"Talori!" I yelled. "C'mon, we're going!" I motioned for her to follow me. I should've known better than to drag her along with me, but I had no other choice. Asura needed the place to himself- so I was stuck with babysitting our house guest. And it just so happened that today was my day to shop for gifts.

In other words, I'm being forced to spend my day off scrounging the mall for gifts with a person who has the attention span of a goldfish. Speaking of goldfish- why isn't she following me?

I turned around to find Talori staring at a window display. It wasn't a particularly intricate display- it only featured fake snow, pine trees, and a few candy canes. "C'mon, let's go! It's only a bunch of candy canes." I grabbed her wrist and pulled her with me.

"Candy…canes?" she started after a few steps. "What's a 'candy cane'?"

I kept walking and shot a quick answer back at her. "They're just a seasonal peppermint candy- nothing too impressive. Supposedly there's a deeper meaning to them, but it doesn't really matter."

There was a pause for a few seconds and I naturally assumed that the subject had been dropped. Glad that I could focus on the task ahead, I went into a generic gift shop and released Talori's wrist. But as soon as my hand released, the questions spilled out.

"But why would they make a cane of candy? It's not large enough for someone to walk with…or is it a cane for small people?" Her green eyes began to glow with excitement. "Can I meet the small people, Cam? Can I, can I?" She pleaded.

I smacked my forehead with my palm. Was there no hope for this girl? I sighed. "Look, Talori. Candy canes don't help people walk. There aren't any small people, and if there were then you probably would've seen some."

She wasn't buying it. "But….maybe they're hiding! They're afraid of being squished!" It looked like she was about to cry. I swear- she gets crazier by the day. "I know!" Talori suddenly announced. "I'll ask Rosie! I'm sure she knows all about it!" Talori started to strut off in some random direction.

"NO." I commanded, grabbing her arm. "You will NOT be asking Rosie about ANYTHING, okay?" I stared at her as intensely as I could. There would be NO repeats of the "meat incident".

"But…are you sure?"

"Yes." I paused. "In fact, I'll buy you one. My treat." I dragged her over to the candy store and gave her the hook-shaped sweet. She looked at it curiously- then tried to hang it off her nose.

My palm met my forehead for the second time. "No Talori, no." I swear, sometimes it was like trying to teach an old dog new tricks. "You take off the plastic like this- and suck on it. That's all." I handed it back to her, and she started to do as I said.

Satisfied, I beckoned for her to follow me into the next shop. "Now you stay here, while I go find a crossword puzzle book or something for Asura." I left her at the front of the store while I proceeded to browse.

It only took me about five minutes in the store to find and purchase a gift, and in that short time my spastic house quest had caused more mayhem than first-graders on a sugar high.

Somehow, 10-20 seahorses were surrounding a crying Talori, and they in turn were encircled by numerous curious mall-goers. I shoved my way through the crowd to get to the crying girl as quickly as possible.

"Talori, what the heck is going on?!" I demanded.

She just stared at me with those tear-filled green eyes and started to explain. "It wasn't my fault…I just wanted to share my candy! And I must have said something wrong, because he took it and left!" She started to wail. "I'm s-s-s-o so-r-r-r-y, Cam! And after y-o-o-o-u were so nice to g-e-e-et it for meeeee!" Talori began to wail louder.

"Alright, already!" I exclaimed, exhausted. "I'll get you another one, and then we're going home. And do something about all these seahorses, too!" I threw up my hands in exasperation.


Fifteen minutes later, and we were finally back home. I opened the door and walked over to the closet to hang my coat. At this point, I was just glad to be home. I wasn't with Talori for very long, but it felt like an eternity. At least now I can unload and maybe push her off onto Asura. Speaking of which- were is my little brother?

"Asura?" I ask aloud.

"Aaaaasuraaaaaa! We're hoooooome!" Talori shouts as she comes bounding in the door. "Where are you?" She asked as she walked into the kitchen. "Oh, there you are!" I hear her say from the other room.

I follow Talori into the kitchen to find Asura decorating the kitchen. With cut-out candy canes.

"Oh, hey Cam. Just thought I'd take the liberty of decorating the place since you don't like to do it. Uh…Cam? Are you alright? You look a little mad….Cam! No! I spent all afternoon making those! Cam!"