by Jay O'Toole
This is chapter #22 of The Quest for Home, my NaNoWriMo novel for November 2017.
Dready Locks of daily fare.
Love has yet been found.
Lady fair is daily there,
Hope doth more abound.
Quest woke ready to find work, which is something he had never before had to do. "Yesterday," in his mind at least, "I was ten years old in human years. Today, I'm nearly 60 by the same measure. Where has the time flown? Actually, that IS what happened. Time flew and carried me aloft, changing my age and appearance in the process. How does one look for work? Dad used to go out the door one morning and often came back the same day, saying that he had a new job. How DID he do that?"
Still unsure, Quest decided to take a walk through the woods. Maybe something interesting would cross his path...
The vision of a gorgeous-looking female bear crossed his path. She wore long, dark blonette dreadlocks all over her head and mane. The fact that she looked like a female version of D'Oso Reimi caused him to fall over in a faint. When he came to, the beautiful bear was leaning over him looking for signs of life. "OH," she gasped. "You scared me."
"You knocked me over with your beauty. What say we get married? I don't feel like going through a long courtship. Besides, I am quite sure you are the one for me. You've got the look, the strength and from the appearance of your examination of me, you've got the intelligence, too. What d'ya say?" Quest was, arguably, quite tactless in his introduction, but that is to be expected since he had just had his "marbles rattled" by the sight of his first real girlfriend in nearly six decades that happened in just one day.
"Wouldn't you at least like to know my name, first?"
"Oh?...Right. You've got a name. I would love to hear it."
"My name is 'Lady.'"
"Now, that is rather obvious, wouldn't you say?"
"It's my name and character, all in one. Quite efficient, wouldn't you say, My Good Sir?"
"Quite. I like it."
"Now, since you believe me to be the kind of a girl, who would accept a proposal, before an introduction, I must have your name this instant."
"Oh?...Right. I've got a name. My name is Quest."
"'To dream the impossible dream,...To run where the brave dare not go,...'" Lady sang, "That song sums you up to a tee. You want me to marry you? You don't know me. Of all the outlandish ideas...."
"Oh, you're telling me that I misfired, socially-speaking," he said and she nodded vigorously. "I'm guessing by your nodding that my approach was not acceptable," he affirmed. Her eyebrows raised and the nodding was slower.
"What gave you the idea that making a proposal to a perfect stranger was even slightly acceptable?"
"Well, you may not believe it, but I'm kind of new at this."
"Somehow that doesn't surprise me. Tell me more."
"From my perspective, I feel like I've aged five human decades in 24 hours."
"Now, I really intrigued," she said with higher eyebrows adorning the furrowed forehead on her newly-cocked head. "I feel like being British for the moment, 'Carry on!'"
"Yesterday morning, I was a ten-year-old bear cub in my den, when Dad and my Mom said that they wanted to go for a walk down by the lake."
"Really? Do tell."
"Okay. When they didn't return by late in the day, I went to look for them. As a result, I was sucked into a vortex, we called, 'The Mist' or an 'Earthbound Black Hole' or something or other."
"You're making this up."
"I wish I was," Quest said, wearing the most honest face he knew. "Long story short. It spat me out in a very wet and soggy meadow. Dad and Mom are gone. The lake showed me that I was much older now. I had to find a new den last night because the one I was in just yesterday was now being occupied just that quick by a whole new family of bears. I found a new and smaller den. I got a good night's sleep. I started to roam around looking for work, which is another thing I have never done before, and then you crossed my path. You're the most beautiful bear I have ever met. And frankly, I don't know what to do with all that beauty. So, I asked you to marry me because that was the biggest compliment I could think of offering."
"When he came to...from his little sermonette, he became aware of a bear-sized object rolling and laughing to the level of hoarseness in the verdant meadow."
"That has got to be the best pick-up, sad-sob story that I have ever heard. How much of it is true?" she croaked in a raspy growl.
"Uh,...all of it is true." Quest hung his head. "As you can probably tell, I'm not a very good storyteller, yet. I was hoping that you would help me to write our story, together. I mess up a lot, but I wouldn't have asked you if I wasn't serious."
"You really are serious, aren't you," she allowed. "You're telling me that this is not an episode of some kooky reality TV show? You're not an actor in some far-fetched Hollywood movie?"
"I can't say that I've seen any shows like that. From my perspective I'm still 10 on the inside. So,...No."
"Maybe, I should help you find your way home. You really do seem to need some parents,...if they are still alive."
"Finding my way home is what I've been trying to do all of my life."
"Honestly, Quest, (if that's your real name,)" she said. "I'm still not convinced that everything you're telling me is the truth, but I'm at least convinced that you think it is the truth. (For that matter what business does a ten-year-old have, asking a grown woman to marry him. That's just weird. If you've actually aged as much as you appear, then maybe, just maybe you're mind needs time to catch up with your body.) I think you are an intriguing bear. I do want to get to know you better, but I'm going to need a little time to consider this whole conversation that we're having today."
"I'm sorry. I know I sound crazy, but I'm being as honest as I know how to be."
"That I believe strongly, Sir. Won't you let me help you find your way home? Maybe you bumped your head, when you fell, a little harder than either of us realized at the time."
He shook his head. "Thanks, but I think I can find my way back to the den."
"Isn't there something you will let me do to help? I would love to be able to check on you, tomorrow."
"If you are walking down this path at the same time on tomorrow, then I am quite sure that I will see you, and I will definitely want to talk."
"Alright. What about today?"
Quest wondered out-loud. "Where is the nearest bear construction job site?"
"That. I know. Follow me."
"Most gladly, Dear Lady. Most gladly."
She smiled at the warm compliment.
"Thank you, Sir. I will be here with bells on, first thing in the morning. Thanks so much for the job."
"You are quite welcome, Quest," Mr. Elephant smiled. "You come to us with great credentials. You father, Casa, was my first foreman many years ago. If you are half the worker he was, then our company will grow by leaps and bounds."
"I will always give you my best in honor of him. Have a good evening."
Quest had a spring in his step as he went home that night. Two firsts were part of his day.
As his first first, He met Lady, whom he hoped would be his first girlfriend and maybe even his wife.
His second first was getting his first job on the first try. Maybe that would qualify as a third first in itself.
"What a wonderful day," he thought.
A good meal put him in the mood for an early bedtime. He laid himself down on his recently-made bed and was asleep moments later.
A long, restful sleep put him in a great frame of mind for a wonderful first ever day on the job.
He loped out the front door just in time to see Lady cross his path for the second day in a row as he had hoped.
"How are you this fine day?" Lady asked.
"Much better, thank you, Dear Lady," He assured her. "I'm on the way to work right now, but I would like to have supper with you tonight at The Emerald to continue our conversation."
"May I meet you there at...say...6:00 PM?"
"Of course. Have a great first day of work."
"I will. You have a great day, too."
They parted with smiles.
Unmatched Company for Supper
"Supper at The Emerald is just as amazing as Dad described it," thought Quest. "Lady is wonderful. What can I do or say to make her fall in love with me? Is it possible for me to know love the way he did?"
"Earth to Quest. Earth to Quest. Are you still here?" Lady pleaded. "You were just about to ask me an important question, Quest. What question did you want to ask, My Good Sir?"
"Oh,...Lady. Yes. Will you marry me, anyway?" Quest pleaded. "I know we don't know each other very well nor have we known each other for very long, but I'm sure I already know you well enough to want to commit my life to you forever."
"You are very persistent, Quest. I sense something good about you, too," she assured him. "Yes! I will marry you with all my heart!"
"Thank you so much, Dear Lady!" he exulted. "You have just made me the happiest man alive!"
"Why thank you for asking, Friend," she responded. "I am very honored by your persistence."
"Lady, I am not sure I am even worthy to be your escort, but I am quite sure I could never find a compliment to my life more worthy than you are," Quest spoke from the heart. "If any woman alive is an example of the woman in Proverbs 31, then that woman would be you. I have talked with your friends. I have visited with your boss. I have researched you on FurrFace, Grizzly, OsoGoodPics, and Job-Connections. Nowhere is a lady more industrious, more faithful to her goals, more intelligent, nor more creative than you are..."
"Stop! Stop! Stop! Quest," she interrupted him. "I'm blushing. How do you know I will be as worthy as all of that down the road, and in the long haul. You barely know me. Two,...three days max, why such intensity of emotion! How is this possible!"
"I don't really know, Dear Lady," he replied. "I just sense something amazing about you. Ever since I met you, I have wanted to get to know you better. I have never had this kind of experience with anyone else in my life. It's like God made you for me, and can't imagine being with anyone else,...EVER."
"My Goodness. Quest, I am overwhelmed."
"Me, too. You make me want to be the best kind of Earth-dweller that I can be. I feel like if I am the best kind of bear I can be, then somehow I will help you to be more and more amazing for the rest of your life."
"How can you make me be a better bear, Quest?"
"Well, I think it has something to do with another person living up to our expectations," he explained. "If we think badly about others, telling them that we think they are nothing but trash, then usually that person will become trashy or even more trashy than he or she already is. Why is it not possible that if we think well about others, telling them that they are amazing and destined to greatness that he or she will not, also, live up to greater and higher standards of excellence?"
"I see what you mean," she thought out-loud. "I already want to be a better bear to be more and more worthy of your opinion of me."
"See? It's already working on you."
"I do, indeed. Thank you, Kind Sir. With this level of love and respect between the two of us, I can't help but believe that we shall have a long and joyful life together, accomplishing much good and helping many souls before we die."
"That's just what I think," Quest assured Lady. "Please, let's be married sooner rather than later. We haven't a moment to lose."
"But this is Monday? How can we put a wedding together in less than a week?"
"It doesn't have to be fancy, but I am quite sure that if you put out an announcement on FurrFace, all of your friends and the ones I know will come together in such synergy that on Saturday we'll have a wedding to rival Princess Diana and Prince Charles those three decades ago."
"Great. Let's do it. Like you said, 'We haven't a moment to lose.' It's time to start a wonderful life together."
"Thank you, Dear One. It's time to go to our respective homes to start texting and FurrFacing, making ready our lives together to begin on Saturday."
"I love you, Quest!"
"Lady, I love you MORE!"