The Best Gift Ever
It was late afternoon, but the sunlight was still coming through the glass windows of the Uni’s Clothing Shop. Neopians were lucky to have such warm and sunny weather on that day.
“Good afternoon, Ma’am!” Farrah, the shopkeeper, quickly greeted Anya right after she entered the store. “Oh… and where are my manners?” Farrah blushed for a moment. ”Happy Neopia Day!” said Farrah, while flashing a big smile.
“Afternoon.” After heavily sighing, that was all that Anya replied. Anya figured that the shopkeeper might have thought she was being unexpectedly rude and moody, but Anya knew her for a long time now and didn’t care that much. Actually, it was more than “not caring”. In fact, Anya hated Neopia Day or, as some like to call it, “Neopia’s Birthday”. For most people, the 15th of the Month of Storing was a day to celebrate, bringing family and friends together, but Anya didn’t have many good memories about this date.
During her entire life, Anya’s birthday was never remembered, precisely because she was born on the very same day Neopia was discovered. Some might see it as a sign of extreme luck, but Anya always felt neglected during Neopia Day. Her friends were always ready and excited to celebrate Neopia’s Birthday, but only a few of them would randomly realize it was also Anya’s birthday. Over the years, Anya heard the expression “Happy Birthday” very few times, but “Happy Neopia Day” was a ruthless constant. Even Anya’s family would occasionally forget her birthday, although Neopia Day was always grandly celebrated.
Considering the history of the last years, Anya decided that this year she would try something different. Anya concluded that she should go out all alone and buy herself a nice present. That’s how she ended up in the Uni’s Clothing Shop. Inside the store, Anya roamed for a while, but couldn’t find anything she liked at first glance. After Anya went through a few clothing racks full of elegant outfits, Farrah calmly said, “Can I help you, Ma’am?”
“Hmmm, I’m trying to find a beautiful outfit for myself…” Anya’s tone got lower towards the end of the sentence. “It’s my birthday.” Any said it like her last words weren’t that important.
“Yes, of course, it’s your anniversary!” Farrah’s voice left no doubt that she also forgot Anya’s birthday. “Congratulations! You’re so fortunate to be born today” Farrah declared joyfully. “Also, if you’re unsure about what to purchase, you can always buy a mystery package!” The shopkeeper completed.
Anya pretended like she didn’t hear the anniversary comment. “A mystery package?” Anya responded, though she didn’t seem too interested.
“Yes! I’ll pick an exclusive piece of clothing just for you. Of course, you won’t know exactly what you’ve bought until you open it!” Farrah said it like this was a fun and entertaining game.
“Erm…” Anya pondered for a minute. She didn’t really like anything available on the showcases let alone the shelves, but maybe she could get something nice from the shop storage. She wasn’t certain about how to proceed right now. She was, however, sure that she had nothing to lose. “I guess I’ll have one,” Anya said with a serious expression on.
“Excellent choice, Ma’am!” Farrah immediately left the store’s reception. “It will take just a second!” She then went straight towards an old staircase near the left part of the store.
After a few moments, Farrah was back with a large whitish bag containing a square-shaped object inside. Anya figured it was a box.
“This will cost only 10,000 neopoints, Ma’am!” Farrah said it like she was offering a proposal that could not be turned down.
Anya thought the price wasn’t exactly low, but it was indeed fair. Anya then handed over a pile of neopoints to the shopkeeper, while Farrah gracefully handed over the bag in exchange.
“Have a nice day!” said Farrah. Anya looked at her with a neutral expression and just left the store.
At this point, shades of orange and yellow were taking over the once clear sky. It was one of the most beautiful twilights Anya had ever seen. Anya knew that her birthday would soon come to an end. It would come to an end not only in the literal meaning of the expression but also because nothing important had happened today. No friends tried to get in touch with Anya, no neighbour remembered her day. Not even Anya’s family.
While walking back home, Anya realized that she hadn’t opened the mystery package yet. She grabbed the whitish bag and quickly removed its content from the inside. Just like Anya thought, it was indeed a box. A sparkling, blue, medium-sized box. The package also had a lovely bow on top and some irregular stripes around the edges. Upon closer inspection, Anya noticed that Farrah must have forgotten to take off the shop's tag before delivering the package, because Anya could clearly read “Uni's Clothing Shop” on a little piece of grey cardboard hanging from the upper part of the package.
Anya’s birthday wasn’t turning out to be very festive at all, so she figured that the thrill of opening the so-called “mystery package” might cheer her up somehow. Anya then grabbed the package, placed it close to her chest, and started tearing the wrapping paper. At first, the paper wouldn’t give in. “Silly wrapping paper,” Anya thought. However, after exerting a little bit more effort, the paper was finally torn. Anya quickly removed all of the remnants of the wrapping paper, taking off the box’s lid right after. Finally, Anya could see the box’s content.
An elegant black gown. That was the box’s content. The gown was only partially visible due to it being carefully folded, so Anya gently grabbed it with both hands and lifted the dress up to her chin’s height. Gravity slowly untangled the gown until Anya could see it completely. Anya’s thought of how absolutely gorgeous the dress was.
After contemplating the gown for a while, Anya noticed something in the box’s tag. There were a few words printed on its back. The letters were marked using a tiny and slightly blurry font, but after forcing her eyesight a little bit, Anya was able to clearly read the words “Best Gift Ever”. Anya couldn’t agree less with the tag. There was no denying the gown was indisputably one of the prettiest pieces of clothing Anya had ever seen. However, despite what Anya initially thought, the gown didn’t make her day feel any less lonely and miserable. She then figured that what she was actually missing, company, couldn’t be replaced by any item in the world.
Anya decided that she should call off her little adventure in the Neopian Marketplace. It was time to head home. As Anya walked back home, she could see smiling and cheerful pets celebrating Neopia’s Birthday, which made her feel even sadder. Anya then finally saw her neohome. She grabbed her keyring and noticed one of the keys were missing. Anya figured she might have lost it during the path back home, but didn’t bother with it, considering she had a spare key.
Then, Anya picked the key that was left, put it inside the keylock, and turned it with a circular movement. The door made a “click” when the seal was disabled. Anya pushed the door and immediately hit the light switch located near the house’s entrance. Surprisingly, the lights were not turning on.
Anya wondered for a second what was happening. She then tried to press the switch a few more times, but still no response. “Is the electricity gone?” Anya started wondering. That went on until she heard swift footsteps coming from another room. Something was definitely wrong. Anya then heard a feminine voice – almost inaudible - giggling. Anya carefully walked towards her living room and all the lights simultaneously turned on.
“Surprise!” the figure said. Anya was momentarily stunned by the sudden brightness, but after a while, she started recognizing her face. It was Farrah. Farrah was not only inside her house, but was also holding a big tray with an even bigger double-decked cake.
“Come closer, dear!” Farrah said it with a big smile on, the exact same smile Anya remembered from earlier.
“What…” Anya was confused.
Even before Anya could finish speaking, Farrah started explaining. “I noticed that you were feeling kind of down today, Anya.” Farrah was a little bit nervous and was trying to find just the right words to express her reasoning “I wished I could do something to help you. That’s why I suggested the mystery package in the first place!” Farrah paused briefly to see Anya’s reaction. Anya had an unfathomable expression on “Right before you left, I noticed you dropped one of your keys on the floor…”
“What did you do next?” Anya’s voice tone was calm and soft.
“I tried following you for a short period of time.” Farrah stated firmly. “But I just couldn’t find you. So I decided that I might as well make you a birthday surprise.” She pointed at the key.
“I don’t even know what to say” Tears were starting to come out of Anya’s eyes “That’s the best gift ever, Farrah! Thank you very much!”
Farrah pulled Anya closer and hugged her deeply. In the same position, several minutes of complete silence went through until Farrah broke the ice with two simple words: “Happy birthday!”