The four FruitBats returned to the grove in the late morning. Luckily, the others would sleep for hours longer. Generally, they all woke up in the late afternoon. Apparently, Batnana had waited up and flew down to greet them. She was holding something in her feet.
“What is it?” Grape asked in a whisper.
Batnana passed it to him. A bunch of cherries! He immediately guessed that one was to put on the CupCake Bat’s head as a hat! Batnana looked proud of coming up with the idea.
They were happy to find that Mandarin had employed Chip with the task of guarding the CupCake. Chip wagged his curly tail at their approach. He almost barked, but Watermelon landed and put a wing up to his face and hushed. Chip plopped onto his butt and hung his tongue out with a chuff.
Kiwi and Grape distracted the gargoyle pup while Watermelon peeled at the wax on the bottle and snuck closer to the CupCake. The confetti eyes stared at him as he pulled the cork and lifted the cherry and the bottle over his head. He sat the cherry on a dollop of whipped cream that had been added the night before. It did indeed look like a hat! Ever so carefully, he tipped the bottle, then turned it up-side-down over the hat. The glittering dust spilling like sparkling liquid down the red shiny surface and into the icing.
He stepped back. “It’s not working,” he whispered back to the others. Batnana, Chip, BlackBerry, Kiwi and Grape peeked around him. The Cupcake didn’t move.
Grape suddenly perked up. “Wait, it didn’t work right away on us, maybe it will just take some time.”
“That is true. We might have to wait,” BlackBerry agreed.
“We should all go back to our trees, and come back when everyone wakes up.” Watermelon told them.
They nodded in agreement.
As the sun began falling slowly westward, the FruitBats began to rustle in their trees and bushes. Their squeaking yawns signaled to their friends that they were all getting up. News circulated about the mission, and in no time, the group was at the mouth of Mandarin Orange’s bakery. Even DragonFruit and the Flying Fox had stayed to see how things would turn out. When Mandarin Bat arrived, he looked at them with guarded suspicion. What were they all doing around his bakery. Had they come for his masterpiece?
“Hiii, guys, can I help you? Should I go in and make some orange rolls for breakfast?” They were all smiling at him, and Batnana looked like she might have a giggle fit at any moment.
“You all are acting weird. Did you ferment in one night or something?”
Batnana came forward in the bumbling half-walk/ half-crawl that bats do when they are on the ground. She babbled in her jazzy scat the whole time as she pushed Mandarin into the baking cave to bring out CupCake.
“Okay, okay, okay!” He said as he pulled CupCake Bat out into the sun so he had more room to work. As he brought he to a stop, he jumped. Wait. Did her eyes just follow him?
The others held their breath, waiting.
Suddenly, the CupCake Bat sat up straight and lifted her sprinkled wings into the air in a magnificent stretch as she awoke from the inanimate existence into life! Her confetti eyes sparkled as she looked out at them all.
“Hello, friends!” her greeting rang out in a clear and sweet voice!
Mandarin’s eyes were huge, his mouth gaping wide in awe. His wings popped open wide, and he toppled over backward in a dead faint.
“He will be fine,” Blueberry Bat assured CupCake as she fanned Mandarin Orange with a wing . “He was just really surprised to see you moving! He’s really…fond of you.”
CupCake Bat fretted with her sprinkles over Blueberry’s shoulder, looking down at him. “I probably should have been more subtle. Maybe it would have been better if I had just waved a little or something.”
Blueberry shrugged. “I donno, boys are pretty oblivious sometimes, he may have not noticed.”
CupCake giggled. She gave her wings a few flaps so she could lift off the ground a few inches. “It just feels so good to MOVE!”
Mandarin’s eyes opened a little. Blueberry stepped back so that CupCake could lean into view. “How are you feeling, Mr. Orange?”
Upon seeing her for the second time, he sprang to his feet, staring in astonishment. “It really IS you!”
CupCake nodded, “Who else would I be, silly?” she asked. She opened her wings and hopped from one little pink foot to the other. Mandarin Bat imitated her little dance with a joyous laugh. In a moment they had hooked their wings together and were dancing together. The other FruitBats, who had flown to the trees to give them some space, cheered and swooped down to join in their happy dance. The resulting party was definitely the happiest in the Fruit Grove to date!
The next day, Flying Fox gathered up all the things that had come from his magic bag, and strapped a top hat to his head. He thanked his hosts while brushing his fluffy white mustache into place.
“I shall remember you fellows and return when I’m back this way. You’re a lovely Bushel. He gave Mandarin a bag of chai spices to experiment with, and Mandarin gave him a jar of honey in trade. They were all hanging in the branches by the cliff side. Batnana flew over and gave him a hug. She had been the most enraptured by is tales of adventure. With a jolly laugh, Vulpes released the branch. He snatched his bag from where it hung from a nearby twig and dove over the cliff’s lip, swooped back up, and barrel rolled into the sky.
“Tata!” he yelled back to them.
In another moment, he banked right and headed over the island in the direction he had been headed in when he’d first come crashing onto Willowyck’s beach.
“There goes a truly adventurous bat.” said Lemon Bat in wonder.
“I wonder what he’s looking for,” BlackBerry added, tilting his head.
Grape smiled. “I don’t think he’s looking for anything. I think he’s found something in himself. He’s a Traveler.”
CupCake snuggled up to Mandarine as the Bushel nodded at these sage words, and they watched as the Flying Fox faded off in the direction of the sunset.