Elmi woke up slowly. At first, the soft mattress was just a feeling in her dream. Then, she could feel the smooth sheets. Next, she noticed the ceiling above her, and figured out she was half asleep. She snapped back into the world (In what felt like seconds, but could have easily been ten minutes) and noticed her strangely familiar surroundings.
It was a smooth wooden roof, stained and varnished by hand. She was floating on waves of fresh white sheets and rested on a soft, clean pillow. She heard a rustle beside her, and her curiosity forced her to roll over. It was… Annabel, waking up in the bed beside her. She bolted upright and recognized her room. Elmi stayed there for a moment, unable to move.
“Elmi,” came Annabel. “Could it be? Are we…” Annabel didn’t need to finish. She already heard Della and Kaylin screaming in their room. “We...we… we’re...HOME! WE’RE HOME!”
After the four got up and re-explored their house as they pinched themselves to make sure they were awake, they followed Bear around for an hour. They were warmly welcomed and bursting with happiness, but this all seemed too good to be true. At one point, Della even pinched Bear. (“Hey!”) It just seemed so incredible that they were finally back. So incredibly crazy. So incredibly crazy awesome.
The girls could barely eat lunch when they were already bursting to tell Bear about their journey. Even though it was over and they were all glad of it, the cubs were always outdoor people. Kaylin was intent on climbing a tree she had seen on the way to the house, and Della wanted just to run around and tag Elmi and Annabel as many times as she could.
At first, Bear was hesitant to let his adopted daughters back outside while he had work to do at home. After a lot of begging from Della and Kaylin, he finally agreed. “Okay, don’t go too far away from the house and stay away from strangers,” Bear was hanging out the doorway. Before the girls could run out to the field, he shouted, “And one more thing, be back before supper dangit!”