A Change of Heart
I groaned when Kassy came down the stairs in her dirty jeans and freaky yellow T-shirt. She only wore those clothes when she wanted to go gardening, and I hated gardening. She saw me, and stuck her tongue out. I had planned to go to Neopia Central to buy some notebooks and a new book; I was bored. But if she wanted to go gardening, my plans wouldn’t work out. Before she could open her mouth, I said,
“Listen, I’m going to Neopia Central. I need a new book, and my writing notebook is full.”
“Why do you need to do your crazy reading and writing?”
“Why do you need to do your crazy gardening?”
“It isn’t crazy!” Kassy informed me with her tongue stuck out.
“You stick out your tongue too much.” Kassy just stuck her tongue out again. “Well, if you’re going to be in the garden, watch for the Neopian Times. The 300th issue is coming out today, and I’m so not going to miss it.”
“You do read too much.”
“One cannot read too much.”
“Yeah, what crazy old guy said that?”
Now it was my turn to stick out my tongue at her as I clambered onto my bicycle. I loved cycling from Meridell to Neopia Central. You passed through peaceful fields and farmers working. I once saw a huge Whinny, one I was sure had been blessed by Turmaculus. The sounds were peaceful, a creek trickling here, a fly buzzing there, but the air smelled wonderful. I took these bike trips a lot, and it took about half an hour to get to Neopia Central, but I was never bored. The bike trip was one of my favorite things in Neopia.
I reached Neopia Central and wandered over to the Techo who sold school supplies. I purchased a water faerie eraser, pencil, and notebook. I wasn’t one who could easily resist temptation. At least I’m all set for writing something about Maraqua, I thought to myself. All I need now is the backpack to carry it in. I was proud of myself for having been able to resist buying the water faerie backpack as well.
“That’ll be 300 neopoints,” the Techo informed me. 300... that stirred something in my memory, but I couldn’t remember what.
To this day I still don’t know what made me drift over to the gardening shop. Jessie, why are you walking over there? I remember asking myself, but I didn’t answer. I just kept walking. Once I was in the gardening shop, I was enchanted. The bluesticks caught my attention. I took some and walked to the cash register. I didn’t want to have to buy more things.
“Hello darling!” The yellow Blumaroo welcomed me. “Do you have a sister, a yellow Gelert like you?” I nodded. That was Kassy. “Oh, you two look just alike! She’s a regular here! Have you caught the gardening fever too?” I just smiled and shrugged.
I got a coffee before starting the bike trip. I just stared at the bluesticks, wondering why I ever bought them. Something came over me. Something forced me to walk over there. I felt a kind of crazy smile come over my lips. Maybe I’d like that something...
The bike trip home was ten times more enjoyable than before. My bluesticks sat in the basket connected to the front of my bike. Now that we were out of the town, they seemed to belong in the bright, sunny world that was not quite Neopia Central and not quite Meridell.
When I got home, Kassy wasn’t in the garden. That didn’t bother me, I didn’t want her staring at me in disbelief while I planted the bluesticks. Carefully, I removed a small shovel that Kassy always kept spotless. I scraped away the top layer of the soil, just as I had seen Kassy do. When I asked her why, she always told me, “Worms live mostly in the top layer of the soil, and worm eat passages through the dirt that deliver oxygen to my plants. Worm dung has great nutrients for my plants. The worms help my plants grow; they’re my plants’ friends, so they’re my friends. I don’t want to take the chance of cleaving my friends in half if they’re covered in the dirt.”
I always shook my head pitifully at Kassy when she said this, but now, the memory made me smile. Once I was sure I only had a slim chance of meeting a worm, I started digging, measuring the hole just like I saw Kassy do.
“You want it a bit deeper than the dirt the plant is in.” Kassy used to lecture me. “Meridell has good soil, so let the plant get the good soil the gardener in Neopia Central has, but give it the benefits of Meridellian soil.” Meridellian. It was a word Kassy made up to describe all things wonderful in Meridell.
I covered the small blue plant’s roots up with Meridellian soil, and then gave it a small amount of water, just like the tag connected to the bluesticks said. When I was finished, I felt a small burst of pride. I had actually done some gardening! I would find out later that Kassy was watching me the whole time.
I watched Jessie as she left. Writing and reading, reading and writing, it was all that filled her head. I couldn’t believe we were sisters. We looked alike, but that was about it. I sighed, and continued planting the fire bush. I had already made a nice circular pattern of rocks in a corner, and spread sand. I hoped that strong winds wouldn’t blow its flames to the rest of the garden. I went inside to check if I had any records of how much fountains cost. The looked lovely, and one next to the fire bush would provide a constant source of water, should I ever need to extinguish the bush. I settled down to read some of my old price books. I was worried that the prices wouldn’t be valid anymore, but they were the best idea of the prices I could get. I had just propped up two pillows to read on my bed when a bicycle bell rang. It couldn’t be Jessie, she had just left. It must have been the Neopian Times deliverer. I remembered how Jessie asked me to get the Neopian Times for her. I groaned, but got out of bed.
When I picked up the newspaper, a picture of a flower caught my attention. I was a gardener, after all. I took it carefully out of its plastic bag. Kassy, what are you doing? asked a voice inside of my head. You’re going to read the Neopian Times, aren’t you? I snapped back at the voice: NO! I’m seeing if there’s an article about gardening; can’t you see the Star of Paradise? I soon saw that it was actually a story, but it had a flower; what was wrong with reading it? At the bottom, the author thanked me for reading and asked that I took a look at her friend’s story. I read that as well.
This Neopian Times isn’t all that bad! I thought as I read it. I started reading other stories and some articles. Then I read one comic, had to read them all, and started back on the stories. Then I heard another bicycle. I went to the window to see who it was.
I saw Jessie, looking guilty and confused. She left her precious writing things in her basket, but took out something blue. Why is she looking so guilty? I wondered as she walked into the garage. When she came out, she was holding a shovel. Is she planning on wrecking my stuff? I was ready to leap out at her and started running towards the door when I saw the blue things in her hands were bluesticks. Why on Neopia would she have bluesticks? I wondered. Then I saw her planting them. I could feel my eyes widen in surprise. She’s gardening; I’m reading; there’s something strange going on here. I decided that I was going to have to make the first move, though. I didn’t think she was going to tell me that she had planted bluesticks. After all, she didn’t know that I had started reading.
When she was done, I picked up the Neopian Times and walked outside. Still looking down at the paper I said, “Hey, Jessie, did you know that Jelly World can’t physically exist on Neopia? Some scientist figured that out, and now it's in the Times!” I beamed and looked up. “Jess? What’s wrong?” Man, I was a good actress!
I narrowed my eyes. “I don’t remember planting those bluesticks,” I told her. She quickly tried to hide the shovel behind her back. “Wait, Jess, did you plant them?”
“N-well, I-but, it-I, it was...” There I had to laugh. Not such a great actress after all, now, Kassy?
“Don’t try to pretend, I saw you! And I read the Neopian Times,” I half said, half laughed, thrusting the paper towards her. “There’s something wrong with both of us!”
First, her eyes betrayed her confusion, but then they sparkled and danced. She hugged me, then said,
“Let’s garden and read together from now on!” What did she think I was going to do, never pick up a paper from now on?
“You know, I think it was the 300th issue of the Neopian Times that did this to us!” I informed her.
She looked confused, then said, “Well, that makes sense!” We were in the process of going inside to look at some of her books when I said,
“Jess, thanks for being my sister.”
I said, “Thank you, and you’re welcome.” Kassy wasn’t all that crazy.
Thanks for reading, and remember to never stop reading the Neopian Times!