Bird, Haggle Master
Bird, a short, petite green Aisha, stood at the counter, trying her best to peer over the top at the shopkeeper. “Excuse me,” she called up to the Cybunny, who was nonchalantly twirling a strand of her bright yellow hair and staring off into space.
“Excuse me,” Bird called again, louder this time. She reached up and plopped the green Aisha plushie on the counter, right in the Cybunny’s face. “I’d like to buy this, please.”
“Oh,” came the answer. “Right. I want 344 neopoints for that plushie.”
“290 NP?” Bird asked, hoping to get a lower price. It didn’t help to go shopping and spend all your money on just a few things.
The Cybunny eyed her. “You’re quite the haggler, aren’t you, little girl?” Bird was about to interrupt and say she wasn’t a little girl, just short for her age, but the Cybunny went on. “Well, since the shop’s empty right now and we aren’t having many sales today, I’ll accept your offer.”
Bird grinned. She might be small, but sometimes it helped to be mistaken for a little kid – even if it did annoy her to be called that. “Thank you,” she said, handing the shopkeeper the 290 neopoints and taking her plushie.
Once outside the plushie shop, Bird took a good look over the toy. It looked exactly like her, except maybe slightly older. Oh well, she thought. At least I’m bigger than you are. I’ll call you Ally. Bird named the plush after herself. Her real name was Alberta, but she preferred just Bird.
Bird walked down the path to the school supply store. School didn’t start for another two and a half weeks, but she liked to be prepared. Going down each isle carefully, and calculating the prices in her mind, Bird finally approached the counter.
She dumped the things she’d chosen – still having to stand on her toes to see over – and looked expectantly at the shopkeeper. The Techo rang everything up, and she haggled with him, just as she’d done with the Cybunny. He was surprised at her skills, but accepted her final offer.
Pleased, Bird made her way out of the store. She sat down outside it and opened the Angelpuss backpack. In went her new water faerie pencil, yellow star notebook, basic pen, and green faerie eraser. She also stuck Ally in there, with her head sticking out the top (there wasn’t quite enough room).
Bird wanted to visit the second-hand shop, but she could hardly take two steps inside. What a smell! Donated dung was piled everywhere. There were a few potato sacks, as well. Quickly, the Aisha left. Maybe another time. Instead, she walked to the main shops.
Stomach starting to grumble, the green Aisha entered the food shop. Bird bought a pair of churros, but was too hungry to try to haggle. She paid the full price of 110 neopoints and left, munching on the snack.
She didn’t enter the bookshop until after she’d finished her crumbling churros. While she ate, Bird found it amusing to watch the neopets at the Money Tree. There were tons of them – diving for this item, or snatching up that bag of neopoints. Sometimes Bird had to muffle her giggles. If only they knew how silly they looked!
After her treat was gone, she entered one of her favorite stores – the bookshop. After some long searching, she selected just two: Pazo the Lonely Aisha and Faerie Tales. She smoothed any stray dust off the covers and bought them, of course with a little haggling.
Bird had spent all her money – an entire three months’ allowance. Her owner, Paige, wasn’t rich, but she tried hard to support their small family. However, she couldn’t help but stop and peek through the window of the petpet shop.
What she saw made her heart swell. A new litter of Warf puppies? How sweet! A Buzzer flew around a Kougra’s head, delighting him. A Gruslen stalked a Uni’s hooves while she was busy watching a floating Cirrus.
If only... why, was that a Spardel? Bird grinned at his goofy little face. It was then she spotted her dream petpet. “Oh, how cute,” she murmured. “A little Faellie.” She had to leave. She couldn’t stand watching the little thing flitter around happily – without her.
Bird tore herself away from the window and kept walking. This time, her destination was home. The sun was just starting to set, and Paige would be expecting her for dinner. As she walked, Bird began to forget about the Faellie. She thought about starting Neoschool instead, and by the time she reached her street, she was skipping and humming.
* * *
“Paige? I’m back,” Bird called, opening the front door to their small Neohome.
“In the kitchen,” Paige answered. Bird walked through the little living room and rounded the corner. “How was your day?”
“Good,” Bird answered, and proceeded to tell her about what she bought. “And look! I finally found the perfect plushie. Let me grab her.” She raced back in to the living room, where she had dumped her backpack on the couch. She grabbed the plushie and went back to her owner, holding it up proudly.
Paige glanced at it. “Cute,” she commented. “It looks just like you, Bird.”
Bird smiled. “I named her Ally. Isn’t she pretty? I got a really good price for her, too.”
“Good,” Paige answered, smiling back at her pet. “Why don’t you go wash up? Dinner’s just about ready.”
Bird nodded. When she came back, she found the small wooden table had been set. Taking her seat, she asked, “What are we having?”
“Fluffy faerie pancakes,” Paige answered, setting down a steaming plate with four fresh pancakes on it. “Two for each of us. I hope you’re not too hungry. What’d you eat for lunch?”
Bird grinned sheepishly. “A couple churros?” Her reply was more of a meek question than a statement. “I wasn’t that hungry during lunch.”
“Bird...” Paige always tried to tell Bird to eat healthy. Besides, junk food cost a lot of money. “You know we can’t afford to always have – “
“I used my own money.” Bird quickly helped herself to a pancake, cut out a bite with her fork, and shoved the cake into her mouth.
Paige dropped the subject, shaking her head, although Bird could spy a smile. She took a bite from her pancakes, as well. Then she looked up at the Aisha. “What do you think?” she asked. “I think I put in too much flour. They’re a little dry.”
Bird gave a little shrug, her mouth still full of pancake and syrup. When she swallowed, she answered, “They’re a teeny bit dry, but still good.” For emphasis, she took another huge bite.
* * *
It was the next morning. The night before, Bird had made a decision, and she planned to follow through with it.
Paige looked up from her book, a startled look on her face. Bird sounded so serious. “What is it, Bird? Are you okay?” Quickly, she reached over and pressed her hand against the Aisha’s forehead to check for a temperature.
“I’m fine, Paige!” Bird pushed her hand away. “I just wanted to know; well... do you think I could get a petpet?” She said the last part really fast.
It took Paige a few long seconds to respond. “Bird,” she said slowly, “I would love to get you a petpet, dear, but we just can’t afford one. You know I can hardly afford for us to live in this house. How would we get the money to buy a petpet – let alone take care of it? They need to eat as well, and we’re already squished here with just the two of us.”
Bird let out a huge sigh. “I understand,” she mumbled. “It’s just that... well, practically everyone I know has a petpet – except for me. And when there’s no school, I’m always super lonely, because you’re always busy.” She paused and took a breath.
Paige stood up and wrapped her Aisha in a hug. “I’m sorry you’re so lonely, Bird. I had no idea.” They stood there for a few moments. “You know what? I think I might have a little of my savings left over. Should we take a peek?”
Bird stared up at her owner, full of love. “Really?” she asked. “Really truly?”
“Maybe. Let’s take a walk. We’ll stop by the bank.”
“It’s after dark.”
“Since when has the dark frightened you?”
Bird smiled. “Okay, let’s go.” They started to walk out the door when Bird suddenly stopped. “Wait!” she cried. Running back into the living room, she grabbed her green Aisha plushie. “Ally wants to come, too.” Ally was quite special to Bird, for she was her first and only plush.
“Of course she can come.” Paige thought it was sort of cute the way Bird showed affection to the toy. She made a mental note to watch her, though, so she didn’t get too out of control.
They walked silently through the almost-empty streets of Neopia Central. A few people and their pets were out and about, doing late-night shopping when there were no crowds. Smart of them, Bird figured. Besides, you didn’t get the sun’s heat during the night. It was nice and cool outside.
Bird gave a long sigh of contentment, hugging her plushie close.
“Isn’t a beautiful night out?” Paige asked, watching her, and then turning to look up at the stars. “Look! You can see Kreludor from here. The sky’s so clear tonight.”
Bird looked up as well. “Oh,” she breathed. “It’s gorgeous. Kreludor looks like it’s glowing.”
They continued to walk. Bird couldn’t peel her eyes away from the sky. I wonder what the stars look like from Faerieland? Are they bigger and brighter?
“Bird. Bird, we’re here.” Paige grabbed on to the Aisha’s arm and pulled her to a stop, just before she ran into the building. “Are you sure you’re feeling all right?”
“I’m fine. Just daydreaming.”
“Okay, then. Come on. Let’s go inside.”
A green Skeith dressed in a black suit greeted them. “Good evening, ma’am,” he said. “Can I help you with anything?”
“Yes, please,” Paige answered. “What’s my balance?”
“Exactly 8,000 NP.”
“Thank you.” Paige turned to Bird with a sad look. “I’m sorry, Bird. I don’t think it’s enough...”
“No, wait!” Bird yelped. “It is enough. It’s perfect. I just need 5,000.”
Paige raised an eyebrow at her but turned back to the Skeith. “Can I withdraw 5,000 NP, please?” she asked.
“Sure thing.” He handed her the bagful, and Paige passed it on to Bird. “Lead the way.”
They left the bank and walked the short way to the petpet shop. Lucky for them, it didn’t close for another half hour.
Bird pushed open the door, handed her plushie to her owner, and walked straight to the box labeled “Warf Puppies – 5,000.” Paige caught the attention of the shopkeeper and waved the Usul over.
“We’d like a Warf puppy, please,” Paige told her.
“Boy or girl?” the Usul asked. “We’ve got three girls and one boy left.”
Paige was about to answer, ”A girl,” but Bird had other plans. “The boy.” She turned and looked up at her owner. “That’s okay, isn’t it?”
“Uh... sure. Whatever you’d like.”
“Good. I want the boy, then, please.” She smiled at Paige. “We can name him Theodore.”
“Theodore?” Paige asked, puzzled. “That’s a long name for such a small Warf.”
“Theo is a nice nickname. Don’t you think?”
Paige ruffled Bird’s little wisps of hair. “Theo is a fine nickname.”
“That’ll be 5,000 neopoints, please, ma’am,” the Usul said.
“How about 4,600?”
My first submission. :) Hope you liked it!