One summer day, Alice unexpectedly found herself in a town with a curious name; Marblehead.
"Hmm. I have never seen a head on a marble, or a marble on one's head for that matter. I shall have a look around, for I have come such a long way, and oh what a terrible journey it was!"
Alice explored the seaside, but not alone. She met a tiny panda while eating cinnamon chocolate cake at the local bakery. He joined her in the carriage behind her bike. They rode everywhere together. He would sing songs to encourage her weary legs. In Alice's mind, this constituted a very good friend indeed!
Together they discovered colorful gemstones that dotted the shores of the protected and rocky coves. Collecting became their passion. They planned their days around the ebb and flow of the tide.
"What an earthly way to follow time, my dear Panda. I will propose the world chuck their pocket watches and simply look to the sea! Oh dear, that may present a problem if one does not live near the sea. This proposal may want for further consideration. Let's keep our mind's open, dear Panda."
After many days of exploration and thoughtful conversations, the air around them changed. They became chilled easily, and the leaves from the trees would rain down on them as they would cycle through the nearly abandoned town.
"I sense the new season, my friend. It may be that we wake from this dream and put our bicycle and carriage away. I was told by the kindly gentleman that runs the apothecary that there is a place we have not yet discovered! Do we have time for just one more expedition? He said that the beach is rich in gemstones and that we are likely to find the elusive scarlet! Oh, wouldn't that be a perfect end to our adventure?"
Panda agreed with great excitement; for a brilliant scarlet would be more than welcome to his already brimming collection.
They woke early on a particularly clear, crisp day and set out. Alice pedaled farther and harder than she ever had before. Breathless she cried, "Keep singing, dear Panda, keep singing!"
Panda sang louder, "…Ray, a drop of golden suuuuuuuun!"
After an arduous journey, their destination was finally upon them. Before them stretched a vast rocky beach in a quiet bay. The water was calm and a shade of blue bluer than the bluest of blues. It took their breath away. They stood for a moment soaking in the scene, then took off with a start in search of their scarlet.
The morning was spent searching, sifting, sitting, and talking. With an abundance of green, brown, cobalt, and white in their pockets, they were happy despite not finding what they hoped for.
Not wanting their search to be over, they gave in to their hungry growling bellies and decided to leave.
They stood silent and looked out at the sea. Alice waved half hoping she would get a wave in return, but the sea was simply too calm on that day.
Alice noticed a tear rolling down the cheek of her new friend.
"Dear Panda, why are you crying!"
"I am sad because this dream is ending and sad that I couldn't find you a piece of scarlet."
She knelt down, kissed Panda on the top of his head and wiped the tear from his cheek with her apron.
"Dreams can reoccur, my sentimental friend. Imagine that!"
"Where should we go now, dear Panda? Someplace warm? Someplace new? Home?"
Panda climbed into the carriage and pulled his wooly quilt over his lap. Alice hopped onto her tired but loyal bicycle. They rode off together with their minds and hearts open to whatever new adventure lie ahead, and Panda sang for Alice the whole way.