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Spring 2019 Writing Contest: Tangy

By: MsLupinetti

With the windows wide open letting in the warm spring breeze the singing of the returning songbirds filled the air, and Aria the vixen hummed to herself while melting an assortment of sweets over the hearth. Stirring the wooden spoons in each of the simmering pots she licked her lips imagining how her treats would end up. Turning her attention to a bowl of apples in water she drying off each apple, and driving wooden sticks into the cores.

Her ears twitched from the nearby footfalls. Glancing over to the wide open door awaiting her mystery visitors. A lavender furred bunny accompanied linked her arms with an over towering panda bear bring with them the delicate scent of the local wildflowers.

“Oh, Esja and Bjorn, hey.” She turned back to work in front of her.

“Aria, you um you’re not busy are you?” Esja the bunny soft-spoken as ever, but without an ounce timidity.

Driving the last stick into the last apple the fox urged them to continue.

“Aye, we’ve a favor to ask of ye’ lass,” Bjorn said.

“Oh me? Yeah, I guess I’m having alright day, how about you guys?” She teased with a playful swish of her tail. Still she wondered what would bring both a big burly bear, and a petite benevolent bunny to her.

Esja let out an awkward chuckle. “Oh sorry, it was pretty rude of us. It’s just we’re at our wit’s end, we need your help,”

“You want me to cater something.” Aria’s tone rose high at the end of her sentence along with the corners of her lips. She snickered.

“Nay, nothing of the sort. This is about Djuri, the lad is wreaking havoc across the village, He must be stopped. We all tire of his jests.” Motioning his free arm sweeping across the air Bjorn let out a huff.

“Huh? Is this because he’s been pulling all of those pranks on everyone?” Retrieving the pots from the hearth Aria set them besides the apples, and began preparing a large tray. “Those were sort of funny though.” Recalling the string of random pranks she from scaring people to misplaced belongings.

“At first, a little bit they were, but it’s just too much now. We’re all a little tired of it,” Esja said

“Wow, that must be pretty unBEARable, huh? Ooh That must be a HAREy situation, you guys are in.” Gritting her teeth and snickering Aria looked to them for amused approval. Pointing her snout up she crossed her arms, “I see I’m wasted on you,”

“They’re not as great as ye’ think they are lassie,”

“Hmph whatever-“ Dunking the apples into the hot gooey filled pots coating them in a shiny glaze, and letting them dry on the tray. “-If it’s such a problem, just go tell Elska. He always listens to her,”

“Aye that is true, but tis not that simple,”

“Revenge, I’m sorry, but we need to get back at him.” Esja let her ears fold back almost ashamed.

“Mm, and ye’re just the one to put him in his place,”

“Ahh, so this makes a lot more sense now. Yeah I guess I was pretty good at that before.” Nodding she’d never forget when she went around painting everyone’s windows.

“So ye’ll do it?”

Sprinkling on chopped nuts to the coated apples Aria shook her head, “While I’m flattered you thought of me, I don’t know. He really hasn’t gotten to me.”

Offering a small grin Aria shrugged. She understood where they were coming from, but from what she heard the pranks didn’t seem drastic. Annoying, but harmless. Wiping the edge of one of the pots with the spoon she took a big lick. Regretting her decision to indulge she bared her teeth in disgust. “What the-“ Her hackles raised from the base of her tail to the base of her neck. “-He didn’t.” Growling she rushed over to her jars of sugar and salt.

“What’s wrong?” Esja asked sneaking a taste from the pots. “Ugh that’s so salty,”

Tasting the two white powders from the jars Aria’s tail rose stiff. “He did!” He switched the labels, and instead of using sugar she used salt, for the entire recipe. All the candied apples ruined. If she tried, she could salvage the apples at most.

Spotting a tin off to the side only a few villagers enjoyed those delicacies. Narrowing her eyes a malicious toothy grin appeared, “You guys have a deal.” She would get her payback. They would all get their payback. She would end his reign of terror today.

“Oh thanks so much, er I mean sorry.” The bunny twiddled her paws together.

“Just tell him to visit me later.” Eyeing the ruined apples Aria fetched a knife from her utensil drawer.

“Aye.” The panda waited at the doorway satisfied.

Watching the pair leave she dumped the apples back into the bowl with water to wash them off. “You messed with the wrong fox this time Djuri,”

Eyeing the tray of assorted candied apples from coated with chopped nuts to plain and glistening to drizzled and decorated. Aria sipped from her cup a twinkle of mischief and pride glinted in her eyes. So unassuming. So tempting. The perfect constructed ambush. Biting her tongue she needed to hide her guilt, and stop her lips from curling.

A sudden knocked interrupted her thoughts, and the hyena in question, Djuri, waltzed in snickering to himself. “I heard you wanted to see me,”

“Definitely, I just wanted to surprise Elska with some yummy apples,”

“Did…Did you use sugar in those.” He pointed to the tray on the counter.

“Oh don’t worry I figured it out after the first ruined batch,”

“No hard feelings, right?”

“No, of course not-“ She waved her paw. “-I was wondering when you were gonna get me.” Letting out a chuckle she tried to stop her tail from zipping from side to side. “So I kinda wanted your help. Could you maybe, if it’s not too much of a hassle, please taste test these apples for me. Which ones would you think she’d like best?” Letting her ears droop she mustered up a puppy eyed expression feigning it all.

Djuri narrowed his eyes unsure whether to believe her or not. Eyeing the apples with suspicion he sniffed them, but they didn’t smell off. “I don’t know,”

“Ohh just imagine how happy she’ll be. She’ll walk around with a really big smile, and she’ll be in such a good mood too.”

His eyes lit up. Yes, he would love that. Seeing her smile always made his day. “Alright.” He picked up an apple at random, and bit into its side. Crisp and sweet and refreshing just as an apple should be. Nodding he took a bigger bite. A bit nutty, and a little salty. A sudden crunch caused him to slow his chewing. “Kinda tangy.” Another jarring crunch, and he saw the core carved out from the apple. Instead of the expected core in the center of the fruit a sticky gooey salty filling with whole roasted bugs.

Dropping the apple in disgust he tried to spit out the remaining mouthful. “Why would you do that?” He used his claws to scrape the taste off his tongue.

Walking to his side she ran her paw across his shoulders before flicking one of his ears. “Because I was minding my own business is why, but really this is just the beginning. This is from everybody really, if you don’t stop I’ll have you looking over your shoulder at every little noise.” She slapped her paws together. “When will I get you again and again.” Picking up her cup she held it out of his reach. “Sure you can try to get me back, but do you remember how long it took to get rid of that vinegar stench out?” She shook her head while sucking her teeth.

Inching the cup towards him, “So you stop everything, I’ll leave you alone,”

Glaring at the carved out wooden cup he reached and chugged from it. “Wait what?” He choked on the drink the moment he saw the crowd waiting outside.

She gestured to open windows, and there stood a number of furred villagers with furious expressions glaring at him. “Obviously, fans,”

Averting his gaze, Djuri, nodded returning the cup. “Yeah, sorry everyone.” He shuffled out with his tails tucked underneath him. He learned his lesson at least for a good while.

Ensuring he was out of earshot Aria laughed. Turning to the windows she grinned, “You guys are good, I wouldn’t have thought of that.” Picking up the tray she offered them. “Now who wants some apples?” Wagging her tail at the group groans.