Late in the afternoon, Optimus wandered almost mindlessly to a nearby Snarlbucks shop to get a simple Frappuccino to satisfy his slight thirst while drifting around Zootopia on his day off. He was wearing black cargo jeans and a t-shirt with his favorite light grey jacket over it, halfway zipped up. When he entered the café, he was met with a small line and only a few mammals at separate tables; an elephant reading a newspaper, a fox thumbing his phone, and a few others he had no interest in trying to recognize. He merged with the line and simply waited for his chance to get his coffee.
But then something very familiar hit his ear. A song he knew. He looked to his right, and there was a grey squirrel at the table wearing a pink dress. He knew this squirrel. It was Servant. She had her earbuds in and they played a song the badger knew all too well. She browsed through her phone with her arms settled over an open notebook and hummed this all too familiar tune. Optimus did not hesitate to go over and meet his friend. As he got closer, she began to actually vocalize the lyrics to the song running through her earbuds.
“Hakuna Matata. What a wonderful phrase.” she said, still humming a little bit. The badger was mere inches from the table before the squirrel took notice of him standing there. Looking up at him, she pulled an earbud out and she had the sweetest smile on her face when she realized who it was. “Hey, there!” she said to him, her voice full of optimism and joy.
“Hiya.” he replied. “I could hear the song you were listening to there. If I hadn’t heard it, I might not have noticed you.”
“Oh, this one?” she asked, pulling the plug put from her phone and turning up the built-in speakers. The device burst to life with the song.
’Hakuna Matata! What a wonderful phrase! Hakuna Matata! Ain’t no passin’ craze!’ “Yeah, that one!” the badger said to her with a smile on his own face and nodding his head to the beat. “It’s one of my favorites.”
“It’s one of my favorites, too!” she said to him. She stood up from her chair and began to sing with all her voice to it. “It means no worries for the rest of your days!” Now she was dancing as well. “It’s our problem free!” She beckoned Optimus to sing as well. Without a second thought, he did just that.
“Philosophy!” he sang out, still with a smile on his face. “Hakuna Matata!” They both finished the song together.
“Wow, you have quite the voice.” Optimus complimented her.
“Aw, thanks.” she replied with a slight blush. “Yours isn’t too bad either.”
“Thank you.” he replied, adding a sincere smile with it. “How have you been?” he asked her.
“Good. How about you?”
“I’ve been doing well.” Optimus began to blush.
Just then, Servant’s phone began to buzz. “Ah, shoot!” she said as she looked at her phone and ended the buzzing. “I’ve gotta go. Thanks for dancing with me, I guess. It was really nice to see you again.”
“You too. Maybe we can meet up again sometime?”
“Sounds good. Bye, Optimus!”
“Bye…” he said with a shy wave as she tossed the empty coffee cup in the trash and left the shop. After she left and continued on the sidewalk, she plugged her earbuds back in and continued to listen to the song while dancing on the pavement.
“Hakuna Matata!” Servant began to sing yet again. “What a wonderful phrase! Hakuna Matata! Ain’t no passin’ craze!” There were other mammals that might watch her, but the free spirit within her didn’t care. “It means ‘no worries’ for the rest of your days! It’s our problem-free… philosophy! Hakuna Matata!” She pressed the repeat button on her phone so she could listen to the song as she made her way back to the Zootopia Times building, where she works as a journalist for the paper. But she never really liked it there despite her love for writing, and would prefer to write her own books. The thought of quitting has crossed her mind many times, but publishing a book is a risky bet, so she thought best to play it safe for now. Just for a while.
Before she knew it, she had already danced her way back to the building, and the song had played back many times during her trip. The heat of the afternoon was starting to get to her. She looked back at the distance she traveled, remembering the badger she met. With a small chuckle, she walked through the revolving door, feeling slightly unprepared to go back in.
Servant walked back out through the revolving door. The sun was just below the horizon and blotted out by the building across the street, leaving a very decorative, pink and orange sky. The crisp, gentle breeze was relaxing to her senses as the wind caressed her fur. It felt good to leave the building; it was something she looked forward to almost every day she had to work there. The calm of the night was her favorite thing about the city as well as the summer.
She decided to take a stroll through the neighborhood instead of taking the bus or train. The sound of the cars driving by, the beautiful colors of the buildings, inside and out, the view of the other districts, it was all very soothing. After a while, the colorful sky turned to a dim blue. The squirrel looked up at the tall trees, tree-like structures, and even the faint sight of the stars hidden in the twilight. A few minutes later, she passed a building and saw the full moon, beautiful as ever. She remembered all those times she considered being an astronaut. How different her mind was back then. She remembered all the career ideas she shuffled through during her childhood. A cook, a teacher, and then a period where she didn’t have the slightest clue and felt a little lost. She quickly discarded the negative thought and decided to focus on more positive stuff for the duration of her journey.
Before she knew it, she had already made it back to the Underground apartment complex, where she lived. She mindlessly walked through the doors and hallways all the way to her room. Once she entered, Servant flicked on the desk lamp, turned on the radio, and let it play while she opened her laptop and wrote about things that were of actual interest to her rather than observations on the boring stuff she researched at the Zootopia Times. To her, it always felt good to be free with writing. Free to write whatever goes through her mind rather than looking through a list of taken notes.
The hours ticked away as the squirrel wrote her heart away into anything that crossed her mind. Sometimes it was on what she experienced in her daily life, others it was fictional stuff, and even then, a wide range of stories about a little raccoon. Each new song that came on influenced a new idea. The music kept her mind and body going.
And then… that song again.
“Hakuna Matata! What a wonderful phrase!”
The song instantly brought a smile back to her face. She couldn’t help but sing along to it yet again. Just one more for the day. “Hakuna Matata! Ain’t no passin’ craze!” She got up from her desk and danced to the song. “It’s our problem free! Philosophy! Hakuna Matata!”
Just then, she heard a knock on her door. Who could be knocking at this hour? She lowered the volume on the radio and made her way to the door, wondering who would be there, and when she opened it, it was Optimus. The same badger she saw earlier today.
“Uh, hi.” he said as soon as the door opened.
“Hi. Are you following me?” she asked with a smug smile.
“No, I just… happen to live in the same building.” he admitted as he pointed down the hall to the left. “Just a few rooms down. I… never knew you lived so close.”
“Neither did I. Quite the coincidence, huh?”
“Yeah, I guess so.” The badger shifted his paws into his pockets. “Well, I got a busy day tomorrow, but I’m free on Saturday if you… maybe wanna find something to do then?”
“Sure!” she said with an excited quip in her voice.
Optimus turned and took a step down the hall. “Alright, I guess I’ll see ya then.” he said with a wave. “Bye.”
“Bye.” she said with a return wave and closed the door. As she walked back to her desk, she took notice of the clock. *10:23* it read. With the sudden wave of exhaustion rolling over the squirrel, she decided it was time to hit the hay. After slipping out of her dress and into her nightgown, she leapt into the bed and pulled the covers over herself and was more than ready to sleep. With last thing on her mind being the badger that lived on the same floor as she did. And the song. She hummed the song to herself as she drifted into sleep.
“Hakuna Matata. What a wonderful phrase…”