As Penny and Hector sat curled up under their blanket, gusts of wind could be heard whistling through the night air outside. Penny pulled the fleecy material up a little higher under her chin and nestled tighter against her friend. On the other side of Hector, the other Little Helpers were already fast asleep, the odd tiny turtle and enormous elephant snore coming from one or two of them.
“I feel like everything is a bit, well, still right now,” Penny said, looking out of the windows into the cotton-wool mist that was keeping everything around them out of sight. “It’s the end of the year and it feels like everything has stopped. Even our helping has slowed down. I wonder what things are going to be like next year.”
“I know what you mean,” Hector replied, giving her wing a little squeeze with his paw. He gave a sudden yawn and lifted the other tiny paw up to his mouth in embarrassment. “Ooh, sorry. This time of year always makes me so exhausted. There’s barely any daylight or sun, so it feels as though it’s mostly night-time and I should really be sleeping!”
Penny giggled. “You mean like the trees and the birds and the flowers seem to be?” At present, even when they could see anything outside of the windows, the trees had no leaves, the flowers had no petals, and there’d been no bird song for at least a day or two.
“Yes, just like that.” Hector gave a little nod of confirmation.
“I usually have so much energy. I just think our planet is incredible and I love looking after it!” Penny’s little voice was filled with enthusiasm, before she let out a very small sigh. “But right now, our part of the planet feels rather bare, pretty damp and a bit cold!” She gave a little shiver as if to emphasize this last point. “I mean not as cold as Antarctica, obviously, but….”
Hector chuckled as his brown eyes creased up at the sides and he gave Penny a smile of sympathy. “Sometimes I find that when you’re tired, it’s harder to see all the beauty in the world. Because tired eyes can be a bit watery and that makes everything blurry.”
Penny took all of this in and then gave a blink as if to test Hector’s theory out. Sure enough, a couple of droplets of water ran down from the corner of her eyes on to her cheeks. “So what do you do when you’re feeling tired?” she enquired.
“Generally, I like to have a nice long sleep, right through until Spring. And when I wake up again, things look a whole lot better.” Hector gave a big grin at this thought. As he did, Penny’s little beak fell open and her cheeks grew even pinker. “But you don’t have to sleep that long, of course,” Hector said quickly, to reassure her. “I think that’s just for hedgehogs. Perhaps you could be a bit more…penguin-y. Just have a good night’s rest and see how everything looks in the morning. It will be a brand-new year so the world is bound to look a bit different when you wake up.”
Penny thought this idea sounded much more appropriate for a penguin. “Thanks Hector. I like the sound of that.” Snuggling further down under the blanket, Penny lay her head back against the pillow behind her. “I’ll give it a try. By tomorrow I think I’ll probably be feeling more ploppy woppy again and the world will be brighter.”
Looking through the windows at the pale white mist, Hector felt sure that as with most things in nature, it was only going to be here for a relatively short period. He lowered his little snout and watched as the blanket beside him moved up and down over the chest of his Little Helper friends. There was such a peace in being together, and in sleeping, of course.
“As long as we all have each other, and if we’re doing what we can to help, then I don’t think we really need to think about next year,” he said, thinking out loud. “We don’t even need to think about tomorrow. Because everything is going to be just fine.”
Penny’s eyes met her friend’s just as her lids began to grow heavy and she smiled. “Thanks Hector. Happy New Year.”
“Happy New Year to you too, Penny. Sleep tight.”