To The Moon
Aylinn and Mabel chatted the entire way home from school.
Aylinn was an Aisha, and Mabel an Usul. The two were the best of friends - inseparable
through thick and thin. They had been that way for as long as either could remember.
One was never seen without the other, and their friendship had become something
of a legend at school - their peers had slowly developed sayings about them
never being seen apart.
Today, they were talking about the school play,
The Rainbow Polarchuck... Mabel wanted to see if her own dear Fulfum could play
the part of the play's namesake.
"Fulfum's so intelligent, I'm sure we could
train him," she was saying. "And if my parents won't get a rainbow petpet paint
brush, I'm sure we can improvise."
Aylinn was positive Mabel's parents would get
one for her. After all, they had just bought a royal paint brush last month,
and were keeping it in a gallery. Nearing Mabel's house, Aylinn noticed something
different about her own house across the street. She'd lived in that cozy blue
house for so long, she'd started to take its appearance for granted, and she
had trouble pinpointing what was wrong. But Mabel spotted it right away.
"Look, the flower pots on the window sills are
gone," she mused.
Aylinn shrugged. Nothing important, after all.
They turned into Mabel's front yard, and the two said their goodbyes in front
of Mabel's house's front door. It was a ritual - they took turns every day walking
each other home. The next day it would be Mabel's turn to walk Aylinn home.
"Tell me what your parents say about the paint
brush," Aylinn called over her shoulder as Mabel's door began to close. She
heard a "sure," and then the door was shut. Aylinn raced across the street to
her own house, excited with the day's events, and eager to share the news with
- - - - -
The disappearance of the flowers on the window
sills made her realize how little attention she paid to the appearance of her
house, and now she took in every detail of it, just to make sure she still knew
it. There were two neat squares of grass to either side of the walkway which
led to the front door. The front door had a semicircle shaped window above it,
which let in the morning light and cast a beautiful filigreed shadow on the
granite tiles of the foyer. There were windows to the right and left of the
door, and that was where the flowers had been removed. Rowzez and ring vines
grew in front of the house, and some other vines crept up along the siding of
it. The roof's eaves held several bird's nests, and beneath that the window
in the attic shone dully like a sleepy eye. Aylinn loved the attic dearly; many
nights she crawled up into the attic space with a mug of hot chocolate and a
book and settled down. There was a bean bag chair up there, especially for her...
Aylinn's mother called a warm hello as the front
door shut. And then the Aisha's loving mother appeared herself with a beatific
smile on her face. Her father wasn't home at the moment, since he was at work
developing better ways to harvest sniddberries. After inquiring about Aylinn's
day, her mother dropped some interesting news.
"Aylinn, dear, I have news. Your father just
called a few minutes ago to tell me. He's gotten a new job offer... it's in
"Oh, really," said Aylinn, not really paying
attention. Job offers were nice but they didn't concern her, she was just a
"You know what this means? We're moving to Kreludor.
We already have a place picked out - it's perfect..." Her voice trailed off
as she noticed Aylinn's reaction - which was a rapid change from joy to shock
"Please, tell me you're joking, mum..." Aylinn
half-whispered, eyes wide. "My entire life is here. My friends, my school...
what about Mabel?"
"I'm sure you'll find new friends at your school
in Kreludor. Really, I've heard great things about the neighbourhood there.
You and Mabel will still be able to write to each other - it's a big change,
but your father and I feel this is an opportunity we shouldn't miss."
Aylinn didn't respond. She traipsed slowly to
her room, and sank onto her bed. She couldn't believe it. Kreludor was a giant
rock floating somewhere out there in space, and the only time it exhibited significance
of any sort was when there was some sort of eclipse. She pondered vaguely why
anyone would want to live on it. It was cold, there was no weather of any sort
- except maybe electromagnetic dust storms - and, well, it was boring. Her whole
life... she would be leaving her entire life behind to follow some job offer
that wasn't even hers. And she would be leaving it for a rock in the sky. She
flopped facedown onto her pillow and began to cry quietly.
- - - - -
The next morning, Aylinn woke to find her fur
a bit damp and uncomfortable. She'd fallen asleep in her clothing. She was a
bit confused, but a moment later it all rushed back to her. Kreludor. Moving.
She twitched at a loud thump from the ground floor, and crawled out of bed.
Maybe she could find a way to stay here. She could always try handcuffing herself
to the sink. Mabel's family could take care of her... it was worth a try.
Going downstairs, Aylinn realized her house
had been transformed. There were towers of cardboard boxes everywhere. And the
walls were bare. A blue Aisha plushie sat forlornly at the foot of the stairs,
having fallen out of a box. Reaching it, she scooped it up gently and set to
searching for the source of the thump.
"ARGH... Marcy, please let me handle the heavy
boxes," came her father's voice from the dining room.
"Sorry, dear. Good morning, Aylinn." A box with
a squished corner sat at her feet. Apparently, she'd dropped it. "I'm sorry,
but I forgot to tell you we're moving right away... Your father's job starts
tomorrow, and the shuttle to Kreludor leaves at two. It's very short notice,
but I think you'll have time to say goodbye to your friends. I hope you'll forgive
us for the sudden decision. You're not going to school today. I'll help you
pack up your room, if you'd like..."
But Aylinn wasn't listening. She had a little
time left --
- - - - -
She arrived at Mabel's door, huffing and puffing.
Without bothering to knock, she let herself in. She and Mabel had been friends
too long for knocking to matter, and the urgency of the situation excused her.
In her rush, she ran headlong into Mabel's mother, who crashed to the floor.
"I'm sorry!" panted Aylinn as she gave Mabel's
mother a hand. "Is Mabel still here? I need to speak to her... we're moving
today, I need to say goodbye..." Aylinn's voice trembled at the end.
Standing up, Mabel's mother shook her head sadly
at the sorrow in Aylinn's voice. "I'm sorry, Aylinn... she just left for school.
This is news - your parents didn't tell me anything about it." She began to
walk to the kitchen, and motioned Aylinn to follow her. Once there, Aylinn sat
down on the tile floor and watched the Usul place various foods on the stove.
"They just found out yesterday. My dad got a
job offer, so we're taking a shuttle to Kreludor." Aylinn concentrated on her
feet, trying not to let her tears show.
The older Usul didn't know what to say, so she
gave the downhearted Aisha a motherly embrace. Moments later, the doorbell rang,
and she shuffled off to answer it. From her location on the kitchen floor, Aylinn
listened absently to parts of the conversation.
"Oh, hello.... mmhmm... yes, she is... she'll
be back in a moment.... I hear you're moving... oh.... that's a bummer... they'll
still be able to write letters, though. Good luck in Kreludor." She closed the
"That was your mother, dear," sighed Mabel's
mom. "She needs you to go back to the house and get ready. I'm very sorry about
the whole deal. But you and Mabel can still write each other... hold on, one
second." The Usul ran up the stairs, apparently with some mission in mind.
Returning within seconds, she cradled something
in the folds of her dress. She descended the stairs carefully, and handed the
bundle to Aylinn.
Aylinn gasped as she realized exactly what she
was holding. It was soft... it was warm... and it meeped. It was a Snowbunny.
She opened her mouth to thank Mabel's mother, but no words would come.
"We found him at Terror Mountain on our last
vacation," smiled Mabel's mom. "You keep her. I hope she'll be good company
in Kreludor... consider her a gift."
Aylinn nodded, speechless. But the Usul understood
- - - - -
The shuttle hummed as it sped towards Kreludor.
Aylinn sat very quietly, stroking her Snowbunny and looking around the shuttle's
interior. It was full of shiny chrome, flashing buttons, and the smell of disinfectant.
The pilot began to speak through the address system, and the speakers vibrated
a bit as his magnified voice filled the cabin.
"We will be landing in approximately fifteen
minutes. Please take the oxygen masks offered to you by the stewards..."
- - - - -
The shuttle had landed. Aylinn was wearing her
oxygen mask, and had fitted another onto her Snowbunny. She had to wear it for
a few weeks until she was acclimatized, whatever that meant. She stared at her
It looked like a large purple egg. Large pipes
jutted out of the sides and sank deep into the rock of Kreludor - her mother
said that was to anchor the house, since the gravity of Kreludor was five times
less than that of Neopia - and the windows and doorway were circular. The windows
appeared dim, to protect the inhabitants from radiation, but from the inside
Aylinn knew they were as clear as regular glass. All in all, the house looked
like a purple blob with three eyes, a mouth, and some silver roots.
Aylinn entered through the circular doorway.
The house smelled like the shuttle - like disinfectant. She jumped as the door
snapped shut behind her, seals making sucking noises. The house was readjusting
its gravity, she supposed. She slowly climbed the stairs, eyeing each room with
curiosity. The walls were bare, and a few cardboard boxes were lying around,
waiting to be unpacked. Her parents were busy talking with the governor of Kreludor,
leaving her alone to get used to the new house and pick out her room. She continued
up the stairs.
Aylinn reached the top through a door in the
ceiling. This was as high as she could go - from the window, it seemed as though
she could see for miles around. Kreludor reminded her of a sponge, in an odd
way. It was pocked with holes and craters. There were no trees, no flowers,
no birds. She told herself she would get used to it - it was just a different
Her Snowbunny started to squirm, and she set
it down. It began sniffing the edges of the room, as though to make sure everything
was in order.
Aylinn returned to the window. It was all so
different... She remained looking at the landscape for several minutes, lost
in thought. She could see Neopia over Kreludor's horizon. Dark clouds roiled
over a landmass currently in shadow, that would be the Haunted Woods. Currently,
it was in shadow, facing away from the sun. Bits of sunlight made the clouds
of Faerieland sparkle, even at this distance. A large expanse of golden sand
marked the Lost Desert, which had a completely cloudless sky above it. In the
middle of it all, her beloved Neopia Central sat. She closed her eyes to imagine
her home one last time - she refused to call it her "old home" just yet. The
other neighbourhood kids would be playing Gormball right now, practicing their
timing and tossing in the street. A soft, golden, russet glow would just be
descending on her neighbourhood, lighting up front porches and tinging everything
with a warm shade of colour. Darkness would settle so gently over the street
that the inhabitants would hardly notice the change - still sitting on their
front porches or playing tag in the dusk, they would gradually notice it was
time to retire. Aylinn knew it all so well she could see it clearly inside her
head, with not even the most trivial detail missing from the happy scene. Flowers
bursting from a window sill, a hose left running on the grass, Warfs running
amok in the flowers--
A soft thump behind her made her jump, and she
turned in time to see a flash of her father descending the stairs of the trapdoor.
But then she saw something else - and her face lit up.
Her bean bag chair sat in the middle of the
floor, looking familiar, inviting, and comforting all at once. Atop it lay the
book she'd been reading, and on the floor rested a mug of hot cocoa.
Scooping up her Snowbunny, which had been investigating
the hot cocoa, she sank into her chair. She couldn't remember ever feeling more
relieved - and she decided she could get used to Kreludor after all.