The Brightest Star in the Sky
I can vividly recall that night sky. It was the moment when I realized for the first time that Mama wasn’t ever coming back. I remember myself looking at the brightest star in that sky and feel her watching over me, comforting me. Tonight feels different than other nights; tonight feels just like that evening because I can feel her presence in the air, I can smell her scent in the warm breeze and I can hear her whisper in the dancing trees.
Mama was the prettiest Yellow Xweetok you have ever seen. But it wasn't just prettiness – it was far more than that. There was just something unreal and eerie about her. Her face, somewhat luminous, had a brown tone to it. The eyes were a piercingly sharp shade of yellow. Her black forehead markings were arched over the curve of her head and her lips had the sweetest curl to them. Her body was adorned by her soft and fluffy, yellow-colored ruff and wavy mane, reaching down to the back of her tail. Whenever her large eyes met those of another they held within them an eerily knowing look as though she could see right into their head and knew exactly what they were thinking. She had the most marvelous smile and the kindest heart, always ready to give a helping hand and eager to please. She was easy to befriend and we were always surrounded by other neopets. We would chase each other and jump around trees and she would never complain whenever she was tired. She seemed to be happier when I was smiling. In fact, she always had a way of making me laugh when I would start to cry, and was always there to help me up when I would fail. She was the perfect example and I know for a fact that I would not be the neopet I am today if it weren’t for her. She used to say I always strived to reach the impossible and fly where my dreams took me. “My little Scarabug,” she used to call me. What I wouldn’t give to hear her say those three words again and listen to her melodious laugh once more! Tonight more so than ever before.
Tomorrow is the big game – the Altador Cup finals. I am so nervous that I can’t sleep, which is quite surprising considering the extensive training the team and I have been put through. I thought coming outside for some fresh night air might eventually tire me out, but it doesn’t seem to be working so far. In fact, I haven’t had this much energy in a long time. It was probably the day Mama gave me my first rubber yooyuball. I was only a couple of days old then, but I remember that day like it was yesterday. Mama had organized a big party to celebrate my first Xweetok Day with my countless friends. She was a great planner and had everything organized to the very last detail. She had even managed to convince the M*YNCI band to play music at the party. Everything was perfect, including the cake, which was large and glossy, with one blue candle burning brightly in the center. Everyone was crowded around the table when Mama brought it in and placed it in front of me. The M*YNCI band had started to play one of their songs and the rest of my friends and I all joined in, accompanied by a pattering of applause. After blowing the candle and eating the tasty cake, everyone took turns at giving me presents but Mama, of course, left hers for last. And when I finally opened her gift, I could not contain my happiness. I immediately started to run around with it and got all of my friends to join in. We played for hours until my friends could not catch up to me any longer and Mama had to drag me back into our neohome and force me to go to sleep. Things were never the same after that. From then on it was nothing but yooyuball. Mama supported me at all times, though, and she was the one who got me to join the practice team. She always said that she believed I could make it into the Altador Cup team and was always the first to encourage me to follow my dream. I wonder if she knows that she was right and that I made it, just like she said I would.
“Hey buddy, no luck sleeping tonight?”
It’s Al, my best friend and team mate, curiously still awake like I am. I am always intimidated by his size and stiff mane as I always feel so small next to my Ogrin friend. We have been friends since we were little and he knew my mama too. I don’t think I have ever lost sight of him since the first day I met him and his siblings at the Festival of Neggs. He used to be less distinguished in comparison to his siblings because he was always of a gentler character and would try to exude a little humor from time to time, qualities he still possesses to this day. We grew up together and I watched him become the strong, intelligent neopet he is today. He is one of the most loyal neopets I have ever encountered and is also one of the key players in our yooyuball team.
“Thinking about tomorrow, I guess,” I say back to him.
“Yeah, pretty nerve-wrecking isn’t it?”
I nod my head in reply and ask, “So, why are you still awake at this hour?”
“My Antwerph woke me up, and when I noticed you weren’t in bed, I thought I’d come find out what you’re up to,” he says. Al was always curious by nature.
We sit there for a few moments, not saying anything to each other, while I continue to look up at that bright star in the sky, lost in my own thoughts. I sometimes still find it hard to believe that I managed to get here. I could never have done it alone of course, not without my team, but occasionally I find I need to pinch myself to remember that this is not a dream and that I finally did it. Al seems pretty relaxed, but that’s Al; nothing ever seems to faze him. I wish I knew how to be like that sometimes.
“I am sure she’s proud of you, wherever she is.”
I look at him in surprise but try to force a smile. Am I that easy to read? Ever since that terrible day, I’ve always wondered where Mama really is and what had happened to her. And although I eventually had to come to terms with the fact that I will probably never find out, I know that there is a part of me that will never be completely satisfied with that resolution. But that is not what tonight is supposed to be about. Tonight is about remembering the happy times I spent with Mama while they lasted. It is about believing in myself the way she used to blindly do. It is about winning this year’s Altador Cup. And it is about winning it for her!