Change and Choice
“Allia!! I’ve got a surprise for you!” Mom called out from just opening the door.
I rushed to the door, my pink Xweetok tail wagging behind me. I wondered what it would be. Maybe a Blue Folder With Hearts? Or what about a Baby Xweetok Plushie? Okay, I’ll admit right here, I was a pretty spoiled neopet. Being the only pet of a famous (or infamous, to some) Spotted Kougra who could snipe just about anything she wanted from any shop in the whole of Neopia, I could pretty much get whatever I wished for. We always had millions of neopoints to spare. But being a fairly responsible mother, Mom only allowed me to have 100,000 neopoints a month. Which was still an insanely lot of neopoints to the normal neopet. But normally her surprises were always good. Something that I never knew about but she knew I would love, or something I had been wanting for a long time. My tail swished through the air even faster as I thought of all the possibilities this surprise might be.
When I finally reached the front entrance room, I automatically skidded to a stop. Nothing in my fifteen years on Neopia could have prepared me for what I saw behind Mom’s back. Hiding shyly underneath Mom’s tail was a small blue Zafara, fear sparkling in her eyes.
“Allia, this is Kanyon, your new baby sister,” Mom said softly. “Kanyon, this is your new older sister.”
I just gawked, shock hitting me. There had been no hint of Mom wanting to add on to our family. Nothing at all. But here before my eyes, was my new sister. Not knowing what else to do, I numbly lifted my paw and waved.
“I just adopted her from the pound while I was in Neopia Central shopping.” (By shopping, she meant sniping unbuyables and the rarest of items, really.) After a few minutes of awkward silence, Mom piped up again. “Okay, well, I’m going to the Trading Post,” she said, waving around a bag with Plushie Palace printed on the front. “Why don’t you get acquainted with Kanyon? Maybe you could show her the beach or something.”
I finally shut my open mouth and nodded. Mom lead Kanyon over to me, then headed out the door. As the door shut, silence presumed. After a few minutes of Kanyon just standing beside me, she grabbed my hand. I almost jumped, startled, and not knowing what to do. “O-Okay, Kanyon, how about I show you Mystery Island’s beach? This is, after all, going to be your new home,” I said, taking Mom’s suggestion and leading her out the door.
We strolled along the beach, Kanyon still holding my hand. I pointed out the Tombola guy, some Myncies playing volleyball, the Tiki Tack Shop, and the Harbour. From then on, it was only the beach. As we walked along, Kanyon warmed up to her surroundings, and finally gained enough courage to let my hand go and explore a little on her own.
“Allia, what’s this?” she cried out, staring down at a small tide pool. I was shocked as she spoke to me for the first time, and went over to see what she was looking at. “That,” she said, pointing at a small, green, three-eyed, slug-like thing crawling along the rocks.
“Oh, that’s just a Lurman. It’s a petpet that’s pretty common around here.”
“Can I touch it?”
I peered into the tide pool to make sure there were no Neucloops or Darpinches or anything else that might hurt her. Not spying anything, I answered, “Sure, go ahead.”
Kanyon reached her little paw into the water and touched it. She squealed with delight and quickly retreated her arm as one of the three eyes turned to look at her. She reached in again to touch it, this time letting her paw linger on it. The Lurman turned and crawled up her arm. She again squealed with delight. “Allia, can I keep him?” she said, her eyes sparkling with excitement.
“Sorry, but Mom and I agreed to have no petpets. It’s too much trouble to take care of them, especially when we go on vacation and whatnot. Plus, we don’t want them to be lonely while I’m at Neoschool and she’s shopping.”
I felt horrible having to say no to her, but instead of Kanyon being heartbroken, she just happily said, “Okay!” and put him back into the pool. “I bet you’re happier there than you would be with me, anyways,” she said. For some reason, I had a feeling she had picked up this wisdom from being in the pound, and automatically felt depressed.
“Hey, let’s keep going,” I said, checking my watch. 4:30. “We need to get back home before dinner at six. And I still need to make it.”
“Awww, are we turning back around?” Kanyon asked.
I couldn’t dare to sadden her, not with her past. I also couldn’t let her down because of the fact that she was just my little sister. “Eh, we’re already about halfway around the Island. We can just make a big circle. But we’ll have to walk a little faster.”
As we set off at a brisk pace, Kanyon stopped every now and then to pick up a little, pink shell. Most of them had small little holes in them, which struck me very funny, as I saw many other beautiful shells without blemishes around. Oh well, she’s just a little kid. I bet I did silly things like this when I was her age.
As I thought that, something struck me. I didn’t know her age. I didn’t really know anything about her at all, really. As we continued walking, I started a Q&A session with her.
“How old are you?” I asked.
“Seven,” she said, bending down to pick up another pink shell.
“When’s your birthday?”
“The 25th of the Month of Awakening.”
I continued with my questions all the way home, and was surprised to find out there was a lot to know about this seven-year-old. How she had dreamed of being a princess when she was in the pound. That she had never been out of Neopia Central until today. Just little stuff like that. Sometimes she would surprise me and ask a question about myself.
As we walked down Fruity Path towards home, I finally asked, “What are you planning to do with those shells.”
Instead of answering, she just asked, “Do you have a piece of string?”
“Yeah, just a second,” I said, unlocking the door. I went into the study room and pulled out a spool of string we had gotten from a kite breaking loose and a pair of Slorg Scissors. I handed them over to her, where she was sitting at our Ultranova Table in the living room, organizing the pink shells in front of her.
“Okay, you have to leave now,” she said.
“Okay, anything you want for dinner?” I asked her, heading towards the kitchen to put the skills I had learned from Jhuidah and Kitchen Quest into action.
“Anything but soup. That’s all they feed you in the pound!”
As I finished whipping up three fast Star Shaped Cheese Burgers, Kanyon walked into the kitchen. As I was placing the last one onto our Rainbow Table, she grabbed my left arm, and slipped something onto it. I looked down to see a Seashell Bracelet dangling on my arm. She suddenly embraced me in a hug. After a second, I hugged her back.
“I love you,” she whispered.
“I love you, too,” I whispered back.
A year passed. How everything can change in a year.
I woke with a startle to Felicia, Kanyon’s Island Kadoatie, crying at the top of her lungs. I looked up to see her staring out the window into the darkness of the night. “Stupid Kadoatie,” I grumbled, pulling the pillow over my head. I had learned to sleep with the light on ever since we got the little devil, because, of course, Mom made her sleep in my room so it wouldn’t interrupt Kanyon’s precious beauty sleep. But still, sometimes she would climb up onto the windowsill and open the curtains to find it dark outside. She would cry in fear at the top of her lungs the rest of the night until I could show her that it was light outside.
What happened to our deal of having no petpets? This was the exact reason we made it! And, of course, we can’t make a separate sound proof room just for her, because Kanyon doesn’t want her to sleep alone at night. So instead of letting Kanyon deal with her crying, we make my room soundproof and stick her with me! I thought to myself with all of the spite I could muster. “UGGGH!” I screamed out at the top of my lungs, kicking my bed frantically.
I then got up and left my room. I headed towards the kitchen and made a cup of Black Cherry Tea to calm my headache. As I sat there sipping it quietly, I couldn’t stop thinking about how everything had changed. I now had an allowance of 200,000 neopoints per month, but it didn’t even matter. Mom was so obsessed with Kanyon that I could spend a million neopoints in a week and she wouldn’t realize it. Whatever I did never mattered anymore. My grades were dropping rapidly because no one cared. If I brought home an A on a test, we used to celebrate by going out to eat at Kelp. Now if I did, it didn’t even go up on he fridge. Of course, if Kanyon got an A, she could ask for anything she wanted. And if it was a vacation, Mom would never include me. When I made a mistake, I was scolded and punished, especially if it involved Kanyon. When Kanyon did, it was only an honest mistake.
But the worst part was, Kanyon wasn’t ever mean to me. She was still as sweet as could be. So, no matter what the circumstances were, I could never get mad at her; my heart wouldn’t allow it. I still even wore the Seashell Bracelet she made for me.
The only problem was, she didn’t know how unfair life had become for me. She was too innocent to realize.
I finished my tea, then went into the living room to sleep on the couch.
I woke up to a jostle. I opened my eyes to see Kanyon shaking me, her Royal hat wobbling on her head, about to fall off from her effort. “Hey, it’s already 8:00,” she told me. “Could you fix me some breakfast?”
I grumbled as I got up and headed toward the kitchen. I made a fast Cheese Omelette. In the few minutes it took, Mom had come downstairs and was sitting at the Rainbow Table also, waiting for breakfast. I went into the dining room with three omelettes.
“Ohh, I was thinking of Strawberry Nova Waffles... But omelettes will be fine,” Kanyon said in a slightly let down voice.
“Allia, make some Strawberry Nova Waffles,” Mom commanded.
I obediently went back to make the stinkin’ waffles. I can’t deal with this anymore, I thought as I prepared the second one, tears brimming my eyes. I wiped them away, and once again put on a tough face, bringing in the waffles. I set a plate in front of Mom and Kanyon.
“Wait, there are only two plates,” Kanyon pointed out.
“Yeah, I’m not hungry... I think I’m going to go for a walk on the beach.”
There was no response, so I headed out the door. As soon as the door shut, I sprinted towards the beach, already knowing where I was headed. Once I was on the beach, I started to run even faster, sand spewing out from behind my paws.
I finally skidded to halt at the entrance of the Harbour. “A ticket on the next ferry, please,” I said, gasping for breath.
The Yellow Kougra looked at the time schedule. “There’s a ferry leaving right now for Krawk Island, but you won’t make it if you have luggage that needs to be put in the luggage compartment.”
“No luggage, I’ll take it,” I said in between gasps of air.
“Okay, that’ll be 5,000 neopoints.”
I handed over the emergency 5,000 that I always had on me, grabbed the ticket she gave me, then ran on board the ship. As the ferry left, I thought over what was happening. Well, Krawk Island isn’t very far, but it’ll do. I’m just glad the ship was leaving right here and now.
I sighed and went to the front of the boat, and let the wind ruffle my hair. Freedom, at last! It felt so exuberating!
And then my hair caught onto and tangled in my bracelet. My thoughts went into a whirlwind of chaos. What will they do when they realize I’m gone? Will they even realize I’m gone? Did I just really abandon my family? Family! What family? They just treated you as a maid! The only thing you abandoned was your suffering!
My mind battled back and forth. All the negative comments and realizations were probably true for my mother, but what about Kanyon? She had never really done anything wrong....Yet still, here I was, leaving her.
But... But I just couldn’t live like that! Memories flooded back to me, of horrible times. When I started being treated as a maid, and nothing else. Making every meal for them, only whatever they wanted, no consideration of me. When Mom broke her deal and went ahead and got Felicia for Kanyon. When after the first night of crying, she told me Felicia would have to sleep in my room. When Mom went on vacation with Kanyon, leaving me behind with an empty fridge and no neopoints, not even checking me into the Neolodge. When I brought home an A, and wasn’t congratulated. When I brought home an F, and wasn’t scolded. When I accidentally burnt the Tiered Neopets 8th Birthday Cake I made for Kanyon’s 8th birthday and was yelled at for ten minutes and grounded for a whole month.
And then I thought of all the good times. When Kanyon was painted Royal, and was gleefully jumping in her new dress. When there was a summer thunderstorm, and Kanyon came crying to me, squeezing her Usul Princess Plushie to death, and crawled into bed with me. How her whole face lit up when I simply got her a Chocolate Moehog Coin. When she gave me a homemade valentine. The first day I met her, when she hugged me and told me she loved me....
I knew all the negatives were pretty much at Mom’s fault, that Kanyon had never done anything. But I faced the truth; I wouldn’t be happy, even with Kanyon. I couldn’t go back now, when I had come so far. If I returned, I would never be able to leave again. I wiped away the tears rolling down my face as the ferry docked at Krawk Island.
I wondered what I would do now that I was here, with no neopoints, but not for long. On a small bulletin board, there was an ad. I fit the requirements: level 20 or above, sixteen or older, brave, not afraid of thunderstorms or the ocean, wanting an adventure. I memorized the address it said to go to, and headed off.
I knocked on the door of a small little shack. A Pirate Krawk opened the door, scowling at me. “Are you Captain Nikon?” I asked, not letting his scary, gruff face get to me.
“Aye. What ye want?” he growled.
“I’m here to apply for your opening for a pirate.”
He looked me up and down. I stood as I had when I had come here: straight and tall.
“Ye fit the requirements?”
“Ye start tomorrow, 7:00. Be at the harbour, ready to work.” He then slammed the door in my face.
“Ahhh, here’s the rookie,” a Tyrannian Uni said as I walked on board. “I’m Solon, first mate.”
“I’m Allia,” I replied, sticking my paw out to shake his.
“You’re a pirate now; ya don’t need ta be doin’ stuff like that,” he told me, leaving me hanging as he turned and walked towards the mast. “We’re goin’ ta Mystery Island today ta drop off some items for the Tombola guy. Should be a fine day for sailin’. No troubles on the sea. Great day ta be learnin’ how to be a pirate.”
I gulped as I learned our destination. But these guys were pirates; they wouldn’t hand me off to my mother if she came demanding me back! ....I hoped. Oh well, it’s not like she’ll be looking for me.
Solon guided me through the day, teaching me how to man the sails and to direct the ship, and other pirate kinds of stuff. He showed me where my room was, below deck, and informed me I would be bunking with Shamarra, a Pirate Kougra, and the only other girl on the ship.
My heart pounded as we docked. But we delivered the stock items with no problems, and headed out.
As we pulled out of the harbour, I fiddled with my bracelet. My mind told me to throw it off the ship and into the sea; that it would signify what I was leaving behind, and what I was starting. But my heart wouldn’t let me do it. I took off the bracelet, the first time ever since Kanyon had given it to me, and went below deck to put it in my room.
Now, anyone who is reading this is probably staring at the Neopian Times in front of you, thinking to yourself, Wait! That’s not supposed to happen! Your mom is supposed to somehow find you and apologize for all the pain she put you through! She’s supposed to say that she loves you, and always has! Kanyon should have forced her to get you back, at the very least!
Well, I’ve been at sea for already 11 months. I haven’t heard a single word from them; not even a neomail. Sorry to break it to you, but sometimes the world isn’t that perfect.