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Juicy Traditions

by Celefin

It was early evening when I finally pulled into the driveway of our little cottage. It still felt a little strange after having lived in the city for so long, but the flat just wouldn’t do anymore. Time to move on. And damn, had I moved on. More than I’d ever imagined and in the, so far at least, who knows, weirdest way possible.

The setting sun bathed the little thatched house on the coast of Anglesey in golden light and glittered on the sea in the background. The fresh late spring air carried the scent of salt and marram grass. Yep, home.

When I entered the low door, I could hear my better half rummage around in our living room. Just as I dropped my backpack there was a solid clunk and a sound like an angry sparrow kicking a seagull. I sighed.

“Glitter? Need a hand?”

I’ve come to love the sound of claws and hooves on a wooden floor. Glitterkelp stuck her around the corner and grinned, a little unsure.

“Uh, hi! I think I’m done! But thanks!”

“What are you doing,” I asked my birdhorse.

“Creating a still life!”

“That sounded heavy,” I said and had to chuckle.

“Well… I found something that reminded me of home! Have a look?”

It was, well, interesting. She’d moved our little coffee table in front of the window facing out to the sea and put some kind of small furry hide on it. It was also groaning under a green monstrosity of a fruit I’d never seen before.

“What.”

She chittered nervously. “It’s a catfruit!”

“A what?”

“Catfruit! Uh,no, I think it’s called jackfruit. But it looks like a catfruit!”

“What about the tin?”

“That’s also cat- jackfruit. Because I got hungry when I saw it and I could eat it immediately! Also, light plays nicely on a tin and the metal gives a good contrast to the fruit!”

And of course Glitter didn’t have to waste time searching for a can opener. Those claws are sharp, I can tell you. I think I have some scars on my back, from when she hadn’t figured out yet just how thin human skin is.

“And… why?” I scratched my neck. “Also, what is a catfruit?”

She smiled that radiant smile that only she was capable of. Mind you, smiling with a beak is something that never gets old to see.

“I found it in the small asiashop down in the village, they only had three of them,” she said and patted the enormous green blob. “It reminds me of home! Catfruit grows in the forests of Mount Aris and some of the other islands!”

I’d of course heard about that place, probably a thousand times. I still like to hear about it though and imagine how I maybe could visit there. Not much chance of that happening anytime soon though… the Equestrians don’t just let anybody through the portal. Least of all tourists, for now at least. So it was going to stay mythical to me for now, and that is always a good basis for a story. And if Glitterkelp is anything, apart from an enthusiastic painter, she’s a great storyteller.

“Are you listening?”

“Yeah, sorry. Why’s it called that?”

“Okay! When hippogriffs first settled there, there were predators on the islands that looked a bit like Earth tigers, just smaller. But faster and nastier. And they could fly! Glide. And spit venom!”

“Sounds nasty.” I made another mental note of another Equestrian species to avoid should I ever go there. The whole planet sounded like Australia with added magic. So far I hadn’t dared ask about Equestrian spiders.

“Almost as venomous as the emerald fang spiders!”

Sigh.

“But faster!” She ruffled her wings for emphasis.

“Okay. So what’s with the- oh. Seriously?” Her sheepish grin and blush confirmed my sudden suspicion. How do you blush through feathers? Never mind. Focus on the… dead cat.

I facepalmed. Slowly, and with both hands. “Glitter?”

“Uh. Okay. Maybe not my best idea. But I got in the zone and needed the perfect prop and then at the side of the road there was… uh. Sorry.”

You learn to adapt to many things when living with Glitterkelp. So I just sighed, took a deep breath and smiled at her. “Okay!” That sounded almost as chipper as her.

She gave me a long look.

Sigh. “Okay. I can see you put a newspaper under it at least. You're forgiven.” As always. “What’s the story?”

Another one of those wonderful beak-smiles.

Have I mentioned I love her to bits? I love her to bits.

“Okay! Those tiger beasties gave everybody who wanted to build a home on the ground a really hard time. And having to shapeshift and jump into the sea ten times a day gets really annoying when you’re trying to concentrate on building a hut I’d imagine!”

I looked at the fruit-smothered roadkill on my coffee table. “I think I get the idea.”

“Gripping and throwing a stone isn’t half as easy as doing so with a big fruit! At least for us.” She flexed her claws for emphasis. “Also, they’re already above ground!”

I tried to picture the scene. Straight out of a cartoon show.

“Time’s a bit wonky between Earth and my world, but around now is the catfruit festival, when most of them are ripe at the same time.”

“Please tell me this one here was hit by a car.”

She looked guilty for a second.

“Glitter?!”

“Nononono! I couldn’t find a live one on my way home! Just this one.”

“So… you actually drop ten pound fruits on catbeasts on a kind of country fair on Mount Aris?”

“Nope. They’re extinct!”

“I wonder why.”

“Hm.”

Glitter looked over her shoulder at the painting she’d started. The ocean in the background looked a lot warmer than the one visible out our patio door. Her wings and neck feathers drooped.

“Hey,” I said softly and put a hand on her shoulder. “We’ll put it in a bag and in the fridge tonight and you can work on the picture tomorrow. How about I make us some dinner? I got some fresh turbot on the way home.”

She turned around with a little squeak. “Aw, really? You’re spoiling me!”

“Only the best for my fluffy girl.”

The best thing about hippogriff hugs is the chest fluff.

“Can you cook with jackfruit?” I asked.

“Mmm, I think so. Tastes and feels almost like catfruit as well! I’d prefer it as dessert though.”

“Sweet?”

She curled her tail around my legs, reached backwards with her left arm and speared a piece of canned fruit on a claw. “Mmhm.” Looking me into the eyes she ate it and slowly licked the juice off the corners of her beak.

I had to smile. “Glitter?”

She grinned at me and hugged me tighter, tracing a claw up my back.

I felt a bit warm.

She put her beak next to my ear and murmured, “It appears it also works on me just like catfruit.”

“Dessert it is then,” I gave back with a smirk.

“Definitely.”

I stroked her back and drew small circles over her wing joints, making her shudder with half-lidded eyes. “Now get the roadkill of my coffee table.”

I really do love her. Antics, sharp claws and all.