The rays of the Bright Circle bathed the Great Valley with orange light in the waning hours before dark. The water glistened and sparkled like nothing ever seen before, and everything sounded as peaceful as it could ever have. This couldn't compare to anything else the young Longneck had seen in his life. It seemed just as his mother had described it …
"The valley is filled with green food, more than you could ever eat and more cool water than you could ever drink. It's a wonderful, beautiful place, where we'll live happily with many more of our own kind."
Littlefoot paused as he thought of the last part of that sentence …
"Many more of our own kind …" he pondered.
A day had passed since he and his new friends had reached the Great Valley, and throughout that one day, Littlefoot had not come across one "of his own kind" who wanted to play with him. Strangely, there didn't seem to be that many children in the valley at all, for that matter. All there really seemed to be were himself, his friends and their families. There were many others in the valley, but none seemed to have had children with them. Perhaps, they were still taking the time to settle in to their new home or were so taken aback by its wondrous beauty, or perhaps most of the children didn't survive the journey like he and his friends did.
Suddenly, Littlefoot thought of his friends …
"Is it right?" he questioned himself as he thought just how insane it must have been for him to make friends with those of different kinds, … but not a single one of his own kind. Just how could this have happened? Was it by pure luck? Was it by sheer coincidence? Was it because they were all just as lost and confused as he was? Something just had to bring them together other than just some miracle and a life-changing adventure …
"Threehorns never play with Longnecks!"
"We all keep to our own kind; the Threehorns, the Spiketails, the Swimmers, the Flyers. We never do anything together."
"Well, because we're different. It's always been that way."
"Oh, don't worry so much. When we reach the Great Valley, there will be many Longnecks for you to play with."
He found himself again questioning just how wrong his mother might have been. If there were any other Longnecks for him to play with, where were they? If everyone was different and never did anything together, why did he just so happen to make friends with four other kinds? How would his mother have seen him if she had seen him with these four "different" friends? How about his grandparents? He had tried to keep them as much a secret from them as he could, but he knew they would inevitably find out sooner or later, and perhaps so would his friends' families. What would they think of it?
He cringed as he thought of Cera's extremely bigoted father. From that one time he saw him, he could tell he was quite a strict believer in keeping away from different kinds. This would surely have explained Cera's snorty behavior throughout their adventure. Littlefoot couldn't blame her for her actions that nearly got them killed on several occasions. She had endured quite a troubled upbringing with her family's extremist beliefs, and perhaps this adventure could have changed some of that in her. Maybe, she could be beginning to doubt her own father's beliefs and traditions.
Littlefoot shifted his thoughts to Ducky and Petrie's families. He hadn't seen a glimpse of them, and he wondered just what they must have been like. Maybe they were just as bigoted as Cera's, or maybe they were much friendlier about the subject. He recalled Ducky cheerfully announcing to them that her family had happily adopted Spike as one of their own, so the possibility that the Swimmer family was bigoted was obviously out of the question, … so what about the Flyers?
During their quest, Petrie had mentioned having a miserable family life. His father had been missing his whole life, and his brothers and sisters had a history of teasing him for not being able to fly. All he had had for comfort was his mother. Littlefoot chuckled as he thought of Petrie's newfound flying abilities and how he could finally show his siblings just how wrong they really were. It seemed as if this adventure had brought happy changes to all their lives, … or, at least, he hoped …
"Thinking again, I see," said a voice, and Littlefoot snapped out of his thoughts and glanced behind him to find that Cera had said those words. Ducky, Petrie and Spike were right behind her, all looking at him with curiosity.
"Oh, uh, hi, guys," he said, surprised by their sudden, unannounced appearance, "You … surprised me a little."
"Well, guess what? Our lives are filled with many more surprises than you might think," said Cera in a matter-of-factly tone.
"Such as us being friends?" said Littlefoot.
"W-what do you mean, Littlefoot?" asked Ducky.
"I've been thinking this ever since we set our feet in the Great Valley," said Littlefoot, and he let out a deep sigh, "I've always believed that everything my mother said was honest and true, … but … what if there was just one thing she may have been … wrong … about?"
"What that be?" said Petrie.
Littlefoot closed his eyes and took another glance down at the water to gaze at his own reflection.
"She told me there would be so many other Longnecks to play with, … but … there aren't any."
"Well, everyone always kept to their own kinds, duh!" sneered Cera, "Like that's ever going to change."
"But, … what if … it did change?" said Littlefoot thoughtfully, "What if something could change that? What if … we … could change that?"
"Well, … we kind of … did," spoke Ducky shyly, and Spike nodded in agreement.
"But … is it right? Us being together?" said a troubled Littlefoot, "I mean, … just what brought us together in the first place? An earth shake? A miracle? Something about each of us? Us being friendless and misfits in the past? Is it all right? What would others in the valley make of us being friends? I mean, … no one's ever seen a Longneck, a Threehorn, a Swimmer, a Flyer and a Spiketail all in one group. What if we could change the way others look at interacting with different kinds?"
No one seemed to be able to answer. They stared at each other, confused and troubled by … what could be if …
"What would our own families say?" finished Littlefoot quietly, turning to look at his four friends, who looked just as confused as he was. He knew he wasn't the only one who was still trying to keep it a secret from those who loved and cared for them.
"When I introduced-ed Spike to my family, … my Mommy and Daddy did not know what to say," said Ducky, shaking her head, "But I told-ed them how Spike and I are so close, … and … they decided-ed to welcome him to the family. Yes, yes, yes."
"But did you tell them about the rest of us?" asked Littlefoot.
"Uh, … I do not … think so. No, no, no," answered Ducky.
The Flyer fidgeted as he tried to come up with the right words to say.
"Me no know how me Mama feel about this, … so … me no tell her yet."
The Longneck shifted his gaze to Cera and looks alone could tell just what her answer would be without even having to ask the question. Every one of them knew just how bigoted Threehorns were. Cera's behavior alone was enough to illustrate just how rigid they were compared to everyone else in this world.
"What about you, Littlefoot?" asked Ducky curiously.
Littlefoot sighed and shook his head, "How and when would we be comfortable letting them know? Should we just blurt it out loud in their faces or let them find out gradually?"
"Me … no know," replied Petrie, shaking his head.
"Hey, … I just recalled something," Cera suddenly spoke up, and the others perked up at this, "I once overheard my Mom say that she would be interested in an alliance with … different dinosaurs, … but every time she brought it up, my Dad would get fed up."
"So, … there is a part of you that cares about others, isn't there?" gasped Littlefoot wondrously.
"Uh, y-yeah, I suppose you could put it that way," said Cera quickly, trying to change the subject as quickly as possible, but even she knew that would be easier said than done.
"Deep down, I kinda knew somewhere your heart was in the right place," chuckled Littlefoot.
"Uh, Littlefoot, … there's, … uh, … there's something I need to tell you," said Cera, her expression turning forlorn as she looked down.
"What is it, Cera?" said Littlefoot.
The Threehorn sighed deeply and stood there, unmoving for what seemed like forever before her eyes met those of the Longneck's.
"I take it back," she spoke in a near-whisper.
"W-what? Take what back?" asked a confused Littlefoot.
"Everything I said about your mother being a stupid Longneck," said Cera uneasily, and she had to look away just for a moment, "I … I was the real stupid one. I wanted to show how Threehorns knew everything, and instead I nearly got us killed several times. Besides, I owe my gratitude to her. She saved my life just as much as she saved yours. I don't think either of us would be here right now if it weren't for her. I … I'm sorry."
Littlefoot smiled as he listened to her words. He was happy to see this change of heart in Cera. Deep down, he had known from the beginning that she had a good heart that was just waiting to show its good side.
"Cera, … I forgive you," he said after a few tense moments of silence, "Thanks in part to all of you, my mother is at peace now."
He looked up at the orange sky and gazed at the purplish sky puffies.
"I suppose she's smiling at all of us right now," he said thoughtfully, holding back tears.
"And my mother, too," murmured Cera.
Littlefoot heard this and glanced at the Threehorn in surprise.
"Wait. Are you saying that … your mother …"
"When I found my Daddy, I couldn't see my Mommy or my brothers and sisters anywhere," sighed Cera, and Littlefoot could see just one single tear trying to escape from her eye, "I asked my Dad where they were, … and … he told me they were all gone."
"Oh, my!" gasped Ducky, "What happened-ed?"
"Did Sharptooth eat them?" shuddered Petrie.
"I was told that … some lunatic Flyer … led them and parts of the herd astray, and … none of them were ever seen again," sniffled Cera, "Whoever that Flyer is, … I sure hope he burns in a Fire Mountain for what he did to my family!"
Petrie cringed at the thought of a Flyer suffering such a horrible fate, and he gulped in fright.
It took a moment for Cera to calm down before she was able to speak again.
"I'm sorry," she said, "My Dad is all I have left now. The thing is … I love my Dad, and I don't wanna disappoint him. I just keep thinking what he would do if I ever did something he would never have wanted? What if he … looks down at me like I'm a disgrace to all Threehorns?"
"Cera, I don't think your father would ever do that," countered Littlefoot, "I mean, like you said, your father loves you, and I know no father who would ever do such a terrible thing."
Once he finished that sentence, he heard a gulp and a sniffle … from Ducky. She was the last one he expected to hear sniffling or crying at a time like this.
"Terrible fathers," Ducky mouthed inaudibly with her lips, glaring up at the sky.
"Ducky?" said Littlefoot worryingly, "Are you alright?"
Ducky suddenly snapped back to reality and gasped as she looked at Littlefoot.
"Oh! Uh, … y-yeah. I am okay. I am, I am," she chuckled nervously as she brushed a tear off her cheek.
Littlefoot could tell the Swimmer was lying just by the way she stuttered.
"Was it something I said?" he asked.
"N-no. It is nothing. Nope, nope, nope," said Ducky sheepishly, her cheeks blushing in embarrassment.
"If you … say so," said Littlefoot.
Ducky nodded nervously, and Littlefoot decided not to press it any further, "Maybe she'll tell me someday."
Deciding to quickly change the subject, the Longneck cleared his throat to regain everyone's attention.
"So, … when do you think we should … tell the grownups?"
"Um, … I do not know. No, no, no," replied Ducky.
"I just know that … we'll have to tell them sooner or later. We can't keep it secret forever," sighed Littlefoot.
"Uh, … guys?" stammered Petrie, and everyone turned to him.
"What is it, Petrie?" said Littlefoot, and the Flyer's response was pointing toward the trees behind them.
Within the edge of the forest stood Littlefoot's grandparents, Cera's father, Ducky's parents and Petrie's mother staring at them, visibly surprised at the very least, if not shocked.
All five kids gulped nervously as they realized that their secret was no more. It seemed that they would have to let it all out much sooner than they had anticipated. They could only guess how they would possibly react …
"It … it can't be true," gasped Topps.
"Is this … really happening?" stammered Grandma Longneck.
"A-are you …?" murmured a speechless Mama Swimmer.
The children looked at each other nervously as they pondered just what they were going to do. Ducky and Petrie had sweat running down their faces while Littlefoot, Cera and Spike kept their cool.
"Um, h-hi," said a blushing Littlefoot.
"I never thought I would see this happen in all my cold times in this world," said Grandpa Longneck.
"So many other Threehorns in the world my own daughter could have made friends with, and yet … she chooses … THAT … Longneck!?" panted Topps.
Grandma and Grandpa Longneck cast brief glares at Topps, but quickly turned back to the kids to keep the situation from getting out of hand. Ducky turned away from the grownups and gently pulled Petrie closer to her.
"I've told you this before, Cera, but apparently you seem to have turned a blind eye to my most important lesson! Threehorns never play with anyone other than other Threehorns, … and especially not Longne-…"
"Daddy!" Cera suddenly countered as she stared into her father's eyes, "As much as I hate to say it, I've come to trust these new friends, and especially the Longneck!"
Topps froze with his mouth wide open, completely shocked by his daughter's uncharacteristic show of defiance. Could she really be opposing the traditional views of never playing or interacting with other kinds? Just what could have driven her into joining this "insufferable" group of … "different" children?
"W-what did you say!?" Topps stammered in disbelief.
"For once, I disagree," Cera said firmly, earning a loud gasp from her father, "You may hate these others all you want, but the truth is Littlefoot is my friend now! I turned a blind eye to his rightful thinking, and I was completely wrong, but when he turned us in the right way, … I knew he was the rightful leader for all of us, even me! Without all these companions, and especially without the Longneck, … none of us would be in this valley right now with all of you!"
"She is right! Yes, yes, yes!" nodded Ducky determinedly.
"None of us here if not for Littlefoot! He bravest Longneck of all!" added Petrie.
Spike grunted and nodded in agreement to their words, and their folks stood in shock at what they had heard. Had these five truly come to trust each other despite their differences?
"I don't care what you have to say, Daddy, but Littlefoot is NO flathead!" said Cera, "He is my friend, they are all my friends, and they always will be!"
"Uh, w-wh-what!?" stuttered a completely baffled Topps.
"We may all be different, but there's one thing we all have in common," said Littlefoot once he finally gained the courage to speak.
"And what might that be?" questioned his grandfather.
"We were all friendless, lonely misfits before that … Earth Shake," replied Littlefoot, "We all had a heart for others, but especially different kinds. Just what else could have brought us together? An Earth Shake!? A Sharptooth!? The similarities between our pasts!?"
"None of us have any friends before!" added an encouraged Petrie, "Me no could fly, and we all lost with no one to turn to! Our adventure change everything! We all together again, and me can fly now! Petrie never be happier before!"
"And I have a new brother! I do, I do!" said Ducky, hugging Spike around the neck, "I am the happiest-est I have ever been in my life! Yes, yes, yes!"
"Each of us were nobodies before," remarked Cera, "None of us seemed to have a future, … and yet together we prevailed against hunger and dry lands! Together we drowned a murderous, half-blind Sharptooth! Together we found this Great Valley!"
"Destiny brought us together!" declared Littlefoot, "We got into this together, we faced the hardships together, we did it all together, and we finished it together!"
Many of the grownups softened, but Topps was trying so hard to maintain his fury for his daughter's defiance. However, he began to realize that he truly was losing. It seemed that Cera had her mind made up, and there was nothing he could do to change that. His pride and dominant influence over her were vanquishing with every second that passed. He couldn't imagine himself in a more unthinkable situation than this.
"Are you all sure … that this … is the path you've chosen?" asked Mama Flyer uneasily.
There was another tense moment of silence before the kids spoke up again …
"Yes, yes, yes," nodded Ducky, "I am happy with my new friends. Yes, I am."
"Me, too," put in Petrie.
Spike nodded his head, as did Littlefoot and Cera, and their folks could only stand where they were in great surprise, unable to comprehend how this unlikely friendship came to be.
"It seems your adventure brought you together just as ours did for us," said Grandpa Longneck.
The kids gasped at this revelation, perplexed by the idea of their families getting along with each other.
"Y-you, too!?" stammered Petrie.
"It's kind of a long story, much like I'm sure yours might be, too," said Grandma Longneck, "Let's just say that we realized that going our separate ways was never going to be an option if we would all survive our journey to the Great Valley, and we seemed to have the mutual pain of losing you, or so we believed at the time."
"Together, we would be better protected," explained Papa Swimmer, "Separated herds would not have fared well in the lands we travelled, but as one big herd, we were able to prevail."
"Which makes it further surprising how the five of you alone, with no grownup to protect you, were able to prevail not only in finding this valley, but also in killing … the … Sharptooth that terrorized all of us," added Mama Flyer.
Ducky and Petrie both flinched at the mention of Sharptooth. It seemed as if they would always be terrified of that monster, even though he was gone and would never harm anyone again.
"I cannot imagine how frightening it must have been, having to take on such a terrifying Sharptooth," said Grandpa Longneck, shaking his head.
"It so scary," shivered Petrie.
"It was, it was," nodded Ducky.
"But we prevailed, … and he's gone now," said Cera proudly.
"Still, I must admit, I was pretty scared, too, … but I was not going to let him terrorize us anymore," said Littlefoot determinedly before he quivered just a little, "Besides, … he killed my mother."
Most of the adults sighed sadly as they eyed him. He knew they felt sorry for the terrible loss he had suffered.
"We're just happy that you've made it all the way here," said Grandma Longneck, "For days, we thought you were dead, and some of us thought we may have no hope left for the future."
"Just how did you manage to survive against all the odds?" asked Mama Swimmer wondrously.
"More importantly, how could you possibly have defied one of the most important rules when it comes to interactions!?" ranted Topps, trying to regain his dominance, but Cera glared at him in clear defiance, and he knew right then that he had no chance of maintaining influence over his daughter's choosing of friends.
"That is the one lesson I will never care about as long as I live!" Cera snorted at her father.
The other children were greatly astounded by this change in their Threehorn friend. She seemed true to her word that she had really come to trust them and was completely loyal only to them instead of the one whom had dominated over her troubled upbringing.
"I never cared about that lesson from the day my mother told me of it," said Littlefoot with a determined look.
Ducky shook her head, "Me neither. No, no, no."
"Nor me," finished Petrie.
This silenced their folks again for what seemed like an eternity before any of them had the courage to speak again.
"I suppose that some lessons, even the hardest ones, may never truly come to heart, while others, like you have proven, perhaps truly can," said Grandpa Longneck wisely.
"You could say that you've taught your own lessons about friendship," his mate added, "Very few whom I ever knew in the many cold times I've been on this Earth ever had the courage to interact with other kinds."
"My generation never did anything with other kinds, … aside from my older brother," sighed Mama Flyer, "Even then, it still went sour."
"W-what you mean, Mama?" asked Petrie.
"I suppose that's a story for another day, my little Petrie," his mother replied, and the little Flyer's head sank despondently. There seemed to be so much he and his friends wanted to know, but how and when would it ever happen, if it ever did?
"I do not understand about the … lessons … you are talking about. No, no, no," sighed Ducky.
"Let me put it this way, kids," said Grandpa Longneck, "Sometimes, the hardest lessons are those you teach yourself."
The five kids all stared at each other, rather perplexed by those words of wisdom. To think that being able to make friends with other kinds was a lesson in itself was rather … intriguing at the very least. In the past, their folks had been completely against the idea for as long as they could remember. If they were really capable of developing a change of heart concerning their friendship, then maybe this life-changing adventure would be the start of something special for all of them that could last a very long time, or maybe even a lifetime.
"So, … you five are perfectly content being friends, then?" asked Grandpa Longneck.
The group of kids looked at their respective parents and silently nodded their heads, fully accepting their new friendships and companionships. Nothing could change their minds now. Their futures in their new valley home were set in stone.
"I'm glad we're all here to enjoy our new home," said Cera, "Well, … w-what's left of us, at least."
This earned a sad sigh from Topps as he thought of his beloved mate and children he had just lost on that dreadful journey.
"That … cursed Flyer," he murmured under his breath.
"That remind Petrie," Petrie suddenly spoke up rather unexpectedly, "Me family missing someone, too."
The grownups seemed to tense at this, but the kids took almost no notice of it.
"Me Mama and … me brothers and sisters," he hissed as he looked away for a moment to condense his anger, "But, … w-where me uncle Pterano? He with me before … Earth Shake, but me no see him when me see our new cave. What happen to him?"
Mama Flyer let out a deep sigh, while the others simply stayed silent. Topps looked away, apparently not wanting to say anything that would dampen anybody.
Petrie's eyes were wide with horror as he guessed just what must have happened.
"Me uncle Pterano … d-de-…"
"No, Petrie. He's not dead," his mother spoke quickly, "We lost track of him shortly after we lost you, and we've had no news of his whereabouts."
"Oh …," Petrie sighed sadly, sinking his head again as he realized that he, too, had lost a member of his family just as Cera and Littlefoot had, even if there was the slightest hope his uncle was still out there somewhere, trying to find the Great Valley.
"If he ever does make it here, … you'll be the first to know," said Mama Flyer, trying to maintain a look of honesty, and she winked at her son. It did it's magic in providing him even the tiniest glimmer of hope that one day his uncle would eventually come.
"I suppose that since there's nothing we can do to stop you from being together, I guess we'd be okay with you five being friends," smiled Grandma Longneck.
All the adults, except Topps, nodded their heads in agreement, and the kids, including Cera, gasped with amazement at this unexpected reaction, and they cheered in delight. Ducky and Petrie perched on Littlefoot's head, and the Longneck embraced Cera and Spike while the Swimmer and Flyer hugged each other tightly. It was a scene that just about brought tears to their families' eyes.
"Now, we will always be together," said Littlefoot happily, and his four friends cheered in agreement as they let the news sink in that they would get to be friends forever and ever and grow up together in their peaceful valley. They still had quite a long story to tell, but that was a story for another day. On this important evening in their lives, now was the time to celebrate the triumph that had rewarded them with the gifts of friendship and a new permanent home, and now had only just rewarded them with the approval of their families in being friends.
Littlefoot, Ducky, Petrie and Spike basked in the newfound glory of their life-changing adventure. Cera still felt unsure about her father's inevitable reaction, but at a time like this, it meant little to her. The truth was that she had made friends with different kinds against her father's will, and nothing could change that, even if he would try once again to dominate every aspect of her life. This was a day that everyone's lives had changed for the better, and they were sure to never forget this important moment in their lives.
That will be it for my entry for the June prompt, concerning lessons. If there is one lesson which I personally think The Land Before Time greatly elaborated on more than any other, it was the lesson of friendship. There will be hardships, and there will be lows, but ultimately it is friendship and loyalty that keeps us together and helps us prevail over all the odds stacked against us, even when it seems there isn't even the faintest chance we will succeed. Friendship is an important lesson in life, and DO NOT EVER forget the importance of companions.
Until next time, have a good day and take care of yourselves. See you soon! ;)