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Shadow Grows Up


by star_29791

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Shadow the baby Zafara was sulking in her room. She had, with some difficulty, dragged her Snowbunny chair against the door and sat on it. Her owner, Amy had knocked on the door but she had refused to come out. And Amy had got cross with her.

      "Come out, Shadow!" Amy had said.

      "No and you can't make me!" Shadow had screamed.

      In the end, Amy had stomped out to angrily pull out the weeds from her garden and left Shadow sulking in her room.

      She was still there now and she was getting bored. She might have been a baby but toys and books didn't amuse her and this often got her into trouble. Like today.

      Earlier, Amy, Flora the Royalgirl Cybunny and Shadow's pretty older sister and Blaze the Fire Lupe and Shadow's older brother, donned their messy outfits and started to redecorate the dining room.

      They had started by painting the usually terracotta coloured walls white then painting them cornflower blue. They were halfway through the second wall when a visitor had arrived unexpectedly. It was Mrs. Harris from down the road - she was a big fan of petpets especially Harrises and every time she came around, she would describe each one of her four Harris in excruciating detail.

      Shadow was put in her pink playpen next to where Mrs. Harris was sitting. And naturally as adults do when babies are around, Mrs. Harris started patting Shadow's head and pinching her cheeks and cooing, "Who's a cute little Zafara? Yes, that's my little Shadow. Gootchy gootchy goo!"

      If there was one thing Shadow hated, it was being babied. She didn't want to be a baby but she was one and when babies didn't like something…they cried and screamed. Which was what Shadow did…as well as biting Mrs. Harris' hand and pulling her hair and knocking her glasses off. Amy had to grab the kicking and screaming baby Zafara and put her in her highchair whilst she went to make sure Mrs. Harris wasn't too distressed.

      Mrs. Harris left hastily and Amy, Flora and Blaze carried on with their painting. It was whilst they were painting that they realised Shadow had somehow managed to get down from her high chair. She came into the dining room and seeing her brother and sister painting, was determined not to be left out. So she'd seized a paintbrush and started to dollop paint on the walls.

      "No, Shadow!" Amy had said. "No painting for you. You're too young."

      Of course this put Shadow into an angrier mood and she had started her kicking and screaming again. She was fed up of being called 'too young' and 'a cute little wittle baby'.

      Now, as she sat sulking in her room, she resolved to not be treated as a baby. She'd been in this room, sulking on many an occasion. She had had many tantrums in her few months since living here. She didn't want to be cute. She wanted to be grown up and responsible. She wanted to be pretty like Flora but cool like Blaze. She didn't want to be a baby.

      When was Amy going to paint her?

      Paint her! Of course! She only had to go and find a paintbrush. She pushed her chair away from the door and peeked around the door. The coast was clear. She could hear Amy and Flora laughing at something Blaze had said in the dining room, so she slowly crept down the stairs. She stood in the hall and looked in the mirror. Hmm…she looked too…babyish. People would definitely ask her why she was out alone without a responsible guardian. It had happened before when she'd tried to go to the shops alone and instead was dragged back home by a kind but interfering Blumaroo.

      She saw Amy's jacket hanging on the stair banisters and she grabbed it, wrapping it around herself. She checked everyone was still in the dining room and then silently opened the front door (with some difficulty - babies tend to have short legs). Then she hurried down the road as fast as she could (which wasn't very fast).

          *

      It was two hours later that Shadow came back home. Amy came out of the kitchen carrying two steaming mugs of coffee and a can of coke under her arm. She saw Shadow and screamed, dropping the mugs of coffee and burning her leg.

      "Who are you?" she asked, with a shaking voice.

      Flora and Blaze came out of the dining room. Flora immediately started to clean up the coffee. Blaze looked like he'd had too many paint fumes. His face had a dopey and confused look.

      Shadow smiled, delighted. Amy hadn't recognised her! This whole thing was turning out easier than she thought.

      "It's me! Shadow!" she burst out.

      There was a lot of shouting and questions after that.

      Eventually, Amy managed to get the full story; Shadow had come across an old Aisha with blue twinkling eyes. She wanted to know what a baby Zafara was doing all by herself (her disguise wasn't very effective). She told her she was on the quest for a paintbrush so everyone wouldn't treat her like a baby. The old Aisha had chuckled and then said, "Well it's your lucky day, dear. I just so happen to have a couple of spare ones and I would be more than happy to help you!"

      So Shadow followed the old Aisha to her home and chosen a paintbrush and now she'd come back as a shadow Zafara.

      "Oh Shadow!" Amy sighed. "You only needed to ask." She couldn't say she liked the new Shadow. She was a little too dark for Amy's liking.

      "I like being shadow! It suits my name!"

      Amy punished her and grounded her for a month for talking to strangers, sneaking out, going to a stranger's house and painting herself without Amy's permission.

      Flora had simply giggled nervously and Blaze had said nothing. They didn't know what to think. They wanted baby Shadow back.

     *

     "Shadow! I'm going out! Could you make your own lunch?" Amy called.

      Shadow came into the kitchen. "Aww!! Why can't you make it?"

      "For Negg's sake, Shadow! You're not a baby anymore!"

      Shadow scowled. "I'm still the youngest!"

      "Look at yourself, Shadow! You're taller than Flora and she can make her own bed, cook her own lunch and tidy her own room," Amy said as she bustled out the door.

     *

      "Let's play dressing up!" Flora suggested.

      "Yay!" Shadow said, bouncing on the sofa like she always did. "Let's play goodies and baddies!"

      "Shadow! You'll break the sofa! Get down!" Amy scolded from the kitchen.

      Shadow sat down meekly. "I'll be the goodie and you can be the baddie!"

      Flora laughed. "No way! I'm the goodie! You're darker and eviller looking than me!"

      "But I'm always the goodie!" Shadow whined.

      "Really, Shadow, you should stop whining. You're not a baby anymore," Flora said, rummaging in the dressing up box.

     *

      "Blaze, can you throw me in the air?" Shadow said, sidling up to him as he sat, half asleep, on the lawn.

      Blaze lifted his head and looked at Shadow like she was mad.

      "You serious?" he said.

      "Yes! Like you always do!"

      Blaze chuckled to himself. "You're not a baby anymore. You're too big!"

      Shadow blushed and vanished into her room for the rest of the day.

     *

      "What's wrong?" Amy said, concerned, when Shadow came limping into the kitchen, crying. It was Shadow's first day of being allowed out to play for a long time and Amy had taken her to Neopia Central for a treat but now she was a little behind making dinner and she was flustered and hot.

      "I was playing…in…the…garden…and I fell over and hurt my knee!!!!!" Shadow spluttered. She lifted her leg up so Amy could examine it.

      Amy gazed worriedly at her knee and then she grew cross. "Shadow, this is nothing but a slight graze!"

      Shadow howled, "It hurts! Can I have a hug?"

      But Amy had already turned back to her cooking. "Shadow, you're not a baby anymore."

     *

      Amy's mum, Kayla, was coming round. Shadow was her special favourite and she loved to sit on her knee even though she hated being babied.

      "Shadow! Is that you?" Kayla squealed as soon as she'd seen the new Shadow.

      "Can I sit on your lap?" Shadow asked.

      Kayla laughed.

      "I don't think so, honey. You've gotten a bit bigger than last time I saw you! My old knees won't take it!" Then she added, "Oh my! You are a dark little thing. I wouldn't say you were cute anymore! Maybe little Flora is the cute one now!" And then the family started discussing Flora's 'charming' manners.

      Shadow's smile disappeared and she endured the rest of Kayla's visit in silence.

     *

      Shadow wanted Amy to cuddle her and kiss her like she used to. She wanted Flora to let her choose what games they should play like she use to. She wanted Blaze to throw her in the air like he used to. She wanted Kayla to let her sit on her knee and think she was cute like she used to.

      She went round once again to the old Aisha's house.

      "Why, hello dear, come in!"

      The old Aisha made tea and put a plate of cookies out. After they were settled down, she asked, "Now, what was it you want dear?"

      "I was wondering if you have any spare baby paintbrushes."

      The old Aisha raised an eyebrow, her eyes twinkling.

      "But I thought you didn't want to be a baby."

      "I didn't. I don't. But everyone seems to be almost ignoring me. And they won't hug me or let me choose and they make me tidy my own room and make my own bed and lunch." Shadow sighed.

      "Oh dear! But you'll have to go through all that some time, dear. It's part of growing up." The Aisha sipped her tea, the whole time her twinkling eyes fixed on Shadow.

      "I know." Shadow took a deep breath. "But I'm just not ready to grow up yet. I realised that when you're young you spend your time wishing you were old but when you're old, you wish you were young. And I have plenty of time to be old. Just not right now."

      The Aisha smiled. "That's very true, my dear. Indeed." She paused. "Come, let's go see if I have any spare brushes."

      They entered the cellar and as the Aisha searched for a paintbrush, Shadow browsed through her collection of books, maps, codestones, weapons and everything else you could think of.

      "I'm very sorry, dear but I don't seem to have any baby paintbrushes left," the old Aisha said as she shuffled to where Shadow was looking at a map, her blue eyes twinkling. "But I do have this." She held out a paintbrush.

      "It's a plushie paintbrush!" Shadow said.

      "Yes, I thought it would be just the thing for you! You'd look cute but not too cute, young but not too young!"

      "Thanks!" Shadow said, as the Aisha painted her.

      The Aisha took Shadow to the far corner and stood her in front of a mirror.

      "This is perfect! Thank you very much! I'll go home to show my family!"

     *

      Things didn't get back to normal but Shadow learnt this was because she was growing up. She was hugged and kissed by Amy but not too often, she was allowed to choose games half the time whilst the other half was chosen by Flora, Blaze threw her in the air, although with a little difficulty, and she sat on Kayla's lap while she told her how perfect her new look was.

      She never kicked and screamed again and accepted that she was growing up and should make her own bed and tidy her own room. She even took on some of the easier chores that Flora and Blaze had to do. And she found a new hobby. Gardening. Amy cleared a small square patch in the back garden so Shadow could plant her own plants and look after them herself - she was responsible for her little patch.

      When I'm older, she thought, I might paint myself again. But that's when I'm grown up. I'm happy being a responsible young Zafara right now!

     *

      Meanwhile back at the old Aisha's house, the old Aisha was rummaging in her cellar. She was convinced she'd left the secret laboratory map somewhere here. She couldn't ask her owner because her owner had long since left and the old Aisha had learnt to live by herself.

      As she searched, she saw a ribbon under a pile of books. She tugged at the ribbon, curiously but it stuck. It was attached to something. When she finally pulled it out from under the books, she saw it was a Baby Paintbrush! The old Aisha chuckled.

      "The plushie look suited her better," she said to herself.

      Then she caught sight of herself in the mirror. She was old, her skin was wrinkly and she had bags under her eyes from lack of sleep.

      She looked at the paintbrush in her hands and then at her reflection. Her blue eyes twinkled mischievously.

     *

      "Snap!" Amy shouted. "I win!"

      Flora, Shadow and Blaze groaned. Amy was too good at this game. She'd won every single game so far.

      The doorbell rang.

      Shadow went to answer. It was early evening and the sun was about to go down. She opened the door and saw no one. She heard a faint rustling and looked down. By her foot was a basket. She looked into the basket to see an Aisha baby peering at her from under several layers of blanket.

      Flora and Amy came out to see what was going on. Shadow pointed silently at the baby. They gasped but then the baby started crying so they carried the basket indoors, cooing over the baby.

      Shadow stayed by the open doorway and peered into the darkening garden but saw nothing. She suddenly thought of the old Aisha. She decided to pay a visit on her tomorrow morning and then went back inside.

     *

      They looked after the baby Aisha whom they named Skye because of her blue eyes and she became part of the family. But Shadow never saw the old Aisha again. She never knew where she'd gone. But she always felt she was close.

      Which was true. If she looked at the baby Aisha carefully, she'd see clear blue, twinkling eyes just like the old Aisha's.

The End

 
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