Just Another Day
“I’m right here. I’ll catch you.”
“This is stupid. I’m not going to do it,” he said, fidgeting with his jacket’s zipper.
She sighed. Her royal blue wings beat double-time to maintain her level, just slightly below the lowest clouds of Faerieland. She watched the brown Kyrii expectantly.
“Really, Eltar, if you’re going to be a baby about it, I’ll find something else to do.”
Eltar’s uncertainty transformed into irritation toward his Eyrie friend. “Flora, stop. Don’t be like this. I came down here, didn’t I?”
“Yeah, but coming down here isn’t the same as actually jumping. C’mon. Just do it.”
“Flora! Just... stop, okay? I don’t want to jump.”
“It’s not a big deal! I’m right here, I’ll catch you. Look.” She held her arms out wide.
“Flora, please. Just come back up here. I don’t want to do this.”
“Just jump already!”
“It’ll be fun!”
“I’m not going to do it!”
His toes curled around the edge of the wispy surface slowly.
“On the count of three. One...”
The muscles in his legs tightened. He balled his paws into fists.
He closed his eyes firmly, scrunching his forehead in concentration.
There were a lot of things she could be doing at the moment. Chores and errands that needed to be taken care of. Work that she had fallen behind on.
But Miles had requested her attention, and of course she couldn’t say no to her son. Together they sat, cross-legged on the cool tile floor of their home, the Altador sun streaming in the windows.
It’s nearly time for dinner and there’s nothing prepared.
“It’s your turn, Mom,” the rainbow Gelert said. “You need to roll a twelve to defeat Zombom, remember.”
So she took the dice in her red Pteri wing and gave them a good shake before tossing them onto the board – a seven. “Aw, too bad.”
The garden needs tending to.
“My turn,” Miles chirped. He snatched the dice and blew on them with a mischievous grin.
The dice fell with a clatter. Miles slid his pawn seven spaces forward.
I should really deal with the broken faucet, too.
Miles presented her with the dice again. She dropped them onto the board unceremoniously.
“A twelve,” Miles said with surprise. “You did it!” He reached across the board and shifted the pawn for her, knocking over the menacing Elephante figurine enthusiastically.
The Gelert glanced up at his mother, eyes shining. “Thanks for playing with me, Mom.”
She looked at him carefully. He hid nothing – no list of tasks running through his head, no exasperation at being asked to play now, of all times. Just pleasure at spending a rare moment with his too-busy mother.
“Want to play again?” she said with a smile.
His eyes lit up.
“Maybe one more.”
The yellow Chia tossed another croissant on the burgeoning pile of pastries and returned his attention to the shadow Skeith on the other side of the display case. Firth carefully eyed the remaining baked goods.
That’s probably enough, Firth, a small voice told him.
“What am I at?” Firth asked.
“Twelve, sir,” the Chia replied. “Add one more and you’ll get a baker’s dozen.”
You really shouldn’t.
“Oh, go on,” he said. The shopkeeper nodded and grabbed another sticky bun from its basket.
“Will that be all today?”
“Yes, I suppose so. Well—how much are those doughnuts?”
“A hundred-seventy Neopoints each, or you can get five for six hundred.”
Firth frowned slightly. They looked quite appetizing.
You know what the right choice is, Firth.
“Alright, I’ll take five.”
No. Absolutely not.
“No, I suppose not.”
Firth squeezed into a too-small booth at the far end of the bakery with his purchases. He ignored the indiscreet stares he was inevitably receiving and took a croissant from the top of the pile.
Firth, this is getting a little out of hand.
He carefully unearthed a cookie.
This is a bad habit!
A slice of carrot cake.
You’re going to kill yourself!
The pastries were far too good for him to care.
The day had come.
“You’ll write as soon as you get there?” she asked.
She folded her arms. “Do you promise? I remember that time you went to camp.”
He had “forgotten” his stationery at home, he claimed.
“I’ll write, I promise. The skies will be filled with delivery Weewoos.”
“You better, Lor, or I’ll march down to Tyrannia myself and find you,” the island Ogrin said.
He smiled half-heartedly, itching to get on the road. “I bet you would.”
“I mean it! We’ve been friends too long for you to pretend to lose your stationary.”
Caught. But he had always suspected. He motioned to his pack. “It’s there, on the top. It’ll be the first thing I pull out.”
She nodded. “I believe you. But pulling it out and using it are two very different things.”
Always two steps ahead, she was. At first he relished the challenges she presented, the competition for superiority. At first.
“Well... I’d best be off,” he said finally, avoiding eye contact. “It’s a long walk.”
She watched the striped Mynci. “Is something wrong, Lor?”
Yes. “No,” he said. “I’m just anxious to get started. I don’t want to get caught in a blizzard on the way down the mountain.”
“Oh,” she replied, eyes falling to the ground. “Well, I won’t keep you then.”
“Goodbye, Rollie,” he mustered.
“Bye, now. Don’t be a stranger.”
“I’ll write you once I’m settled,” he promised.
Both knew he wouldn’t.
“Today will be a good day,” she stated firmly at the front door. “I will enjoy today.”
She took a deep breath and turned the handle. The door swung open; a cool breeze forced its way into the small hut. The starry Shoyru shuddered, and nearly swung the door shut once more.
“No,” she said sharply. “I must.”
Closing her eyes against the wind, she stepped out of the hut and into the jungle. After a few moments, the gusts died down, and she opened her eyes. It was actually quite pleasant. The myriad of birdcalls warmed her heart considerably. She had forgotten how lovely they sounded in summer.
Cautiously she made her way into the village, willing every step with the mantra, “I will enjoy today.”
A checkered Kougra smiled at her as he passed by, carrying an armful of fruits. She smiled lightly in return, surprised at his friendliness.
“Step right up,” a voice called. “Tombola, free to play!”
She had seen the man many times, but had never worked up the nerve to speak to him.
I will enjoy today.
Before she could talk herself out of it, she stepped forward.
“Excellent,” the man exclaimed, spinning the tombola box hastily. “Reach your hand in there and pull out a number.”
She slowly dipped her paw into the machine and emerged with a ticket.
“Forty-two,” she said.
He clapped. “Winner!” he said happily. “Congratulations, my dear.”
A smile crept across her face. I will enjoy today.
Hopes were high.
Someone would come by today, he knew. Until then, he busied himself writing, or reading a novel. When they arrived, he would put down whatever he was doing and accompany them to whatever they had planned for the day.
This had been a long one. Usually he need only wait a few days for some contact, but it had been nearly two weeks since someone had stopped by.
“I’m due for a visit,” he said to the silence with a nod.
It occurred to the brown Lenny that if he wanted to meet with a friend, he should contact them instead of waiting for them to find him first. But he pushed this thought out of his head quickly, before anyone noticed. He would just wait for them to call on him, to seek out his company.
That way he’d know. He’d know he was truly wanted.
He worked his way through the current novel. Page by page, minute by minute, the day slipped past him. Before he knew it, the sun was slipping past him, beyond the mountains surrounding Shenkuu.
In the silence the Lenny rose from his chair and headed to bed.
It had been a slow day.
The emerald Yurble untied his apron and returned it to the hook in the back room of the store. With a yawn he put his cap on and emerged into the quickly-darkening desert.
There had only been two customers today, and neither broke the till with their purchases. If he’d known it would be this slow in the Lost Desert, he wouldn’t have agreed to move here. His days now consisted of staring at the blowing sand beyond the shop windows; so mind-numbing he caught himself drooling more than once.
In Meridell there was never a slow moment. How could he have ever thought that this change would be worth it? His heart ached for how it used to be, for his former life. The sand whipped through his fur, stinging his eyes. He pulled his coat tighter, hunching over as far as possible.
Today was a slow day, just like yesterday. And, just as tomorrow would be, he predicted. After all, what would happen tomorrow?
It was just another day in Neopia.