She watched him bumble along brainlessly, wondering what part was him trying to figure things out, and what part was lost in the accident. He moved around slowly, without sniffing, without looking up, and occasionally walked into things. She wondered how long he could continue working in the mod. She ushered the younger kits to school, got him up in the mornings, and generally watched her whole family dissipate into a collection of mice living within the same fluff.

Rakel sighed, and turned to Fil, lying kold in the fluff. He was almost always kold now. Somehow, he had been getting extra Kol, and stronger too. Jak watched him enviously, a little bit kold himself. Rakel nudged him along. "Why don't you grow up to be like Dane or Brad?" she suggested. "Fil can't even work. Do you want to do that to your family?" Jak looked over his shoulder admiringly at the intoxicated, white, furry ball of blitheness behind him.

Any crawled over and curled up beside him, weeping. Rakel came over and tried awkwardly to comfort her. "Maybe you should go out? I'll put your name in to the priests for matching. Yes, a nice boy mouse should make you feel better." Any cried some more. Rakel sighed and looked back at her two miserable, useless siblings. She scanned the fluff, considering working on picking out the droppings, but decided against it. She had another laun or two before the fluffers came by, and she wanted more to get Any out of the house.

She scuttled to the temple where she saw a group of Priests gathered outside. "I'd like to submit a name to the Ma'aming list," she said. The priests looked up.

"Nah," one meowed, only half jokingly. "No one will want you ma'amed to them."

Rakel ignored their rudeness and continued. "It's my sister, Any, Moby's daughter."

The cats looked at her quizzically. "Isn't she raising the kits though?"

Rakel sighed. "No, that's me. Look, please just put her on the list and get her a match? I can't have her lying around the house all day weeping about her mother. Our society can't bear that burden. Could you just try to find her a mouse?"

The priests laughed at her explosion of annoyance. "Sure," they laughed. "Actually, I think we may have the perfect mouse for her." The chuckling subsided. "Bring her over tomorrow, early daun, just after the kits leave for school. We'll bring her mouse."

Rakel gave them a courteous smile and thanks, scampering back to the fluff to clean. She worked around the two lumps of meat in the bed, her sister and brother, carefully sweeping up the previous night's droppings, and making a pile of them outside the fluff.

Soon, the fluffers came around. The four black mice stopped, placed down the pieces of flowered nightgown on which they were carrying the clean and dirty fluff, and stopped. They pulled the yellowest chunk of Rakel's dirty fluff off and flung it onto the silky fabric, covering a little rose. Over the satin was a sheen of dirt, but the shine underneath was still apparent. They then split off a piece of a clean white cloud and dragged it through the dust, mixing it in with the rest. They then moved along, giving a flirtatious goodbye to Rakel.

When they were out of sight, she stood on her back paws and looked down at herself. She was young and attractive, with a little weight from her mother's loving care.

She thought back to the spindly mouse who raised her. Mother. A pang of regret for her arguments overcame her. Now, Rakel was an adult, responsible for raising her sisters and brothers, and she finally understood her mother's unquestioning frivolity. Not that Rakel would subside to the temptation, but the stress bore down on her enough for her to understand her mother's choices. She felt bad for being so hard on her, but now, it was too late to apologize. A tear welled in her obsidian eye, and she allowed herself to feel its salty sting as it gathered before she blinked it away. She couldn't waste her time with things like that– she had a family for whom she needed to care. "No time to waste," she said to her self. "No time to waste."

The End

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