Sayda walked slowly up the old stone steps to the elegant
wooden door. She paused for a moment, gazing at the enormous mansion in front
of her. The grey sky cast long shadows on her sad face. The blue Aisha reached
forward and ran her fingers over the ornate doorknob. A breath of wind brushed
against her face. Then, despite everything in her heart that tried to protest,
Sayda turned the knob and pushed open the door.
The house was dim. The breeze from the open
door stirred up some dust. The antechamber was lifeless, with one exception.
An elderly blue Aisha stood at the foot of the grand staircase. She wore an
elegant grey dress, and her face was thin and worn. Her stern eyes met those
of Sayda's. "Sayda," she said.
"Mother." She was exactly the way Sayda had
left her, so long ago. Standing at the foot of the stairs, gazing at her only
child with stern eyes. It broke Sayda's heart to see that nothing had changed.
"The house is yours now." Her mother's eyes
continued to pierce Sayda. Was this all that she had to say? Was this all the
welcome she was to expect?
Sayda tore her eyes from her mother and began
to survey the rest of the house. Indeed, it was exactly the way she had left
it. It was as if Sayda had never even been gone. She stepped into the parlor.
The grand piano rested under a layer of dust. The fireplace huddled cold and
empty in the corner. Then, Sayda looked across the room. There, was a tall arched
window that looked out onto the bay. Beneath it was a cushioned seat, just perfect
for gazing out the window...
Five-year-old Sayda trudged wearily up the stone
steps to the elegant wooden door. She had just spent a busy day relaxing in
the golden hills, and the late summer heat had made her exhausted. She lazily
braided some daisies into her tousled blue hair. With a sigh of relief, she
opened the door and walked into the house. There was no one in sight, and Sayda
didn't even bother to close the heavy door behind her as she stepped inside.
The cool house provided a welcome relief. Carefully tying the last daisy into
her hair, the blue Aisha stepped into the parlor. This was her favorite room
in the entire house. She ran her fingers along the keys of the great grand piano,
letting the sweet notes echo through the room. Then, she lit the fireplace,
even though it was still quite warm in the house. Sayda liked to hear the homely
crackling of the wood burning as she rested in the parlor.
Then, Sayda made her way across the room. There,
was a tall arched window that looked out onto the bay. Beneath it was a cushioned
seat, just perfect for gazing out the window. Sayda pulled herself up onto the
seat, and by standing up on it, she was just able to get her chin above the
windowsill. Even though it was not tailored to her size, Sayda loved this window
more than anything in the whole house. It provided the most pleasant view of
the countryside, and Sayda did not spend a day without gazing through it. With
small fingers, she reached up and undid the latch. Then, with some difficulty,
she pushed open the window, smiling as the warm breeze whispered through it.
From this prospect, Sayda could see the rolling hills covered in the blooming
daisies. The long grass swayed in the gentle wind. Above, a few wispy clouds
made their way across the blue sky.
Sayda looked down towards the bay. In the distance,
she could see the busy coastal town with all of its houses and shops and taverns.
She could see the bustling docks, where Neopets were hard at work in the summer
heat. Then, she could see the glistening bay, beautiful and blue.
Indeed, this was Sayda's favorite spot in the
As she began to daydream, something in the distance
caught Sayda's eye. The bright sun obscured it, but her heart began to beat
faster when she finally realized what it was: a sail. Standing on her tiptoes,
Sayda squinted into the bay. Yes, a ship was just sailing into the bay, and
it was a large ship at that. She tried to make out the symbol on the sail, but
the sun shining on it made the white sail to bright to read.
SLAM! Sayda jumped and turned around.
There, in the antechamber, was her mother, who had just slammed the door shut.
"Sayda, dear, how many times must I tell you not to leave the door open?"
"Sorry," said Sayda, "I forgot. But did you
"And why is the window open?" her mother continued.
"And the fire burning? Sayda, you're really being very irresponsible."
Sayda rolled her eyes.
"But we can forget about that for today, because
I have some wonderful news for you."
Sayda gasped. "Did you see the ship too? Is
"I've decided to hire a tutor for you," her
mother said. Sayda's heart sank. "He should arrive any minute. You'll be moving
in with him to continue your education. Then, once you have completed your studies,
you may return home. The house will be yours, then."
Sayda felt her stomach turn. "You mean... You're
making me move away?"
"It will only be for a few years," her mother
said nonchalantly. "Besides, all you do here is waste your time. Now you finally
have the opportunity to do something with yourself."
Sayda could not believe her ears. But then she
remembered the ship in the harbor and tried one last time to get through to
her mother. "Did you see the ship in the bay?" she asked. "I think it might
be the army coming back! Perhaps Father-"
A sudden knock at the door interrupted her.
Sayda's mother gasped. "Your tutor is here! Make sure you look presentable!
We don't want to make a bad first impression." Sayda's mother pulled the daisies
out of her hair and tossed them into the fireplace. Sayda watched them sizzle
and shrivel away. Her mother quickly smoothed her dress and then ran to open
Sayda heard her mother talking with the tutor
in the antechamber, and then her mother yelled, "Sayda! Come here! It's time
for you to go."
Before she knew what was happening, the young
Aisha was holding a suitcase in each hand and looking back as she followed the
tutor out the door. Her mother was standing at the foot of the grand staircase,
gazing at her daughter with stern eyes. Sayda tried to catch one last glimpse
of the window in the parlor, but it was too late. She had already stepped out
Sayda gazed out the window into the gray sky.
The bay was quiet and empty, with only a few ships docked in the harbor. The
cold air beat against the closed glass. The Aisha turned around to address her
mother, who had followed her into the room. "Do you remember when I left?" she
asked. Her mother closed her eyes and nodded. "Just before the tutor came, I
saw a ship-"
"Yes," whispered her mother. "It was the army
"And..." Sayda felt a lump in her throat. "What
"Your father wasn't on the ship. No one knows
what happened to him."
Sayda sighed. After so many years of waiting,
this was the answer that she had to receive. And yet, she had known it. She
had always known it, ever since she had walked through the door, leaving her
home behind so many years ago. She gazed out the window again, but it simply
was not the same. That window could never again give her the pleasure and the
hope of the days of her youth. Those days were gone forever, and now, so was