My Childhood Neohome: Part Two
My Childhood Neohome, Part Two: A Mysterious Note
Rupies stepped aside and allowed the two potential buyers to enter her home, ooo-ing and ahh-ing at the cute wallpaper and plush carpeting. The room was empty – Rupies and her siblings had moved their furniture just the day before, and there were still indents in the carpet to show where the couches and coffee table had once stood.
"This room acts as both the main entrance and family room," Rupies launched into a discussion of all the finer points of the room, while the Kacheeks sunk into the deep carpet with a look of bliss on their faces. After a few minutes, she trailed off – it was obvious that the pair weren’t really listening. They pointed to different parts of the room, quietly speaking amongst themselves. Rupies gave up on listening and allowed her mind to wander, gazing back towards the front door as her memories rose to the surface once again.
With a soft hiss, a folded piece of parchment was slid under the front door. A younger Rupies looked up from her book in surprise, her eyes drawn to the little square of white that now lay on the floor.
Gosun was out, showing their new brother Piihp, a Pea Chia, around the neighbourhood. Were they perhaps playing a prank on her?
Angry at the thought of being disturbed by the clever Lutari in the middle of her book, Rupies stubbornly brought her eyes back to the page. However, her curiosity proved to be too strong – carefully placing the book upside down to hold her place, she rose from the couch and walked over to the door. Picking up the paper and unfolding it, she was startled to discover that it was a note.
"Dear Rupies," the note began, "I hope you don’t mind me contacting you in this strange way. I admit that it may seem an old fashioned way of communication, but I am very shy and wasn’t ready to reveal myself. I’ve seen you in the garden a few times and wondered if you were as lonely as I, living with two boys as you do. I live alone and have no friends. Perhaps you could become one?"
"A… friend?" Rupies read the note a second time, looking for any mention of who the mysterious observer was. Finding none, she folded it again, only to notice a few words written on the back of the page.
"Please write back," it said.
"Please… write back?" Rupies shook her head in confusion. "But how am I to write back if I don’t know who you are?" She yelled, frustrated.
Angrily, she threw the parchment aside and sat back down, picking up her book once more. After only a few words, she set it aside and picked the note up again, reading it a third time.
"Another girl?" she wondered aloud, scanning the writing for some hint of recognition. The writing was much too neat to be Gosun’s, and Piihp would never be able to write this large with those tiny arms of his. It had to be someone else. A friend? Perhaps.
Overcome by a sudden desire to have a friend all to herself, Rupies sat down with a pen and a blank sheet of paper. After thinking for a moment, she began to write.
"Dear New Friend," she began, hesitating only momentarily before addressing the mysterious note-writer as such, "Are you a girl as well? What games do you like to play? How do you know my name? What is your name?" She folded the note carefully in half and, after a moment of thought, added a few words to one side. "Please write back."
But how would she deliver the note, without knowing who to send it to? Rupies considered leaving it outside the door, but worried that her brothers would happen upon it when they returned. In a rare moment of jealousy, she decided that she would keep this new friend to herself. After all, the boys had each other, and she had nobody.
Stepping outside, she looked around cautiously before placing the note among the plants in the front garden. If this mysterious Neopet really was watching her, she’d know where to find it.
Rupies waited anxiously as the days dragged on with no response. She had checked for her note the next morning, but it was gone. Though she watched them suspiciously, her brothers appeared to be acting normal – it seemed as if her secret friend had found the note after all. But where was her response? Rupies took to reading often in the family room by the door, looking up from her book at regular intervals to check for a little white square by the front door.
One afternoon, Gosun and Piihp made plans to get lunch at Hubert’s Hotdogs. When they invited her along, Rupies quickly decided to stay behind – perhaps this mysterious friend wanted to remain secret from her brother’s as well. Maybe, she would write to her while they were gone.
Sure enough, minutes after the boys left, a soft hiss pricked Rupies’ ears and another piece of parchment slid under the door. Jumping to her paws immediately, Rupies rushed to grab the note and opened it eagerly.
"My new friend Rupies," the note began, much to her delight, "I apologize for taking so long to write back. You are correct – I am also a young girl, but I know no others our age in this neighbourhood. I love to read books and play with my favourite plushies." At this, Rupies began to jump up and down excitedly. She loved to do those things too! "How long have you lived in Neopia Central?"
Rupies flipped the page over, but there was no more writing on the back. Curious about this new Neopet, she forgot the weirdness of a stranger knowing her name and instead speculated over who she could possibly be.
Over the coming weeks, Rupies wrote often with her new friend, though her identity remained a mystery. She found new reasons to send her brothers out of the house, and spent most of her time sitting in the Family Room staring at the door. She spoke to her secret pen pal about her brothers, her worries, and her deepest fears.
In return, the invisible stranger made her feel less alone. They chatted about things her brothers never wanted to talk about: hair styles, fashion, new grooming supplies, and even boys. One day, becoming frustrated with the lack of information, Rupies threatened to stop writing if her new friend did not at least give her a name. Moments later, a small piece of paper appeared with one word: "Cheelee".
Rupies was ecstatic to finally have a name to put to who she considered to be her best friend. However, from that point on, the notes were never quite the same. At first things seemed innocent enough, if uncomfortable.
"Wouldn’t it be nice if your brothers didn’t live with you anymore?" Rupies read, feeling the first pinch of worry in her gut. "We could talk all the time."
"Maybe…" Rupies bit at her pencil, suddenly uncomfortable. "But as silly as they are, I think I would miss them".
"If you say so," came the response, and Rupies wondered if she imagined the snarky tone behind the words.
Becoming curious again with the true identity of Cheelee, Rupies began to attempt to peer out the upstairs windows of the Neohome to catch sight of her friend. However, it was always foggy, or a tree branch was blowing in the way, or it began to rain – she was never able to see anything, though a note would be waiting for her when she returned to the Family Room. One day, she waited for the hiss of the paper under the door and ran, flinging it open. This time, she managed to catch site of a fluffy white tail bounding around the corner before the mysterious Neopet was gone once more.
Piihp was bustling happily around the kitchen when Rupies was shocked to hear the soft sound of paper sliding under the door. She had never received a note when either of her brothers were home, and she rushed to find out what could possibly be so important. She picked it up and began reading.
Moments later, Piihp heard a gasp in the other room and ran over to find his sister staring in horror at the door, a piece of parchment on the floor. Picking it up with difficulty, due to his small size, he read: "I think it’s time we met. How about you come for dinner?"
Beneath it, taped to the paper, was a photo of a big bowl of pea soup. Pea chia soup.
Piihp quickly called the Defenders of Neopia, and soon they were interviewing Rupies and reading all of the notes she had kept under her bed over the last few weeks. They soon left, explaining to the siblings that Hubrid Nox had been sighted in the area and to keep the Neohome locked up while they investigated. Hubrid Nox was never found, and Rupies never received another note under the door.
"Uhm… excuse me?" The male Kacheek called over, having obviously been trying to get her attention for a while. Rupies shook herself and resolved to stop day dreaming, heading over to the buyers to answer whatever questions they had.
To be continued…