A Yurble stole my cinnamon roll! Circulation: 111,611,307 Issue: 221 | 22nd day of Celebrating, Y7
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Meti and the Perfect Gift

by anjie


The faint dappling of pale light had long ago been drained from the Neopian skies, and the aftermath of soft, crimson dusk had come and gone. The dusty, humid trails of Mystery Island and the small houses scattered along them were silent and dark, the occupants slumbering peacefully, content in dreams of Advent Calendar surprises or dubious Battledome victories.

     There roads trailed, winding into one last road. This place was something of a haven, a hideaway from the crowds that swarmed the island, a safe place from the lines of pets queuing near the Island chef. Here, the soft trees seemed to possess some faint, tropical perfume. Alabaster fingers of ocean spray clutched at golden sands, before rushing out to the sapphire ocean.

     At the end of this road sat a small hut right on the corner of the sand, and one of the windows cast soft reflected glow, gold in tone, onto the ground below. Nothing more than mere candlelight, and soft, faint candlelight at that, as if the room's occupant had kept the wax melting for some time. After all, it was very late.

     If one peered through that window, they would sight Meti. A rather round plushie Draik, almost unusually tiny in stature, his crimson tongue stuck out in deep concentration and his shimmering eyes were wide as his plushie fingers labored at binding together small palm fronds. He'd collected them earlier that day off Mystery Island beach and smuggled them back into his bedroom, well aware that his owner might not approve of him hoarding foliage under his bed.

     The room was silent. His expression didn't shift until a soft knock sounded at the door and his owner, Anjie, peered in. She'd given Meti only a few moments to push his work under the bed and sit, attempting an innocent air that his owner didn't accept as genuine for a moment. She murmured sleepily, "Meti, it must be four in the morning, and I was up late dragging your siblings to the Advent Calendar. Why are you still awake?"

     The small Draik widened his eyes, telling her, "I was just... thinking. About the Month of Celebrating."

     Anjie sighed and shook her head, informing him, "I told you, I don't mind giving you neopoints to buy presents for your siblings... Didn't I give you some the other day?"

     He nodded, his wide crimson eyes full of concern, explaining, "And I bought them. For nearly everyone. But not you. It wouldn't be right to give you something that you already paid for. I was up, working on a present."

     "I don't need a present, you know," Anjie explained gently. "I would rather you got some sleep. A cranky Draik in the morning would be a far worse thing than a present I paid for."

     He shook his head adamantly and his owner sighed, knowing well enough that arguing with him was pointless. She smiled wearily and left, closing the door, only to have it opened a few moments later again by his sister, Zaqa.

     She was a rather furious looking royal Draik, her features coated in white, creamy goo that appeared to be the organic bananas that had previously been residing in the kitchen and had apparently met their fate as a facial mask. Beneath this mess his sister's intense gaze narrowed and she regarded him regally.

     "Whatever strange thing you're doing at this hour, Meti, it's keeping me awake!"

     The small, plushie Draik sighed and reached under the bed, withdrawing a somewhat chaotic collection of palm fronds, bound with twine, each frond askew, the entire thing looking worse for wear for having been concealed.

     "It's a present for Anjie. For the month of celebrating. I wanted to make her something original, that no one else would have, and she's always saying how hot it gets here..."

     He trailed off, confusion on his features as he watched his sister dissolve into giggles of hysteria. She clutched the door frame with perfectly manicured talons as she cackled, finally informing him of the reason for such mirth.

     "That's a palm fan, silly. The Tombola guy gives zillions away every night. It's not original!"

     Still laughing she exited the room, leaving a rather forlorn Meti to gaze sadly at his creation, now realizing where the inspiration for it had come from. Of course he had seen palm fans a million times, but he had so wanted to create something he must have simply forgotten. Sighing softly he crawled into his bed, cuddling under the sheets and falling asleep, still trying urgently to think of an idea.

     The next morning as luminous sunlight drifted over the shimmering sands, Meti was once again on a mission, combing the beaches of the island, now and then kneeling, very carefully digging up a collection of sand and depositing it with great reverence and care into one of the many buckets he was carrying.

     Of course, seven buckets was far too much for so small a Draik to manage, especially with his plushie-like limbs, but he had found slipping the handles over a mop handle and slinging that over his shoulder was working nicely.

     Step by waddling step he explored the island, barely stopping his determined walk to wave at the Mynci group who were batting around a volleyball cheerfully. He ignored the calls for him to join them. He hardly glanced at Jhuidah, busy at her cooking pot, as he passed, though she uttered a merry greeting whilst selecting items to blend in the magic contraption. He ventured past the island tours and up beyond the steaming, puffing peaks of Techo Mountain, only now and then stopping.

     It was late evening before he trudged home, exhausted but certain the perfect gift was indeed at hand. After a hurried dinner, in which he swallowed his food so quickly he had coughed (and of course, Zaqa had laughed), he scurried to his room.

     Ungracefully settling down upon the now crushed and slightly brown palm fronds, he examined the buckets in front of him, each full of a different color sand. Vibrant, beautiful crimson grains from the southern beaches, brilliant azures from the northern shores. Yellows, oranges, emerald tones, even a small amount of a rare indigo sand, each glittering, even in the faint light of his candle.

     Slowly, clumsy plushie paws clutched at each bucket of sand as he tried to ignore his natural inclination to be slightly accident prone. He trickled the rainbow colored grains into a clear bottle. It had been painstakingly washed and cleaned by him early that morning until the glass shimmered, illuminated by the reflected gleam of candles.

     The creation of his gift took him hours, and by the time he managed to finish, it was late and Anjie was already asleep. Puffing and wincing with effort, Meti forced a tiny cork into the neck of the bottle and held it before him, gazing at his work in utter delight.

     The sands sat beautifully atop one another within their glass container. He mused silently that it was much like holding a bottled rainbow. He didn't even flinch as Zaqa pushed open the door and peered in, the toothbrush between her jaws making her speech rather garbled.

     "Oh, a bottle of rainbow sand. Bad luck, Meti. Maybe the Tiki Tack man will give you a codestone tomorrow."

     She left, humming rather off-key to herself as Meti's adorable, large eyes filled with crystal-like tears and he slumped, defeated, onto the floor amongst the mess of multi-colored sand and the palm fronds. They no longer smelled like tropical island perfume, but more like a mulchy, rotting scent.

     Still clutching the small bottle in his paw, he shook his head. Rainbow sand. Of course. He knew about that, too! Why couldn't he just have one original idea that Tiki Tack man hadn't already come up with?

     Before dawn had basked upon the deserted beaches, Meti was up and at work again, determined he wouldn't give in. One way or another, he would get his owner the perfect present, make it original, and do it soon. Indeed, the Day of Giving wasn't far away. Carrying only one bucket with him this time, the small Draik wound his way along the dirt roads, dappled with sand, that criss-crossed the island. The farther he walked, the more cheerful he became. Surely this last idea would be his best!

     It was twilight when he returned home, his soft yellow face coated in dirt, his long, squishy tail drooping along the ground behind him, and his pale emerald wings slightly dusty, but a grin smeared upon his sleepy features.

     Slipping past the bedroom of his sleeping owner, he tiptoed into his own room, ignoring the rotten palm fronds, scattered rainbow sands, and other such mess, and got to work. Carefully, bit by bit, he piled the fresh, plump olives he had collected during the day into a massive glass jar. The scent was amazing and he knew Anjie would adore it. Although he managed to drop more of the tasty green olives onto the floor than he did into the jar, some few hours later, he had finished.

     So happy was he that he didn't care that his paws smelt strange or that Zaqa was again traipsing into his room, stepping on several fallen olives on the way and grinding them into the ground as she examined him.

     "A jar of olives? Meti. Your brain must be squishy as well as your body. It's another Tombola prize, silly!"

     Meti gazed from her, to the jar, and closed his eyes, letting out a wail, which echoed through the small beach hut and brought Anjie running. She scooped him into her arms and cuddled his small, plushie form as he sobbed in disappointment.

     "Meti! Don't cry! What could be wrong?" she asked, concern etched on her face.

     Lower lip quivering, he gazed at her, explaining through soft sobs. "I wanted to get you the perfect gift, Anjie. But the Tombola man thought of Palm Fans, Rainbow Sand, and Jars of Olives before I did!"

     Anjie hid a smile, cuddling her pet and talking to him in soft, reassuring tones.

     "Meti, I told you. I don't need a present. It's more than enough of a gift to know that you went to so much trouble for me. All that effort!"

     He smiled proudly; indeed, he had worked hard, and now his owner knew it. He hugged her and glanced up, noticing she was surveying the hectic chaos of his room. The walls and floors smeared with squished olives, the juicy green food squished into the carpet and decorating his bedspread. Scattered everywhere, rainbow sand glistened and shone, glimmering atop brown, rotten palm fronds. Anjie sighed.

     "The perfect gift, Meti? How about tidying this up?"

The End

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