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  •   It was night. Darkness filled the room, and although the moon was full its light could not penetrate through the closed blinds.
      Under her blanket, Dusty shivered.
      “Sandy,” she whispered to her sister, who was above her on the top bunk, “I’m afraid of the dark.”
      “The dark can’t hurt you,” Sandy reassured her in a soft mutter. Dusty heard her roll over in her bed.
      Clutching her blanket, Dusty tried to fall asleep, but shadows seemed to move across the room and she couldn’t help but imagine something hiding in every corner.
      “Sandy,” she whispered again, “I’m a scaredy-cat.”
      “I know you are, featherduster!” Sandy scoffed, her cluck filled with affection despite her teasing tone.
      Then her wing hung down from her bunk, beckoning to Dusty. “Come on up,” she invited, “You’ll feel safer here.”
      Hastily, Dusty crawled up the ladder, feeling instant relief as she snuggled up next to her sister.
      “It’s okay now, Dusty,” Sandy murmured as Dusty closed her eyes. She wrapped her wing around Dusty with a yawn, “I won’t let anything hurt you.”

  •    “Bet I’ll get to the end of the yard first!” Sandy clucked as she opened the back door and stepped out.
      Giggling, Dusty slipped under her sister’s wing and raced across the lawn before Sandy had a chance to close the door.
      “We’ll see about that!” she called as she neared the wall, glancing back to see Sandy several feet behind her.
      Having forgotten to look where she was going, Dusty skidded to an abrupt halt next to the wall. She landed with a tumble into a soft patch of dirt which Mom had prepared for gardening, her fall sending up a cloud of dust into the air.
      Catching up, Sandy knelt beside Dusty, her yellow eyes brightening when she realized her sister was okay.
      Shifting into a sitting position with the help of Sandy’s outstretched wing, Dusty shook her feathers in an attempt to clean them.
      “I see why your name is Dusty!” Sandy teased as she helped her sister brush off.
      Reaching over to the sandbox, Dusty picked up a wingful of sand.
      “There,” she said, sprinkling it over her sister’s head (being careful not to get any into her eyes), “Now your name fits you, too.”

  •   Sitting down at a table, Sandy and Dusty breathed in the warm, sweet smell that filled the doughnut shop.
      “I’ll go get us drinks,” Sandy said, putting down the box of doughnuts. “You can start on your doughnut, I’ll be back soon,” she called as she dashed away towards the soda dispenser.
      Dusty took out the chocolate doughnut she had ordered, leaving the box open since Sandy would soon return to have her strawberry flavored one.
      Gazing at her sweet looking doughnut with satisfaction, Dusty then noticed that hers had more icing than Sandy’s.
      She got a butter knife and used it to peel off some of her creamy white frosting, then carefully spread it on Sandy’s doughnut, smoothing it to make it look nice.

  •   Blinking sleepily as she waited her turn to brush her beak, Dusty wished she were in bed. She grabbed onto the towel rack for support.
      Perhaps it was because of how late she was going to bed tonight, or because of all the activities that had kept her busy all day- Dusty was very tired.
      Having finished brushing her beak, Sandy stepped aside to give Dusty a turn.
      Dusty yawned as she walked up to the sink, staggering slightly. Her tail drooped and she looked like she could barely stand.
      “You’re too tired to brush your beak,” Sandy remarked, “You’re falling asleep standing!”
      “Here,” she said, picking up Dusty’s beakbrush and squeezing beakpaste onto it, “I’ll brush it for you.”

  •   Sandy got out of bed.
      On the bottom bunk, Dusty was still asleep, breathing heavily because of her sickness.
      “Sandy, it’s time for school!” Mom’s voice came from the hallway.
      Sandy sighed. She hated to leave her sister, who was too weak to go to school until she recovered.
      “I’ll come in a minute,” she called to her Mom.
      Grabbing a piece of paper from the desk, she quickly scribbled something down and folded it.
      Quietly, Sandy slipped the note into Dusty’s wing and gently pressed her wing-feathers into a secure grasp, being careful not to wake her in the process.
      “Bye, Dusty!” she whispered, then dashed out the room to prepare for school.

      Dusty’s eyes flickered open and she squinted at the bright morning light.
      She moaned, not feeling strong enough to get out of bed just yet.
      Then, as she rolled over, she noticed that she was holding a small piece of paper in her wing.
      Puzzled, she unfolded it, and read the note inside.

      Dear Dusty,
      I’m at school but I will be home really soon to hug you. I’m thinking about you the whole time until then.
      Hope you feel better soon.
      Love, Sandy

  •   Sandy and Dusty walked along the sidewalk through the park, hearing a slight breeze make the grass and leaves rustle all around.
      “Race you!” Sandy challenged Dusty cheerfully, motioning to a tall tree ahead of her, then dashing off, her tail blowing in the wind as she ran swiftly into the distance.
      “Sandy, wait!” Dusty called after her and Sandy slid to a halt, turning around to face her.
      Dusty shuffled her feet, “You know I’m not fast enough…”
      “Nonsense!” Sandy flicked her tail. “You’re just as fast as me, Dusty! You can do this!” she encouraged her sister, her yellow eyes shining.
      “Well…” Dusty thought for a minute, then smiled, “Okay!”
      “You got this!” Sandy trotted back to stand next to her, “I’ll give you a head start.”

  •   The air was biting cold. The ground was covered in frosty snow and a gust of cold winter wind blew wildly at the bench Sandy and Dusty were sitting on.
      Wrapping the jacket she was wearing tightly around herself, Dusty shivered.
      Even over the whistling wind, Sandy could hear the sound of her sister’s beak chattering.
      “I still have some warmth left- I’ll share it with you,” she clucked, and crawled into Dusty’s jacket, hugging her to warm her up.
      “Have you thawed yet?” Sandy asked after a minute. Dusty nodded.
      With two times the warmth now that they were sharing it, the sisters snuggled closer inside the jacket, feeling cozy and snug- and no longer cold.

  •   Sandy peeked over the edge of her bunk-bed.
      Beneath her, Dusty slipped out of bed and padded into the bathroom.
      Quietly climbing down the ladder, Sandy snuck after her sister and stood next to the bathroom door, waiting.
      The door creaked open and Dusty stepped out.
      “Boo!” Sandy jumped in front of her, flapping her wings.
      Letting out a terrified squawk, Dusty leaped back, her hackles bristling. A monster? A bobcat?
      “It’s okay, Dusty,” Sandy clucked quickly, instantly feeling guilty, “It’s just me- your sister.”
      She put her wing gently on Dusty’s shoulder. “I’ll protect you.” From myself… she added silently.
      Relived upon seeing that it was only Sandy, Dusty snuggled into her sister’s wings, still shivering as Sandy hugged her tightly.
      “I’m such a scaredy-egg,” Dusty smiled weakly, feeling more relaxed.
      “With me as a sister, why wouldn’t you be a scaredy-egg?” Sandy clucked, smoothing Dusty’s bristling feathers. “I’m sorry I scared you.”
      “You’re still the best sister ever,” Dusty murmured, and Sandy continued comforting her all the way back to the bed.

  •   Standing outside the bathroom as she gazed through the door to her room, Sandy yawned. Dusty leaned against her, her eyes drooping.
      It was past their bedtime, but Mom had forgotten to make their bed earlier after having washed the sheets, so now Sandy and Dusty had to wait for her to finish before they could get into bed.
      Unable to remain standing, Dusty sat down on the bathroom rug.
      Sandy knelt down beside her. “Fall asleep on the floor,” she urged softly, “You need to rest.”
      Taking off her robe, Sandy stuffed it under Dusty’s head as a pillow, then pulled a bath-towel down from the towel rack to gently cover her sister with.
      “You can sleep now,” she murmured as Dusty curled up on the rug and closed her eyes, “Once Mom is done I’ll drag you into bed.”

  •   “I’m gonna catch you!” Sandy pelted after Dusty, sending dry leaves fluttering up behind her as she ran through the forest.
      Giggling as she ducked out of her reach, Dusty raced ahead, soon managing to shake off her pursuer.
      The laughter in Dusty’s throat broke off as the trees rustled loudly above her head.
      She skidded to a halt, her feathers bristling as she stared into the direction the sound had come from.
      Dusty knew it was probably nothing to worry about, and yet the shadowed forest made her shiver as an unsettled feeling overtook her.
      Suddenly, warm wings gripped her from behind.
      Dusty whipped her head around, relieved to see her sister.
      “Don’t worry,” Sandy said as she pulled Dusty into a tight hug, “I caught you.”