Meringutan looked like no one the FruitBats had ever seen before! You would recognize her as an orangutan of course, because they had never seen an ape, and they had to take a minute to observe her. She wore a lemon colored flower print skirt and a necklace with a cherry pendant and cherry earrings. Grape noticed that she wasn’t shaped all that different from a bat actually, when he really thought about it. Two arms, two legs, head, spine. If she was to be shrunk down and given wings, she could fly with them! He laughed to himself at the idea as Meringutan swept them into her cottage and deposited them onto a low, lace covered table. The cottage was all one big open room, with a loft that appeared to be filled with big leaves for a bed. The colors were bright and cheerful in the morning light that came in from 2 small windows and one big one at doubled as a back door. A threadbare rug filled most of the floor, and a faded, comfortable looking chair with a knit blanket stood in one corner with a small table beside it. there was a basket filled with yarn, and several paintings on the walls. there was also a phonograph with its big horn filling space across from the chair. None of the bats knew what that was of course, but Kiwi was especially fascinated.
“We haven’t introduced ourselves!” Watermelon realized as the strange Meri bustled about in her kitchen with a tea kettle like the one the Flying Fox had. “This is Kiwi, Grape, and I am Watermelon. We’re FruitBats and we come from an orchard across the island.” They all sat in a row on the table, watching as she started a small fire in the belly of a big iron stove. Once it was lit, she sat the kettle on top and turned back to them.
Meri came over and got at closer look at them, sitting on a pillow beside the low table. “I have never seen bats like you on the island,” she said.
“We aren’t that old yet,” Kiwi pointed out,” And I think we, that is, the 12 of us in the grove and DragonFruit at the castel, are the only ones.”
“How very interesting! I’m glad to meet you three, but what are ya’ll doing over on this side of the island if ya’ll are from the grove? That’s a bit of a …flight!”
“We’re looking for something. The fallen star!” Kiwi said, excited to tell someone about their secret mission.
“You know the grove?” Grape added.
Meri addressed Kiwi first. “I think I may be able to help with that.” Then she turned to Grape. “I know most of this island, I’ve been here a while and I’ve tried to cover the whole place in my hikes. I collect things and I’m a photographer, you see. There’s plenty of neat stuff out there to explore!”
The bats didn’t really see, because none of them knew what a “photographer” was. Watermelon was about to ask, when the kettle began its whistle. Meri spun around and found the smallest teacup she could from the shelves above the counter and filled it with fragrant herbal tea she dried from her garden out back. Then she dropped in a dollop of honey and stirred it all up.
“Hope ya’ll don’t mind sharing a cup,” She said as she placed the tea on the table before them. “You might have to wait for it to cool.” She added when Kiwi leaned in for a drink. It smelled like flowers! Kiwi Bat almost wanted to jump in for a bath, though the honey would make her sticky.
“Now,” Meri continued while making a cup fro herself in a big ceramic mug and taking a seat back on her pillow. “What as it ya’ll were looking for again?”
“There was a shooting star that landed on the island. We need some of its dust! We went to where it touched down, but it was dark and too hard to see, so we were waiting till morning.” Watermelon explained.
“But your Jellyphant grabbed Watermelon before we were awake!” Grape finished for him.
Meri nodded. “Yes, they are good at bringing me new things, but they don’t quite understand manners. But you aren’t hurt, I hope?”
Watermelon stretched his wings. “Nope, though they do have a firm grasp!”
“Yes, they come in very handy when I have to move anything too big.” she sipped from her cup. “I’m afraid the star itself is no longer where it fell though.”
The FruitBats gave a collective sigh of disappointment.
“But,” she added ,”I did meet it, and I might be able to help.”
“You met it? It’s alive?” Grape said in awe.
“Yes, a sweet little thing! It stayed with a friend of mine for a while, but it missed lighting up the night. We had no way to put it back in the sky, so we introduced it to the glowing starfish that live in the ocean out near the beach! My friend says it’s quite happy there.”
They all smiled at the thought of a real star lighting up the night with the bioluminous starfish at the beach. It must be so pretty!
Shaking himself out of it, Grape remembered their mission. “You said you might be able to help though, to get some of the star dust?”
“Oh!” she put her tea down and stood up. “Yes, as thanks for helping it feel at home, the star gave me a little of its dust. I’ve been keeping it in a bottle, because it’s so fine that it could just blow away!” Meri went over to a hanging paper lantern beside the ladder to the loft. She reached into the top and pulled a jar out. The powder inside glowed and sparkled! “I will have to find another jar to put a pinch in for you to take. It will have to be small since you will have to carry it such a long way.” she dug around in the kitchen cabinets. When nothing was satisfactory, she went to a trunk that sat in front of the comfy chair and opened it. Inside were a lot of old, browning papers and books. Grape wondered where they came from, and what they said. After digging around the bottom, Meri pulled out a tiny bottle only a little bigger than an acorn made of blue glass. She looked at it for a long moment, then shut the trunk and returned to the table. “I’m going to let you borrow this old perfume bottle, but you have to bring it back when you’re finished, ok?” It clearly meant something to her.
She took a tiny funnel from the kitchen drawer and tipped a little of the glittering dust through it into the tiny bottle. “What are you going to do with it?” she asked.
Watermelon explained their mission, and how they guessed the dust would do the trick.
Meri smiled, then laughed. “Well that’s just adorable! I do hope it works for ya’ll, and I also hope that you can bring everyone to visit when your CupCake Bat gets settled in.”
“Of course!” Watermelon agreed. “We wouldn’t be able to do it without your help. We can bring them when we return the bottle.”
It wasn’t long after that Meringutan walked them outside and they took off in the direction of the fruit grove. She had sealed the bottle with some wax to make sure the cork wouldn’t pop out and ran a piece of yarn through the little handles on either side so that Watermelon Bat could wear it around his neck to carry it. As they passed over the house in an acrobatic farewell circle, Grape wondered if she had built the cottage herself, or just inherited it from some other creature. There were certain elements that didn’t seem right with her proportions. He thought for sure there would be more to her story. He would have to ask upon their return.