More Like Saffron: Part One
"Athena, Cadmium-DINNER!" Elspeth called from the kitchen
of her spacious Neohome. Savory smells of broiled gammon, broccoli, mashed potatoes,
and chocolate Faerie cakes-a treat reserved for special occasions only-wafted
up the stairs to the Faerie Peophin and Royal Aisha's bedroom. As soon as they
smelled the wonderful fragrance upon walking in the door after school, Cadmium
and Athena knew something special was going to happen. The two swapped excited
glances as they leapt up from where they were sprawled on their Faerie beanbag
chairs and bounded down the stairs.
"Well, you two, take your seats," Elspeth smiled,
"and then I have some wonderful news!" Cadmium and Athena looked at her expectantly.
Their usually prim and proper owner never grew this excited, unless it was something
really spectacular. Elspeth hurriedly served the food, said grace, and cleared
"As you know, I've always wanted a big family,
consisting of neopets. Last month was a particularly good one for the paintbrush
shop, and I feel that I now have enough neopoints to support another member
of the family." She paused for dramatic effect. "I am going to get another pet!"
Squeals of delight filled the air, along with
a million questions.
"Will it share our room? Will you paint it whatever
it wants to be painted too?" This was from Athena.
"Are you going to get a girl pet or a boy pet?
Please get a girl pet, because all the boys at school are gross! And can you
get a baby pet? I've always wanted a baby sister to take care of!" While Athena
had stopped with two questions, Cadmium rattled on and on until Elspeth tapped
her drinking glass.
"Cadmium, please! Stop that incessant chattering.
I thought we discussed that last week. I have decided that, since we have been
blessed with such great wealth, we should take care of a pet that has been less
Athena gasped with pleasure. "Oh, that's so
great! This way it won't be young and immature, like Jessie's new little Bori
Elspeth smiled somewhat wryly at her. "I'm glad
you're pleased. Now, I'm not at all sure what sorts of pets will be there, but
which would you two prefer? And no, I will NOT get a Lenny."
The two girls sighed in relief, and a lively
discussion about the pros and cons of each species of pet went on all throughout
the evening. Elspeth sent Athena and Cadmium off to bed promptly at 9:00 despite
"Aw, but El, it's Saturday! Can't we at least
stay up until 9:30?" Cadmium tried to keep the whine out of her voice and failed
miserably. They did manage to stay up until 9:15, because Elspeth gave them
a lecture on "Early to bed, early to rise, makes a neopet owner healthy, wealthy,
"Why would it possibly be taking her three hours?
Did something go wrong?" Athena's pretty face creased into a frown as she stared
out the window at the falling snow.
Cadmium was pacing the floor (and wearing a
path in the rug in the process). She shrugged her shoulders but kept up her
endless march. "Your guess is as good as mine, Athena. Maybe she had to do a
lot of paperwork, or maybe she's having a hard time deciding. You know her-everything
has to be perfect, including our new sister. I hope she remembered that we wanted
Athena nodded, then moved from her perch at
the windowsill. "I think I'll go get my pastels and work some more on my drawing,"
she murmured. After another hour of endless pacing by Cadmium and hopeless scribbling
by Athena, the doorknob finally turned. Both pets scrambled to the door and
in came a snow-covered Elspeth, who had a rather large lump under her coat.
"Well? Where is she?" Cadmium demanded as Elspeth
stomped the snow off her boots.
A tiny fur-covered head with huge yellow eyes
peeked out of Elspeth's coat. Elspeth gently placed the yellow Xweetok on the
floor and said, "Cadmium, Athena, this is your new sister." The proud look in
her eyes told the Faerie Peophin and Royal Aisha that their owner was pleased
with her new pet. The Xweetok, however, looked like she was about to run back
out the door and into the blinding snow.
Athena offered a hoof to the tiny Xweetok. "Hello
there, I'm Athena. What's your name?"
Before the Xweetok could even open her mouth,
Elspeth answered for her. "Her name is Saffron. That's what took me so long-I
had to think of the most perfect name!" Athena and Cadmium shared knowing glances.
"Well, you two, don't just stand there. Take Saffy up to her room and show her
her things." As soon as they reached their room, Saffron's already huge eyes
got even bigger.
"Th-this is my room?" she asked in absolute
amazement. "It's wonderful." Athena and Cadmium proceeded to show her everything
Elspeth had bought for her, and Saffron gushed over it all until Elspeth called
them down for dinner.
"Ugh, I smell omelette." Cadmium sniffed.
"Omelette! She must be tired!" Athena turned
to Saffron. "We don't usually eat prepared food. Elspeth's a marvelous cook!"
Saffron shrugged her bony shoulders. "I don't
really mind omelette. It's better than what I had to eat at the pound."
By this time, the three of them had reached
the table, where Elspeth hastily served up the carrot and pea omelette. Athena
and Cadmium wolfed it down and washed the taste out of their mouths with large
glasses of apple juice, but Saffron ate delicately and complimented Elspeth
on her wonderful cooking during the whole meal. Elspeth frowned at her two older
pets when she saw their lack of manners. "Can't you two be more like Saffron?
Look at how politely she eats." Saffron blushed, and Athena and Cadmium mumbled
an apology and rose to wash their respective hooves and paws.
The next day was Saffron's first day at Neopia
Central Junior High. The Lenny alarm (it was the only thing that would wake
Cadmium up in the morning, mostly because, upon hearing it, she leapt three
feet in the air) blared at 6:30, and Cadmium, in the process of leaping into
the air, slammed down on the snooze button and fell back into bed. Ten minutes
later, she and Athena awoke with a start.
"Oh, no, did you press the snooze button again,
Cadmium?" Not waiting for an answer, Athena raced to the bathroom to brush her
mane. "Elspeth's going to be furious!" The two of them decided to skip their
normal routine of making the beds and straightening up the room and instead
concentrated on brushing their hair. By the time they got down the stairs, they
only had ten minutes before the bell would ring.
Cadmium smacked herself on the forehead. After
all those months of having one sibling, they had completely forgotten about
Saffron! "Athena, I think we forgot-" The words died on Cadmium's lips as they
reached the kitchen. There was Saffron at the table, drinking her strawberry
smoothie with Elspeth, who was drinking Purple Juppie Java and looking very
"Cadmium, Athena, the reason I bought the alarm
clock for you was so that you would actually get up on time." The two tried
to give their excuses, but Elspeth held up her hand. "I don't want to hear it.
Tomorrow please try to be more like Saffron. Just sit down and eat these scotch
eggs. I was going to make smoothies for all of you, but, well..." She gave them
a stern look before walking Saffron to the door.
Cadmium was indignant. "I didn't mean to push
the snooze button! It's a reflex! The cackling makes me think of Gerald from
third period Algebra, and you know how much I want to smack him!"
Athena tossed a scotch egg her way and shoved
her own in her mouth. "Come on, we've gotta go!" The two of them hurriedly swallowed
their less-than-appetizing breakfasts and ran to catch up with Saffron, who
was chatting amiably with Brett, the silver Shoyru from down the street.
"Hey, how'd you get ready so fast?" Cadmium
got straight to the point, not caring that she was interrupting. "And why didn't
you wake us up?"
Saffron blushed again. "I had to wake up really
early at the pound in order to get any breakfast, so I was up at the crack of
dawn. I guess I was already downstairs with Elspeth when your alarm went off.
I'm really sorry you both got in trouble."
Athena sighed. "It's not YOUR fault, is it,
Cadmium?" She glared at the Royal Aisha, who at least had the decency to look
slightly ashamed. The Faerie Peophin continued, "Look, we'd really like to get
to know you better, so how about we eat lunch together?" Saffron nodded in agreement
just as they arrived at school-moments before the bell rang.
As it turned out, Athena and Cadmium didn't
even see Saffron until dinner that night. Brett, who Cadmium decided had a crush
on Saffron, had immediately volunteered to take the yellow Xweetok to the office
to get her schedule, which was completely different from theirs except for lunch.
The cafeteria was so crowded, however, that not even Athena (who had 20/20 eyesight
plus underwater vision) could spot her. As soon as the three girls arrived home
from school, Saffron went to Elspeth's room and Athena and Cadmium flopped down
on their Faerie beanbag chairs to get their homework, as Cadmium put it, "dead
and done." At promptly 6:00, Elspeth called them down to dinner.
"So, Saffy, where were you after we got home
from school today?" Athena questioned as the three pets took their places at
the dinner table.
Again, Elspeth answered for the Xweetok. "Saffron
was in my room using the encyclopedia set. She said she wanted to do research-something
about a science project due next week."
Cadmium looked astonished. "Do you mean that
you started that thing already?"
Saffron shook her head. "Actually, I finished
the research," she murmured.
This time it was Athena's turn to look amazed.
"I haven't even chosen my topic yet!" Then another thought occurred to the Faerie
Peophin. "What about your regular homework?"
"Oh, I finished that in study hall. I wanted
to get it done so that I could get started on the project early." Saffron paused
between bites of orange chicken to answer.
Elspeth addressed her two older pets. "Did you
two finish your homework yet?" she asked before taking another piece of honey
and wheat baguette.
The two swapped sheepish looks before Athena
answered. "Well, we got math homework done!" She smiled brightly.
Elspeth detected the hesitancy in Athena's voice.
Athena cleared her throat. "But we still have
to do everything else."
Their owner shook her head. "Why can't you two
be more like Saffron?" She rose from the table with a sigh and served dessert-chocolate
chip cookies, on which, of course, Saffron poured compliments.
Cadmium and Athena wolfed down their cookies,
threw a hasty "thank you" over their shoulders, and rushed back upstairs to
finish their homework. Twenty minutes later, Saffron and Elspeth came into the
Cadmium glanced up from her homework. "What've
you been up to?" she asked.
Saffron wore a slightly apprehensive expression
on her face and was about to answer, but Elspeth spoke up before the Xweetok
could even take a breath. "Saffron offered to clean the kitchen for me, since
I had such a busy day at the shop. That's more than I can say for the two of
you. What happened in here?" Elspeth's eyes took in the clothes scattered on
the floor and the unmade beds.
"Oh, don't worry about that. I can clean it
up later," Saffron's voice was barely a whisper. Elspeth nodded approvingly,
and neither Athena nor Cadmium missed the fond glance that their owner gave
her newest pet before the two of them walked down the hall to her room, chattering
about some new game show that apparently was about to come on.
Athena and Cadmium waited until Elspeth's door
closed. Then the two started talking almost simultaneously.
"Did you see that? And have you heard her today?
'Why can't you be more like Saffron?' Since when is that little twerp the perfect
pet?" Cadmium snapped.
Although she was thinking the same thing, Athena
wanted to be fair. "Maybe it's because she's new. El could be trying to make
her feel at home. I mean, it must not have been easy for Saffron at the pound."
Athena twitched her sister's ear, and Cadmium felt some of her anger fade.
"You're probably right, Athena. I'm sorry for
snapping. I agree that we should give her some time to settle in. This can't
last forever." The two settled back to their homework, the sound of muffled
laughter floating down the hall from Elspeth's room.
To be continued...
I hope you enjoy my second submission to the NT. Feedback is appreciated!