The story of how Cream met Cheese. Hopefully better than it sounds. Please read and review.
I use Australian English, so some of the words may be spelled differently to how you're used to seeing them. Hopefully, it won't prove to be a big problem.
Anyway, read, enjoy and (hopefully) review!
A Fallen Leaf
It was a cool and calm autumn day. The trees of the forest, with their now magnificently coloured and slowly thinning leaves, looked resplendent in the low sunlight. A river flowed gently through the forest, not making a sound.
Near the river, but well outside of the forest, stood a small cottage. It was built out of stone, with wooden doors and window frames. Were it not for the tidy nature of its surroundings, one would have assumed that it had been there for hundreds of years. A sign outside the cottage read "The House of Vanilla and Cream."
The front door of the cottage was open, and two rabbits stood on the other side. The first, Vanilla, was a tall female rabbit. Her fur was largely cream-coloured, with brown sections on the ends of her neck-length ears, around her eyes and with a large tuft of brown hair on the top of her head. The fur around her muzzle was pure white. Her ears had no fur on the underside, exposing the pale pink skin that was beneath all her fur. She wore full-length, pale indigo dress, simple but formal in nature. Her face bore an everlasting expression of calmness, compassion and wisdom.
The other rabbit, Vanilla's daughter Cream, looked very much like a miniature version of her mother. She was less than half her mother's height, and everything about her appearance just served to make her look even more diminutive. Her ears were only slightly smaller than Vanilla's, which meant that they went right down to her small, puffy tail. Cream wore a very simple short, orange dress, with shoes to match. The brown hair on her head had yet to grow beyond a mere marking. Her large brown eyes were wide open, which, when combined with the smile that she currently wore, gave her an appearance that few could deny was simply adorable.
"You be careful out there, Cream," Vanilla said in a calm, soothing voice.
"I will, Mama," Cream replied in a cheerful, high-pitched voice.
"Stay close to the river, but not too close. I wouldn't want you falling in. Be back before dark, or if it starts looking like it's going to rain. Oh, and don't go into the forest. Can you promise me that, Cream?"
Cream nodded, although she didn't see the reason for that last request. She had been into the forest with her mother plenty of times, and hadn't seen anything dangerous. But she knew her mother was always right, so she agreed.
Vanilla paused for a moment. "Well, I suppose you can be off, then," she finally said.
"Bye Mama!" Cream exclaimed as she walked out the door, and into the big wide world beyond. She walked away from the house at a leisurely pace, taking in all the sights and sounds of nature. She didn't look back, which may have been just as well. If she had looked back, she would have seen her mother standing in the open doorway, an anxious expression on her face, and a tear forming in her eye.
If she had taken only a few seconds longer, she would have seen nothing, as the door closed without a sound.
For Cream, most of the day passed without incident. She enjoyed herself, of course, as she always did. She followed the path of the river, as her mother had instructed. She had no desire to leave the riverside. For her, this area provided as much in the way of beauty as one could ever desire.
Although Cream's short life hadn't yielded many lasting memories, she had always remembered loving autumn. The vivid displays of colour appealed to her imagination, and the cool weather soothed her body and soul. To her, the world seemed more alive at this time than at any other. Of course, she didn't realise that much of nature was currently dying, or at the very least going to sleep for the winter. Such was the naivety of youth.
There was only thing that Cream didn't like about autumn: the lack of flowers. Although some flowers did still grow in the garden around her house in autumn, they weren't nearly as pretty as those that grew in the spring. Cream was disappointed by that. She would like to have surprised her mother with a colourful bouquet of flowers. With a barely audible sigh, Cream realised that that would have to wait until spring.
Cream's spirits picked up in an instant, however, and she began to skip along the riverside, letting her eyes take in the vivid colours around her, while her highly attuned ears listened out for the faint chirps of birds in the trees. As she skipped, she began to hum a tune, one that she couldn't recall ever hearing. The tune just came naturally to her.
If Cream had had a better memory, she would have remembered that the tune she was humming was the tune to a lullaby her mother used to sing to her when she was just a baby. Like any infant, Cream had frequently had trouble sleeping, but the lullaby had never failed to soothe her. The lyrics went like this:
Oh my poor fallen leaf,
You who fell from my branches,
You feel like you're all alone.
No matter where you look,
No help do you find.
No matter where you float,
You never find peace.
Oh my poor fallen leaf,
You left without me knowing.
It happened so slowly,
Now you've fallen so far.
But be not afraid,
For I'll never stop searching,
I'll never stop dreaming,
Of seeing you again.
I'll search in the heavens,
I'll search in the sea,
I'll search o'er the horizon,
For you are part of me.
Someday I will find you,
Someday I'll help you see,
I know it will happen,
For we were meant to be.
Until then, don't worry,
If life does knock you down,
Just remember that I'll be there,
I'll turn your life around.
All that falls must rise,
And it will if you believe,
I will be there to help you,
My fallen leaf.
It wasn't long before she came to the boundary of the forest. Cream knew better than to enter it, though. Still, she was getting tired, so she skipped over to a nearby tree to take a rest. As she reached the cover of the trees, she let her path take her through a pile of fallen leaves. She adored the simple rustling associated with doing such a thing.
As she reached the tree, she sat down, leaning back against the tree's large trunk. The pile of leaves made a handy bedding, and it wasn't hard for Cream to get comfortable. For a while, she did nothing but watch the flowing river before her. The clean water sparkled in the low sunlight, a sight that reminded Cream of the nights she had spent watching the stars. It was certainly equal in magnificence.
A while into her observation, she noticed a sole leaf floating down the river. Its golden brown colour stood out so much from the light blue river that it was impossible not to notice it. As the leaf began to pass into the forest and out of sight, Cream couldn't help but wonder where it would end up. She had been into the forest before, but she had no idea of what, if anything, lay beyond its borders. Was there a whole new world out there to be explored, or did the forest end at an abrupt, impassable wall?
Such thoughts made Cream realise what an isolated existence she and her mother led. They spent most of their days alone, with no contact with the mysteries of the outside world. The result of this was that Cream had never had a friend. Of course, she got along well with her mother, and loved her with all her heart. They even played together occasionally, but Cream knew that it was nothing like having a friend. Even though her mother was occasionally visited by her friends, these friends never had any children for Cream to play with. It was a lonely existence, and Cream knew this.
Cream's eyes closed as she wondered whether this was the way her life would be, to be alone... forever.
Cream must have dozed off, for the next thing she knew, it was nearly dusk. Cream stood up and stretched. She knew that she should head home soon. Her mother was probably starting to get worried, and Cream didn't want that.
She was about to head towards home when she heard a faint sound from within the forest. She stopped, listening more intently. She heard the sound again, and she recognised it as not just one sound, but rather a multitude of crowing sounds.
Cream knew she wasn't supposed to enter the forest, but her curiosity was insatiable. She doubted that it would hurt to take a quick look. Still, even in her state of blind naivety, she knew that she'd have to be careful.
Slowly but surely, Cream tiptoed into the forest, following the sound. She always stayed close to a tree, in an attempt to avoid being seen. The sound grew clearer, and it wasn't long before Cream found its source. Peeping out from behind a tree, she saw what had been causing the noise.
Half a dozen crows stood around something. Cream couldn't make out what that something was, but the crows were pecking at it, as if it may have been dead but they weren't sure. Cream shivered slightly. Although she didn't like to admit it, she had always been afraid of crows. Their black plumage gave off an aura of evil that was impossible for Cream to deny.
Cream backed away slowly. She had seen what she had come here to see, and now she just wanted to get away without the crows spotting her. Cream's gaze was so directed towards the crows, however, that she didn't notice a twig lying in her path. As she stepped on the twig, it snapped loudly. She certainly noticed that sound, as did the crows.
The crows' heads turned towards Cream in an instant. Cream stopped breathing, as she stood rooted to the spot. She wanted to scream, she wanted to run, but even those simple acts seemed beyond her now. For a moment, the crows just gazed at her. Then, they turned around and flew away, leaving a very shocked Cream behind.
Cream had no idea why the crows had fled. She sincerely doubted that the crows were half as afraid of her as she was of them. Regardless, she was just glad that they were gone, and that she could return home in safety. She was about to do so when her attention was caught by the object the crows had been pecking at. Cream gasped as she realised what it was.
It was a chao. There was no mistaking it. Cream's mother had told her stories about chao, and had even shown her a picture of one. This creature's short round, blue body; tiny pink wings, teardrop shaped head and yellow ball floating above it matched the picture exactly. The chao was lying face down in a pile of leaves, motionless.
Cream assumed that the chao was sleeping. Why then, had it not woken up when the crows had been pecking it? Trembling slightly, she walked up to the chao. Kneeling down, she shook it gently. "Wake up," Cream whispered. "It's okay, those mean crows have gone now." There was no response. Cream was starting to get worried now, so she turned the chao onto its back. What she saw shocked her. The chao's eyes were closed, and its mouth hung open limply. Its body was covered in scratches, including one large gash on its chest from which blood was slowly flowing.
Cream whimpered. She had always hated the sight of blood. She remembered one time when she had cut her hand, and she'd cried for hours. Now, the sight of so much blood left her speechless. She had no idea how to treat those wounds, as she had never learnt any first aid. That was always something her mother handled.
With that thought, Cream knew that she had to take the chao to her house, as quickly as possible. Her mother would know what to do. Cream scooped the chao up in her arms, and held it close to her chest. She knew the blood would be going all over her dress, but she didn't care. All that mattered to her now was making sure the chao was safe.
Cream began to run out of the forest. "It's okay," she whispered, "you're going to be okay." Part of her knew that that comment was made more for the sake of calming herself than calming the chao, who surely couldn't hear her now.
Cream ran home as fast as her legs could carry her. Sights that amazed her previously were now passed without a glance. The journey only took about ten minutes, but to Cream, it seemed like a lifetime. She didn't know it, but tears were starting to flow from her eyes.
When Cream reached her house, she didn't bother to knock. She simply threw open the door and ran inside. She was about to begin searching for her mother when she heard a voice from the kitchen.
"Cream, is that you?" the voice said. Cream recognised the voice as that of her mother. That guess was confirmed when her mother walked out of the kitchen. Upon seeing Cream, she said, "Oh good, I was about to head out to look for you. It's getting late and..." Vanilla stopped speaking when she saw the chao in Cream's arms.
"Please Mama," Cream pleaded, "you have to help it, I think it's hurt!"
"Cream," Vanilla said, keeping her voice calm, "give the chao to me."
Cream hesitated for a moment. For reasons she couldn't fathom, she didn't want to part with the chao. However, she knew that her mother knew best, so she slowly handed it over.
As Vanilla took hold of the chao, she gazed at it, analysing its wounds intently. A slight frown appeared on her face. "Well, you're right Cream," she finally said. "It has been hurt."
"You can help it, though, can't you?" Cream replied.
Vanilla nodded. "I should be able to, but first I need to know something." Vanilla looked at Cream intently. "Cream, where did you find this chao?"
Cream hesitated for a moment. She had just realised that, by going into the forest to find the chao, she had disobeyed her mother's orders. Could she really tell her mother the truth? Cream never remembered disobeying her mother, so she had no idea what the punishment would be. What if her mother wouldn't treat the chao, just to punish Cream? She didn't want to think about what might happen then. Cream knew what she had to do. "Um, just outside the forest," she finally said. A feeling of shame swept over her as she finished telling this lie. Her tears began to flow more freely now. She hoped her mother wouldn't notice.
Vanilla seemed unconvinced, but was willing to let the matter slide. "Okay, I'll take the chao into my room and fix it up. You wait out here. I need to be alone to do this. Get yourself a glass of water if you want to. It sounds like you've had a rough day." With those words, Vanilla took the chao into her bedroom and closed the door, leaving Cream to be alone with her thoughts.
Following her mother's request, Cream went into the kitchen and poured herself a glass of water. Right now, anything that could take her mind off today's events would be most welcome. It was a forlorn hope though, for although the water did quench her thirst, it did nothing to ease her shame.
Cream couldn't remember ever feeling so miserable. First, she had disobeyed her mother. Then, just to make things worse, she had lied to her. Cream wondered if she would ever be able to look her mother in the eye again.
Then, of course, Cream was also worried for the chao. She had never seen anything as badly hurt as it had been. She had the utmost confidence in her mother's abilities, but she still worried. What if something went wrong? Cream didn't want to think about things like that, but she couldn't resist the flow of negative thoughts.
Time slowed to a stop for Cream. Her emotions went through a cycle of shame, worry and self-pity. No resolution was ever reached. Cream started to feel that no resolution could be reached.
After half an hour that seemed like an eternity, Cream heard her mother say, "You can come in, now, Cream."
Cream trudged her way to the bedroom door. Truthfully, part of her didn't want to go in, but another part knew that she had to. Taking a deep breath, Cream opened the door, and stepped into the bedroom.
The chao was lying on Vanilla's bed. Cream could make out bandages on its more serious wounds. She couldn't see the gash on its chest, but the bleeding had definitely stopped. Vanilla sat in a rocking chair by the bedside, facing the door. A faint look of worry spread across her face when she saw Cream. "Is something wrong, Cream?" Vanilla asked.
Cream opened and closed her mouth a few times, but no sound came out. Tears started to well up in her eyes and, although she tried to hold them back, she was unsuccessful. Through the tears, though, Cream came to a realisation. She had to tell her mother the truth. Whatever punishment her mother gave out couldn't possibly be as bad as what this secret was doing to her. "Mama, I..." Cream said, "I've lied to you."
Vanilla seemed faintly surprised by this, but not nearly as much as Cream thought she would. She certainly didn't seem angry. "What do you mean?" Vanilla asked.
"I told you I found that chao just outside the forest. I lied. I went into the forest, and that's where I found it." Cream closed her eyes, and the tears began to flow freely once again. "I'm sorry, Mama, I know I disobeyed you." For a long moment, Cream remained like this. Then she took a deep breath and opened her eyes, as she prepared to accept her punishment.
Much to her surprise, though, her mother stood in front of her, smiling. She reached out a hand and stroked the fur on Cream's head. It was a most pleasant sensation. "Cream, don't worry," Vanilla said. "You did the right thing. You've proven yourself to be more responsible than I gave you credit for. Can I just ask one favour of you?"
Now it was Cream's turn to be surprised. "What is it?"
Vanilla gently grabbed Cream and hoisted her up in her arms. "Don't grow up too fast, okay?"
For the first time since she had come home, Cream managed to make a weak smile. She nodded. One burden had been lifted from her, but one still remained. Vanilla carried Cream over to the rocking chair and sat down, placing Cream on her lap.
Cream could now see the chao much more clearly. The worst of the scratches had been washed and bandaged. The gash across its chest had been stitched up, and the blood had been washed away. It still looked like a bit of a mess, but it looked a lot better than it had when Cream had brought it home. She noticed that the chao wore a red bow tie that she didn't remember it wearing before.
"Did you put that on, Mama?" Cream asked, pointing at the bow tie.
Vanilla shook her head. "No, it had that on when you brought it in," she replied.
"Do you know how it got hurt?" Cream asked her mother. "And how did it wind up in the forest? You told me that chao only live in special gardens hidden away from the rest of the world."
Vanilla was silent for a moment. "I don't know for sure what happened, Cream," she replied, "but I can take a guess. First of all, you're right, chao generally only live in very secluded areas. I think this one did as well, but was driven out a while ago."
"Why would it have been driven out?"
"I'll get to that later, Cream. Anyway, while I was treating it, I found a tranquiliser dart lodged in one of its wings." Upon seeing Cream's blank stare, Vanilla added, "A tranquiliser is something used to put animals to sleep, dear. As I was saying, once I found that dart, I knew that this chao's departure must have been... violent."
There was silence for a moment. Cream broke the silence by asking, "What do you mean by that, Mama?" She was dreading the answer, but she felt a need to know.
Vanilla sighed, and closed her eyes for a moment. Upon opening them, she said, "I think that some bad men found this chao's Chao Garden, and invaded it. They tried to capture all the chao there, and may well have succeeded in capturing most of them. This one, however, was able to get away, but not before one of the men shot it with a tranquiliser dart. It must have fought off the effects for several miles of flight at least, because there aren't any chao gardens around here. Eventually though, it fell unconscious. Unfortunately, that meant that it fell from the sky. It must have been over the forest at this point. As it fell through the trees, it must have scratched itself on the branches, including a particularly large and sharp one to get that gash. And then, you found it. That's what I think happened, at any rate."
"Poor thing," Cream said. She hadn't imagined that the chao had suffered that much, but the story seemed to make sense. "But why did the men attack the Chao Garden?"
"There are some people out there who like to make chao race and fight each other. The lives of such chao are generally terrible. Even if the chao wins, then it's the owner who gets the prize. If the chao lose, then they can be beaten and there's nothing they can do about it. Those people are in it purely for their own gain."
The thought of such a horrible existence brought a tear to Cream's eye. She couldn't bear the thought of the chao that lay before living, if it could be called that, in such conditions. "Why would anyone do such a horrible thing?"
Vanilla was silent for a moment. Finally, she managed to say, "I don't know, Cream."
Somehow, out of all the events that had happened that day, those words shocked Cream the most. She had always assumed that her mother knew everything. It was just the natural way of things. To have that image shattered was too much for Cream at that time. Sobbing, she hugged her mother tightly, finding comfort the only way she knew how.
Vanilla returned the embrace. She slowly let the rocking chair rock back and forth. Then, in a soft, serene voice, she began to sing. "Oh my poor fallen leaf..." she sang as she began the lullaby she hadn't sung in years. Fortunately, Vanilla hadn't forgotten a word, and it came out sounding as beautiful as it had ever done.
Cream didn't absorb the words, but simply let her mother's beautiful voice flow over her like a river, washing away her troubles. Somehow, she became convinced that everything would turn out alright. As her troubles were washed away, Cream became dimly aware of how long and hard her day had been. She felt incredibly tired. Cream felt her eyes getting heavy. Slowly, her eyes closed, and Cream fell into a deep and peaceful sleep.
The rocking continued long into the night.
When Cream awoke, she found herself sitting alone in the rocking chair. The low sunlight edging its way through the bedroom window indicated that it was dawn. Cream sat up straight in the chair and stretched. That night's rest had been good, and she was now rested, at least physically.
Unfortunately, Cream didn't consider herself emotionally rested. As she looked across the bed at the chao, who didn't appear to have moved at all during the night, her worry sparked anew. It must have been at least half a day since Cream had found it, and yet it still showed no signs of waking up. She couldn't help but wonder how much longer this would go on.
Cream's thoughts were interrupted by the creaking of the bedroom door as it opened. Cream glanced at the open doorway and saw her mother walking through with a tray with breakfast on. The sight was an unwelcome one to Cream, as she wasn't feeling hungry at the moment. Still, the last thing she wanted to do right now was worry her mother.
"Good morning, Cream," Vanilla said, trying to sound cheerful. "Did you get a good night's sleep?"
Cream nodded in a noncommittal manner. Vanilla didn't appear to pay it any mind, and simply placed the tray of food in front of Cream, balancing it on the arms of the rocking chair. Cream noticed that the breakfast consisted of scrambled eggs on toast - her favourite. Now, much to her dismay, she knew that she would have to eat it, lest she waste the special effort her mother went to.
Cream began slowly began eating. "Did the chao wake up in the night, Mama?" she asked.
Vanilla shook her head. "I certainly didn't notice anything, and I believe I would have noticed something like that."
They were both as Cream continued eating. Even when she had finished, Vanilla took the tray away in silence, leaving Cream to be alone, with only her thoughts and the unconscious chao for company.
So the hours of the morning passed in a slow, emotionally agonising manner. Cream didn't leave the room, or even the relative comfort of the rocking chair, all morning. She knew that she shouldn't leave the chao alone now. Somehow, she felt as if her presence improved the chao's chances, or at least she had to hold on to such a hope.
It was not until soon after noon that Cream's silent vigil was interrupted. Once again, it was Cream's mother, and once again, she brought food. Once again, Cream didn't feel like eating, but felt that she must.
Vanilla pulled the bedside table over next to the rocking chair, and placed two plates of cheese sandwiches on its. She left the room for a moment, and then returned with a wooden chair from the kitchen. Sitting down on the other side of table, she began to eat. It only took a few moments for her to notice that Cream hadn't touched her sandwiches.
"Aren't you hungry?" Vanilla asked in a faintly anxious voice.
Cream fought back the tears that were forming in her eyes. She didn't want to worry her mother, but she couldn't help it. She couldn't keep this charade up much longer. The truth was that she was starting to worry that the chao might never wake up. If that happened Cream didn't know what she would do. Even in this short time, she had grown attached to the chao.
Cream was about to say something when she was interrupted by the faintest of voices. "Chao..." the voice whispered. Surprised, Cream looked towards the bed and saw that the chao had finally opened its eyes. It sat up slowly and looked around in a confused manner.
"You're awake!" Cream exclaimed, as if to confirm that this was really happening.
The chao barely seemed to notice Cream, but simply looked around at its surroundings, its mouth agape. Finally, its eyes fixed on Cream. "Chao chao?" it said in what was clearly a tone of enquiry.
Cream hesitated for a moment. She had no idea what the chao had just asked, so she knew that she'd have to play this by ear. "Um, I found you injured in the forest. I'm Cream, and this is my mother." Vanilla nodded, seemingly content to let Cream do the talking. "Um, do you have a name?"
The chao nodded, although such a response was utterly useless. Possibly, the chao knew this, as it stood up and began to flap its tiny wings. Slowly, it ascended slightly, and began to fly over to the table. Cream flinched for a second as its flight momentarily faltered, but it soon got back on course. Cream breathed a sigh of relief, and even managed a smile. She had to admit that the chao's flight was one of the cutest things she had ever seen.
In a matter of moments, the chao landed on the table. Walking over to Cream's sandwiches, it lifted the top slice off of one of them, and picked up the slice of cheese underneath. It held the slice up to Cream, as if it was trying to say something.
Cream thought for a moment, then realised what was going on. "Cheese? Is that your name?"
"Chao!" the chao now known as Cheese said with a smile and a nod. Cheese let its namesake drop.
Cream still had more questions to ask Cheese, though. "Are you a boy or girl?" Cream asked, before remembering that Cheese could only effectively answer yes-or-no questions. Correcting herself, Cream asked, "Are you a boy?" Cheese nodded. That answered that question. Cream asked her next question. "Did you get that bow tie from your parents?" Once again, Cheese nodded, but he hesitated slightly this time.
Cream took a deep breath. She knew that her next question was going to be a hard one to phrase correctly, and one that may prove emotionally difficult for Cheese to answer. Still, she had to know. "What happened to your family?" she finally asked. "Were they captured?"
For a moment, Cheese didn't answer. Eventually, he managed a weak nod. Cream could tell that there were tears in his eyes. Cream couldn't stand to see him like this.
Slowly, Cream reached over to Cheese and gently stroked his head. It felt very smooth and cool to the touch. "Cheese, please don't cry," Cream said in a soothing voice that sounded much like her mother's. "I'm going to help you through this. I'm going to take care of you, and we can start looking for your family together. We won't stop looking until we find them and reunite them with you. And maybe, until that day comes..." Cream trailed off. She felt nervous at asking this question. She realised now that it was what she had wanted to know since the moment she had found Cheese. Finally, she found the strength to finish her sentence by saying, "We can be friends?"
For a moment, Cheese said nothing. He just stared at Cream with his disproportionately large eyes. They seemed to bore into Cream's soul, but in a way that Cream welcomed, as if they were becoming one.
Finally, with a shout of "Chao!" Cheese leapt at Cream, grabbing her in a tight hug. Laughing joyfully, Cream returned the embrace. Slowly, the chair began to rock, as Cream welcomed Cheese into her life. Cheese: her friend, her fallen leaf.