Friends and Flames
“Ready for the tea party?” Susanne inquired.
Technically, I said that, but I meant for Susanne to. You see, I was playing with my Usuki dolls, and Susanne was my favorite one. She has magical hair, you know. No matter how much you cut it, it will always grow back! Amazing, huh?
Some people call it “obsessed”. I call it “dedication”. So what if I love Usukis more than the average Neopian? Collecting Usuki items is my hobby. My passion. My life.
My little sister, Innetta, loves it too. We love to sit in our bedroom (Which we share) and play with our dolls for hours. We’ve collected almost every Usuki set ever created in Neopia. As for the dolls... well, we haven’t collected all of them... yet.
Mother says that three Usukis each is enough. I don’t think so at all. When I grow-up and have my own Neopets, I’m letting them have as many Usukis as they’d like.
On this certain day, Innetta and I were outside in the backyard. It was a lovely day... perfect for sitting on the lawn and looking at all of the clouds in the clear blue sky. That’s why we had set up the tea party outside.
As we gathered our six dolls around the table, I heard the back door slam shut. I winced. Out came Hedrick, the meanest brother in Neopia. Since he’s the only boy and Skeith in the family, Hedrick always stands out. He’s super tall and weighs more than one thousand Usuki dolls, I’m sure. Plus, he’s just plain cruel.
The truth is, Hedrick was adopted. Mother and Father are both Kacheeks. Mother is pink and Father is blue. I, Charlotte, am a Faerie Kacheek, and so is Innetta. We’re a big happy Kacheek family, and Hedrick looks awkward in all of our family photos. I’ve always felt a little sorry for him.
Hedrick stormed toward us and growled. I could tell something was bothering him, but what? It didn’t really matter, though... he was going to wreck our game anyway.
Sure enough, the giant Skeith grabbed all six of the dolls and threw them across the yard. Next, he kicked the table, sending the tea set flying. Satisfied with himself, Hedrick stomped back inside.
Sighing, I helped Innetta pick up the tea set. We managed to locate all of her dolls, all of the sets, and two of my dolls, which meant that...
“Innetta, Susanne is missing!” I cried.
Innetta's big brown eyes widened in shock. She looked around and scratched her head, deep in thought.
“I think I saw Hedrick throw it towards the shed.” Innetta pondered aloud.
I thanked her and rushed to the shed, which was way on the other side of our property. We stored all of the things we didn’t use as much in there. It reminded me of an outdoor Safety Deposit Box.
I smiled when I saw Susanne lying right in front of the shed. She was a tad dusty, but I knew that with a little care, she’d be as good as new in no time.
Before I could reach her, however, the smell of smoke flowed into my nostrils. I froze, frightened and confused. Cautiously, I grabbed the doorknob of the shed... it was dangerously hot. I wrenched it open quickly and couldn’t believe my eyes.
The shed was covered in a blinding cloud of smoke and a threatening tongue of fire. My jaw dropped open and I screamed. Without thinking, I sprinted towards the back door and yelled for my parents. Within a flash, both my Mother and Father were standing outside with me, along with Innetta, who had heard the commotion.
“Fire! There’s a fire!” I exclaimed, my paws shaking.
“WHAT? Where?” Father cried.
I pointed to the shed. Tears began spilling down my face. I couldn’t think straight... I was too afraid.
Father hurried off to neomail the fire department and Mother told us to run inside and grab anything we could, like clothes, food, and toys while she went to find Hedrick. Innetta and I grabbed our most valued items and some of the Usuki things on the lawn. As we were double-checking to make sure we had grabbed all of the items we would need, I realized with a jolt that Susanne was still outside.
I left everything I was carrying with Innetta and raced outside to see the Neopian Fire Department trying to put out the flames, which were spreading farther and farther. They ordered me to go join the rest of my family at the neighbor’s neohome, and I reluctantly let my father take me there.
We stayed at our neighbor’s neohome that night, but I couldn’t sleep. All I could think of was our beloved Neohome, all of our belongings we left behind, and of course, Susanne.
In the morning, the fire department reported to us that a light bulb in the shed had been left on and had somehow caught onto a rope, causing the fire to begin. I asked if they had saved anything, but everything had been destroyed in the fire.
We stayed in the Neolodge for the next few weeks. Every day, our friends, family members, and neighbors came to bring us food, clothes, toys, blankets, books, and more. Mother said that we should be grateful for such wonderful friends, but all I could think about was Susanne.
After a month of living at the Neolodge, Innetta and I began sending Neomails out to everyone who sent us something. (Mother and Father said it was the right thing to do.)
As we were going through our list of friends, I realized that my best friend, Dorothy, hadn’t come to bring us anything.
Dorothy, the striped Xweetok, used to live with us in Neopia Central, but she and her owner, Faye, moved to Terror Mountain. Dorothy had told me that Faye wanted to live somewhere cooler for a change. Ever since they moved, Innetta and I played Usukis alone.
You see, Dorothy was Innetta’s friend, too. She had five Usuki dolls, including the Magical Hair Usuki. We used to love playing with them together. I missed Dorothy terribly.
Three weeks passed by, and Mother and Father decided to try to build a new neohome where our old one used to be. During the construction, we continued to live in the Neolodge.
Two more weeks went by, and our Neohome was almost complete. It was the afternoon before we moved in and we got an unexpected visitor.
Innetta and I were packing up our things, ready to move back into our Neohome, when there was a knock on the door. Hedrick got up from his armchair and reluctantly stomped over to the door. After a minute, he bellowed, “Charlotte, it’s for you!”
Curiously, I trotted over to where my brother was and beamed. Standing in the doorway was Dorothy! Her fur had been cut recently, but her big blue eyes gleamed with the same cheerfulness that I remembered.
A tear trickled down my cheek, but Dorothy had already begun crying. We hugged each other, and I had never felt happier.
As we released our hug, the Xweetok handed me a long, rectangular box. I cocked my head curiously at it and opened it. Inside the box was Dorothy’s Magical Hair Usuki.
I gasped and shook my head. Dorothy couldn’t give me her Usuki, could she? Before I could say anything, Dorothy spoke.
“Take care of her, Charlotte.”
“B-but...” I stammered.
Dorothy held out a paw to stop me. I smiled and embraced her again. No one could have given me a better gift than Dorothy. Not only did she give me a doll like Susanne, but she also gave me true friendship.