The Greatest Gift of All
The greatest gift all is from the heart.
Sage the Faerie Gelert sat quietly at her study desk, a normal place for her to be on such a lovely sunny day. She was practicing her studies for Neoschool, taking in everything her green eyes scanned in the book. "Hmmm... let's see..." she mumbled to herself. "What's the name of the castle King Hagan lives in? Oh, right, the Brightvale Castle." She giggled to herself. Everyone knew that! Why, it was as simple as-
Sage's ears perked up in annoyance as a vexing voice came screeching into her head and interrupting her peaceful thoughts. "Oh, now what?" she grumbled.
"Sage! Gwen is stealing my stuff! She stole my Jeran play set!" Ian's voice cried.
"Did not, Ian!" Sage heard her sister Gwen yell back. "You stole my rainbow bracelet!"
Sage clapped her paws over her head in frustration. "Gwendolyn Xweetok!" she screamed. "You better give your brother back his toy RIGHT NOW!"
"But Sagey!" Gwendolyn yelled. "He stole my-"
"SAGEY! Ian is bouncing on my bed!" Micky yelled. "He won't leave me alone!" Sage heard Micky's angry footsteps charging into the living room.
"Sage! Micky is trying to hurt me!" Little Ian screamed. The Zafara ran for his life away from his sister. That was how Sage pictured in her mind because, well, that's the way it always happened.
Sage groaned. Siblings! Sage hated being the oldest- fourteen. Gwendolyn was the second oldest and eleven. Micky was nine and Ian was only six. She hated dealing with all her siblings arguing and fights. Why couldn't she have a normal family, one with cute little babies that gave you their cookies and sweet little brothers that acted like your servants and did whatever you asked? She stamped into the living room, finding Micky chasing Ian and Ian chasing Gwen.
"Arghhhhhh!" Gwen screamed. "Leave me alone, Ian!"
"Not until you give me my Jeran play set and Micky stops chasing me!" Ian cried. Micky had him cornered in and he ran past her and smashed straight into Sage.
"Ow!" he cried. Then he looked up. "Sagey! Please tell Gwen-"
"Tell Gwen nothing!" Gwendolyn cried defensively as she jumped out from behind the couch. The blue Xweetok pointed a finger at Micky. "Sage, you should tell Micky to stop eating all my rainbow cupcakes and tell Ian too-"
"No way, Gwen!" Micky shouted. The Aisha's violet eyes were blazing. "You should stop invading my space!"
"I did nothing!"
"Yes, you did!"
"Um, no, I didn't!"
"Yes, you did, Micky!"
"Gwen! GIVE IT BACK!"
"Never, Ian! NEVER!"
"You so did steal my blue eyeshadow, Gwen! Admit it!"
"Did not, Micky!"
"Gwen, give Micky her stuff and give me mine!"
"Sage!" the three voices yelled in unison.
Sage was so tired of all this nonsense. She screamed angrily and ran to her room. She hated them! She hated siblings!
Micky, Ian, and Gwendolyn stood glancing at each other shamefully. How awful they had acted! They would surely have to make it up for their big sister, Sagey. Somehow.
"Ian?" Gwendolyn rapped silently on her little brother's door.
The small apartment in Neopia Central was silent and still, only the creaking sound of the door could be heard as Ian pulled it open. "Yeah, Gwen?"
"Oh, Ian, we acted so bad for Sagey... maybe we ought to do something nice for her, you know?"
Ian nodded. "Yeah, I'm sorry, Gwen. And sorry to Micky too."
"We're sorry also, and Micky thinks doing something for Sage is a great idea."
They heard tiptoeing down the hall and the door creaked open again. "Hello?"
They could hardly see Micky, for she was a shadow Aisha. But they saw violet eyes and a shiny collar with the M glistening in the moonlight. "Hey, guys."
Micky walked in and sat on Ian's little bed. "What should we do for Sage?"
All three siblings thought a bit.
"She likes Neoschool," Ian exclaimed. The skunk Zafara remembered how many long hours Sage could spend glued to the pages of her Neoschool book.
"Yeah, and she loves learning," Micky pondered.
Sage did love her studies. She also liked muffins and music boxes and that old.....
Suddenly Gwen had an idea. "Hey, remember that old book of poetry Sage has?"
Micky and Ian nodded with wide, excited eyes, liking where this was going.
Gwendolyn's blue eyes were shining. "Well, what if we bought her a new one? You know, one with a shiny cover and glossy new print?"
Ian and Micky were awed at the idea. A new poetry book for Sage?! Perfect!
"Got the book?" Gwen asked. They had just walked out the door into the chilly, raining outside world of Neopia Central.
Huge raindrops pounced on Ian's nose and he shriveled farther into his raincoat. "Yup."
They were heading for the Book Shop, hoping they had another copy of Sage's beloved poetry book. Even on such a stormy, dreary, rainy day as this, Sage's poetry book could not wait.
"Micky, did you tell Sage where we were going?" Gwen asked.
"Nope," Micky replied. "I told her we were going to the park. She was so relieved we were leaving, she bought it."
"Even in this rain?" Little Ian sloshed in puddles with his new blue boots. "She must have been really glad!"
"Aw, well." Gwen shrugged. "At least we're out of her fur."
When they came to the Book Shop, the siblings piled in and went up to the shopkeeper Nimmo who sat busily on a pile of books, reading. He looked up at the sound of the door opening. "Why, hello there, children." His gray eyes were cheery and he wore a smile of friendliness. "What brings you here on this wonderfully gloomy day?"
Ian placed the poetry book on the counter. "Do you have this book? A newer copy? For our Sagey?"
Gwendolyn quickly explained their story and the Nimmo listened in fascination. "Well, now, that's a mighty nice thing you're doing for your sister. I'll go see. You wait here now."
The three sibling waited as the Nimmo left and then returned with a poetry book. "It's the last one we've got," he said as he handed it to Micky.
"Oh, thank you!" Micky cried delightfully. She ran her fingers over the cover. It was smooth and delightfully cheerful looking, much better then Sage's old dusty-covered one. How pleased Sage would be!
"How much is it?" Gwen asked.
"One thousand five hundred eighty nine neopoints," the Nimmo said.
"One thousand five hundred eighty nine!" Gwen cried in disbelief. She looked in dismay at the the one hundred neopoints clutched in her paw. "But we don't have that much!"
"Oh, no!" Micky cried, a sob catching in her throat. "How will we ever buy it with only one hundred neopoints?"
"Poor Sagey! She won't get a new poetry book with glossy letters and crisp, new pages like Gwen promised!" Ian whimpered. His bottom lip was trembling.
The shopkeeper Nimmo thought a moment, looking at disappointed, desperate looks on the faces of Gwendolyn and her younger siblings. "Well, now, children, seeing how interested you are getting this book for your Sage, I can't accept one hundred neopoints."
The faces on Gwen, Ian, and Micky dropped even further.
But the perky shopkeeper's voice lit up, and so did the faces on the disappointed children. "But how about we do a trade?" The Nimmo's old eyes sparkled and snapped. "I'll give you this new poetry book for the old one. Now how does that sound?"
"Oh, that sounds absolutely wonderful!" Micky cried in admiration. What a nice Nimmo he was!
"Yay! A new book for Sagey!" Ian the young skunk Zafara cheered. "Thank you, Mr. Nimmo!"
The old Nimmo chuckled. "Why, you're welcome, young man."
Gwen handed the old shopkeeper the old book in exchange of the new, and she felt her heart would burst with happiness. The cover was shining and the pages were crisp and and the print was sharp and new! It was so much better than Sage's old one; ripped and old with yellowish pages with a worn cover and no longer glossy print.
"Oh, Mr. Nimmo! We could never thank you enough!" Gwen cried, absolutely delighted with all her heart.
"Now children, there's no need to thank me. This old poetry book here is like an antique. Why, that copy you're holding, that's the last copy of that book we'll ever get. You should feel lucky, children, for many folks have come and asked for that book over the years. But you know, I didn't have the heart to give it away! All the wonderful and magical poems in there... well... it's a remarkable book, and your sister Sage will love it for sure."
The three children thanked Mr. Nimmo one last time before they headed out into the pouring rain and mud.
"Wow, that old Nimmo was the nicest old person I've ever met!" Ian exclaimed, holding the poetry proudly as he sloshed through the mud.
"Ian! How rude of you!" Gwen admonished.
"Well, it's true," Micky said. She smiled. "He saved that poetry book just for us! And he didn't even know us!" Micky's eyes grew wide. "How magical."
Suddenly a young red Chia on a Blue Skateboard came whizzing past and splattered the three siblings with mud.
"Sorry!" he called, dashing away in the rain.
"How rude," Micky snorted, her violet eyes flashing.
"Oh, no!" Gwen's eyes flashed to the book, which was tucked safely under Ian's coat. She sighed in relief. "Oh, thank goodness!"
"I saved the book!" Ian cried, quite proud of himself. He stepped off the curb and into a oozing puddle of mud. "Yuck!"
"Careful with that book, Ian! It's Sagey's apology present." Micky feared that any step Ian took through the slimy, slick mud would end in a fall... and a very muddy poetry book.
"Aw, don't worry, Micky!" Ian said. "I'm not gonna drop this book. It'll never get muddy! It'll never-"
Another neopet, a JubJub on a Purple Skateboard, zoomed past, coating the children with mud once again.
"Oops! Sorry." He sped faster through the rain to catch up with his friend.
Micky gasped and Gwen felt her heart beating wildly. Ian went to stand up, for he had fallen in account of being surprised of the unexpected skateboarder. In his very muddy paw, there was no poetry book.
"Ian!" Micky cried. She felt tears forming in her eyes. "The book is gone!"
Ian gasped and looked at his paw in horror. "The book!" he squeaked. "Sage's poetry book!" His lip trembled. "I lost it, Gwen! I lost it!"
Gwen was silent. Sage's poetry book- gone! Now Sagey wouldn't have a new poetry book to read from! She wouldn't even have her old one! Gwen sighed in exasperation just as Micky cried, "Look! There it is!"
She pointed to a muddle of mud and book floating on top; a muddy book. The three children padded up to it and Gwen picked it up. It was limp in her paw and soggy with slimy mud. She looked at Micky, who had tears in her eyes, and Ian, who had so many tears streaming from his eyes you couldn't whether it was really rain or tears.
"It's ruined," Gwen whispered. Tears formed in her voice but not in her eyes. Sage's poetry book; ruined. Now Sage wouldn't have a new book! They looked at the book in dismay and sorrow. It was indeed a very muddy book.
Gwen, Ian, and Micky sat quietly on the living room couch in their small apartment in Neopia Central, wondering what to do next.
Gwen stared out the window at the sad, steady rain, quite angry at herself. We should have never traded Sage's old book! her thoughts cried out.
Micky sighed and messed with her blue Aisha plushie. Ian fingered sadly at his Springy Toy.
They still hadn't told Sage. How could they? Sage was already pretty upset with them for constantly fighting and causing commotion. They had even gone back to Mr. Nimmo's to see if there was any to get their old book back. But sadly, it was already bought and being sent to Shenkuu for an old library stationed there.
Just then, Sage walked in, a troubled look in her green eyes. "Hey, have any of you seen my poetry book?"
Gwen's, Ian's, and Micky's heart all skipped a beat. "P-poetry book?" Gwen stammered.
"Yeah," Sage said. "I can't find it. Have any of you seen it?"
The three guilty victims glanced at each other. They were desperate to shake their heads and say no. They were desperate to say they had no idea where it was and let it go. But something stopped them.
"Sagey...what if your poetry book was..." Micky couldn't bring herself to go on. Her voice was small and sorrowful. "Lost..." she whispered. She wanted to cry. That poetry book meant so much to Sage!
Sage had no idea what was coming. "Lost? It's not lost, I had it yesterday. It's around here somewhere, Micky, I'm certain. That poetry book is special, and I've just got to find it."
Ian felt his lip trembling again. It was all his fault! He dropped the book!
"Sage... I think we have to tell you..." Gwen started guiltily.
"Tell me what?" Sage asked, quite concerned now. "What's happened? You guys are so quiet...and it's so unusual. You know, if I didn't know any better, I'd say you guys...."
Gwen finally made the words come tumbling out. "Sage, your poetry book is in Shenkuu!"
There was a choking silence, followed by a very heavy weight of guilt that lay upon their shoulders.
"Shenkuu?" Sage croaked.
Gwen nodded, biting her lip. "We're sorry, Sage! We were going to get you a new one and...."
Gwen explained their whole story, leaving nothing out. Sage just listened, an expressionless look on her face. When all was said, she spoke.
"How could you guys do such a thing?" Sage asked quietly. "That book meant so much to me, I've had it ever since I was a little girl. That book was dear to me and... and you guys ruined it." Tears came to her eyes. "I loved that book..." she whispered.
Gwen, Ian, and Micky were so sorry, they'd do anything to get their sister's beloved book back. But they couldn't. It was gone. They'd never felt so ashamed. "We're sorry, Sagey..."
Sage got up and ran to her room, truly and utterly upset. Gwen, Ian, and Micky just sat there. They weren't worthy of doing anything but thinking about what horrible thing they had done. How could they ever make it up to Sage now?
Sage had been in her room for days. She wouldn't come out. She wouldn't eat. She'd just sit there... dreaming. Dreaming her beloved poetry book would come back. But she knew it never would. Micky, Gwen, and Ian moved about the house in shame and guilt, with occasionally a thought about what to do next.
Micky shuffled in her closet for an old book she could have stuffed in there years ago that Sage might like. But all she usually found were old drawings and pieces of lint. Ian scampered under his bed to see if maybe there were some valuable treasures he could give Sage... but all he found were old toys and fuzzballs. Gwen flipped through her journals, just in case it would give her idea on what she could do for Sage. She scanned the pages, which mostly had entries from when she had gotten into a fight with Micky or Ian. Gwendolyn gasped a little when she realized her and her siblings hadn't fought all week, which was like a new record. She couldn't even of think of a thing she could be angry with them for.
Suddenly as she flipped the pages further, she ran across some poems she had written for English class in Neoschool.
I love my family,
My family of four.
They're all the people,
That I adore.
There's Sage, and Micky,
And little Ian too.
If they weren't my family,
I don't know what I'd do.
Gwendolyn smiled to herself. It was perfect, of course! They'd make Sagey a new poetry book.
"Sagey." Micky knocked hesitantly on Sage's bedroom door. "Sage, please open up."
No one answered. No one came to open the door.
"Sagey, please open up," Ian whimpered. "Please? We're awfully sorry."
"Yeah, Sage, we're really sorry. Truly, awfully sorry. It was wrong of us to take your book without permission. And we promise, Sage, it'll never happen again," Gwen assured.
The door opened, and Sage's sad green eyes flashed angrily. "It won't change anything," she said coldly. "My book is still gone."
Gwen and her younger siblings looked at each other, and Gwen pushed a book in Sage's paw.
The Faerie Gelert looked at it in wonderment. "What's-" she started.
"Just open it," Micky said. "We know you hate us, Sage, but we'd like you to have this...."
They all watched as Sage opened the book, her flashing eyes suddenly melting into a green softness. "Oh, my...." Her eyes filled with tears- happy ones. Happy, proud, and forgiving tears. The book she was holding was filled with drawings and poems from her siblings. She laughed at little Ian's poem-
Sagey is kind,
Sagey is fun.
My Sagey shines,
Just like the sun.
Under it was a picture Ian drew of Sage looking like a sun, with rays coming from her head.
And she smiled at Micky's-
Snorkles are pink,
Spardels are blue.
I'm glad you're my sister,
And I hope you are too.
Micky drew a colorful drawing of her and Sage making ice cream sundaes, their favorite thing to do together.
And Gwen's poem made her melt with a love she had never felt for her siblings before-
Forgiving, kind, and always there.
Day and night and night and day,
She chases all the evil away.
She forgives when we fight,
And loves when we're bad.
She even makes us laugh,
When we are very sad.
She fills the room with jubilant song,
And it makes me want to sing along!
Now, Sage, we know what we did was wrong,
But why not forgive and forget,
And we all get along?
I know anger is not impossible,
And happiness isn't always about.
But Sage, I know you'll be,
Because you're my sister.
I hope you'll never go,
Because I love you so.
It didn't all rhyme, but it didn't matter. This was the greatest gift Sage could have ever received.
"Oh, you guys..." Sage was crying. Her love and happiness swelled inside of her. "This is the greatest gift you could have ever given me." She swept her siblings into a hug. "Thank you."
"But, Sage!" Little Ian piped up. "It's not a new poetry book with a shiny cover and glossy print!"
Sage brushed her paw tips over the paper cover of her new beloved poetry book. "No, Ian, it's not. But it's from the heart. And that is the greatest gift of all."
I appreciate feedback! Please let me know what you think.