Company on The Day of Giving
Wil sat quietly by the door of the Neopia Central Petpet shop, swishing his soft, white tail as he waited for the door to open. The owner, a kindly young Usul, was running late. Much to Wil's irritation, there was no way in other than waiting patiently for her to show up and open the shop. She knew him well enough to allow him passage in and out without selling him. It was no surprise that she knew him so well- she'd watched him grow up in one of her displays!
Wil was a young Angelpuss, born and raised by his mother in the Petpet shop and trained by the owner. She'd always taken a special liking to his mother, for some reason. She was so hesitant to sell her that Wil had been sent off first. Much to his dismay, his mother was still in the shop. He sighed. Couldn't that Usul hurry up? It wasn't every day that he got out of the neohome early enough to see his mother without worrying Sasha, after all!
Sasha was a Plumpy who took care of Wil. His owner was away so often that he hadn't bothered to learn her name. Sasha, who lived next door, had taken notice that the little Angelpuss was home alone so often, and had taken it upon herself to begin looking after him. She'd talked to his mother at the Petpet shop one day to gain his mother's permission, and the rest was history. Each morning at ten, she'd go wait for him on her porch. When he arrived, she'd usher him into the empty neohome and make him feel comfortable before they began brainstorming game ideas. After that, they'd make a schedule of what games to play throughout the day until one of them- usually Sasha- got too tired to continue. When that happened, they'd settle down out in Sasha's garden and listen to the wind stirring the leaves in the old oak tree and let the occasional Mootix scurry over their paws.
This day, however, Wil had gotten up early so that he could make it to the Petpet shop and back without worrying Sasha. He was beginning to worry that his plans of a talk with his mother might be ruined when he spotted the Usul making her way up the street toward the ship, keys in one hand and a long sheet of crisp, white paper in her other. Wil took a few long strides as a running start before taking off into the air and flying toward her excitedly. He'd have time!
The Usul greeted him with a smile, shoved the paper in her purse, and then swooped him out of the air and into a hug. "Good morning, Wil!" She greeted the little Angelpuss cheerily. "Come to visit your mother, have you?"
The Usul carried him to the door. He watched anxiously as she flipped through the keys on her ring until she had the right one. As she turned the knob and began to push the door open, a small bell sounded, announcing to the petpets that it was time to stir from the baskets, blankets, and pillows placed in their habitats to compete for the affections of passers by.
Wil rushed to the glass box that had his mother in it. "Momma," he squealed happily. "Momma, it's me! I came to visit you!" He watched his mother sit up and stretch. She turned her pleasant, round face toward him and shook out her fur.
"Hello, Wil," she purred. "It's so good to see you! How have you been? Is your owner treating you well?"
Wil nodded. "She's never really around, but she feeds me and sometimes she'll pet me at night when she comes home, if she's not too tired."
His mother nodded. "That's alright, I suppose. It's a shame she never plays with you, though."
Wil flicked his tail. "Sasha plays with me all the time, so I don't see any problem with my owner being gone. Besides, she doesn't know how to speak with me. She's not a Petpet, you know."
His mother wrapped her soft, well-groomed tail around her paws. "How is Sasha? Are you behaving for her?"
Wil nodded. "Yes, Momma. Sasha's doing well- she still gets tired around three, though. After that we just sit in her garden and watch Mootix and Springabees." Wil sighed. "I wish you were there." He pressed his paw up against the glass. He missed the feeling of his mother's fur, and the sound of her soft, patient voice in its raw-when it wasn't being muffled by a layer of glass.
"Wil," she mewed gently, "I want to be with you just as badly as you want to be with me, but that can't happen unless I get adopted by someone who lives near you. That's unlikely, and you know it." She sighed. "It's not entirely out of the question, though. The Usul who owns this place is kind to us, and on top of that, she seems to like us quite a bit. I wouldn't be surprised if she wanted me to be adopted by a family in the area- by someone she knew so that she could visit every now and again."
Wil glanced out the window, noticing how far the sun had risen since he'd left. If he was going to ask what he'd come here to, he had to do it.
"Momma," he began hesitantly, "Do you think this'll be the year? Do you think you'll be adopted by the Day of Giving so that we can be together, like that first one when it snowed?"
Sadness pooled in his mother's deep, blue eyes as she looked down at him steadily. "Wil, you know I have to be adopted. It's only about a week until Christmas. It would take a miracle. I'm sorry, dear, but you and I might have to spend another Day of Giving apart."
Wil's tail drooped. "Oh. Okay." He tried to hide his disappointment. "We can try again next year, I guess."
His mother nodded. "There's always a chance, Wil, but I don't want to get our hopes up and then let you down. I'm sorry."
Wil glanced at the sun again. "I think I ought to go," He choked, holding back tears, "Sasha will worry." His mother pressed her paw up against the glass. "I suppose you should. Thank you for visiting, Wil. I love you. Happy Day of Giving, in case I don't see you before then..."
Wil did his best to look cheerful. "I love you too, Momma. Happy Day of Giving."
Wil hurried back to his house and washed his face before he went to Sasha's so she wouldn't know he'd been upset. It was apparent to him when he got there, however, that he hadn't washed it well enough.
"Wil, you look upset," Sasha commented. "Is everything okay?"
He nodded, still too choked up to talk. Sasha gave him a couple of sniffs and sighed. "You visited your mother. By the looks of it, she won't be adopted by the Day of Giving, will she?"
Wil shook his head. Sasha didn't say anything else. She just led him inside and settled him on the couch. They didn't really play any games that day. Instead, they spent the whole day in the cool, breezy garden. Sasha showed him how to climb up the fence, which required a massive amount of effort on her part. Lifting so much Plumpy wasn't easy.
When she reached the top, Sasha waited for Wil to join her looking out over the yard. Wil went home early. Between then and the Day of Giving, he didn't talk much. He mostly sulked around Sasha's neohome or lazily flicked dust bunnies back and forth until it was time to go home. It began snowing and didn't stop until the evening before the holiday. The day before the Day of Giving arrived, and Wil got up early to go to the Petpet Shop again, only to find it closed while the Usul that owned the place celebrated with her family. Until then, he'd kept some form of hope that his mother would be adopted so that they could spend the holiday together, but at that point he knew it was hopeless. His little Angelpuss heart broke as he started at the locked door, holding back tears.
He whipped around to see Sasha standing a few feet away in a snowdrift. He hoped she wouldn't see how upset he was.
"I thought I'd find you here." Sasha sighed, shaking her head. "It closes every year. I know you here hoping your mother would be adopted by now, but not everything works out perfectly." She waddled up on her stumpy, white legs and sat beside Wil for a few minutes.
"I'm cold," Wil announced, breaking the silence as they watched Neopets passing by slowly.
Sasha smiled softly. "I guess we'd better get going, then. I'll take you back here when the shop is open again so that you two can visit for as long as you like." With that, she began leading the way back to her place.
Sasha's owners had built a fire. Its sweet-smelling wood smoke rose up the chimney, coming out in gray puffs. Wil sat down by the fireplace and warmed up while Sasha wrestled with the fridge door until she got it open. Somehow, she managed to drag a carton of Kau Kau Farm Milk down off the shelf and get a bowl from the cupboard. After dragging the two objects out to the living room, she set them down in front of Wil.
"This will cheer you up," she told him gently as she clawed a hole in the top of the carton and tipped it over into the bowl.
Wil didn't budge for a while. He just lay next to Sasha, not touching the milk. Then, when the sun went down, Sasha sighed. "Would you like me to walk you home?" she offered. Wil shook his head. Small, warm tears began falling from his eyes, leaving wet patches down his fluffy cheeks.
"I don't want to be alone," he whimpered, "not on the Day of Giving. Not again... I-I don't-"
Sasha pulled him into a hug. "That's alright, Wil," she told him. "You don't have to be alone. You can spend the night here with me. I'm sure our owners won't mind. Tomorrow morning, we can go play in the snow."
"Th-thank you..." Wil got out between sobs. Sasha didn't leave until Wil let go of her. When he finally did, she was only gone long enough to drag a couple pillows off the couch to a place where they could safely lay in front of the warm, crackling fire.
For the first time in years, neither of them would be alone when the Day of Giving arrived.