17th day of Eating, Y14
I don't know you, and you don't know me, but I desperately need your help. My name is Mia, and seventeen days ago, my fishing boat sank, and I was washed up on this island the next morning. I have no idea where I am or how I am going to get home.
That's where you come in, Rescuer.
I know the whole Message-in-a-Bottle idea is cliché, and I have never, in all my years, heard of it working before, but it's my only hope right now.
Believe me, I've tried everything else; I've attempted to make a raft out of wood, I've tried making a campfire to signal any passing Pteri or Draiks, and I can't count the number of coconuts I've used to spell out 'HELP' in enormous letters on the sand. None of these have worked, so I guess my only other option is you, Rescuer.
I hope you don't mind me calling you Rescuer. I hope you don't think of it as rude. I wish I knew your name, and then I could address you properly. I'm very grateful for what you're about to do for me. Or at least, for what I hope you're going to do for me.
I need you to find me, Rescuer. I need you to find me and take me home. You see, seventeen days ago, I made a mistake. A mistake that got me stranded on an uninhabited island and the taste of coconut milk clogging my throat. Have you ever eaten more than thirty coconuts consecutively? I advise you not to, if you can help it. I'm convinced that if I stay here any longer, I shall transform from my Yellow Lutari self and turn into a blasted coconut.
I know that I can only give you so much information, because there would be absolutely no sense in asking you for aid if I knew where I was, or which direction home may be. All I can tell you is that somewhere between Lutari Island and Altador. I've seen the map of Neopia, they didn't look so far apart to me. But after a day of monotonous and strenuous rowing, I realized that I was very wrong. My boat... well, the boat sank at about three quarters of the way into my journey, from where I swam West, or South-West (according to my compass, it wouldn't make its mind up!).
I can also tell you that my island is small. Not small enough for me to see all the way around it, but small enough for me to walk along the entire seashore in a day. I'd describe it as some sort of forest, but it certainly isn't a rainforest – there is no rain. Not even the tiniest drop. It's just blazing heat from the sun that tirelessly scorches me day after day. Thank goodness for the shade under the palm trees on the beach. I won't venture into the forestry for shelter, because I'm terrified of what sort of creatures could be lurking in there.
Ugh, just the thought of the creepy-crawlies living on this Island – sharing it with me – makes me shudder. Whenever I see a Spyder in my room back home, I always have to call Kyle in to squish it. He never does, of course. He always just gathers the eight-legged petpet into his hands and takes it outside. I can't help but getting squeaky and quivery whilst one is in sight, but he simply places it on our pathway, and they quickly scramble off into the wilderness. He loves Spyders. I love sleeping without getting awakened by their big eyes staring at me from a web in the corner of my room.
I miss Kyle, Rescuer.
I really do. I see him in my dreams every night – his smiling Brown Aisha face with his thin-rimmed glasses that he continuously has to push up his nose throughout the day. Seventeen days ago I didn't miss him. Seventeen days ago, I was so angry with Kyle that I told him I didn't ever want to see him again. Seventeen days ago I didn't even hesitate to steal his fishing boat and go off in search of grandeur in the glorious land of Altador.
Yeah, alright – the fishing boat was his. I remember when he came home with it. I was at home, and he came back with an enormous smile on his face. He'd travelled up to Faerieland via Eyrie – without me, might I add – and tried his luck on the Wheel of Excitement. Well, his luck must have been in tact that day, because he won quite a lot of neopoints. He was on his way home to tell me the good news when he came across an old Lutari sitting upon the shore. He was cleaning a rusty old boat with an inviting 'For Sale' sign sitting next to it. Kyle's always loved fishing. Whenever we'd had the chance, we'd go down to the fishing hole in Maraqua. Personally, I find it too dank and dreary, but Kyle adores seeing what treasures you can catch from under the sea.
Anyway – Kyle came over to admire the boat and, according to him, they became engaged in a conversation about fishing and boating (I know, it sounds riveting, doesn't it?) and then the old man agreed to give Kyle the boat for his Wheel of Excitement winnings. He was really shocked at the offer, because he believed that it was worth much more than that, even though it was just a horrid little fishing boat.
"Son..." The old man smiled. "I'd rather know that she'd be going to someone with a passion for the sea rather than a greed for profit."
I laughed in his face when he told me what the old Lutari had said to him.
"Kyle, this thing is nothing but a pile of junk!" I exclaimed when he'd brought me to see it the following day as a surprise. At the time, I hadn't noticed, but looking back, I remember how his face had dropped at my reaction to his big unveiling. But Kyle told me that he believed the old man's words, and said that all the work and effort he would put into it would all be worth it in the end. I didn't think it was worth it at all, considering now we were living off nothing but bread and butter fish. In my opinion, Kyle got it so cheap because it was a complete wreck – I mean, we were- well, he was fixing the holes and tears in the boat for months and months afterwards, throwing thousands and thousands of neopoints into its mending and repairs. It became his priority. I thought I was his priority.
It feels like an age ago when Kyle and I were sitting down to our lunch – bread and butter fish, again – when I slammed my knife and fork down and told him I couldn't stand it anymore. We were always having arguments about food and neopoints and... come to think of it, we argued about everything and anything. I've never really realized how much we actually did quarrel, and I've also came to realize just how many of those squabbles were my fault. This, embarrassingly, was the majority, if not, all of them.
I wasn't very considerate back then, Rescuer – seventeen days ago. I was a completely different person. My big brother was nothing but loving to me; ensuring I had a roof over my head, buying me clothes and keeping me fed. Well, guess what? Now, I have no shelter to shield me from the sun, my clothes are ripped and remain wet from the ocean and sweat, and I would trade one of my brother's bread fish for every single one of these coconuts in a heartbeat.
Kyle had begged me to finish my lunch – he tell me that he was sorry that he had to feed me the same old, same old, but there was nothing me could do. Neopoints were tight at the minute, and it was going to stay this way for a good number of weeks until things picked up again – fish had been scarce, and people kept throwing their soggy boots into the water for some reason, only for Kyle to disappointedly pick them up with his rod.
"We don't have any neopoints because you spent all of your winnings on a silly fishing boat!" I yelled at him. "If you would have kept them, we could be eating gourmet food every night."
Kyle just laughed.
"I didn't win that many neopoints, Mia. Remember, I told you the boat was really cheap for a vessel of its standard," Kyle told me. "Besides, money runs out. The fishing boat provides us with food on the table every day – you ought to be more grateful. How about you come fishing with me on the boat this evening? It'd be a great opportunity for you to sail out at sea."
"Fishing isn't an opportunity, Kyle." I rolled my eyes. "An opportunity is... getting up on stage at a Sticks n' Stones concert or... buying a Faerie paintbrush. I wish you would consider moving to Altador. I've been learning about it at Neoschool, and it sounds incredible! All the richest of people live there-"
"Then we'd fit right in!" Kyle laughed sarcastically, tweaking my nose. "That's enough about Altador, Mia. You've been bringing it up for days. You were just the same when I took you to Brightvale that one time, do you remember that? You'll want to move to Faerieland next week. Now, come on, eat your lunch."
His patronizing tone infuriated me.
"I'd rather starve than eat this disgusting filth!" I screamed at him. Then, I ran to my room and buried my head in my pillow to sulk like a spoilt child. How dare he? It was my complete and utter dream to live in Altador. Well, it had been for a week, anyhow. Nevertheless, I was still very insulted. He wasn't even considering the idea of moving. Then again, I hadn't considered how much it would have cost us to move to an extravagant place like that. Kyle came up about an hour later to check on me, and I had greeted him with a pillow thrown in his face, a slam of my door and an enraged, "Go away!"
I skipped supper, so my stomach was gurgling loudly by midnight. So, I snuck downstairs to get a snack from the kitchen, and when I was munching on the crusted remains of my bread fish, a thought sprung into my head. I didn't need to go to Altador with Kyle. I could just as easily go by myself. The idea started to become more and more appealing as the sun rose from the horizon. I threw a few items of clothing into a bag, alongside a pen and notebook (just in case I so happened to bump into a neopet celebrity, like King Altador, and ask for their autograph), a compass, a map of Neopia, a bottle of water and another bread fish that was sitting in the cupboard. Without butter fish, they taste really bland, but I didn't want the butter to melt and get my clothes all wet.
Oh, sweet irony.
I left Kyle a note informing him that I had left for Altador, and told him not to follow me because he would only be holding me back in my pursuit for achieving my dreams. Of course, I had no neopoints to pay for the transport, but then it hit me. The fishing boat! I mean, how hard could it be, right? All you have to do is move the... sticks... no, not sticks, what're they called? Oh, oars! Yeah, row the oars in the water and make sure it doesn't sink. It seemed pretty simple.
The irony actually hurts.
I feel really bad about what I did to Kyle. Firstly, I insulted his dream, stole his boat, sailed more than half way to Altador in aforementioned boat without his permission and then, to top it all off, I sank his most prized possession to the bottom of the sea.
What can I say? I get cranky when I'm hungry.
Alright, Rescuer. Here comes the complicated part.
I've told you why I'm here, I've told you my story and I'm giving you a choice. You have every right to rip up this piece of paper now, forget about me and tell yourself that I deserved what I got, because I was stupid, I was inconsiderate, and I was wrong. And you'd be right. You have the choice to leave me on this island for the rest of my days, aging slowly and forced to survive off salt water and coconuts.
Or, there's the other option.
Find me. Please, find me. Alert the PPL, the Neopian Times, Fyora, the... Esophagor – anyone who could help me get off this Island, or at least alert someone who could rescue me from my whereabouts. I know that what I have done is wrong, but should one mistake – which I am now very sorry for – and a bad mind-set – which has now completely been turned around – condemn me to a coconut-filled life of misery? Well, it's your choice. And although I know that the first one seems quite fitting considering my previous attitude and my wrongdoings, I have truly learned the error of my ways, and I plead with you to at least consider the second choice.
Before you rip up the letter, I would really appreciate it if you would at least contact Kyle. We live at 292 Lutari Way, Lutari Island – a quaint little cottage with bright and colorful shrubbery growing outside – you can't miss it, even through the thick fog. If travelling to Lutari Island is too much of an effort for you, I implore you to at send him a neomail if possible. Or, if you are able to voyage to Lutari Island, I advise you not to journey by boat. Seriously.
Please, let him know that I am alive. Let him know that I am safe. Let him know that I love, and that I am thinking about him.
And tell him that I am so, so sorry for how I behaved and what I have done.
Well, that's it, Rescuer. I'm running out of paper. Once again, I want to thank you for your potential help, and I want to repeat that you are my only hope. No pressure, eh?
You finish the letter, and pause, taking in what you have just read from a soggy letter you found in an empty water bottle washed up on the beach. So, Rescuer... What choice do you make?