“EEEEE! DADDEH! HEWP!” Tulip wailed the next morning, as Mr Giuseppe thumped on the ceiling again.
Richie stepped into the safe-room, and found exactly what he had expected to see. Tulip with a total of six eggs scattered around herself.
“Daddeh, hewp! Mummah Tuwip hab MOWE eggy-babbehs!”
“So you do. Guess you laid them while you were sleeping. Well hey, the more the merrier, right? I mean you said it yourself, babies are always great.”
Tulip looked at the eggs and grimaced. One egg alone had been hard enough to deal with already… but six…?
“Uhm, daddeh, Tuwip nu suwe if wan babbehs nu mowe…” She murmured, looking away evasively.
“Oh don’t give me that.” Richie responded, glaring at her. “You screamed and shouted until you got them, and now you’re saying you don’t even want them anymore?”
Tulip nodded blankly, not understanding that the question was rhetorical.
“Too bad. These are your babies, Tulip. You wanted them, now you’ve got them, and you’ve got to take care of them all until the eggs hatch and they grow up.”
And with that Richie left the safe-room, once more leaving the door open, as he set about his day.
It went just about as well as it did yesterday.
When it was time for Tulip’s breakfast, she waddled out of the safe-room door… then immedaitely froze, turned back and bolted over to her six eggs, which she’d left sitting in the middle of the room. One by one, she began to nudge them over to the doorway, but as before, they kept spinning away and rolling in random directions, causing to her shriek ‘EEP!’ and ‘NU!’ as she broke away to chase after them, bringing them back to the group, only to nudge another and send it also spiralling away… rinse and repeat.
Richie watched the entire time. It took Tulip over half an hour to get out of the safe-room, making inches of progress at a time, constantly having to stop and chase after her stray eggs, all six of which were gradually nudged towards the safe-room doorway.
By the end of it all, Tulip was wheezing from exhaustion, and had resorted to aggressively jabbing at her eggs, almost kicking them forwards, all while her stomach rumbled angrily at being left empty for so long.
Once or twice Tulip even looked at Richie for help, but she knew she wouldn’t get any. Richie had made that perfectly clear the day before. If Tulip really was to be a mama, she was going to have to take responsibility for her eggs.
And after all, six wasn’t so big of a number! Tulip herself had been born from a litter of six, and her mother must have managed to keep her and her sibling’s eggs safe… somehow…
Tulip thought this over as she saw another egg spin away from the group, rolling towards the bathroom.
“Nu, dummeh eggy-babbeh!” She snapped, stomping over to it. “It nu wittah-boks time! It nummy time, dummeh stoopid eggy-babbeh!”
And with a firm sideways swat, she bopped the egg hard enough to send it tumbling back over to the others… so hard in fact, that it smacked against the others and, having applied just enough momentum, sent the others all spinning away too.
“Wha?! NU! NU NU NU!!!” Tulip shrieked, more in rage than sadness. “DUMMEH EGGY-BABBEHS! STOP MOVIN’ AWOUND!”
She scampered around the lounge, nudging one egg after another back towards the kitchen door, gradually forming them back into a pile together, but it still wasn’t easy going.
“They’re only babies, Tulip.” Richie reasoned. “They want to go exploring, and see everything there is.”
“Buh dey stiww in theiw eggys!” Tulip argued back, frustrated tears in her eyes. “Dey nu wisten to Mummah Tuwip! Dummeh stoopid eggy-babbehs!”
Another 30 minutes later, Tulip finally she made it to the kitchen, nudging the eggs forward as fast as she could. Her stomach growling had gotten even louder than before, and at last, food was in sight. It had been sitting out for more than an hour by now, but it was still food.
Richie, again, noted how hard her nudges were becoming. Tulip was past the point of concern for her ‘babies’, she was straight into the ‘put them in the oven and set it high’ phase.
She staggered her way over to her food bowl, her eggs rolling into place next to it one after another, before she herself flumped down in front of the bowl and pathetically chewed her way through the kibble. She looked absolutely miserable.
“Daddeh, how wong nao tiww eggy-babbehs stop being dummeh and get owt of eggys?” Tulip asked as he walked in and headed to the sink.
“Ooh, it’s hard to tell for sure.” Richie said, not even looking at the eggs as he got a glass of water from the isnk. “Could be days, weeks, months… maybe even years. Who knows? They’ll come out when they’re ready.”
“Whuh… wha?!” Tulip squeaked. “Buh… buh dat so wong, daddeh!”
“Yep, it sure is.” Richie replied, sipping at his water. “That’s what being a mother is though, Tulip. It means putting everything else aside to take care of your babies. No toys, no TV, everything has to stop so you can take care of your children.”
Richie turned and left the kitchen, but stayed near the door as he saw Tulip shoot a dark look at her eggs.
“Hrmph. Dummeh babbehs stuck in stoopid eggys…” She muttered to herself. “Nu can wun, nu can pway, nu can make gud poopies, nu can do nuffin cos of stoopid eggy-babbehs…”
Richie watched. This was what he’d been waiting for.
“Stoopid dummeh stoopid eggy-babbehs…” Tulip hissed at her six eggs, the rage inside her visibly growing as she could finally let out what had been building up since yesterday. “Stoopid dummehs, dummeh stoopids, stoopid dummeh stoopids! Stoopid eggy-babbeh dummehs, nu wan come owt fow mummah! Stoopid eggy-babbehs nu WUB mummah! So mummah nu wub stoopid eggy-babbehs nu mowe!”
Richie doubted she had ever actually loved them, but that was beside the point.
Tulip looked at her eggs and frowned, getting angrier by the second.
“Dummeh eggy-babbehs, why yoo nu come owt?!” She asked, poking at one with a hoof. Richie watched it roll limply on the floor… then roll back to Tulip. “Dummeh eggy-babbeh, stiww in stoopid eggy! Stoopid dummeh stoopid!”
Jab. Jab. Jab. She continued poking and prodding at the egg with her hoof, getting harder and faster with each jab, until suddenly…
Everything went quiet.
Richie peered around into the kitchen, and smiled. It had happened.
Tulip had jabbed one of her eggs so hard she had broke through the shell. There she stood, perfectly motionless, her hoof covered in thick, gooey egg yolk and clear, goopy ‘white’. She was staring at her egg, her face transformed from a mask of hatred to a look of absolute mortal terror.
Richie stepped fully into the doorway, put his hands on his hips and, in his best ‘I’m disappointed in you’ voice, spoke.
"Tulip, what have you done?!" He asked, sounding out each word nice and slowly.
That broke the spell.
“DADDEH! HEWP! HEWP EGGY-BABBEH!” Tulip wailed, darting over to him with slippery steps as her egg-slathered hoof slid across the tiled floor, leaving a spotty trail of egg across the ground as she ran.
“Tuwip nu mean to huwt eggy-babbeh!” Tulip cried. “Tuwip onwy wan babbehs to come owt of eggys alweady! Nu mean to huwt eggy-babbeh!”
Richie walked over to the egg and picked it up, letting it crack completely in half in his hands as the thick, gooey contents poured out and onto the floor, pooling on the tiles in a gelatinous heap of opaque yellow sludge and clear slime.
Richie looked at it, then glared at Tulip.
“Tulip… it’s dead.”
“NU-U-U!!!” Tulip screamed, throwing herself to the ground. It looked almost like one of her tantrums, only this time no amount of screaming would change it, and she knew it.
Because it was her fault.
Richie picked her up and carried her to the safe room, while going through the usual routine. You are a bad fluffy, you are a terrible mama, you will never be allowed to have babies ever again, etc… but he hadn’t needed to, really. Everything he said was something Tulip already knew in her soul.
She was truly a bad mother, she hadn’t just failed at raising her babies… she had even killed one of them.
He put her in her bed and told her the last of the bad news, that she was so unfit to be a mother he was going to give her eggs away to other fluffy mamas who would look after them properly. Tulip didn’t reply, but she understood all the same.
That night Richie threw five whole eggs into the trash, along with some napkins he’d used to soak up the remains of the sixth. He checked in on Tulip later, and saw she was still awake, but curled up in her bed, sobbing to herself.
“Am su sowwy eggy-babbehs… nu mean to hwut yoo eggy-babbehs… miss yoo eggy-babbehs… miss yoo su bad… nu wan be mummah ebah again… hu-hu-hu…”
Two weeks later, things were back to normal.
Tulip had gone back to her old self after a few days, but had been noticably gentler about things. She didn’t scream or shout, she didn’t demand, she just accepted what she had and got on with it.
That is, until an advert on FluffTV came on, showing off a brand new ball. It was nothing special, at all, literally just the exact same fluffy-safe standard ball that every fluffy owner already owned… but now it was in a different color (blue this time), and that meant it was ‘all new and improved’. Naturally, Tulip (like every fluffy in the world, no doubt) was convinced by the advert and desperately wanted the new ball.
But before she said anything about it, something happened.
She remembered the last time she demanded something. She’d demanded babies. Then she’d gotten them… and she’d hated it completely.
After that, Tulip looked at her own ball, which was a lovely shade of red.
And she considered that, perhaps, she was happy enough with what she already had.