The planet Gruezhe has similar gravity, atmosphere, and water cover to the planet Candy. However, it has much less vegetation. Nathaniel exits the ship to find himself on a vast plain of gravel under a bright, yellow-green sun. A few other ships – mostly bell shaped – are parked nearby. A cluster of cubic buildings sits a distance away. Other clusters sit even further in the distance. Nathaniel gets on the couch-unit and rides it towards the nearest cluster. “Is this a spaceport?” Nathaniel asks.
“Yes,” Mama and Daddy answer together.
“Where are the runways?” Nathaniel asks, standing to look behind them as they travel, being extra careful not to fall.
“This spaceport doesn’t have runways,” Mama answers.
“Nathaniel, sit down when we’re moving. I don’t want you to fall,” Daddy commands. Nathaniel is annoyed. He can’t look around well when he is sitting, and isn’t looking around the whole point of visiting planets? Nathaniel instinctively understands falling and injury, being programmed with these concepts. Indeed, they are instincts. He instinctively understands – without having to observe it – that objects accelerate as they fall, that all objects fall at the same rate, and concepts like friction and center of mass. He knows he is careful enough. It is almost as if The Mama-And-Daddy doesn’t trust his own judgment of how to manage his own body, but how could they know better than he how to manage it? What is the real reason for sitting? Why does The Mama-And-Daddy have so many rules?
Nathaniel listens to the soft purring of the antigravity generators in the couch-unit and watches as the cluster of cubic buildings draws closer. They seem to be made of oddly-shaped, brown stones mortared together. Each building is roughly a regular cube, but some are much bigger than others. Brown and bluish-brown vegetation of all sizes and varieties grows between them. In the center of the cluster is a small pond. Nathaniel sees strange, furry creatures of all kinds crawling on every surface. There are bear-like, dog-like, and monkey-like forms. They come in all colors and sizes. Some wear clothes and some don’t. Nathaniel feels a strange sensation of upwelling fun and a drain of energy, but barely notices it and doesn’t understand what to think of it yet.
The couch-unit stops. “You may get off now. Go find a friend to take home,” Daddy proclaims. Nathaniel steps into the crowd tentatively. A medium-sized, sky-blue, sheep-like Gruezhling with very long, hooked ears and wearing black shorts with two pockets runs past him, cawing loudly. Nathaniel chases after it, imitating the noise as best as he can. The creature is very fast, and Nathaniel cannot capture it. He chases it back and forth around a large stone. Soon, a second Gruezhling joins the circle, chasing the first and blocking Nathaniel’s path. It is grey, with bright yellow ears, and vaguely resembles a koala. It wears brown shorts with four pockets. Nathaniel starts to chase the koala-Gruezhling instead, and it leads him away from the stone. Before they get very far, however, the lamb-Gruezhling cuts between them and runs in circles around Nathaniel.
Somewhere in the back of Nathaniel’s mind he becomes dimly aware that these Gruezhlings are competing for his attention. This is what Gruezhlings do: They compete for companion children – and sometimes children compete over them. The koala-Gruezhling approaches Nathaniel and flaps his yellow ears. Awesome! Nathaniel wishes he could reciprocate, but dromaeosaurs have no external ears.
“Can you do this?” the koala-Gruezhling asks, jumping in the air and touching the bottoms of both feet with his hands.
Nathaniel successfully imitates him. “Yeah!” he responds.
“Jump over him!” the lamb-Gruezhling suddenly calls out, leaping right over the koala-Gruezhling.
Nathaniel instinctively backs up to get a running start, knowing that this will help him jump farther. He runs and leaps. At the last second, the koala-Gruezhling runs out to the side. “Hey!” Nathaniel protests.
“Try this,” the koala-Gruezhling cajoles, spinning in place. The lamb-Gruezhling also begins to spin – not by moving his feet – but by twisting his elastic legs around each other. Nathaniel watches as he winds up, releases, spins, and winds up in the opposite direction. The koala-Gruezhling stops spinning. Nathaniel then tries to spin. When he stops, he feels strange and falls over.
The Gruezhlings laugh at him. “You get dizzyish,” the lamb-Gruezhling declares.
“Why don’t you get dizzy?” Nathaniel asks.
“Gruezhlings are designed differently,” the koala-Gruezhling explains.
“Oh,” Nathaniel remarks.
“Who do you like better?” the koala-Gruezhling asks.
Nathaniel thinks for a second. “I like you because you have longer fur and you can flap your ears,” he answers.
“I’m faster! See!” the lamb-Gruezhling counters, running in circles around both of them.
Nathaniel thinks for another second. “Okay, I like you better now,” he reports.
“You still like me second, right?” the koala-Gruezhling questions.
“Yeah!” Nathaniel exclaims.
“Maybe you can adopt both of us,” the koala-Gruezhling proposes.
“Okay,” Nathaniel says.
“Are you allowed?” the koala-Gruezhling asks.
“I don’t know,” Nathaniel answers.
“Ask your parents,” the koala-Gruezhling says.
“Okay,” Nathaniel says, then turns and runs to The Mama-And-Daddy. The Gruezhlings follow. “I want these two…please.”
“We’re only taking one today,” Mama states.
“Why?” Nathaniel asks.
“Because we’re only taking one today,” Mama says. It occurs to Nathaniel that this is a tautology, but he has little time to think about it.
“What are their names?” Daddy asks.
“I don’t know yet; nobody told me,” Nathaniel says.
“Why didn’t you ask?” Daddy asks. Nathaniel doesn’t know that, either. He was too busy playing to think of it and the Gruezhlings never thought to ask his, either. If he had done anything wrong, they had all done something wrong. Finding he has a little extra energy, he does a little dance while Daddy talks.
“Don’t dance when you talk to us; it makes us tired,” Mama and Daddy say simultaneously. Nathaniel stops.
“What’s your name?” Daddy asks the lamb-Gruezhling.
“Baa-baa,” he answers.
“And what’s your name?” Mama asks the koala-Gruezhling.
“Ko-lala,” he answers.
“My name is Mama, that is Daddy, and that is Nathaniel,” Mama says, pointing tentacles. Ko-lala and Baa-baa begin running in circles even before Mama finishes talking. “Well, have fun, but remember Nathaniel, you can only take one home.” The Mama-And-Daddy slowly levitates away to rest on a nearby hill.
Soon, Ko-lala tires of running in circles. He stops suddenly, makes sure to capture the attention of his friends, smiles, and begins to run in triangles. Baa-baa follows. Some minutes later, while Baa-baa shows Ko-lala and Nathaniel how to run in figure-eights, another child enters their space. He is a young Human, with blue eyes and light brown fur on the top of his head. The rest of his body is pale pink and has no fur, feathers, or scales at all. Nathaniel is intrigued. He wears blue shoes, grey pants, and a blue, short-sleeved shirt. A strange, red-and-green design shows on the front of his shirt. Even though Nathaniel has never seen a Human before, he knows this is a child and not another Gruezhling because he doesn’t feel play being simultaneously stimulated in him and pushed out of him as he does with the psychosymbiotes. The Human grins widely at Nathaniel. “You have sharp toes,” he finally says about Nathaniel’s foot-claws.
Nathaniel flexes his toes a bit. “You have blue feet,” he says.
The Human looks down. “Those are shoes, silly,” he responds.
“I have shoes at home,” Nathaniel says.
“Follow us!” Ko-lala calls, running away with Baa-baa to the nearest hill. The Human, Nathaniel, Baa-baa, and Ko-lala run together to the nearest hill and spontaneously roll down it. None of them are really sure whose idea it was. They all just sort of get the idea at once. At the bottom of the hill, they all take turns somersaulting and cartwheeling, implicitly challenging the others to top their feats. After several minutes of this and near-constant laughing, Baa-baa jumps onto the Human’s back and holds his arms. Baa-baa is not heavy enough to topple him over, and he soon throws Baa-baa off. Ko-lala and the Human promptly move in on Baa-baa and wrestle him to the ground. Nathaniel jumps with excitement and then leaps over the other three, yelling. Ko-lala reaches up and grabs one of Nathaniel’s feet, causing him to careen headfirst into the soft, airy, brown moss that covers the ground. Nathaniel doesn’t mind; it is a risk worth taking for the sake of fun. Nathaniel easily absorbs the impact with his arms and rolls over, laughing. Nathaniel had never wrestled, somersaulted, or cartwheeled before. There are so many fun things to do with these strange creatures that Nathaniel suspects he cannot do with The Mama-And-Daddy. How many types of fun are there?
“Hey, the ground-plants made my shirt brown,” Nathaniel says, noting the brown streaks on his clothing. Suddenly, an idea occurs to him and he smiles. Running quickly, he jumps and slides on the ground, creating more brown streaks. The others join him, making brown streaks on their own clothing.
The Human bursts out laughing. “I have two streaks that cross each other!” he says, noting his grey pants.
“I have stripes!” Nathaniel announces, “I’m a striped animal now!”
“I’m a tiger!” Ko-lala says.
“I’m an elephant; I’m bigger!” the Human says, holding his shoulder to his nose and undulating his arm to mimic a trunk.
“I’m an octopus!” Baa-baa says.
“You can’t be an octopus; you don’t have enough arms, silly,” the Human says.
“Then you can’t be an elephant, because you don’t have a trunk,” Baa-baa counters.
“Fine! I’ll be a…a robot,” the human says. These negotiations go on for a couple more minutes before Ko-lala interrupts.
“We have to play something! Hurry up!” Ko-lala says, starting to feel play-hungry.
“Okay, we can all be kings, and I’m showing you around my castle,” Baa-baa says.
“Okay,” the Human says.
“First we have to walk down my hallway made of every kind of crystal,” Baa-baa says, “It’s eleven kilometers long.”
“I have a rocket platform that makes me go really fast,” the Human says. The four of them continue role-playing games for the next hour, the Gruezhlings enhancing the children’s creativity and feeding off of it.
Two adult Humans then approach the children. At least, Nathaniel assumes they are adults based on the slow, disinterested way they move. He had never seen Humans before today. “Billy, did you make any friends yet?” one of the adults asks in a tired voice.
“I made three friends!” Billy responds.
“We can only take one home,” the first adult says.
“I want two,” Billy says.
“You have to choose just one,” the first adult says.
“Maybe I can take one and he can take one,” Nathaniel offers.
“That’s a good idea,” the first adult says, “which one do you want?”
The second adult smiles at Nathaniel, but says nothing. “I don’t know,” Nathaniel says.
“You have to decide,” the first adult says.
“Uh…” Billy starts.
“We have to leave in twenty minutes. You can play a little longer while you decide,” the first adult says.
“Hmmm,” Billy says.
Getting impatient, Ko-lala interrupts, “I’m a tyrannosaur! Grrr!”
Not to be outdone, Baa-baa yells, “I’m a firetruck!” running swiftly.
“I’m a rock!” Billy says, suddenly collapsing to the ground and lying perfectly still.
“Oh, don’t lie, Billy. Tell him the truth,” the first adult Human says.
“Kids have such imaginations. How do they come up with these things?” the other adult Human says.
“Billy is a Human; he’s not a rock,” the first adult Human says.
Nathaniel cannot discern whether these creatures are playing or not. He knows Billy is playing and only pretending to be a rock because he instinctively recognized the nonverbal cues to indicate that he was. Are the adults only pretending not to know Billy is playing? It is hard to tell.
“Yes, I am. I’m a sharp rock. If you step on me, your foot will split in two,” Billy insists.
“Billy, stop lying! Get up and play with your new friends so you can choose one to come live with us!” the first adult yells, starting to sound a little angry. Again, Nathaniel is confused. He thought Billy was already playing with his new friends. Isn’t imagination the point of play? Do adults only recognize playing if motion is involved?
Billy gets up with a grouchy look on his face. He suddenly has neither the energy nor the desire to play. “Billy, start playing right now or we’re going home!” the first adult Human says. Nathaniel thinks it must be awfully hard to play while getting yelled at.
“Come on, Billy, we’re going,” the adult says, dragging Billy by the arm.
“Do one of you want to come with us?” the second adult asks the Gruezhlings.
“Yes!” Baa-baa and Ko-lala both say.
“I’ll take you,” the second adult says, scooping Ko-lala up, leaving Baa-baa and Nathaniel behind.
It all happens so fast, neither Billy nor Nathaniel has much time to think of how to react. After a few moments, Baa-baa leaps over Nathaniel, cawing. Nathaniel chases him in circles. This lasts for several minutes before another child approaches the two. This child is a bit taller than Nathaniel, at one and one-fifth meters tall. Like the Humans, he only has fur on the top of his head, but this child has a long, jointed neck and a perfectly flat face. He is a Hammer-Face being. His skin is golden-brown. He wears blue-green pants and a green-blue shirt. His shoes are grey. “Watch,” the Hammer-Face child says. He then proceeds to flex his long neck and repeatedly smash his face into the ground with great force.
Nathaniel jumps into the air and then says, “Do it again.” The Hammer-Face eagerly complies.
“Come on,” Baa-baa says, suddenly running away. The two children follow. Soon, behind a grove of trees, they enter a field of trampolines of all different sizes. Each is built over a pit and is therefore level with the ground. Numerous children and Gruezhlings bounce up and down on them. The trampolines change colors in relation to the amount they flex. Finding one with room for more, Baa-baa leads the way and they all start jumping on it. Soon, Nathaniel learns how to jump from one trampoline to the next. The Hammer-Face soon learns how to bounce on his face. After quite a few minutes of playing with several other kids and Gruezhlings, Baa-baa leads Nathaniel and the Hammer-Face over a hill to a grove of trees beset with circular swings. Baa-baa calls them “tires.” The children learn how to spin, circle, and swing back and forth.
“Take me home now,” Baa-baa suddenly blurts out – and he says it to the Hammer-Face.
“Okay,” the Hammer-Face replies, and the two of them run off with Nathaniel still stuck on a moving swing.
Nathaniel watches them go. It happens too quickly for him to react. He continues to play with the other kids on the swings, but soon finds that he is ignored as often as not. Everyone else seems to already have friends. Nathaniel wanders a bit before he comes to a cluster of large trees. Looking up, he sees that the trees are filled with Meekon-ape children and brightly-colored, monkey-like Gruezhlings. The Gruezhlings have prehensile tails and Velcroed hands and feet, allowing them to grip their own fur and hang by looping their flexible limbs around branches. He watches. Then, out of the corner of his eye, he sees a large, long-limbed, long-necked, blue Gruezhling with medium-length antennae galloping over the nearest ridge. Nathaniel runs to it, but stops when he realizes it is being chased by no fewer than eight Hammer-Face kids.
Nathaniel continues to run from group to group but continues to find himself ignored. He sees a slow, stumpy-legged, toeless, brown, pig-like Gruezhling being played with by a two Human kids. He also sees some red, orange, and pink Gruezhlings in the distance across the pond. Yuck! Nathaniel would hate being pink or red. He eventually becomes bored to the point of being desperate for play and starved for attention. He does not enjoy this new emotion. For a while he plays with a one-legged, hopping, yellow-and-green striped Gruezhling, but finds it to jump too high and too far to keep up with it.
Finally, Nathaniel finds himself near one of the cubic stone buildings. Curious, he peers through the rough, square doorway and waits for his eyes to adjust to the darkness inside. Inside are shelves and shelves full of all kinds of Gruezhlings! None of them move; they just stare blankly at each other (eyelids among Gruezhlings are very rare). He walks between the walls of shelves, eyeing them over. It is very eerie. He decides to count them. As soon as he begins, several of the Gruezhlings twitch. Startled, Nathaniel stops counting and the Gruezhlings hold still. Nathaniel had felt a small amount of play-energy drawn from him when he was counting. Now, he feels nothing. Leaving, he backs up and trips over a Gruezhling on the floor that was not there before.
The Gruezhling is black and cat-like with long whiskers. It has well-developed hands with three fingers each and a large, white, hairless, rimmed hump or soft shell on its back almost as big as the rest of its body all together. It appears to wear no clothes – unless that’s what the soft, rimmed shell is supposed to be. Nathaniel is unsure; he sees no pockets. It sits perfectly still. Nathaniel stares for a moment and then leaves. Blinking in the sunlight, he ponders over what he’s just seen. Is this where Gruezhlings come from? Why are they still? Are they sleeping? Do they only play when children visit? Why don’t they play with each other? Nathaniel turns around and goes back inside. “Why don’t you play?” he asks. There is no response. Grabbing one, he shakes it hard. “Wake up!” There is still no response. He lets go and it falls from the shelf to the floor. Picking it up to place it back, he suddenly gets an idea. Nathaniel tosses it up over the wall of shelves into the next aisle. That was fun! Nathaniel grabs another and another, tossing each over the wall. After he has thrown about ten, one comes flying back! All at once, all of the Gruezhlings in the room begin to stir. Nathaniel feels more play-energy being drawn from him. Two more Gruezhlings are thrown in his direction.
Before long, Nathaniel finds himself on a team of three, exchanging volleys with another team of three. The Gruezhlings call this game “Animal War.” They chase each other around the room. Nathaniel dodges as best as he can, but he is not as experienced as the others. The majority of the Gruezhlings do little more than turn their heads to watch. Sometimes one of those playing will trade places with one of those sitting (or one of those getting thrown). Nathaniel gets the impression that this is not entirely voluntary and that these creatures are competing over his finite play-attention resources. Nathaniel begins to feel a little tired but exhilarated at the same time. Finally, the fun draws to a close as Nathaniel stumbles outside, exhausted. There, he sees the shelled Gruezhling from before, lying still on the ground. Nathaniel lies down near it.
Suddenly, the shelled Gruezhling and Nathaniel spontaneously wrestle each other. Neither knows who started it. Nathaniel feels the hard, marble-like eyes and nose of the creature press into him, in stark contrast to the rest of its soft body. “You have hard eyes,” Nathaniel comments.
“Doesn’t everybody?” the shelled, cat-like Gruezhling responds in a low-pitch, slightly nasal voice.
“No, my eyes are soft,” Nathaniel says. Curious, the Gruezhling pokes him in the eye with one of his six fingers. “Ow!”
“That’s interesting,” the shelled Gruezhling says.
“I’m tired and hungry. I have to go to The Mama-And-Daddy,” Nathaniel says.
“Who’s that?” the shelled Gruezhling asks.
“The spaceship. My home,” Nathaniel says.
“Oh. I’ll go with you,” the shelled Gruezhling declares.
“Okay,” Nathaniel says. He leads the Gruezhling across the gravel plain of the spaceport. The Gruezhling seems to be as comfortable walking on all four limbs as it is walking on only the hind two.
“I haven’t explored out here before. I like exploring,” the shelled Gruezhling comments.
“I like exploring, too. I explored a candy planet and a volcano planet,” Nathaniel says.
“I like exploring because I learn things about places. I like to learn,” the shelled Gruezhling says.
“I like learning, too,” Nathaniel says. Nathaniel can’t remember any specific examples of things he applied himself to learn about, but he knows immediately and instinctively what he likes. Doesn’t everyone like learning?
“Everyone likes learning something. I like learning about plants. I learned recently that plants only grow near water because plants need water to grow. That’s why there are no plants out here; we’re too far from the pond. Plants also need light from the sun, that’s why they don’t grow underground or inside buildings,” the shelled Gruezhling says.
“That’s interesting!” Nathaniel exclaims. Looking up at the sun, he asks, “Do you know why the sun is green here instead of yellow like on planet Candy?”
“I don’t know; I’ve never been to planet Candy,” the shelled Gruezhling says.
“Let’s find out,” Nathaniel suggests.
“Yeah,” the shelled Gruezhling agrees.
“I can ask The Mama-And-Daddy; it might know,” Nathaniel says.
“Okay,” the shelled Gruezhling says.
“Do you roll down hills?” Nathaniel suddenly asks, noticing that the creature’s round shell is ideal for such an activity.
“Yeah!” the Gruezhling answers, “Hey, watch this.” The creature retracts its body almost completely inside its soft, bowl-like shell. “Roll me to the ship!”
“Ah!” Nathaniel says in anticipatory excitement. He pushes and chases the rolling creature all the way to the ship. The door is open.
The Gruezhling exits its shell and looks over The Mama-And-Daddy. “This is a strange-shaped ship,” it remarks.
“Are most ships shaped like those?” Nathaniel asks, pointing at the bell-shaped ships parked nearby.
“Yup, or else they are shaped like disks,” the Gruezhling answers.
“Oh. I saw a ship on planet Candy that was a ball in a cup and another ship that was a spiny blue trapezoid,” Nathaniel recounts.
“Wow! I never saw ships like those,” the Gruezhling says.
“Are you good at jumping on trampolines?” Nathaniel asks, his insatiable curiosity constantly pushing his attention onto other subjects.
“Yes, I love trampolines,” the Gruezhling says, “There are trampolines way over there.” He sweeps his arm in the direction of the pond and the cluster of buildings.
“I know,” Nathaniel says, leading the way inside The Mama-And-Daddy, “Let’s go on the trampolines later and then explore the rest of the planet.”
“Okay. That’s a good idea,” the Gruezhling says, running to catch up.
Seconds later, they arrive in the kitchen. “What’s your name?” Nathaniel asks.
“Haticat,” the Gruezhling answers.
“I have chocolate. You can have some, but don’t take my mix-ball,” Nathaniel offers.
“I don’t eat; Gruezhlings are psychosymbiotic,” Haticat says.
Nathaniel finds a box of chocolate left on the floor from yesterday and opens it. “What does that mean?”
“Gruezhlings are kept alive by playing,” Haticat says. A question begins to form in Nathaniel’s mind, but is interrupted.
“Hi, Nathaniel. Are you ready to leave planet Gruezhe?” the Mama polyp-head on the table asks, suddenly springing to life. Daddy remains dormant.
“No, later I’m going to play on the trampolines and then go exploring,” Nathaniel says.
“That’s okay, but we have to leave by sunset,” Mama says.
“Why?” Nathaniel asks.
“Don’t ask questions,” Mama says, sounding just slightly irritated, “Did you find a friend?”
“Why can you ask questions, but I’m not supposed to?” Nathaniel asks, not yet irritated, but merely curious.
“I’m the Mama; you’re not,” Mama says sternly. To Nathaniel, it is obvious that he is not the Mama and that the Mama is the Mama, but how did that answer the question?
Regaining her composure and smiling, Mama turns to Haticat and asks, “What is your name?”
“Haticat,” Haticat answers.
“Hi Haticat, my name is Mama,” Mama says. Haticat just stares. “Would you like to be Nathaniel’s friend?”
“Yes, okay,” Haticat replies.
There is a slight pause before Mama responds, “You’re welcome. I have to go and be with Daddy and the couch-unit now. Have fun, but remember to be back by sunset.” Mama shuts off, her eyes, nose, and mouth tightly shut.
“Mama said I was welcome; I don’t understand,” Haticat says.
“Welcome is when you go to a place and other people aren’t wanting you to go away,” Nathaniel says.
“I know that. What did Mama mean by it? Where am I welcome? I’m welcome almost everywhere. Why tell me?” Haticat questions.
“I don’t know. I think she might be angry you didn’t say please or say thank you. I’m not sure which,” Nathaniel says.
“Adults are weird,” Haticat says.
Nathaniel starts to stuff himself with chocolate, and then says, “Why were the Gruezhlings in the building still before I played with them?”
“The buildings are where Gruezhlings get put that are forgotten about and have nobody to play with them. Gruezhlings use up all their play-energy in less than fifteen minutes if there’s nobody to give them play. Then they go to sleep and can sleep for years if nobody wakes them up. I was smart. While the others spent all their energy on playing with you, I crawled outside where I knew eventually somebody would see me even after you left the others behind. I’m awake now because you are paying attention to me and pretending me to talk,” Haticat says.
“You’re really talking; I’m not pretending,” Nathaniel says, his mouth full of chocolate.
“No, you’re pretending without knowing it – and you can’t stop it or control it anyways. I make you pretend I’m saying what I really want to say. Pretending is a form of play. I use that play-energy to really do what you’re pretending me to do. That’s how it works,” Haticat says.
“Oh, so that’s why you don’t eat?” Nathaniel says.
“Yup,” Haticat says, “I need play the way that you need food and plants need water and sunlight. Children need play too, or else they get bored, grouchy, and tired, but they don’t fall asleep as fast as Gruezhlings do.”
“Do you use the toilet?” Nathaniel asks.
“Nope. I have no digestive tract or kidneys. I don’t even have blood for kidneys to filter,” Haticat says.
Nathaniel isn’t sure what all that means, but he gets the gist of it. “Oh,” he says, “I have to use the toilet now; I’ll be right back.” Soon, Nathaniel finishes using the toilet, finishes eating, and the two of them exit the ship to go exploring. Before they get very far, they meet the Mama-And-Daddy couch-unit coming the other way.
“We’re leaving now,” Daddy says, “Get in the ship.”
“Mama said we were leaving at sunset,” Nathaniel says.
“We changed our plans. The planet bosses are very angry that somebody went into one of the buildings and knocked a bunch of Gruezhlings off their shelves, making a mess,” Mama and Daddy both say.
“Oh,” Nathaniel says. “We’ll explore later,” he says to Haticat. It only occurs to Nathaniel some time later that he is the one responsible. He and Haticat end up exploring the inside of The Mama-And-Daddy as it takes off and leaves Gruezhe. Nathaniel sees parts he hadn’t had a chance to see in the previous two days yet. That night, Haticat crawls under Nathaniel’s pile of pillows with him and they sleep together. They are best friends.