Prose

The Remarkable Quests of Raddish and Quill: A Lively Market Visit

3 April 2019

From the moment Quill blinked awake, they were buzzing with excitement.

It was a Sunday! And for the great questers Raddish and Quill, that meant they were out the door quicker than usual. There was a skip to their steps as they rushed through the forest, all the way to where the trees parted to reveal a large clearing. There, for one day a week, the grass was enshrouded by an expansive set-up of stalls.  

As they reached the edge of the market, Raddish, who was already purring with delight, pushed up onto their hindlegs to get a better look at everything.

“Oh, I do love Sunday Markets,” Quill agreed with a content smile. “Look at all these people!”

Indeed, there was already a crowd gathering about the stalls. Neighbours and distant visitors alike walked down the busy aisles, trading goods and greetings.

 

The first stall they came across was a wool and knitwear store, manned by a family of mice. Excitement flashed across Raddish’s face and they sped up.

“Oh no,” Quill muttered.

They chased after Raddish, but it was too late.

Raddish pounced. The mice squealed. Quill put a wing to their face.

“Raddish, we already have a ball of wool that exact colour!”

Raddish meowed distractedly as they buried themself into the large basket of wool on display—a ball of fuchsia yarn clutched lovingly between their paws.

“In fact, I’m quite sure you have bigger collection at home than they have here. Put it back!”

Quill ignored Raddish’s pleading whines, turning instead to the mice with an apologetic smile. “I’m sorry about this. You know how Raddish gets. They just love your stuff!”

Noticing the frowning mice, Raddish quickly restored all the wool to their proper places.

The mother mouse sighed and waved a paw dismissively. “We’ll let it go this once, but only because Raddish is still our best customer to date. I’ll never forget the time they bought out our whole stock!”

“Oh, don’t remind me.” Quill tried to scowl, but their tone was affectionate as they recalled the sight of Raddish buried under a mountain of wool.

Raddish had the sense to look sorry as they rejoined Quill to continue down the aisle.

 

“You ever wish you could have your own stall here?”

Quill looked around at all the stalls: from photo frames and paintings to berries and jam; a family of beavers selling bracelets; and Talon’s owlish stare from behind their table of books and parchment. Quill’s heart soared at the thought of finding a place among them, but:

“What could I sell?”

“Heaps of things! We could finally put your feathers to good use. You know, next time you moult.”

“Feathers? What would anyone want feathers for?”

Raddish turned their head slowly and directed an unimpressed stare Quill’s way.

“Quill.”

Quill blinked. “What?”

“Quills, Quill. Pens. Writing devices.”

“Oh, yeah. Of course.” Quill’s Quill Store. They could work with that.  

 

It was the smell that first attracted Quill’s attention. Raddish perked up at the same time, though their motivations were slightly different as they raced towards the cake stall.

The Spikes family had lined the week’s treats along their front table: rows of cupcakes, cookies and other baked delights. At the back of the stall was an array of mixing bowls and kitchen utensils, all surrounding their centrepiece product: a hardcover recipe book entitled, Spiny Delights! A Hedgehog’s Favourite Recipes.  

The mixture of sweet and fruity scents tempted Quill’s stomach and it was all they could do to resist buying everything on the table.

Well, surely they could afford one. Or two.

“Raddish, would you like a cupcake?”

When no one responded, Quill whipped their head around. But Raddish was already nowhere to be seen.

“Raddish?”

A blissful purr answered them, though it was neither an answer to Quill’s question, nor a hint to the cat’s location. However, Quill didn’t call themself Raddish’s best friend for nothing.

“Would you mind terribly if I took a look at your kitchenware?” Quill asked the hedgehogs. “And I will have two strawberry cupcakes, please.”

They looked through the mixing bowls first, then the Tupperware containers. Finally, they found what they were looking for in a soufflé dish. Because of course—by some law of the universe—if an object had an opening, it would also have a Raddish.

“How much?” Quill couldn’t help but smile indulgingly.

A head distinguished itself from the ball of fur in the pan. “Oh, wait, you don’t have to buy this!”

“Let me, Raddish. You look so snug in there, I couldn’t bear to see you part from it.”

Raddish beamed and disappeared back into their new den.

 

“How about stuffed toys? Little bird crafts with real feathered wings?” Raddish suggested between bites of their cupcake.

They sat on a hill overlooking the market, soaking in the nice weather as they ate.

“I’d need more than feathers to make those,” Quill replied, “—like paints, and something for the body.” They raised a brow at Raddish. “Maybe wool?”

“Don’t even think about it!” Raddish jerked away, cradling their cupcake as if it were the wool in question. Then, like a peace offering, they added, “But I could help you paint.”

“Thanks.” Quill played with the paper wrapper of their cupcake. “Or maybe some sort of feather coat?”

“Great idea! It sounds tough to make, but I can think of a few people who might appreciate that, especially when winter comes.”

They ate in companionable silence for the next while, broken only by the occasional idea that happened to strike either of them. Then, Raddish threw the remaining piece of their cupcake into the air and pounced up to swallow it whole.

“I’ve got an idea, wait here.” They chucked their paper wrapper at Quill and sped back towards the stalls.

Quill watched with not much concern, but rather a great deal of curiosity. Raddish tended to have some pretty wild ideas, but they usually ended up being the best ideas. So when Raddish came running back, Quill couldn’t wait to see what they had in mind.

“What’s this?”

“A present for you!” Raddish grinned, handing over an acrylic paint set. “You don’t need to overthink it. Even if you just make little trinkets or feather crafts, they’ll look fantastic! You can use this to help!”

Quill stared at the paint set, then at Raddish. Excitement and pride radiated from their best friend. Dropping the set (carefully!), Quill pulled Raddish into a tight hug.

“Thank you so much!”

“Anything for you, my friend,” Raddish grinned. “And I had to thank you for the soufflé dish, somehow.”

 

They were walking back when Quill noticed a skip to Raddish’s step. Quill narrowed their eyes; they were all too familiar with that particular gait.

“Did you buy something else while you were getting the paints?”

Raddish froze. Slowly, they turned towards Quill with wide, guilty eyes.

“In my defence, it was calling out to me! It just had to be bought,” Raddish said, revealing the fuchsia ball of wool they’d pounced on earlier.

“Really?” Quill let out an exaggerated sigh.

“What if we share it? I’ll let you use it for your dolls—then it’ll count as a useful purchase!”

“It really isn’t a big deal, you can buy whatever you like. You didn’t have to offer.” Quill watched as understanding dawned on Raddish’s face. Just as the cat opened their mouth to speak, Quill grinned and cut in first, “But no take backs! Thanks, Raddish!”

Raddish scowled at first, but eventually relented to reveal a matching grin; a grin that they wore all the way home, contented with their wonderful finds and even more wonderful friend.


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