“The sun!” she squealed. “Where’s the sun?” She jumped out of bed and almost stepped on her one roller-skate, it was so dark. “I must ask the others if they’ve seen the sun…maybe they put it somewhere and forgot about it.” She fumbled to her door, leading with her antennae so she wouldn’t bump into anything surprising.
“So this must be what it was like for Edward before we built those windows for him,” she said sadly. “And this is what it will be for all of us if we don’t find the sun.”
She managed to go out the door without hitting herself with them and she only stumbled once or twice going down the front steps, and by the time she got to the Emperor Penguins, she was getting rather good at moving around without the sun. Still, she’d miss the sun; Patient enjoyed a good sunbathing now and then--with snail-appropriate SPF sunscreen, of course.
“What is it, Patient?” he said rather crossly. “I was asleep.”
“How can you sleep at a time like this?” Patient snapped back. “The sun is missing!”
“Well, that is something!” Penguini exclaimed. “I like the sun an awful lot—it’s so bright and cheerful. I’ll help you find it, Patient.” He ducked behind the curtain and then popped out of the window, fully dressed and tooth-brushed. “Ready!” he said. “I’m sorry I was cross with you, Patient.”
“It’s okay,” she said. “I’m just glad you’re going to help me look for the sun, though.”
They looked for the sun everywhere they thought it might hide: in a cave by the river, high in the branches of a cottonwood tree, behind a haystack, but they couldn’t find it anywhere.
“It’s no use, Patient,” said Penguini. “If the sun were hiding any of these places, it would shine so bright that we’d find it right away.”
They came to Roger’s hole in the group and stomped as hard as they could on the ground. (That’s what you have to do when you don’t have a front door.) When Roger came up, he looked just as grumpy as Penguini had been.
“What’s this all about?” he asked. “I was peacefully sleeping when…”
“The sun, the sun, Roger!” they shouted excitedly. “We can’t find the sun anywhere.”
Roger’s eyes got wide. “Is that why it’s so dark out here?“
“We thought maybe the sun was underground—can you help us look?”
“Yes, but I bet Edward and all the ants can help more—I just have one little burrow, but they have whole cities underground where the sun might be.”
“Edward, Edward!” they cried at his brand-new window.
“Yes?” he asked, immediately coming to the window.
They were surprised. “We didn’t wake you up?” asked Patient cautiously.
“No,” said Edward. “I always wake up before the sun rises.”
“The sun…rises?” Penguini repeated.
“Yes, just over those mountains,” and he pointed to where, yes, even now there was something white and
bright and beautiful coming through the canyon.
“This happens…often?” asked Roger, fiddling his paws.
“Oh, every morning,” said Edward. “Now what was it that you needed?”
But no one felt like telling him that they thought the sun had gone missing, so they all quietly walked back to their homes, thinking about how silly they had all been. In fact, by the time Patient got back to her little home, she could see quite well enough to climb up the steps easily, get in the door painlessly, avoid the roller-skate and climb back into bed. As she began to doze off, she looked over to make sure it wasn’t her clock that was missing, after all. It wasn’t missing, but it displayed a shockingly small number.
“How funny,” she thought just before falling asleep. “I wonder if everyone else’s clock is broken, too. I must ask them in the morning.”
Story by Mary Hedengren