Turtle closed his eyes in concentration, his brows furrowed. “Was it ‘Twyla’?”, he said, opening his eyes again. The Koalas did an enthusiastic little dance around him. There were so many! “You got it!”, his Koala said, touching his nose gently with her paw. “He got all of our names right”, one of the other Koalas whispered, “he’s doing so great!”
It was a little overwhelming. Koala had such a big family, and while none of them expected him to know all the names, he remembered most of them—and he didn’t want to offend anyone in particular. Koala’s eleven cousins all lined up in a row to sing a little Koala tune while the elder Koala bears took care of the food—eucalyptus wrapped in eucalyptus, with eucalyptus dressing. It was quite the party.
Turtle only had three cousins, and he had trouble remembering what all of them were up to sometimes—he’d be completely helpless if anyone expected him to remember anything other than the names of all of the Koalas in the family!
Mama Koala came over to him and looked at him with one twinkling eye. The other one was perpetually closed because she couldn’t see so well after a eucalyptus-related incident. She grabbed his front flippers and squeezed them very tightly, but not uncomfortably so. “You did so great”, she said, “and everybody loves you! I’m so happy Koala and you found each other!”
Turtle blushed a little, his face taking on an almost earthen color. “Thank you! I’m very happy to be part of your family. Everyone is so nice!”, he said, a little quieter than he would have liked. He shuffled on his back flippers slightly embarassedly. He truly was happy here, but he still felt a little like an alien on a strange planet.
He looked around for his Koala in the sea of fluffy ears. There she was, pretty as ever, chewing on a small leaf with one of her cousins. He smiled. He knew she was at home, and he wanted her to enjoy herself, and know that he enjoyed himself, too.