Waiting Out the Storm: Part One
Spring had sprung in Mystery Island. The birds were chirping, the flowers budding, and most of the residents were out talking to neighbors and enjoying the nice weather. Authors were gathering inspiration by walking on the beaches and breathing in air after a long, hard winter. Others were furiously scribbling on tablets, describing the sights and sounds of a fantastic spring day. Truth was, only a very lazy Neopian wouldn’t be outside.
That lazy Neopian was no other than Jenna A. Smitz, red Lutari, who currently resided under her covers in a little hut by the beach. She pulled those same covers over her head as the sunshine streamed through her thin drapes. I don’t ever want to get up.
Suddenly there was a knock on the door. “Jenna, hon, it’s time to get up,” called a light feminine voice. The beige door opened and a yellow Lutari, sporting a flowered dress and tiny pearl earrings, entered the room. Jenna groaned and curled into a tighter ball.
Her mom’s voice softened. “Jenna.”
Jenna shut her eyes, wishing she could shut her ears as well.
“I know moving away from everything you loved and knew was hard, but look on the bright side. You’ll acquire a new taste for different foods, broaden your horizons, and maybe even learn new things.”
The red Lutari sighed, a tiny little sigh that only a mother would detect.
As she began rubbing her daughter’s back, Mrs. Smitz continued the late-morning pep talk. “You know, you might even find a new best friend. How about that? Huh?”
Finally Jenna found her voice. She talked so quietly her mother had to lean down and request that she repeat herself.
“I said, I don’t want a new best friend. I want my old best friend.”
Her mother looked at the lump on the brand-new bed. She sighed and shook her daughter’s arm, or where she guessed it was. “By now, honey, I’m not going to ask you to grin and bear it. I’m just going to ask that you cooperate. Don’t make this too hard for all of us. It was difficult for me and your dad too.”
But Jenna remained silent.
The yellow Lutari got up from the bed and strode towards the door in a sad fashion. It was almost ten in the morning, after all, and there were things to do, even though her daughter was still lying under the covers. When the door clicked shut Jenna poked her head out and miserably surveyed her surroundings. The thin drapes let in light and fresh, springlike air. Next to Jenna’s bed was a lengthy mirror. The closet was adjacent to that. A desk near the window with a diary and a cluster of pens completed the impersonal room. The only things here that would make the room seem closer to home were photographs and belongings from Neopia Central, and those were packed away in her closet. The memories that clung to them like a wet shirt were too sad.
Jenna walked over to the desk, still in her pajamas, and opened the diary. Hesitantly she picked up the pen, flipped to the page where the limp bookmark held her place and began writing a little.
Thurs., Fourth May 10:10 a.m.
So far all I’ve done since we moved is mope around and be lazy. I think Mom was finally fed up with me because she talked for once. Of course, all I did was remain silent except for pointing out that I wanted my old life back, instead of gaining a new one. She left me and I finally crawled out from the bed. I couldn’t lie there forever, I suppose. The next step would be to put on some going-out-in-front-of-the-public clothes and showing my face so Dad doesn’t think I died. I’m hungry, anyway. May as well.
She re-placed the bookmark on a new page, set the pen down and closed the diary. Jenna then walked over to the closet and picked out an outfit. It was stylish in Neopia, but who knew what the fashion was here? Correction: Who cares what the fashion’s like here, thought Jenna grimly. Carefully she put on a white dress with pink polka dots, a flower necklace. In case her parents forced her to go outside, she grabbed a light straw sunhat with a red ribbon around it. She inspected herself in the mirror, for once taking advantage of its length. That looks pretty good, she thought wryly, considering I don’t care.
She took cautious steps out of the bedroom and into the hallway. It was littered with boxes, some filled and some not. Her parents hadn’t unpacked either, so they couldn’t chastise her for not decorating her own room. As she ambled her way down the hall, she came across a kitchen. Its white interior and the bright ceiling light combined to give it a harsh, unfamiliar look.
Her dad was waiting. He positively beamed when she came his way. He, too, was a yellow Lutari, sporting a blue shirt with islandy-looking flowers all over it in white, along with short, beige shorts. Mr. Smitz gestured to her to come and sit in the chair next to him as he put a forkful of some exotic dish in his mouth. Hesitantly she took a seat and waited for him to swallow.
“So what are you going to do today?” he asked, hoping that she would break her silence.
Since she hated to freeze her dad out, she replied. “I think I’ll go outside for a while,” Jenna said. “After all, I’m going to live here for a long, long time... May as well get used to the place.”
Her dad grinned widely, displaying something green in his teeth. “Good!”
Jenna winced. “You’ve got a little... uh...” She gestured to her teeth. Her dad went after the unidentified food object with a claw and dug it out. “Aha.” He smiled, teeth junk-free.
Jenna forced herself to smile at her father, fighting against a sudden wave of anger. She forced herself to say, “I’m going to just go outside now, Dad,” without spitting the words.
He nodded his approval, occupied with a long noodle trailing from her mouth. Jenna got up instantly and nearly knocked her chair down. She grabbed it, pushed it back, and burst out the door. It slammed behind her, the loud noise echoing her anger and frustration. One of her neighbors, a small Uni named Patricia, looked at her curiously. Jenna was completely aware of her neighbor’s stare on her back and turned around quickly.
“What?” she snapped.
Patricia seemed to be taken aback. “’Scuse me for wondering something,” she said angrily.
Ashamed, Jenna looked down. The red Uni glared at her, then started to walk in the direction of her house. As she started to open the door, Jenna called out to her.
“You want to come down with me to the beach?” she shouted. Patricia turned around and scrutinized her neighbor for a long time. Finally she nodded, ever so slightly. Jenna smiled, relieved that her she hadn’t already found an enemy, and gestured with her paw.
Although the beach was just over a block away, the walk to it was very awkward. After a few seconds, Jenna finally tried to break the ice.
“So how long have you lived here?”
Jenna was amazed. “Really? That’s a long time...”
The Uni smiled happily and inhaled the fresh air. “Yeah, all my life.”
The red Lutari’s brown eyes widened in shock. “Wow.”
Patricia smiled and picked at her black capris. Jenna noticed that they didn’t match the green bow in her hair, the red plaid shirt, or her pink sandals. I definitely won’t be asking her for fashion advice.
“Look, there’s the beach!” Jenna snapped to attention and stared in the direction of the beach. Multitudes of residents crowded its shores, dotting the water and the sand. The noise was deafening.
“Nice beach,” said Jenna.
Her neighbor grinned. “I know. Come on!” She grabbed Jenna’s hand and began pulling her forward.
Jenna resisted subconsciously but then pushed herself in the direction of the beach. Down the sandy hill went the two neighbors, hair flying and dust clouding. Their speed increased quickly until they finally reached the end of the hill. Patricia dug her heels into the ground and waved her arms, keeping her balance, while Jenna fell right into the heated sand.
“Ow,” she groaned and pushed herself up. The red Lutari gasped when she saw that her once-white dress was beige. Her only friend giggled. “That’ll come out.”
Jenna gave a resigned sigh and put on her sunhat. Finally, something that protected her from the harsh rays of the Mystery Island sun.
Suddenly a fierce wind whipped the hat off the top of her head. It flew all the way back up the hill when the wind stopped.
“Darn it!” Jenna screeched and began running up the hill. She could hear Patricia’s laughter even from halfway up. The Lutari rolled her eyes and bent down to pick it up when another gust burst from out of the blue.
Jenna lunged for the hat and missed, falling into sand for the second time in five minutes. Forget it! I’m not going to catch that thing.
As she picked herself up and started to make her way back down to join Patricia, a male voice called out to her.
“Don’t you want this back?”
To be continued...