"Oh boy. Tough break, Taffy. I know how badly you wanted a person," said a large, plush whale.
She leaned against the walls of the pizzeria's toy vending machine.
"Ugh." Taffy pressed her forehead against the opening of the vending machine. "I was so close, Blue! She got me, she just forgot to get me when the pizzeria closed."
Blue snorted. "Go after her."
"There's no way. It's never been done."
"There's a first for everything," said Blue, patting Taffy on the back.
"Huh, I guess you're right--as usual!" Taffy snagged a sparkly blue notebook and sketched out a game plan for finding her person. (See her game plan here.)
"Heave, ho!" Taffy rammed the vending machine slot and tumbled to the ground. "Bye Blue! Bye bye pizza! Bye soda machines!"
She bonked into the front door. She pushed and pushed, but the door didn't budge.
An open window over the kitchen counter caught her eye. A large pizza sauce spoon, covered in cold sauce, sat below the window.
What if she launched herself up and through the window using the spoon?
Huff. Puff. Huff.
Taffy scaled the up the counter. With some spit, straws, and the spoon, she built her homemade catapult masterpiece.
"Wee!" she flew in the air to freedom and into the hard sidewalk.
"Ouch." She brushed off some of the pizza sauce that speckled her fur. "Okay, so I can't get any dirtier otherwise my person won't want me," she said, as a matter of fact.
The night was completely quiet except for the
Chirp. Chirp. Chirp.
"This is nice." Taffy relaxed, it definitely was not as bad as she thought it'd be. "Now, where would my person have gone?"
"Woof! Woof!" A cute, but muddy dog raced around the street corner. Dirt flew off of her in all directions.
"Uhu, no! I don't want to play!" Taffy turned on her heels and ran. "I can't get dirty!"
Huff. Puff. Huff.
She could feel the hairy creature's warm breath. She smelled the pup's bad breath. Taffy pushed legs to move faster than ever.
She was yanked to a stop. Her fur had caught on a rose bush.
Within seconds the pup was all over Taffy, covering her with licks of slobber and mud.
Taffy plopped down feeling particularly sticky and gross. Now she was covered in sauce, mud, slobber, and leaves. Bits of stuffing poked out of the hole the rose bush made in her side.
"There's no way my person would want me," she said. She picked a leaf from her fur and kicked it.
The dog's cold nose sniffed at her fur.
"Shoo!" Taffy tried pushing the happy animal aside.
The creature refused move. Instead, it picked her up in her mouth.
"No, no! Set me down!"
The fluffy animal ignored her and kept walking.
One, two, three, four, five, Taffy gave up counting all of the houses they passed. She felt her dream of finding her person slipping further and further away.
"Sparky, Sparky! Where are you?" called a girl wearing bunny slippers, holding a flashlight.
Taffy recognized the girl. The girl was her person!
The beast ran right up to her, tail wagging like a helicopter. She dropped Taffy from her mouth.
"Sparky!" said the girl, grabbing the dog with a leash. "Taffy?" she said, catching Taffy's eyes. "Is that you?"
Taffy looked down. She was a mess. She didn't want her person to see her like this.
The little girl scooped Taffy up. She hugged her tightly. "I'm glad you found me! I didn't mean to leave you at the pizzeria. I'm sorry."
"You still want me? I'm all dirty, and torn up," she said.
The child smiled. "Of course I do!" She brought Taffy up to her nose for a good sniff. "Mmm, you even smell like pizza. Pizza is the bestest thing in the whole wide world and so are you!"