A Chance... Shattered?
IT WAS A few days before the Snow Fest that the avalanche fell, as we say on
I have absolutely no idea what got into me that
day. Perhaps all the success (I had progressed to the halfpipe now, and was
doing rather well) had gone to my head. Maybe I was just feeling so beautifully
happy that morning, maybe the thought of the Snow Festival and the freedom from
the secretiveness of my hobby. I don't know. But I for some strange reason went
sailing down the slopes past Angel, Tokum and J.J., and off on my own. The sun
glinted and sparkled over the snow and I felt good to be alive. I also was not
looking where I was going.
I heard the warning shouts from the others before
it happened. Suddenly I collided heavily with something and both of us fell
into the snow. I wiped the snow off my face and looked dazedly at the other
pet, and then froze in horror as he turned to me.
"Hollyfrost," said Father sternly.
I didn't reply.
"What," he asked frostily, holding up my precious
snowboard, "is this?"
"It's a snowboard, sir," I said, as calmly as
I could (which wasn't very calm).
Mother, almost invisible against the snow except
for her crimson tail-and-ear ribbons and eyes, with skis to match, streaked
across to us.
"And what," Father continued, ignoring her,
"were you doing with this-this snowboard?"
"Snowboarding," I said, trying to be casual,
even though I felt sick. "Isn't that what one does with a snowboard?"
His paw shot out and grabbed one of my ears.
As it lacked the normal covering of long fur under the influence of my paint
job, I winced. "Come," he said roughly. "We're going home."
"Rockjump," said Mother. "What--"
"We're going home," said Father again. He led
the way up the slope, carrying his skis and poles in one paw and twisting my
ear painfully with the other. Mother followed.
We managed somehow, climbing up slopes and riding
up chairs, to reach the Usullyrn and home. We entered the doorway and Father
turned to face me, his eyes blazing but every other line of his body cold and
I could take it no longer. "What?" I burst out,
angrily. "What have I done?"
"What have you done?" Father roared back. I
had never seen him so angry, and still have yet to see his temper rise to match
the height it was at that day. "You have broken the tradition of the Usuls,
my young Usuless! You, a Snowpaw! You should be a skier, a fantastic one, and
what do you do? Snowboard!" He spat the word. "Going off in secret and taking
up such a coarse, common…"
"It's not!" I yelled. "It's not common, and
anyway it's fun, and I intend to keep doing it!"
"Don't you dare talk back to me! You're an Usul!
Usuls ski! Usuls don't snowboard; it's…just not done! And you, a Snowpaw!"
"I am aware of my heritage, Father! I've tried
and tried to ski for a year and a bit already, and I couldn't; now I've finally
found something I'm good at; why can't you just accept it, Father?"
"Because it's not…natural!"
We both glared at each other.
"Rockjump," began Mother again.
"The little one needs to try harder at her skiing
lessons," Father said. "We should train her harder."
I dashed into my room and flung myself onto my
bed. My chance was smashed. I would probably never snowboard again. Not to mention,
the snowboard itself had been left behind on the mountainside. "Don't cry,"
I muttered to myself fiercely, despite the fact that tears were overflowing
from my eyes.
Later that night as I lay wrapped in my Babaa
wool quilt, I could hear my parents talking.
"At least hear her out, Rockjump."
"Wintermoon," Father was saying, "she has to be deprived of this hobby before
it becomes a habit. It's not good for her."
"Why? If she loves it so much why not let
her do it?" There was a pause, then a sigh.
"It just isn't… right, Wintermoon, for an Usul
to do any sport other than skiing, much less a Snowpaw Usul. FrostPromise would
be turning in his grave if he could see her now. At the Snow Fest she'll be
able to pick up some pointers. She'll be an excellent skier one day, if she'd
just let herself. I'll train her myself, tomorrow."
Mother didn't answer, and after a while I heard
her climbing the stairs to her room. Miserably, I rolled over and tried to get
to sleep. I just knew the next day would be awful.
I was right. Father himself took me out to the
shed where our equipment was kept and brushed them free of the dust that was
just settling on them. We then made our way out and onto the slopes.
But I was even worse on my skis now than I had
been. The confidence snowboards gave me was gone; I was actually scared to fall,
now. The day dragged, and Father was merciless. He made me go down that slope,
climb up it, and keep doing it over and over. My paws ached and I could hardly
walk by the end of the day. My inability to ski had made Father even more frustrated,
and he took it out on me. Angel, J.J. And Tokum had been nowhere in sight, and
their absence hadn't helped my situation. In fact, pretty soon, probably because
my parents had told my siblings, and my siblings had told their friends, and
the friends had told their families, the whole Usullyrn now knew of my snowboarding.
And naturally, they were 'looking at me funny', as predicted. Diamond and her
friends sneered at me even more now. To make matters worse, my best friends
And so it kept on, day after day, until at last
the night before the Snow Fest saw me lying, trying again not to cry, on my
bed and wishing that that day I had not been so thoughtless. Father had trained
me especially hard that day, but by the end of it I was no better than I had
been at the start of winter. The Snow Fest tomorrow would see my siblings both
taking part in the Junior Neopets' Skiing Division, that is under a year in
age, my parents in the adult Neopets' Division, two years and older, and me,
as always, sitting out, watching my friends and family doing what they loved,
as I wished I could do it too. But this time, I would be even more frustrated
as there was going to be a sport performed, something I knew perfectly well
I could do, that I was forbidden to because of tradition and heritage. There
was no way I could get to my snowboard; it had been left on the mountainside
that day. It would probably have been buried by now, and anyway without one
there was no simple way I could get there.
The next morning, having reluctantly cried myself
to sleep, I wiped a paw across my bleary eyes, trying not to think of the impending
Snow Fest. Until a few days ago I had been looking forward with eagerness to
this event, but now, it seemed like there was no place in Neopia I wanted to
I dragged myself out of bed and down to the breakfast
table. I was silent all through the conversation, as Snowbelle and Icechip talked
animatedly about the competition. Father nodded at them, but more than once
he looked at me, and I could see regret, frustration and disappointment mingled
there, which if anything made me feel even worse.
We finished our Snow Puffs and headed outside.
The whole Usullyrn was gathered there, waiting for our family. Most of them
had their racing skis on, coupled with the typical bent poles. I tried to catch
sight of Angel and Tokum among the throng and saw them standing quietly with
their own families. Ridgerunner looked rather restless, and was fidgeting nervously
beside his sister, while Tokum's very young sister Frostfoot, only a month old,
sat in her mother's paws looking interestedly around at the gathering of Usuls,
her large eyes wide. I remembered myself having been in that very situation
a year ago now.
Father gave his speech, something about doing
our best for the pride of our Usullyrn and excelling to show FrostPromise as
truly the greatest. When he was done, we all clapped our paws. I had to admit
he knew how to address the public. Everyone was even more ready to go now. In
the distance, all around us, from their own little clusters of snow huts the
other Usullyrns were setting off, and soon they were all coursing down the mountainside
with great speed. "Let us go!" called Father, and at that everyone cheered and
pushed off to join the great wave of Usuls dotting the slopes of snow.
Not quite knowing what to expect, I walked over
to Angel. She smiled, but gravely, and offered her tail. I took it, and we glided
off with the rest.
To be continued...