If you’ll recall from a couple of weeks ago, Prudence has begun using her spare time to volunteer at a stuffie-owned bed-and-breakfast and soup kitchen that recently opened up in town. I was at first a bit leery of what she was getting herself into, as I can’t help but be concerned when a friend mingles with complete strangers, but we finally agreed that I’d be more at ease if she took me by to give the place my okay. It seemed a good day to get out, so we wandered over a few blocks around noon for her to show me.
Prudence had been telling me that Baxley and Aura, the canine siblings who own and operate the establishment, were kind beyond words and would open their doors to even the most destitute stuffies. She said they even worked closely with local rescue missions and toy drives to aid in bringing together new human and plush partners. I honestly didn’t think I had even read of anyone who seemed more saintly.
I asked our good friends Chalcie and Aeson if they’d care to meet us at the place, and they seemed more than happy to oblige. They live with Kath’s friend Jeeda in a different part of town, so they were especially curious to check out something away from their typical haunts.
The place wasn’t far from Parsnip at all, which took away some of my concern in itself. The exterior seemed very well-kept, and we had to admire the quaint floral arrangements Aura had supposedly spent long hours putting out.
Extra precautions had even been taken to deter those species who eat flowers from doing so. This lighthearted sign stood by the porch, reminding guests that the real meal was inside.
We opened the door to find a flustered-looking Baxley scrambling to get a family’s plates to their table. Prudence immediately stepped in to help, and we watched with baited breath as she kept one person’s meal from splattering onto the floor. Baxley apologized for the somewhat rough welcome and offered us each his paw, explaining that lunch hour was naturally their busiest time.
On entering, we knew right away that this was no ordinary soup kitchen. Little touches like a service bell and donation box added to the place’s hospitable charm.
The sitting area of the soup kitchen had been fixed up quite nicely, and the guests seemed to be enjoying their meals and each other’s company. The radio had thankfully been tuned to something other than obnoxious pop (which, as I’m sure you all know, can say a lot about an establishment), and fans were running to keep everyone cool.
I hadn’t realized how fortunate we really are at Parsnip until I glanced over a portion of the lunch crowd. Several of these stuffies looked as though they’d definitely seen better days or were otherwise depressed (not unlike Will’s recent acquaintance, Grendel). I was glad that at least they were being well-cared-for here, and I might have offered Kath’s name to the homeless ones were she still actively rehabbing.
We all stayed and chatted in the soup kitchen for a while before we saw Aura emerge from one of the back rooms in the lodging part. She pleasantly introduced herself and told me that Prudence had become an asset to the job since she started coming. I finally felt honored to know that my roommate, who could seem a bit in the way at times, was doing such good for the community. Love her or hate her, you can’t deny that her heart’s in the right place.
Chalcie and Aeson happened to oversee a group of kids playing dominoes in the corner and decided to join in for a few minutes. I’ll always admire Chalcie’s way with the younger stuffies, as I’m certain it would be a great skill to have in life. She helped the kids match up their tiles and showed them how to stack them to make them topple, and it was fun to see Aeson pretending he needed her help too.
Remembering how Prudence had raved about the quality and variety of the food, I asked Baxley if it would be too imposing to request a quick bite all around before we left. He laughed and said that Aura was way ahead of us in the kitchen with a piping bowl of soup for each of us. It was then that I finally told myself, “Yes, Emmi, there are good plush people in the world!”
The meal was unlike any we’ve had before: hearty Minestrone garnished with extra carrots for Prudence and me and served with a side fillet of chicken for the leopards. When we offered our compliments to the chefs, they cited in unison their mantra that “love is the stuff inside”, though I’m relatively convinced that there may have been a little more to it.
A bunny full of delicious soup is a happy bunny indeed!
We thanked our new friends profusely on the way out. At the door, I noticed an empty corkboard and asked Aura what it was for (stuffie community announcements). I decided to pass along the name of Rhett’s party planning enterprise, and we attached a makeshift flyer to the board. If many people see it, it just might give him the break he’s been wanting!
Back at home, I apologized to Prudence for ever being skeptical about what she had been doing out. Right now, I’m just glad that the local wayward plush have a place to relax, and that two special dogs – and one special bunny – are getting the appreciation and fulfillment they deserve.