T' Wit To Woo

by Russ

‘T' wit to woo, t' wit to woo,

Tha ‘avn’t got t’ bloody wit to woo.’

Yang Guang didn’t speak whatever language the irritating old bird kept hooting, but he could do without hearing it right now. He looked up with a scowl and delivered a threatening paw swipe, completely oblivious to how adorable he looked. He buried his head in his hands and growled a little. An automatic camera clicked on, beginning the process of creating a gif which would be shared a million times around the globe.

He’d loved this place when he and Tian Tian first arrived, the air smelt funny and there was something unusual about the forest at the bottom of the hill, very blocky, but they’d had so much fun. The humans seemed excited to see them, both the ones peering through the glass and the ones who came inside to play. Oh, and they played. They played with balls, and with sticks, and there were obstacles and slides, and every day felt like a new adventure. Between playing, and napping, and feeding, Yang Guang had never been so content.

Things felt different recently, it was subtle but Yang Guang knew he wasn’t imagining it. The number of faces at the windows was dropping off, and the expressions on those who came inside were less smiley, more frowny, more frustrated, more impatient. They changed things too. Where there used to be a hammock each, there was now a single large one. Same with the little sleeping huts. Toys were taken away, and there was soft jazz music in the air at night. Yang Guang didn’t know what was going on, but it was really starting to affect his napping ability.

In the hammock behind there was a movement and Tian Tian’s arm flopped out as she began a heart-breakingly cute struggle for freedom. Yang Guang immediately pretended to be asleep. Tian Tian was being weird too. She wanted to play too much, she was too restless, too needy, and she’d get into a right sulk if Yang Guang didn’t join in. Yang Guang loved to play as much as anyone, but not all the time, and he was tired of walking the tightrope of Tian Tian’s moods. She also smelt funny and had started making this weird chirping sound, bleating like a sheep.

What really unsettled Yang Guang though was the overall vibe he was supposed to be doing something about all this, like whatever it was making everyone weird was his fault. Maybe it was paranoia, but he didn’t like it.

The camera clicked as Tian Tian plodded over and sat beside her pensive partner. She sat so close he could feel the pressure of her against him, and she began nosing at his face. Yang Guang froze stiff in a reticent panic. In the observation room, a scientist watched a screen and held their breath.

Yang Guang grabbed a nearby stick of bamboo and shoved it hastily in Tian Tian’s face, rolled onto his paws, and bounded away to the sleeping hut. Tian Tian sat holding her unwanted breakfast, sighed, and offered an exasperated look to the owl above.