Cecil Pig, tending till at his General Store, groaned when he glanced at his calendar. The steam ship whistle echoed in response from the harbor. Pippin Penguin, his sole customer, looked up and brightened.
“They’re here! I better tell Verity to get the soup on.” And off he waddled, without completing his purchase. Cecil grumpily returned his sardines to the shelf.
“Argh. Every. Single. Year.” Cecil moaned.
Onto the pier, three tourists emerged from the steam ship and stood fast to the spot. James Rooster, Petunia Goat and Lucky Duck closed their eyes and…breathed…and breathed.
“It just smells different here” James announced delightedly and the other two nodded.
The three hurried up the dock to the beach and parted ways, each excited to hit their favorite spots on the island before the end of the day.
Petunia headed directly to the Farm. Or, at least, semi-directly. She meandered down the path breathing deeply and snacking on the odd clover or apple tree she happened to pass, sighing contentedly as she did. Once at the Farm, she enjoyed sample after sample of their produce and freshly baked goods. Dolly Sheep and Cynthia Cow blushed under the weight of her delighted reviews.
James Rooster made his way around the paths to take in the myriad of vistas and natural beauty. He paused and said polite and pointed hellos at passing Chibetans and imagined himself living here, in this community. It felt so right, so comfortable, so much less demanding than the rigors of city living. Maybe here he could be truly free to, oh I don’t know, become an artisan or yoga instructor or something. Whatever one does when living on an island. Alas, and he sighed at this thought, he would never be able to disentangle himself from the responsibilities of mainland living to pursue such fantasies.
Lucky walked into the General Store and noted that the path was not paved nor was the grass properly edged. He was not promptly greeted inside the shop, as the clerk was, presumably, restocking shelves. Or slacking off. Probably some young Bunny or fancy Budgie shirking their duties. He bristled at the thought and perused the drinks cooler. Aghast at the prices of everything, he deigned to purchase a bottle of water and irritably tapped the service bell on the counter. Cecil out from the back room, equally irritated, and Lucky brightened a touch to see a good old-fashioned farm animal tending the shop.
“This your shop?” Lucky asked. Cecil nodded as he passed him his change. Lucky grunted. “Must be nice.”
“It is.” Cecil shrugged. “Business could always be better, of course. And some of the locals are…well...”
He inclined his head to Emo Rabbit and Timothy Sloth walking by outside on their way to the Café. Lucky rolled his eyes at Emo’s green hair, and Cecil chucked in agreement. Lucky turned to go.
“Ugh it’s so sunny out.” He complained.
“Can I ask you,” Cecil couldn’t help himself. “Why do you come here, of all places?”
Lucky turned, shocked.
“I…I love it here,” Lucky stammered, his furrowed brow softening. “This place is…I mean, it’s…beautiful.”
That night the three of them dined at the Café, where Verity happily welcomed them back to the island and had prepared something special. Their meals were varied and masterfully crafted. They tasted like long summer days; of storybook versions of their childhoods they never had. Of small-batch soulful wholeness. Even Lucky relaxed his frown and sighed with the short relief from their lives.
Later, on the steamship home, the three of them enjoyed the view of the island receding in the distant sunset. Petunia unpacking her basket of culinary treasures from the farm, James musing about starting life anew and Lucky quietly planning his next vacation.
Back at his shop Cecil considered the grumpy duck’s passion for the island and wondered if maybe he, himself tended to complain a bit too much about the things he loved.
But that is another story.