Vacation On Mystery Island: Part Two
I sat, miserable, in the room I had designated as mine, for four days. Four, grey days. Cara tried to cheer me up, brushing my feathers, telling me about her volleyball experiences, about the nice neopets she had met on the beach. I didn't really acknowledge her presence; I only wanted to feel sorry for myself.
Finally, Mommy decided this had to stop.
She stormed into my room, where I was doodling flowers on a piece of drawing paper. This was what I had been doing the last four days, drawing grey, wilted flowers. So far I had filled up eighteen pages.
"Come on. I'm getting you outside and there's nothing you can do about it. I can't just watch you mope around up here." She grabbed me by the arm, ignoring my protests. When we got to the front porch, she stopped and spoke to be seriously. Holding my shoulders and looking into my eyes, she said, "I brought you here to have fun. I know you're unhappy about not being with your friends, but you're here now and there's no point in sulking in your room for three weeks. You'll have a lot more fun if you get out there and do something. Then you'll have something to tell Ari and Jane and Alexis-"
"Alexa," I corrected her sullenly.
"-Alexa about when you get back. They'll be wishing they had come. If they find out that you've been sitting around doing nothing the whole time, they won't be very impressed with you, will they?"
When she put it that way, she was right. Didn't I want to come back with tales of wonder and adventure, so I could tell them during the sleepovers that remained in the two weeks I would have before summer was over?
"Fine," I grumbled. Then, trying to make it sound like I was already having fun, I said, "So where to first? What should I visit?"
"Well," Mommy said thoughtfully, "Go to the Tiki Tack, since it's nearby, and the Tombola. Play our daily game, since Cara went the last four days. And be sure to stop by the tropical food market and get us some Owabit fruit; I want to try them in a recipe I found. But other than that, you can go wherever you want; just be back by 6 PM NST in time for dinner."
Wandering around, I found the Tiki Tack. It was a crowded place, full of tourists eager to buy bad deals. I found the Tiki Tack Man a little odd, with the strange mask he wore and the way he never spoke, but I bought three seashell bracelets for my friends. I bought myself a palm fan to hang on my wall, haggled down masterfully from 113 neopoints to almost 50 neopoints.
I went to the Tombola machine, nearby. It freaked me out to see that the Tombola machine seemed to be run by the Tiki Tack Man. At the Tombola, I won rainbow sand. I was a bit disappointed at first, but then I realized that it was better than nothing. A lot of people had gotten nothing.
If Ari had gotten a consolation prize like I had, she would have pitched a fit and threatened to sue the person who ran the Tombola machine...
Stopping by the tropical foods store, I got a couple of Owabit fruits. I saw a glowing Kougra cheerfully sampling a bit of Nurako stem. I tried to shake off the fact that Alexa would never have gotten within ten feet of a food she didn't know.
I visited the island arena, where I was horrified to see a tiny yellow Kacheek facing off against a huge red Grarrl. I shuddered when he scorched the tiny thing to a cinder, but then the little Kacheek's eyes glowed red and he battered the Grarrl. The Grarrl soon slouched out of the arena, and it became clear that the tiny Kacheek was a long time champion. I cheered with the rest of the crowd. I found that I was enjoying myself.
I was tempted to take a tiki tour, but I reminded myself that I had a little over two weeks for that, and Mom would probably take us on one anyway.
When I got back to the beach house, I just in time for dinner. Mommy cut up the Owabit fruit and served it with Beefy Broccoli and freshly squeezed Tigerade. I found myself chattering away about everywhere I had been. Mommy had a smug look on her face, and Cara listened encouragingly.
The next morning, I dressed and ate my breakfast quickly, eager to see the rest of Mystery Island. Mommy was very pleased to see that Mystery Island was working its magic on me too. I explored Techo Mountain and looked at the training school. It did have a Shenkuu inspired look to it, now that I knew.
I circled back around, past the island arena, to the island marketplace. I bought a quick lunch there. Then I headed towards the beach.
At the beach, I stayed far away from the water's edge. But it was very pretty, the waves sparkled and tossed. I wished I had a camera, Ari would love this. So would Janie. I really wished they were here...
"Hi!" A cheery voice interrupted my thinking. It was the glowing Kougra I had seen at the tropical food place the other day. "I saw you buying fruit yesterday!" she exclaimed. I nodded.
"Yeah, my mom wanted Owabit fruit for dinner. Do you live here?" I asked. She seemed like a local, in the way she acted and interacted so easily with us tourists.
It was hard to tell, but under her glowing fur, I think she blushed. "Naw, I've been staying here for a month, so I really know my way around. A lot of people ask me that. I actually live in Meridell. This is my first big trip anywhere, I was so excited when I found out. My owner... Well, he's not very good at earning neopoints, so we don't travel much." She shrugged; this was obviously no biggie to her.
We talked more, and I found myself liking this Kougra more and more. Her name was Sunny, which I thought matched her personality very well. I told her that my owner fostered neopets, which she did, though she hadn't done any fostering within the last month. Sunny seemed to find this fascinating. She asked about how it worked, and I told her that it involved zapping a pound pet until her or she was a nice color, then re-pounding him or her so they were adopted faster. It was a system that was designed to get pets out of the pound quickly. I told her all about Georgie, whose name was actually something like 7584h8hg2, our last foster. He had been zapped into a speckled Eyrie.
We hung out together for the rest of the afternoon, and she told me all about the petpet farm that she ran back home in Meridell. Hearing about the Albat, Herry, that she had, made me wish for a petpet of my own. I bought us ice pops, and was very disappointed to see that my watch said 6:10 PM NST. I hurried back home, worried that Mommy would be angry, but she seemed more than fine with it. She was happy to hear about Sunny, and encouraged me to go back to the beach and find her the next day.
I had momentarily forgotten about my friends back home. They seemed so secondary compared to Sunny, and they weren't half as fun to talk to or hang out with.
The next day, Sunny introduced me to some other friends she had made throughout her vacation, Mark, a blue Blumaroo, Jazza, a faerie Poogle, and Lightmite12, a blue Aisha. I asked why Lightmite12 didn't just ask to be called Lightmite, but Lightmite12 said that she preferred to keep a bit of individuality. I shrugged, but ended up liking her despite the odd name. At neoschool, I would never hang out with someone with a name with numbers in it, but here, without the need to keep my popularity in check, I didn't really think about it.
We played volleyball and four square. Four square was a game I didn't know, but it turned out to be really fun.
Almost two weeks had passed. I was enjoying myself with all of my new friends, and hadn't really been thinking about my other ones when I got a neomail from Ari. I hadn't known that I could receive neomails, since I couldn't send them out. It read:
Hey Gurl! Whatcha doing? We're having fun. Shopping, sleepovers, gossip, of course. Miss U!
A curious feeling spread through me. It was almost like indifference. I found myself not really caring what they were doing. Some friends they were anyway, if they only remembered to write me two weeks and four days after I left.
That afternoon I had walked home with Lightmite12, the only one left in our little party of five. Mark had left abruptly, three days ago; we hadn't even been able to day goodbye. Sunny said that his owner had had to go home for an emergency, and Mark had to come.
The next day, Sunny had to leave, as scheduled. There was much hugging and some sobbing between us remaining girls. We all exchanged slips of paper with our owners' usernames, so we could all contact each other through neomail. She then went to get her things from the place that she was staying, a small suitcase. We met her back at the dock to see her off. There was more hugging, and more sobbing. I promised Sunny that I would come to Meridell sometime and see her petpet farm, and her Albat, Herry. The three of us waved as the boat left.
Jazza left next, without quite so much ceremony. She told us she would miss us quite a lot. I would miss her too, she was a vivacious, lively Poogle.
So Lightmite12 and I had walked to the places we were staying together, passing the tropical foods place. She had turned out to be a very interesting person, she liked to stay different from her siblings by not being painted, her siblings were all painted luxurious colors.
"Come on," I had said. "There must be at least one color you like."
She had shrugged. "I suppose, if there are any colors that have every color. I've never seen one." She didn't seem to want to talk about this, and changed the subject. "So, Tala, you know that there's a faerie convention happening tomorrow. You should definitely go."
I couldn't help but be interested. "I've never heard of a faerie convention. What is it?"
She'd laughed. "It's a place where everyone who is painted faerie or likes faeries goes to hang out together. If you can go, you really should; I'm going and I'm not even painted faerie. It sounds like it's going to be a lot of fun."
So we agreed to go together. She was going to meet me at my house tomorrow and we could dress up and make plans.
"So," I said, "What're we going to do once we get there? What happens in a convention anyway?"
"Well," she said, "I think there's a raffle, and a faerie runway. I don't know what else, but I guess we'll find out when we get there. It will be fun though." After an hour of dressing up, an hour of talking, and another hour of talking (it's amazing how long girls can talk), Lightmite12 looked at the clock.
"Oh! I have to get home. I need to find that dress you suggested me." I walked her to the tropical foods store, looking at the grey sky warily. It hadn't rained since I had got here, it wouldn't rain tonight, would it? I hoped not.
"See ya there!" she called.
"See ya there!" I echoed. A drop of rain splashed on my nose. I shook it off and started running back to the beach house. When I got there, I thought of something weird. Though Lightmite12 and I had basically done the same thing as Janie and I would have done that afternoon, talked about clothes and plans and giggled about things, it had seemed so much more fun.
Whatever. I needed to get into the red dress that I had picked out for the convention. It was on in a flash, with Cara's help. Funnily enough, being away from my school friends had made me like Cara a lot more. It was like my annoyance with her was something they had drilled into me.
It was raining pretty hard now. We had agreed to meet at the entrance to the main part of the training school, which was where the convention was being held, at 7:00 PM NST. It was fifteen minutes to seven, and in this rain, it might take me longer to get there. I grabbed the umbrella by the door.
"Mom, Cara, I'm leaving! I'll be back by nine!" I called.
My mommy greeted me. I jumped; I hadn't heard her coming up behind me. "Have fun with Lightmite12. And you can stay until nine thirty if you want." She smiled kindly. I nodded, then rushed out the door.
Man, it was pouring out here! My poor wings! The umbrella barely did a thing to keep me dry. I looked up to see if it had holes in it or something, but the rain got in my eyes and I looked back down, blinking furiously. All around me, the palm trees were swaying, leaves flying everywhere. I spread my wings as far as I could and wrapped them around me. Walking, almost running, I hurried along the path that I knew from experience would take me to the training school.
It seemed like it was three times farther than it was in the daylight. I was worriedly looking around me to see if I had veered off the path and hadn't been able to see, but I couldn't even tell if the muddy ground beneath my feet was grass or dirt path. I might have walked out into the ocean and I wouldn't have been able to tell. I was in water almost past my knees. Well, no, I wasn't in the ocean, because I could see palm trees all around me.
When I got to the training school, I didn't realize it until I walked into one of the entry posts. The first thing I had noticed wasn't the abundance of warmth and light, but the lack of wetness. The place was already packed. There were tables everywhere with different faerie exhibits, even a faerie paintbrush sitting in a locked case.
I looked down at myself and saw that my red dress could have been green and you wouldn't have known. It was covered in mud. And so were my wings.
"Tala!" Lightmite12 cried. "I thought you were never going to make it!" She looked at me. "You're a mess." I cringed away from her as she tried to get closer, not wanting to get mud on her pretty plaid blue dress, but she grabbed my hand. "Come with me, I know where the restrooms are. We'll clean you up there."
"We?" I asked.
"My sister Maxine is here too. You'll like her, she's really smart." I shrugged, and let her tug me towards the restrooms. Neopets and owners gave me a wide berth. They were all miraculously dry. Why was I the only soaking wet faerie here?
When we got to the restrooms, I found Maxine was a cloud Xweetok. She was quiet but smart and nice. Lightmite12 wiped my dress off while Maxine cleaned my wings and gave me a cloth to wipe my face off with. By the time they were done, I was quite presentable- a bit damp, but not a muddy mess. I took advantage of the quiet to ask them a question I had been wondering about.
"So why am I the only soaking wet pet here?" I asked.
Maxine grinned. "We were pretty wet when we got here, but you dry off fast in here. We got here pretty late, too. The storm blew the power lines out all over the island an hour ago, at about six forty-five. That was before the storm really started. You must not have been looking at the clock, or you would have noticed that it wasn't changing. My watch says it's about eight o' clock right now."
Well, I was a bit embarrassed that I had gotten here so late and made Lightmite12 wait so long, but I was here now and enjoyed everything that was there. I spoke with other faerie Grarrls, met a faerie Hissi and was surprised to see they had the same feathered wings I had, but blue, shook hands with Fyora, who was making a brief appearance before she got back to more important matters in Faerieland.
I even bought a raffle ticket. It was number 028. I didn't know what the prize was, but it would be nice to win, even if it was bad. When I was getting Tigerade punch at the refreshments table, I heard an announcer on a loudspeaker.
"Ladies and Gentlemen, we are choosing the raffle winner," he boomed, "and... the winner is... Number 820!" People groaned, and I was one of them. I looked up towards the temporary podium to see the winner, but no one came up. I pulled my ticket out of my pocket and stared at the number. 028. Or was it 820? Upside down, it looked like 820. Looking back up at the podium, I saw the announcer shaking his head. "Well, if there's no one coming up to claim the prize, we'll have to pick again." He gestured to the bucket of tickets sitting next to him.
"Wait!" I cried. I started to push through the crowd, acutely aware that every person in the large room was staring at me. I reached the podium. "I didn't realize what number I had; I was looking at it upside down," I explained. The faerie Elephante, the announcer, looked at my ticket. He held it up to the light.
"Yep. This is it. Number 820," he murmured. "Ladies and Gentlemen, we have a winner. This young lady has just won herself a rainbow paint brush!" He spoke into the microphone. He smiled kindly at me and clapped. Regretfully, the rest of the pets and owners at the convention who had bought a raffle ticket clapped also. I looked down into the crowd and saw Lightmite12, not the least bit unhappy, clapping and grinning a huge grin.
I jumped down from the podium and ran over to her. "I want you to have this," I said breathlessly.
Lightmite12 looked at me, shocked. "What?"
"I'm already painted and I don't need the neopoints. You wanted to be a color with all of the colors, and you should have this." She smiled and hugged me.
A true friend. Not a shallow, silly friend like Ari or Janie or Alexa. Someone I could tell secrets to and not have to worry about it being spread all over the school. Not someone I had to watch every word I said around, for fear that they would laugh and dismiss me. And even better, it turned out later that we were going to the same school. We became best friends, two days later, when our families left together, on the same boat.