Jimmy's Vacation: Part Two
Jimmy looked around in disgust at the shabby insides of the hut as Uncle Fredrick swung open the front door for him. The dusty, wooden floor had crude knots and bumps in it, and the old, decorative wallpaper was peeling off in curly strands which were hanging from the wall. Directly in front of the main hall, Jimmy spotted a weathered table with four crudely-built chairs surrounding it.
“It’s not much,” Uncle Fredrick said, noting Jimmy’s face. “But it’s livable.”
“Tidey, show Jimmy your room,” Auntie Grace told Tidey kindly. Tidey quickly darted out from behind her and up the creaky, thin stairwell. Jimmy followed, panting.
Tidey turned a corner to his right and pushed open the door to his room. Jimmy looked around the tiny room as he entered. Two shabby cots sat parallel to each other from opposite ends of the room, while a neatly arranged bookshelf lined the wall between the two beds. The opposite wall held a desk and a chair, both seemingly ancient, and a small closet door stood next to the desk. The rest of the room was empty besides a tattered, circular floor rug that lay between the two cots and a dusty, old curtain that covered up a square window.
“This is my room.” Tidey spoke shyly for the first time.
“Don’t you have any bigger beds?” Jimmy asked, looking at the cots with disgust.
“Well, Mommy and Daddy can’t affor...” Tidey shut his mouth quickly as if he said too much. “You sleep there,” he added quickly, pointing at the cot to the right.
“But I can’t sleep there!” Jimmy exclaimed. “I deserve better!” Tidey’s eyes darted around nervously; he was apparently unsure of what to say.
“Dinner’s ready!” Auntie Grace’s pleasant voice called, coming to Tidey’s rescue.
Tidey quickly slipped out of the room and pattered down the stairs, leaving Jimmy to stare with shock at where he had to live for the next week. Eventually, Jimmy turned around and plodded down the stairs dejectedly.
When he arrived at the dining room, he found Uncle Fredrick, Auntie Grace and Tidey all sitting at the table, waiting patiently. Jimmy plopped onto the remaining chair between Uncle Fredrick and Tidey as he eyed the dinner that lay before him.
Slices of chicken lay slanted on top of each other in a square, ceramic dish. Various vegetables were mixed in with the chicken. Sliced bananas were arranged neatly on a circular platter. A large pitcher of orange juice sat beside the bananas.
“Well, dig in!” Uncle Fredrick told Jimmy jovially. “Guests first!”
Jimmy looked miserably at the food (which was actually quite delicious-looking) as he reached forward and grabbed a chicken slice with his hands, avoiding the vegetables. Tidey glanced at his mother uneasily.
“Jimmy,” Auntie Grace started politely. “Use this.” She pointed to his fork which lay untouched by his plate.
Jimmy grumbled but picked up his fork. He speared the chicken with his utensil and plopped it on his plate, looking at it questionably. The other three immediately took turns getting their shares of chicken and banana slices.
“Orange juice?” Auntie Grace asked Jimmy kindly.
Jimmy grunted but nodded as Auntie Grace poured the juice into his glass.
“So,” Uncle Fredrick said after swallowing a piece of chicken. “How is it in, umm... where is that where you’re living again?” He paused. “Ah, right. Meridell. So how is it in Meridell?”
“It’s okay...” Jimmy answered nonchalantly with his mouth full.
“Jimmy, don’t talk while chewing,” Auntie Grace scolded him, but kindly. “And please chew with your mouth closed.”
Jimmy let out an exasperated sigh, but did as she said.
For the next ten minutes, the sound of utensils clinking and scraping emphasized the silence. Jimmy only nibbled a tiny bit of his chicken slice. For the rest of the meal, he just poked it around with his fork. He barely even sipped his orange juice (since he thought it was too sour).
After everyone was apparently done, Auntie Grace cleared the plates and opened the door to the plain, white fridge they had. She bent down, picked something off of the shelves, straightened up, and turned around. In her hands was a small but delicious-looking birthday cake.
“Happy Birthday, Jimmy!” Uncle Fredrick and Auntie Grace exclaimed, grinning widely (Tidey chimed in, but was barely heard).
Jimmy looked at the cake skeptically but quickly put on a smile. After all, they did do this for him.
Uncle Fredrick quickly sliced the chocolate-frosted, vanilla cake and served everyone a sufficiently-sized slice before getting one for himself and settling down in his chair. Jimmy ate quietly, quite unsure of what to do. The cake, despite looking somewhat lackluster, was as scrumptious as Jimmy could have hoped. He even asked for a second slice, something he would almost never do with “peasant food.”
Finally, Tidey lay down his fork and knife neatly on his plate. “May I be excused?” he asked shyly. Auntie Grace nodded. Jimmy shifted in his chair as if to get out, but was met with a wide-eyed look from Tidey. Jimmy hesitated.
“May I be excused?” he finally asked. Auntie Grace nodded in delight and winked at Tidey.
Jimmy quickly dropped out of his chair and dashed after Tidey. He stopped, thinking maybe he should thank them for the cake, but quickly pushed aside the thought since he was feeling quite shy at the moment. Jimmy quickly followed Tidey as he quickly ran up the stairs and into his bedroom. He turned the corner to find Tidey looking through his closet.
“Do you have pajamas?” Tidey asked Jimmy as he emerged with a pajama shirt and pants which looked quite tatty.
Jimmy thought. “They’re in my luggage,” he said. “Do you have personal assistants to take them up here?”
“Umm... what?” Tidey seemed a bit confused.
“You don’t have personal assistants?” Jimmy asked, as shocked as he would be if his parents had told him that they had gone bankrupt.
“I don’t know what you mean...” Tidey trailed off slowly. “But I can help you bring them up here!” He quickly darted down the stairs again, full of energy. Jimmy hurried after him as fast as his little legs would carry him. He stopped abruptly behind Tidey who was standing dead-still, staring at the suitcases.
“You have so many!” Tidey exclaimed, appearing faint. Jimmy, who didn’t seem impressed at all, walked up to one of the suitcases which was neatly labeled: “Plushies 1 of 3.”
“I’ll take this one up first,” he told Tidey. He grabbed it by the handle and pulled hard, but it just wouldn’t budge.
Tidey, who had grabbed the suitcase nearest to him, was having no luck either. “Do we have to take up all of these?” he moaned.
But Jimmy wasn’t listening. He was sprawled on the floor, panting from the effort of moving his suitcase half a foot.
“Jimmy, help me with this one!” Tidey exclaimed. He was trying to haul a suitcase that was labeled: “Clothes.” “You only really need this one, right?”
Jimmy, with much difficulty, managed to stand up and stumble over to Tidey. He grabbed the handle, and together, they pulled the suitcase forward. A loud scratching sound was heard as it scraped roughly against the floor, making Jimmy and Tidey cringe.
Uncle Fredrick looked up from reading the Neopian Times in the kitchen (which he had just started). “Need help, you two?” he offered.
“No... we got it,” Tidey called back, his voice strained. “Don’t worry.”
Uncle Fredrick looked doubtful, but succumbed. “Okay...”
Up the stairs they dragged the suitcase, cringing at each loud thump the suitcase made as it hit each step.
“Are you sure you have it?” Uncle Fredrick called again, flinching at the cacophonous rhythm of thumps.
After what seemed like forever, Jimmy and Tidey dragged the suitcase into the room and let it fall with a big thud on the tattered rug. They both fell on their beds, gasping for air.
Finally, they both got up. Tidey quickly dashed out of the room to change into his pajamas while Jimmy popped open his bulging suitcase and dug through it messily, looking for his. After he found them, he briefly changed and hopped onto his bed.
Tidey walked into his room and his mouth fell open.
“Don’t you like it?” Jimmy asked, sitting up and showing Tidey his silky, brand new, sky-blue pajamas.
But Tidey wasn’t interested in the least. “Look what you did! It’s a mess!” he cried.
“Oh.” Jimmy looked down at the floor where he had thrown all his clothes carelessly. “It’s okay,” he assured Tidey. “Someone will clean it up eventually.”
“No, it isn’t okay!” Tidey exclaimed, slightly panicked. “My mommy and daddy won’t be happy!” He immediately got to his knees and started picking up and folding the clothes.
Jimmy watched as Tidey tirelessly scrambled over to each piece of clothing, folding and piling them expertly. Perhaps he should help? Jimmy hesitated, obviously bothered by his conscience, before finally dropping off his bed and helping. Tidey, pleased by this, cheerily showed Jimmy how to smooth the wrinkles and fold them up neatly.
It was a good ten minutes before the two finally hopped back into their beds, all the clothes folded. Jimmy felt a surge of satisfaction, one he could never get for beating his daddy in a pie-eating contest or getting all the presents in the world. For some odd reason, Jimmy had a slight feeling it was because he had actually helped someone and accomplished something. It was a good feeling.
“Good night!” came Tidey’s timid voice from the other cot.
“Night,” Jimmy replied, rolling onto his side. Maybe staying with Tidey and his parents wouldn’t be that awful after all. Maybe.
Jimmy eyes slowly flickered closed as he drifted off into a deep sleep.
To be continued...