away from the sugar mill, Bonnie turned her head to glance at it. It might have been her imagination, but it didn't look half as dreary as it did when she first saw it. She turned to look at Judy, who was humming to her song she spontaneously sang moments before. Judy's eyes sparked with energy as she took in the town before them. Bonnie smiled as she observed her stubborn, vivacious daughter.
Judy was right. That old mill has something special about it. All it needs is some love, love that Judy is determined to give. I only hope she finds love in return.