Flight: Part One
Oh no. I'd forgotten. I'd forgotten all about today, that today was Mindi's birthday. What kind of Aisha forgot her little sister's birthday?
The kind whose little sister came in an assortment of bratty, that's who. A whole variety pack for any time, any occasion. And today, today, would be the day that the Pink fluff ball of an Acara would be prancing about the house like a princess. I was surprised that she didn't announce that she demanded a tea party for her and all of her little, prancing friends or something like that.
But now I was panicking. A glance in the mirror showed that my cheeks flushed rose against my White coloring while my dark brown hair raced in tumbles away from my speeding body. Speeding around the room, searching for something, anything, that I could present to Mindi and exclaim that I'd thought of her when I saw it and knew that it should be hers. Or maybe I'd made it. Yes, that's right, dearest darling of a little sister; I thought of you and made this with my heart and soul to show you how much I treasure you.
She wouldn't have cared.
"Oh, Annabelle has one like this, but it's waaay better. The thread is GOLD," she would have commented flippantly before tossing my pseudo-handmade gift into the pile of wrapping paper.
There had to be a Rainbow Reject Cybunny Plushie somewhere around here, I was almost sure of it. I'd found it on my way home from classes one day and tucked it away, because I thought it was pretty.
"Ew, but Lo, it's a REJECT plushie," Mindi had spat with disdain.
Wouldn't it have been a perfect gift to present her with, then? I'm sure I had some gold ribbon somewhere; I could tie a bow around its neck.
"It was so pretty and colorful, Mindi, love," I'd coo while smirking inside at the look of disgust on her face, "that I thought of you and knew that you would absolutely love it." Then I'd wrap my arms around her in an overly jubilant hug as she looked like she'd eaten a sour Ptolymelon.
But, alas, the Cybunny Plushie was nowhere to be found. I reached into a corner of my closet for one last check, and landed on something soft and squishy. Plushie?
Plushie indeed, but this was one that I hadn't seen before. No, I remembered seeing it before, but as a vague memory, like looking at a patch of fog while it dissipated.
"A Luxury Acara Plushie," I muttered softly to myself. Luxury indeed. The odd stitching was visible; it had only one bright, orange, smirking eye; and the long, black and white striped horns reminded me of Vira in her cute years. The blue fabric was lovely, quite lovely, but I was sure that the pink-loving Mindi would absolutely abhor it.
That's what she would say, at least, if she knew the word "abhor."
The plushie was odd, to say the least, but something about me loved it. I probably would have set her, as I decided that it was a "she," up on my bookshelf if I hadn't really needed something for Mindi. I refrained from naming her, though I really wanted to, and instead focused my attention on finding a ribbon to tie around her neck.
And out of the drawer came a bright, hot-pink ribbon that I knew Mindi would hate. Sure, she adored pink, but she was so much more of a pastel than this. I sometimes used this particular ribbon to tie a bow at the top of my braided hair, and its boldness looked nice, but I figured I could find a new one and that this, oh this, would be a just cause for separation.
I deftly tied the horribly clashing ribbon into a fabulous bow as my name came warbling up the stairs.
"LO!" It was Mother. "LOOOOO! It's time for you to come down here so that Mindi can open her presents!"
She really meant the rest of Mindi's presents: she'd just taken the whining little thing to the Rainbow Pool for a new look. What the Acara could want besides Pink, I didn't know. Mindi hadn't even known until they'd arrived there, either.
"Oh please, Mother," Mindi had pleaded the week before, "please tell me what it is! I do so HATE surprises." She'd pouted angrily, thinking she would get her way, but our overindulgent Mother had managed, somehow, to hold steadfast to her secret.
"No no, Baby," she'd nearly sang with a mischievous smile, "you will have to wait, and I promise you, you will be so happy."
I would have teased her, said that Mother told me that she was to be Darigan, made faces at her to show how her teeth would stick out, but the last time I'd even lightly teased her, Mother had confiscated my paints. And they had been my paints. I'd bought them myself, with my own money, which I'd earned myself. Regardless, some people just didn't find it funny that I, loudly but jokingly, figured there was some Acara in my Minestrone Soup.
Minestrone Soup, by the way, is comprised solely of vegetables.
The voice now screeching my name was Mindi's. She was probably getting impatient for her present, or to show off whatever Mother had painted her, or whatever. Oh rubbish, I still needed to wrap the Luxury Acara Plushie. Some quick glances about the room brought me to quickly stuffing a small gift bag with pink tissue paper, then settling the Plushie inside and covering her over. I shoved a Strawberry Acara Sandwich Cookie into my mouth before rushing out of my room: I kept a box by my bed to snack on.
Don't ask me, maybe I just like the idea of biting into her face.
Down the stairs I floated, not literally, and onto the bottom landing. Family room, empty. Hearing voices from the kitchen, I set the bag onto the coffee table. A Lavender Faerie Coffee Table, which Mindi would always regard with a sour expression and a muttered,
"It should be pink."
I stepped into the kitchen to hear Mother cooing over Mindi, who sat at the breakfast bar stuffing her face with food. She turned a disinterested glance over to me, then turned back to her plate.
Oh for the love of...
She'd been painted Royal. Though she wasn't exactly a shade of pink anymore, I could tell by her expression that she really didn't care: she was a "princess" now, and "princess" would trump "just pink" any day. If she hadn't been shoveling what appeared to be waffles down her gullet, I'm sure she would be twirling around for me, showing off her new skirts with mock awe, just to rub it in.
Skirts. Plural. As in, "why yes, I would like to snip every one of your skirts into pieces."
I sat down at my seat at the breakfast bar, and Mother placed an identical plate of identical waffles in front of me. Acara Day Waffles. Go figure. I drizzled the strawberry syrup over them haphazardly, devouring them with a zest that only devouring Mindi could have brought me otherwise.
Mindi cast a side-glance at me, her mouth contorted and her eyebrows knitted.
Yeah, eat mud to you too.
Mother cleared away plates the exact moment that we'd finished eating, and Mindi bounded off of the stool and into the living room. I followed with Mother soon behind me. Mindi grabbed at the bag I'd placed on the coffee table, and I waited, ready to gauge her reaction and respond for myself.
Away flew the tissue in a flurry of pink, and out came the Luxury Acara Plushie. Mindi's face froze in what was a look of... confoundedness? Confusion? A mixture of disbelief and slight shock? I was quick to react, showcasing mock disdain as I scanned the plushie with my eyes.
"Oh, no, no no no, Mindi, I... the shopkeeper told me that they had a very special Luxury Acara Plushie, and that they could wrap it up for you right away. I was so excited, and it sounded so lovely, I didn't even think to check what it looked like before they put it in the bag! When they said "luxury," I thought of you and your pretty pinks and sparkly things! I even asked them to put a pink ribbon around its neck, 'because my little sister loves pink,' I told them, but oh, it looks so... So..."
I sort of hoped that she'd want to throw it out so that I could snatch it up and put it up on my bookshelf, claiming that it would be a "reminder to be more careful next time."
Mindi, instead, extended her frozen look of discontent for half a second longer, then shrugged and let it drop into her pile of already opened presents.
I tried to keep my urge to gape at bay. "Whatever?" Just, "whatever?" A plushie that was horrendous by all her usual standards, and all she said was "whatever" as she dropped it into the pile of things that she would very much keep?!
"Well, if that's all..." I froze my face into my own look of disinterest instead of showing my concern.
"You can go." Mindi shrugged as she attacked the wrappings on her next present, which was, very obviously, a bicycle. Pink, nonetheless.
I breezed silently up the stairs and into my room. I was thinking, wondering, as I drew out my sketch pad and some colored pencils. I had just put down a lovely Luxury Acara Plushie shade of blue when my door flew open with Mother in its wake.
"WHAT WAS THAT OUT THERE, LO?!" she seethed as loudly as possible without her voice carrying down the stairs. I feigned ignorance.
"You know EXACTLY what I mean, missy. That, that THING was grotesque, and how DARE you give that to your little sister as a birthday present!"
"You're the only one complaining!" I shot back. "Last I noticed, Mindi didn't seem to care one way or the other! She's keeping it, isn't she?"
Mother sputtered. "Well, she has no choice! She's only doing it to appease you!"
"That's the worst lie I've heard in my life!" I exclaimed. "Mindi has every choice in the WORLD. In fact, there were choices invented just so she could use them to get her way. Remember two Mindi birthdays ago, when I painted a picture of her? She announced that it was the ugliest thing she'd ever seen and chucked it into the fireplace, then demanded that I give her Neopoints as compensation."
"WELL. I... IT'S ALWAYS EXCUSES. YOU NEVER THINK OF ANYONE BUT YOURSELF."
She always said this when had nothing. Maybe if she'd stopped to think for five seconds, she would have come up with something both scathing and true. Instead, she whirled around, knocked a picture off of my wall with her Royal Lupe arm (the right one, to be exact), and slammed the door behind her as she stomped out into the hall.
The picture she'd knocked down was one I'd drawn and colored of Mikhail, my very best friend in the world. As soon as Mother had left the room in her huff, I strode quickly to the picture and picked it up from the ground. I inspected the frame and the glass, but, luckily, nothing had even cracked. Khai's beautiful eyes smiled back at me with their lovely painted shade of blue. Just looking at the picture of the Shadow Krawk made me smile, as he himself always managed to do.
And that's the thought that spurred another of my characteristic impulsive-seeming decisions. I wasn't needed in the house, and Mother wouldn't care where I was if I wasn't causing a fuss for her, so it was time for me to make a temporary departure. I kneeled on my window seat and unlocked the window, sliding it up with little resistance. It was starting to drizzle a bit outside, so I grabbed my maroon raincoat before sliding a leg over the sill and lowering myself onto the trellis. Climbing down was easy, as this was my escape route of choice. I passed by the window into the living room on my way down. Mindi was sitting on the middle of the carpet looking bored as Mother eagerly jotted down the names of everyone to send thank you notes to.
Suddenly Mindi's disinterested gaze slid towards the window and, subsequently, my face. My face, which was now frozen in shock, and looking something like a Gelert caught in an unexpected spotlight on stage.
No no no no no. Spotted. Spotted, and about to be in legions of trouble and lecture and...
Mindi's left eyebrow rose just the slightest bit, then came back down. My mouth snapped back shut, and I gave her a questioning look. Aren't you going to get me in trouble?!
The Acara seemed to understand the look. She merely shrugged, looking extremely disinterested. She seemed to sigh with her eyes. I don't really care. Then she looked back to Mother with a glazed and bored expression.
What... what had just happened? Mindi had caught me sneaking out of my room, could've gotten me completely in trouble, and... passed? Didn't care?
There wasn't much time to hang around contemplating what had just happened: Mother could, at any moment, turn around and, subsequently, turn five shades of livid red. I quickly scaled the last few feet before jumping to the ground and hurrying off in the light rain.
To be continued...