Reaching the annex building, Alma enters and is greeted by five Bunny faces ranging from sleepy to bored to smiling. Cherry and Merri sit unpacking a large crate of carefully stored glasses, mugs, jars, and other glassware, no doubt something left behind by the previous owners. The two younger bunnies sit idly playing with some of the raffia fibers used as packaging material, closely watched by Kori.
“Hello, little ones,” the goddess greets in return, trying to keep the gloom out of her voice. “Where is Sage?”
“Oh, Inspector Sky had him and May workin’ on somethin’ with files and such, back in the main building,” Cherry replies with a shrug.
“I see,” Alma whispers. He seems to have thought of everything, she muses bitterly.
Out loud, the goddess states, “Well, there is something awful happening outside. The water of all fountains and water sources in this ward has been tainted with a terrible influence that leaves people weak and drained.”
“That’s dreadful!” Rosemary exclaims, horror spreading like wildfire through her freckled face.
Nodding in agreement, Alma instructs her little ones. “Yes, it is. So, please, do not drink water from any other source than the fountain in our room.”
“Oh, we never do,” Cherry says, pointing at a jar of clear water currently sitting on a table. “The water pump in the kitchen ain’t workin’, anyway. We just bring the water up in a jar.”
“Good. And now…” Alma starts and trails off.
“Yes?” Rosemary asks absentmindedly as she goes back to unpacking.
The goddess smiles sadly at the thought of uttering the words she knows her two older creations so very much want to hear.
They grew up without me, she thinks. And now I am paying for it.
Suddenly, the door opens and Mayumi comes rushing in. Almost tackling Alma to the floor, the Bunny hugs her creator by the waist, squeezing so hard that the goddess blesses May’s short stature for a moment. Looking up at Alma, the Bunny mouths a whispered “Thank you!” then lets go and rushes back out, leaving Alma staring at the door in shock. Many heartbeats go by before the goddess finds her voice and thoughts again.
That was the first time, she thinks. The first time May ever held me. She blinks rapidly as moisture threatens to fill her eyes.
In an absent tone, she says, “Cherry, Rosemary, I believe your desire to see this place running is soon to be made a reality.”
Both Bunnies shoot their heads up at Alma, jaws dropped, eyes wide with disbelief.
“For real?!” Cherry finally manages to say, jumping off her seat.
“Eeeeeeeeep!” Rosemary can only squeal.
“Well, we have set a clean water distribution point at a nearby café,” Alma explains, “However, we will need a second one, to distribute water from our fountain, and this is the best place for that.”
The Bunnies both stand, hugging each other and hopping in uncontained joy, almost falling over the glassware and knocking it over.
“Mer, did you hear that?!” Cherry cries.
“Yes, Cher! Oh, I’m so... happy!!” Rosemary says.
“Our dream is coming true, our dream is coming true!” both Bunnies sing in delight.
Breaking from their hug, they both tackle Alma and cling onto her waist. “Oh, thank you, thank you, thank you!”
The goddess smiles, her saddened heart now warmed by the joy of her little ones. Placing a gentle hand over each of them, she notes, “Well, dears, I understand your excitement but there is much work to be done.”
“Oh, we’ll get right on it!” Cherry immediately replies. “The Urban Bunny will be open for business in no time!”
“Urban Bunny?!” Rosemary exclaims, releasing Alma and shooting an angry look at her sibling. “No, no, no! Cherry, you got to pick the name last time!” she protests. “It’s my turn to pick the name!”
Releasing Alma’s waist as well, Cherry places both hands on her hips, and asks, “Oh, yeah?! So, what d’ya suggest, then?”
Rosemary considers this for a moment. “Hmm… What about…?” She holds out her hands as if framing a banner. “The Celestial Bunny!”
Cherry immediately snorts at the idea. “Oh, yeah, sure, the Celestial Bunny!” she says in a sickly sweet mock Rosemary voice. “That’s why you didn’t get to pick the name last time!”
“Little ones, please!” Alma intervenes before the argument grows out of hand. “You can decide on that later on. For now, let us please just focus on getting the water from downstairs into the kitchen.”