It was just another brilliant day for Lori the penguin! The Friendship Festival had ended a few days ago, but Lori had big plans for today. After finishing her balanced Fishy-Os breakfast, she put out the fire in the hearth, gleefully left her cave, and wobbled out onto the slushy snow. All the way across the thin dirt road was Rachel the fox's den. Rachel was busy taking down the Friendship Festival decorations that plagued the whole cave neighborhood...
Lori waddled out into the road a bit, with a smile. "Good morning Rachel!"
Rachel sighed. "Oh, hello Lori..."
Lori watched Rachel brutally tear down each decoration, one by one. "So uh, you're taking the decorations down already?" Lori felt a little nervous, just like last year, but tried to cheer up. "I think your cave looks great with them! I mean, I leave the decorations on my cave all year. You should do the same, right?"
Rachel sighed again, but louder. "Of course I'm going to leave these atrocities nailed to the outside of my walls all year! NOT."
The ending of Rachel's sentence was so loud, it knocked some of the melting snow off of Lori's roof. She was quickly buried with slush and ice... Lori remained happy however, and dug her way out of the snow with her flippers, and promptly forgave Rachel, who didn't even respond...
Lori didn't let Rachel's attitude ruin her day, though. For Lori, every day is like the Friendship Festival! On the way to the post office, she came across Ferris the Arctic Wolf, who was very busy shoveling snow out of his log den's lawn.
Lori happily waddled over to him. "Good morning, Ferris! I see you're busy shoveling snow... Mind if I lend a flipper?"
Ferris stopped shoveling for a second. "Honestly, yeah, I do mind. Well, before the Festival started, I was all excited, saying stuff like, nothing could ever ruin the Friendship Festival this year. And well, I was totally wrong. I opened my valentines and... My girlfriend broke up with me and I just can't get over it, okay?"
Ferris started shoveling again, faster this time. "Just, I would feel better if you didn't like, be so nice every day. I mean, you're super nice and cool but you're also... Really, really annoying... so uhh, see you later, Lori..."
Lori felt bad for Ferris, but she tried not to let his misfortune bother her... She took a different turn today, to the igloo neighborhood. The first person she met was the polar bear Teddy, who was removing decorations from his home, like Rachel was.
"Hello Teddy," said Lori. "How are you today? I'm doing great!"
Teddy stopped taking down the decorations so he could respond to Lori. "I guess I'm doing okay... I lost my 56th hockey game today. I don't think I'm cut out for sports... The only reason I keep playing is because of you, Lori, cause you keep telling me to keep trying. Thanks, I guess..." He resumed taking down the decorations, perhaps with a tear in his eye...
Lori was increasingly nervous. "Well, have a nice day..."
She passed Bella the deer's treehouse next. She was still missing, and there was a note at the door...
Due to a life-threatening injury, Bella Surehoof has been relocated to the Medical Center in Kimbara. Sincerely, Rose
Lori felt really bad for Bella. She fell through the ice and broke her leg a while back, right after the Festival ended. Lori wondered if Bella ever got to open her valentines... She quickly waddled away from the treehouse, and now the post office was in sight.
However, Lori went out of her way to meet Hector the Koala, at his log house. "Good morning, Hector!" She said, as she tried to remain bright and happy.
Hector stared wildly at Lori, and then slowly inched his way back into his den. Lori jumped when he slammed the door in her face... Jeez, what's gotten into everyone lately? Lori, sniffing and almost ready to cry, finally made her way over to the post office...
Rose, the owl, was busy sorting mail into many different bags, and handing them to other owls, eagles, and falcons.
Lori slowly and solemnly waddled over to the owl. "Good morning... Rose..."
Rose told the others to wait a second, and then went over to Lori, who was now crying. "Oh, Lori, what's wrong? I don't think I've ever seen you sad before..."
Lori wiped her face, and looked back up to Rose. "Rachel hates me, Ferris broke up, Teddy lost all his games, Bella's still at the hospital, and Hector won't even talk to me! I feel like nobody even cares about the Friendship Festival, like it's only about chocolate and stuff, and not actual friendship!"
Lori sighed, as her tears fell to the snow. "I just want everybody to be friends... But everyone acts like I'm just crazy..."
Rose put her wing around Lori, and tried to comfort her. "I don't think you're crazy, Lori. You're the best person I know... I think you're nicer than anyone else in the whole neighborhood. Pfft, you're the nicest person I know in Jamaa!"
Lori looked up at Rose. "R... Really?"
Rose nodded. "Yeah, you're the best..."
Lori started to feel a lot better. "So... Uhh... Do I have any jam-a-grams today? I mean... it's the whole reason I came down here..."
Rose turned around, and talked to the others a bit. Lori tried to peek over Rose's shoulder, but she couldn't hear what the mail carriers were saying... Then, Rose turned around, with a letter in her wing.
"It looks like a valentine, for you, Lori. It must've been sent in late..."
Lori's sadness withered away, and she jumped up and down, super excited for this new jam-a-gram that could redeem her whole day. She ran her flipper underneath the top of the letter, and pulled out the card that was inside. She couldn't tell who it was from, but she didn't mind, and opened the card. It had a picture of chocolates ad ribbons, and a little message at the bottom. "You're a great friend, Lori!"
Lori smiled, and Rose smiled, too.
Lori looked back at the card. "So, uhh, who is it from?"
Rose looked at the handwriting on the letter. Rose had delivered mail here for years, and was very familiar with the residents. "I think it's from Calvin."
Lori remembered that she hadn't talked to Calvin yet, today! She thanked Rose, and hurried over to Calvin's den.
She knocked on Calvin's door. He responded quite quickly, after opening the door. "Hey, hello Lori! Did you get my card?"
Lori jumped up and down with excitement. "Yeah, I did! Thanks..."
Calvin let Lori come inside. "The only valentine I got this year was from you, Lori, so I sent you an extra one. I wasn't sure if you would be okay if it came in late, but I really wanted to thank you..."
Lori sat on the couch, and then looked over at Calvin. "I wouldn't mind getting a valentine any day!"
Calvin chuckled, and sat down next to Lori. "You know, I saw that chest out here today. I remember you were so obsessed with trying to reach it, and I wanted to help you get it."
Lori had finally given up on trying to reach the chests a while ago, and when Calvin suddenly offered to help, more happiness welled up inside her than ever before!
Lori jumped up off the couch, and looked Calvin right in the eyes. "Yes! Please! That would be awesome!"
They both ran outside, and then Calvin led Lori over to the chest that she had been trying to reach all these years. "Sorry I didn't offer earlier, Lori..."
Lori laughed. "Oh, it's fine! It's my fault for not asking for help... I thought I would need wings or something to reach the chest! All I needed was help from a friend... A friend like you."
Calvin lifted Lori up, closer to the chest. She reached as far as she could, and barely got the chest by the handle. She dragged it over, and Calvin lowered her to the ground. Together, they unlatched the chest, and looked at what was within... It got the attention of others, and more and more people began to gather around, curious as to what was inside the chest...
Everyone gasped, as Lori lifted the lid up all the way. Inside was thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of gems! Calvin grabbed a handful. "Wow... I can't believe it... We're rich!"
Then, he let the gems slide from his paw and back inside the chest. "So, Lori, what do you want to do with it all?"
The animals scattered around them had remained mostly silent, aside from a few murmurs and whispers. Lori stood up, and looked at everyone surrounding her... News Crews were snapping pictures and people were now starting to cheer.
Lori gulped, and shuffled around nervously. "Well, I think I would like to split all this money between me and all my friends... Rachel, Ferris, Rose, Teddy, Bella, Calvin, and Hector... I guess they don't really like me too much, except for Calvin and Rose, but I can't keep all this money to myself..."
Lori stood up even straighter, and took a deep breath. "We're all a community. We're always together. I'll do all I can to make sure everybody's happy... After all, friendship is what matters most."
Some of the bystanders cheered even more, and threw their hats into the air. News Crews were filming live, now! Lori was famous! And, rich!
But Lori just wanted her friends to be happy... and her dream came true. Rachel changed her attitude, and left her decorations up all year! Teddy won his first hockey game, Ferris found a new girlfriend, and the money given to Bella helped get her better medical treatment. Hector became less shy, Rose started an international delivery service, and Calvin started his own business...
Most importantly, Lori used her gems for good and generous causes. She donated tons to charity organizations around Jamaa, so others can have their own eventful Friendship Festival!
...Although, she'll sometimes come across another chest in the snow. She never opens it, though... She just leaves it there, hoping someone, happy and cheerful like her, will find it, and be just as happy as Lori is now.