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Tuesday

The sun filtered down through Kiwi's window and woke them, welcoming them to the day with gentle warmth and light. Birds were chirping outside, giving the morning a song Kiwi couldn't help but want to harmonise with.

They leapt out of bed, threw on some clothes and trotted down the stairs.

"Good morning, muffin!" said Mom. She was sitting at the dining table, doing some sort of Mom thing.

"Good morning, Mom!" said Kiwi.

"Aren't you bright and cheerful today! Your father's still in bed." She chuckled. "I suppose he must need his sleep!"

Kiwi shifted their weight back and forth on their feet for a moment. "I'm going for a walk!" they blurted out.

"All right, muffin. We'll be here for breakfast when you get back."

It was a beautiful day in Chismest. The town itself looked an entirely different place to Before. Without the constant layer of coal dust and snow, the colours of the bricks and stonework had come up. With the return of the sun, of warmth and light, residents had put up flower boxes, brightening the streets with splashes of pink, vibrant blues and purples. Somebody had even planted flowers around the lamp posts. Kiwi hummed to them as they walked past.

Dawn had been a couple of hours ago, but Kiwi still made for the hills outside town. The observatory was shut up tight, although the ground in front of it spoke of many footprints throughout the previous days.

The trees appreciated Kiwi's singing, rustling in the gentle breeze. Birds flew in from the surroundings to join the chorus, and a few nearby squirrels and rabbits came to scrabble at Kiwi's feet.

On a morning like this, it was easy to push your cares away. No bad emotions could hold up under the weight of a joyful sun and green summer foliage.

They sang until the world around them was painted rainbow with song, until they needed to stop to catch their breath. The world seemed eerily silent then, like it too was holding its breath in wait. Then the birds started to chirp and fluttered back to their trees; the animals scampering back to their homes.

Kiwi turned to go back into town, taking the long way back. They walked slowly, enjoying the feeling of the ground beneath their feet and letting the warmth of the sun do its job.

The door to the Clocktower Pub was open as Kiwi walked by, and their throat was parched and dry so they went in. The pub was empty, with only Vlad behind the bar, polishing glasses.

"Good morning!" said Kiwi.

"Good morning," said Vlad. "You're up early. Are you looking for a drink? You will have to go to the diner if you want food."

"Just water, please!" said Kiwi.

Vlad sighed noisily, but poured a glass and slid it over the bar. Kiwi took it gratefully.

"It is good to see you again," said Vlad. "You are back visiting your parents, I presume."

"Yes!" said Kiwi. "Just for a few more days, though." The water tasted incredible, and felt amazing on their throat.

Vlad hummed thoughtfully. "I didn't realise you were the Baron's child when you were here before," he said.

Kiwi set the glass back on the bar carefully. "That's okay, I didn't know either!"

Vlad paused in his cleaning. "Indeed."

"I hadn't seen him in a long, long time," explained Kiwi. "I must have been very young when he left. I never knew where he went, Mom just said he was working. I was so surprised when I found out!"

Vlad shook his head, frowning. "He gave up so much building that factory... I don't think even he realises how much he lost. And even now that the factory is closed, we hardly ever see him around the town. He sticks to his home, as much as possible."

Kiwi gasped. "But you were friends, weren't you?"

Vlad shrugged. "That was a long time ago. Perhaps he doesn't even remember me. If we happen to pass on the streets he keeps his head low and doesn't say anything."

"You should visit him," said Kiwi.

"I would not like to impose," said Vlad, after a long pause.

"You won't be imposing! My mom loves having guests. And this way he doesn't need to impose on you."

"But he must be happy to have you home again," said Vlad.

Kiwi paused for a moment. "Well, I should go back for breakfast. Thank you for the water!"

The sun was noticeably higher in the sky than Kiwi expected when they re-emerged from the pub. They ran into Miriam as they were walking down the stairs to the lower part of town.

"Miriam!" said Kiwi excitedly. "I—"

"Oh, there you are," said Miriam. "I was just at your mom's looking for you."

"Oh," said Kiwi. "Well, here I am! Did she—"

"I need to tell you I'm flying to Tatango for the day. Siobhan has some packages she wants delivered, and Beth needs a new batch of coffee beans."

Kiwi blinked.

"But I need to leave now to get there and back today," Miriam continued.

"OK," said Kiwi.

"So you don't have to worry about me finding things to do in Chismest, I'll be fine."

Kiwi nodded. "I thought I'd try to get an Astronomer's reunion organised for tomorrow night?"

"Oh, fine," said Miriam. "I'll be there."

"Yay! Thanks, Miriam."

"I, um, I hope things with your parents go okay today," added Miriam.

"Safe flying!" said Kiwi.

Well, Miriam was feeling okay. That was good news! And for all her complaining she really did love flying. And it was probably a good thing that she was making herself useful around town.

Kiwi let themselves back into their mom's place sheepishly. "Sorry I'm late."

"You're right on time," said Mom. She added, in a conspiratorial whisper, "Your father's only just got up."

After breakfast, Kiwi cleared the table and washed the dishes, humming their favourite cleaning song quietly to themselves as they went.

"Oh, it's so nice to have you and your little songs back here again," Mom cooed. "It's been so long, muffin."

Kiwi bit their lip and concentrated on the dishes for a moment. "Yeah! It's amazing to see how much Chismest has changed since..." They paused. They could feel the weight of their father's shadow on the sofa. "Since I left last time."

"So much has happened in our little town!" said Mom. "It reminds me of the old times, when you were just a baby. A town on the move! There are new people in town again, and new businesses opening up. Did you know we even have a bookstore now?"

From the sofa, Kiwi heard their father get up and walk into the main bedroom.

"No, I had no idea! So I thought I'd go explore the town some more!" said Kiwi, placing the last of the dishes on the rack and drying their hands off.

Mom chuckled. "You have fun, muffin! You must have lots of catching up to do with all your friends."

"Yup!" said Kiwi.

"Oh! That reminds me, your witch friend was looking for you earlier. She seemed worried when you weren't home."

"That's okay, she found me outside," said Kiwi. They waved from the doorway. "I'll be back later!"

Outside was fresh air, and a new song about walking through clean streets. There was a familiar brown dog sitting outside Beth's Diner, head resting despondently on her paws. She perked up when Kiwi approached, and Kiwi knelt down to scratch Berry's ears and rub her soft little belly. She wuffled appreciatively and licked at Kiwi's hand.

Winston was inside the diner, polishing off a plate of food. "Good morning!" said Kiwi.

"Oh, it's you!" said Winston. "Are you here for breakfast too?"

"Nope! I've already eaten. Just here to say hi."

"Elara doesn't mind if we keep to our own schedule," said Winston defensively. "The town doesn't run to the minute anymore."

"That's great!" said Kiwi. "Everything seems so much nicer now."

"I know, you should come to the lab with me! It looks so different too, we're all very proud of what we've built," he said, tears running down his cheeks.

"I'd like that," said Kiwi. "And I want to have an Astronomers reunion tomorrow night, if you're free."

"Yes!" cried Winston. "We don't get together enough these days." He finished his plate and got up. Together, they unhooked Berry from in front of the diner and headed in the direction of the former factory building.

"I take Berry to the lab with me," said Winston. "I feel bad that she has to stay inside all day, but I don't want her to get hurt running around outside with nobody to look after her. I walk her at lunch break, of course, but other than that..."

"I can take her today!" said Kiwi. "And the rest of the week while I'm here."

"You're not staying?" said Winston. He looked like he was about to start crying again.

"No," said Kiwi. "I'm just visiting. But it's good to see you again!"

The lab was a bustling place, full of faces both familiar and unfamiliar. The town really must be flourishing, if new people were arriving to work in the lab.

Winston gave Kiwi a quick tour around the refitted factory, pointing out each department and their focus, and then abandoned Kiwi in favour of his workstation. Berry flopped down at his feet with a huff.

Kiwi ventured back out into the halls and retraced their steps through the factory, chatting to the people they recognised. They still weren't entirely sure what the lab did, and a lot of the workers didn't either.

"Sometimes, I miss the order of the old factory," Johann confessed. "The Baron knew how to run a tidy business. Sometimes I think I should push Elara more to implement my ideas. But when I walk outside in our beautiful town, and I cannot feel sad about it!"

Miles was all too happy to talk at length about what the lab was inventing and how it would change the world. "It's the best thing that's ever happened to me," he said. "Happy Kid seems like a distant nightmare."

Peter was ensconced in a distant corner of the room, instrument on his lap and notepad on his knee. He just gave Kiwi a limp wave and indicated Kiwi should sit down. "I heard you were back in town," he said. "Did you... bring Miriam?"

"She brought me!" said Kiwi. "She's doing some errands in Tatango today though."

Peter nodded gravely.

"We're going to have an Astronomer's reunion tomorrow night," Kiwi added.

"Is that so?" Peter tuned his instrument for a moment. "I'll be there."

"What are you writing about?" asked Kiwi.

"A new world," said Peter. "Was Chismest's darkness just a symptom of the darkness that was overcoming the whole world? Is its renewal linked to the renewal of the world? What can we bring into life under this strange new sky?"

"That sounds great!" said Kiwi.

"Thank you," said Peter. "You should talk to Elara. She has a lot of questions about music."

Elara had taken over the old Baron's office, but it was hardly recognisable. The huge throne podium had been replaced with a long desk of normal height, which was mostly covered in large sheets of paper. The walls of the room were lined with cupboards and long shelves, littered with objects Kiwi didn't recognise.

"Hello!" said Kiwi.

Elara looked up and her eyes widened. "Miriam tells me you can do magic," she said eagerly.

"Nope!" said Kiwi. "I can sing though, and that acts like magic sometimes."

"Can you demonstrate for me?" asked Elara. She went to one of the cupboards and pulled out some strange glass instruments. "Sing a magic spell for me."

Kiwi obediently sang the bouncing spell from Mohambumi.

"Fascinating," said Elara. "Try another one."

They went through the whole set together, Elara muttering to herself and scribbling furiously in her notebook the whole time. "Yes. Yes, this is good."

"What do you want to know about magic for?" asked Kiwi.

"Miriam says that magic just is, there's nothing more to know, but I think she's wrong. I think if we can measure magic, we can learn how it works, and eventually we can use it in our inventions."

"In Mohambumi, Hala's sister told me that magic comes from music. I don't know about magic but I know all about music! It's vibrations in the air, and it's full of rules and restrictions that we don't even understand yet, but it's also really intuitive! You don't have to know the rules to be able to make music. And even though it's just sound, it's emotional too. Music makes you feel things. And if magic comes from music it has to be like that too."

Elara stared at them for a moment. "So... you think I should measure magic like I measure sound waves?"

"Sure!" said Kiwi.

"Hmm," said Elara. She looked down at her desk again, then at the wall, tapping her pen against her notepad. "Hmmmm."

"Oh!" said Kiwi. "We're going to have an Astronomers reunion tomorrow night."

"That's nice," said Elara distractedly.

"I'll make sure Winston reminds you tomorrow," said Kiwi.


Wednesday

Miriam was gone again the next day, flying off to Rulle for more errands. This time she did come to the house while Kiwi was there, but Mom didn't manage to convince Miriam to stay for breakfast.

Once Kiwi's father was up, Mom suggested they all to go on a picnic for lunch - "Just like we used to do, muffin!" - which took up most of the day. Kiwi borrowed Berry again, and didn't feed her too much picnic food.

Kiwi's father looked less shadowy out in the sunshine, although he still remained quiet. After an energetic session of fetch, Berry abandoned Kiwi in favour of Kiwi's father's lap, looking up at him beseechingly. Kiwi's father seemed unmoved for several long moments, until at last his left hand drifted down to tickle Berry behind the ears.

"Isn't this lovely," Mom twittered. "Just like in the old days - although you were probably too young to remember, muffin." Kiwi admitted that was true, but Mom just tutted in disappointment.

Kiwi's father said nothing, but his hand stilled on Berry's head and he seemed to draw in on himself more.

Kiwi didn't even need to sneak out for the Astronomers reunion in the evening. Mom just laughed and shooed Kiwi out the door.

"Are you meeting your witch friend? Such a sweet girl, I hope you haven't broken her heart again."

"Miriam will be there," said Kiwi.

"How lovely! You should invite her to dinner tomorrow night."

"I'll ask," Kiwi promised.

Kiwi was the first of the former Astronomers to arrive at the diner, so they chatted to Beth for a moment and then took the Astronomers' regular table at the back.

Someone Kiwi didn't recognise took the opportunity to descend on the table in excitement. "A new person in town!" She put both hands on the table emphatically. "Do you want to join our book club?"

"I love books!" said Kiwi. "But I'm only in town for a few days, visiting my mom. Um, and my dad. My mom and my dad."

"Oh," said the stranger. "That's too bad. Our current book is great, it's about these kids who play a game that destroys the universe and then they meet alien trolls and—"

"I know somebody in Delphi who's read that book!" said Kiwi.

"Delphi?" said the stranger. "I don't know that place."

"It's a little town across the ocean, it's really beautiful and it's where my band comes from," said Kiwi. "Well, my old band, they have a new singer now. But I helped get them together! They're awesome, you might have seen them when—"

"Hi, Sasha. This is the bard who sang the earth song and saved the world," Elara interrupted, putting a plate of food on the table next to Kiwi and sitting down.

"Really?" said Sasha.

"It wasn't actually the earth song," said Kiwi. "I couldn't get the final piece, so I just sang as much as I could and hoped. But it worked anyway!"

Elara raised her eyebrows and pulled a notebook out of her pocket. "Is that so? I didn't know that. Tell me everything."

Kiwi launched into the story, with as much detail as they could remember, doing their very, very best to paint Audrey in a positive light. Elara kept stopping them to ask questions, and even Sasha occasionally broke in to ask for clarification on the details.

"Sorry I'm late," said Miriam, sliding her plate of food onto the table and sitting on Kiwi's other side. At some point Peter and Winston had arrived, taking up the remaining space on the other side of the table.

"Another new person!" said Sasha. "Do you want to join our book club?"

"No," said Miriam.

"This is Miriam," said Kiwi. "The witch I was telling you about, who also sang the wander song."

"Oh!" said Sasha. "That's so cool."

"Sure," said Miriam. "Who are you?"

"I'm Sasha," she said. "I run the new bookstore in town."

"When first I met Miriam she was as a flickering candle light in a forgotten dungeon, a tiny source of warmth in a forlorn place," Peter intoned wistfully. "Now, she is as the sun, brightly burning and untouchable, but no less beautiful for her distance."

"Shut up, Peter," muttered Miriam, blushing furiously.

"Oh, are you two...?" said Sasha.

"No!" snapped Miriam.

"Not in this life," said Peter sadly. "Miriam and I are just friends."

Miriam growled.

"I was really impressed with the lab yesterday!" said Kiwi quickly. "You've all done incredible things, I'm looking forward to seeing what else you can make with it."

"Yes, I'd call this annual review of the Astronomers conspiracy a resounding success," said Elara.

Winston started crying again.


Thursday

Winston dropped Berry off on his way to the lab in the morning (or what was left of it), and Kiwi took her for a long walk through the surrounding countryside. Berry seemed to appreciate the freedom of it all, running through the grass and wildflowers and letting out a flurry of joyous barking whenever she wanted Kiwi's attention. She played fetch and provided harmonies to Kiwi's songs whenever she felt it necessary.

Kiwi got distracted by another song halfway back to Chismest, and almost missed meeting Winston for lunch.

"You'll never guess who came by," said Mom, when Kiwi got back to the house. She didn't wait for Kiwi to answer before continuing. "Vlad! The bar owner from town. We haven't had him around here in years." She beamed.

"That's so nice!" said Kiwi. They clapped their hands."You knew each other a long time ago, right? Did he and— and Dad— did they catch up?"

Mom hummed noncommittally. "Your father didn't say a lot," she admitted. "But it was still lovely to see Vlad. I told him to come back anytime."

"Oh," said Kiwi. "But I'm glad he came by anyway." They looked around the kitchen for a moment. "Can I help with dinner?"

"Of course, muffin!" Mom twittered. She pushed over a pile of potatoes for Kiwi to start peeling. "You're always so helpful."

"You shouldn't be making dinner on your own!" said Kiwi. "Miriam is my friend."

Mom twittered. "It's so nice that you have friends now," she said. "I think we were lonely before."

"But at least we had each other!" said Kiwi.

"And now we have your father back too!" said Mom. She chuckled happily.

"Yeah," said Kiwi.

--

Dinner went as well as could be expected.

Mom asked Miriam about her grandmother's health, and then about growing up in Delphi, which Miriam answered in as few words as possible. "We were the only witches in town," she said. "It's not like Chaandesh."

"So it was just the two of you?" asked Mom. "That's just like us, no wonder you two are such good friends." She sighed, eyes crinkled up with affection. "My little muffin was always such a happy child. And always singing! Up with the birds and singing a happy song, every single day."

"Why am I not surprised," muttered Miriam.

At the head of the table, Kiwi's dad said nothing, eating slowly and methodically.

Once all the food was gone and the table was cleared, Miriam got up to go.

"I'll walk you back!" said Kiwi. Mom smiled knowingly as she saw them out.

"I can look after myself," said Miriam, as they walked up the town steps. "I'm a witch."

"I know," said Kiwi. "I just wanted to spend time with you."

Miriam turned red and mumbled something indistinguishable.

"Thank you for coming to dinner," said Kiwi.

"It wasn't that bad," said Miriam. "I didn't mind it."

"Yay," said Kiwi.

"Your mom seems happy. But I'm sorry she said all that stuff about you. That had to be so embarrassing."

"No, you already know what I'm like," said Kiwi. "None of that stuff was embarrassing."

"I would have died if Sapphy did that to me," said Miriam. "Just... talked about my childhood in front of a friend like that."

"Everyone already thinks I'm strange," said Kiwi. "And it's all true, so. It's pointless to be embarrassed about it."

After a moment, Miriam added, "I don't think your dad liked it much. He was really quiet."

Kiwi breathed in and out carefully three times before deciding to reply. "I think my dad is sad," they admitted. "And I want to help him, but I think me being here is making it worse."

"You're not... asking me to talk to him... are you?" said Miriam.

"No! No, I just thought you might have... some advice..." Kiwi trailed off.

Miriam just stared at them.

"I guess that was pretty silly, huh," said Kiwi.

"You can't fix everything," said Miriam. "That's my advice."

"But I have to at least try!" Kiwi sighed.

"And how are you feeling?" asked Miriam. She looked like it was causing her actual pain to ask.

Kiwi shrugged. At Miriam's glare, they sighed again. "I don't know. It's all muddled. Mom wants us to be a family again, but I... I don't know what I want."

"But you always know what you want," said Miriam. "That's one of your... things. That make you you."

"Well, I don't now," said Kiwi. They concentrated very hard on the feeling of the stone beneath their feet for a moment. "I can't figure out my own feelings while he's still sad."

"Fine," said Miriam. "But remember you're allowed to want things for yourself sometimes."

Kiwi hugged her quickly. "We can go home soon," they promised. "Just two more days."


Friday

Kiwi broke the news of their impending departure the next morning. Mom sighed, but put on a smile and wished them well. "Do you fly the entire way? I hear the ocean is very large."

Kiwi gasped. "I haven't told you about the pirates?"

"The pirates?" said Mom.

"In Tatango, by the ocean, there are pirates and we travel to Delphi on their ship! It's so much fun, they sing and sell coffee beans. And in the town there are markets and people from all over the world. You should go there!" said Kiwi.

Mom patted them on the arm. "Of course you would think so, my little adventurer! I'm afraid my travelling days are behind me, muffin. I'm quite settled here."

"You're never too old for adventuring!" Kiwi protested. "And there are pirates there! And mermaids!"

"That does sound interesting!" laughed Mom. "The ocean is such a long way away from Chismest. I would have liked to have gone someday."

Kiwi shook their head. "But—"

"I would like to go," came another voice, suddenly.

Kiwi jumped in surprise. Mom's hands flew to her face, shocked.

Kiwi's father cleared his throat and tried again. "I would like to travel."

Mom started fluttering anxiously. "Are you sure? We're not as young as we were!"

"We can get a wagon so we don't need to walk," Kiwi's father rumbled. "We can see the ocean. Do the things we couldn't do before."

"Oh, cookie," said Mom. "I never thought you would want—" She skittered over to where Kiwi's father was perched on the landing.

Kiwi backed away and slipped out the front door, almost bowling Miriam over.

"What's with that face?" said Miriam.

"It's nothing," said Kiwi. "Where are you off to today?"

"I'm not working today," said Miriam. "I was going to see if your mom would repeat the offer of breakfast."

"She's busy right now," said Kiwi. Miriam frowned again. "Let's go to the diner," said Kiwi. "I'll tell you what happened."

Once they both had plates in front of them, Miriam pointed a fork at Kiwi. "Spill," she demanded.

"I told Mom we were heading home tomorrow, and I was telling her about Tatango and the pirates and the mermaids, and my dad said he wanted to go there."

The fork clattered to the table, then to the floor. Miriam swore and Kiwi leapt up to fetch another one from the diner counter.

"So you think your parents are going to go to Tatango?" asked Miriam.

Kiwi nodded. "Mom can be stubborn, but I don't think she'll say no to my dad."

"Well, that's good, isn't it? He must hate it here, after everything that happened."

Kiwi moved the contents of their plate around for a moment. "Chismest is so much nicer now than it used to be," they said, eventually.

"That just makes it worse," said Miriam. "It sucks when everyone around is happy and you're not."

"I guess," said Kiwi. They took a drink of water. "The other way around is hard too."

Miriam frowned in thought. "But you left, right? So your dad probably wants the same thing."

Kiwi shrugged.

Miriam's expression said she knew what Kiwi was doing and wasn't going to let them get away with it. "You're not happy about it."

"I am! I am, I swear." They took a bite of their food and swallowed carefully. Miriam was still looking at them, one finger tapping on the table with impatience. "I just wish I could have helped him. And not... Whatever I actually did." They shrugged again. "I think I was making it worse," they added, in a very small voice, barely above a whisper. "I'm being really selfish."

Miriam rolled her eyes. "You're the least selfish person I know."

"I'm not," said Kiwi. "I'm selfish all the time. I'm just better at hiding it."

Miriam lowered her eyebrows and folded her arms. "Prove it."

"Like... People keep asking if I'm staying here in Chismest, and I know it would make so many people happy if I did. Not just my mom, but other people in town! But I'm not going to because I like Langtree better."

"I don't think that counts," said Miriam.

"And... I'm glad you stayed in Chismest, even though you were bored and didn't want to be here."

Miriam flushed red again. "It wasn't like that. I've been working because I didn't want you to worry about me being on my own all day," said Miriam. "I don't want to be a burden."

"Miriam! You're not a burden. I made you come all the way here—"

"That's not what I mean! I just don't want to be in your way."

"I like having you around," said Kiwi. "You're my friend. You're not in my way."

"I like having you around too," Miriam mumbled. "It hasn't been the same flying without you weighing down the end of my broom. Packages aren't the same. They don't sing."

Kiwi gasped. "Singing packages would be so cool Miriam," they exclaimed.

Then Miriam started laughing, and she wouldn't stop even when Kiwi poked her in the side.

--

When Kiwi got home there was a note from their mom saying she'd gone out shopping. There were breakfast dishes sitting in the sink, so Kiwi began work on cleaning up the kitchen, singing as they went. Singing always improved chores. And life in general.

Kiwi was halfway through singing to the frying pan about how much nicer it would feel to be clean when they heard a footstep behind them. They hadn't heard the door, so they turned around, gently setting the pan down in the sink.

"Sorry!" said Kiwi. "I didn't realise anyone was home. I'll... be quieter."

Kiwi's father cleared his throat, then swallowed, and finally said, "I like your singing. You don't need to stop."

"Really?" squeaked Kiwi.

Kiwi's father nodded gravely. "I like... happy things."

"Oh," said Kiwi. They smiled brightly. "I do too!"

"Perhaps next time we see each other I'll remember what it's like to be happy," said their father thoughtfully.

"It's hard work, being happy," agreed Kiwi. "But I think it's worth it."


Saturday

"Come back soon," said Mom. She chortled to herself. "Or maybe we can even come visit you someday, muffin!"

"Fare well," said Kiwi's father. "Stay happy."

"I will!" said Kiwi. They gave their mom a big hug, and after a second's consideration, gave their dad one too. He stiffened, then reached down to give Kiwi the gentlest of pats on the back.

Then they jumped on the back of Miriam's broom and Miriam started taking off.

"Safe flying!" called Mom.

Once they were up high in the air, Miriam let out a huge sigh of relief. Kiwi leant over to watch the ground disappearing below them, Chismest spiralling away from stones to streets to buildings to hills.

"You're not sorry to be leaving, are you?" said Miriam, incredulously.

"No," said Kiwi. "I'm ready to move on."

"Did you figure out what you wanted from your dad, in the end?" asked Miriam curiously.

"No," said Kiwi again. "But that's okay. I think he needs to figure out who he is first."

"Mm," said Miriam. "I suppose."

"He said he likes my singing," said Kiwi. "So that's the most important thing."

"Of course it is," said Miriam.

"And Mom was really happy to have the three of us together again," said Kiwi.

"Yay," said Miriam.

"But I'm glad to be going home," said Kiwi.

Chismest was nothing but a speck in the distance now. They turned to look ahead, to where the ocean was waiting over the horizon. Somewhere over the sea, through the mountains and over hills and fields, there was a little town that thought Kiwi belonged there.