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The Unexpected Decision


by pandabearb

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The biggest irony in life is that we often end up missing most the thing we used to wish would disappear.

“Wait up, Drake!” I cried uselessly after my older brother while we tramped along Terror Mountain. Snow whirled around us as winds blew drifts of white into the air. The green Lupe ahead of me pushed on, either not hearing or just choosing to ignore. “You’re walking too fast!” I tried yelling again.

     Sighing, I cursed my short, red Acara legs and went as fast as I could onward. When we finally got to our street, Drake stopped and waited for me to catch up, as the winds were mostly blocked by the various Neohomes along the road. “Come on, Rachel,” he hurried me along impatiently. “I have a lot of work to do at home!”

     My brother and I were complete opposites, as far as personalities went. He was hardworking and responsible, to my lazy and incapable self. Drake always followed rules and did what he was told, while I shunned authority. We disagreed about just about everything. He was always trying to make me do things that I didn’t want to do, and I was always yelling at him for it. Basically, my brother was probably the most annoying person I’ve ever met, but I could usually tolerate him.

     At last I drew myself up to him and we kept on together. “What do you mean, you have work to do?” I asked him, spitting out the word “work” as if it were poison.

     “You know, like homework. See, some of us actually study for their tests in school and things,” Drake explained sarcastically.

     “Well, I had no idea,” I replied, playing along. One of the many peeves that Drake had about me was that I had the habit of choosing not to do my homework. “This weather is insane.”

     “You think? Man, I can’t wait to get out of here.”

     “Get out of here? Where would you go?” I asked him curiously. This was the first he had ever talked about leaving our home.

     “Mystery Island and soon,” he answered without hesitation. “I figure I can get myself a job leading one of those Tiki Tours you always hear so much about. Crack some jokes, point out the big landmarks... I think I’d be a real crowd-pleaser.”

     The first thing you should know is that Drake could be a little full of himself at times. But I had learned at a young age to just be amused by it. I snorted. “First of all, you’re not as funny as you think you are. And anyway, it’s not like Mum would ever let you go, you know.” What was most unusual was that Drake was even considering doing something we all knew Mum wouldn’t approve of.

     Drake rolled his eyes. “We’ll see.”

     * * * * * * *

     Later that night, we were all sitting at the dinner table enjoying the pizza Mum had picked up for us. All anybody could talk about was how Drake had gotten an award for completing the most volunteering hours in a year, so I was terribly bored. Feeling the sudden urge to rain on the Drake parade, I decided to share some news that would make the night more interesting. And if any trouble was stirred up, well that was just an added bonus.

     “Speaking of Drake,” I began, “he told me something interesting on the way home today.”

     “And what was that, dear?” Mum asked.

     Stealing a glance at Drake, who was staring at me suspiciously, I continued. “Well, he said that he was really interested in leaving Terror Mountain and this home to go to Mystery Island.”

     Mum put down her fork and nodded pleasantly. “Mystery Island would be a lovely place for you to move someday, Drake. It’s always so warm and beautiful down there. Do you remember the summer we took a vacation when you all were younger?”

     Brushing aside her question, I added, “No, he said he was planning on going there soon.” This earned me a full-blown glare from my older brother now.

     But Mum laughed, not taking it seriously. “Oh, now Drake knows that I would never let him go right now. He’s much too young, and still in school. You realize that, don’t you?”

     Drake remained silent. If there was one thing he didn’t do, it was lie, no matter what the circumstances. And so he kept to his true character now as well, saying, “Actually, Rachel’s telling the truth. I would like to go to Mystery Island as soon as I can.”

     “Not going to happen,” was the curt reply, closing the discussion for the night.

     My brother and I went upstairs together without a word and entered rooms that sat next to each other. I knew that Drake would be sitting down, studying his night away as he always did after dinner. And I also knew that I would lie on my bed and listen to my music loudly, like I always did. It was quite a predictable system, which I had grown completely comfortable with.

     However, Drake was apparently quite unhappy with our rituals, as minutes after I had turned my music on, a sharp knock came on my door and he entered. This surprised me a little, since nothing had ever distracted Drake from his schoolwork before that I had ever known of.

     “Turn it down!” he demanded angrily.

     “What?” I asked jokingly over the din, although I had heard him. Still, my noise had never bothered him before, so I was curious to hear what his problem was tonight. “Why should I turn it down, though?”

     “Because it’s annoying and I’m clearly trying to study on the other side of this wall! Somebody in this family has to be smart, and since you’re not interested in it, I guess I will be.”

     He was quite obviously crabby tonight. Sighing, I slid off my bed and hit the mute button on the player. “So what’s your issue tonight?” I asked him.

     “You should know,” he snapped back. “Why would you tell Mum what I said about leaving here? Do you purposely try and find ways to make trouble?”

     Yes, I thought. “Look, I’m sorry. I was just tired of hearing about how perfect you are,” I responded. “But you were going to tell her eventually, weren’t you?”

     “Of course, but I was going to wait until a little more opportune of a moment.”

     “I guess I saved you the trouble by creating an opportune moment for you,” I said, smiling brightly.

     This only seemed to irk him even more. “You can just be so obnoxious and inconsiderate sometimes! Why don’t you just do yourself a favor, grab a book and actually learn something sometime. Don’t turn that music on again, or I’m telling.”

     I glared at him. “You know what? In my opinion, you can’t leave this house fast enough. Talk to me again when you’re packing up to go!” I growled back.

     “Fine by me!” He marched out my room, slamming the door behind him. Suddenly feeling extremely exhausted, I shut off the lamp by my bed and lay back down.

     * * * * * * *

     The next day things were back to normal, as I had known they would be. Drake and I could never keep ourselves in a fight for longer than a couple hours, which is why we always had room for another one. I know it doesn’t really sound like it, but we actually get along fairly well. He’s my only brother, so I guess you could say he was important to me.

     The storm was still blasting outside, dropping more snow than Terror Mountain had seen in years. This meant that the school board had finally come to its senses enough to give us a day off from school. I was spending it in my room, listening to music and drawing random sketches. I knew Drake was downstairs somewhere, but I wasn’t sure what he was doing.

     After many hours in my room, my stomach had begun growling and I figured that it must have been about time for dinner. Opening my door, the whole upstairs was quiet and dark. I walked down the stairs, humming to myself, until I reached the bottom step. You know how you can almost feel in the air when something isn’t quite right? The first floor of my home felt that way today.

     Quietly moving into the kitchen, I was surprised to see that no food was on the table, nor did Mum seem to be making any attempt to prepare any. Instead, both she and Drake were sitting at the table across from each other, talking quietly. When my brother spotted me out of the corner of his eye, they stopped.

     “Hi Rachel,” he said in a voice that was almost too happy. “Guess what? I’m going to Mystery Island next week.”

     A wave of relief washed over me. If that was the big, burdening news, I had nothing to worry about. I instantly knew he was just trying to pull a joke over on me, because Mum would never let him go. Laughing, I replied, “Good one, but we all know you’re not going to Mystery Island for a few more years yet.”

     “No, really, Rachel... I’m going,” he insisted, looking more serious than fit my comfort level.

     Looking over at my mum for confirmation, I was given it with a small, sullen nod. “But... how?”

     “I explained to Mum that this was really what I want to do. I’ve been working the plans out for a long time, and after discussing it today we decided it might be time. We know it’s going to be the next step in my life some time, and I’m ready to make it now. Next week I’ll be taking a ship off the coast and I’ll get there in a day’s time.”

     Not quite sure how I was feeling about all this, I simply said, “I’m sure you’ll have fun,” and walked back upstairs. I figured that he would surely change his mind by tomorrow and we could all forget about this.

     * * * * * * *

     The rest of the week was spent like every other week of our lives. Neither Drake nor I mentioned his fast-approaching exit from Terror Mountain. It seemed much simpler to just act like it wasn’t going to happen and go on as usual.

     But the fateful day came, and Mum had been scurrying around the house since midnight, checking lists and packing up random things she thought Drake might need. I figured she must have been trying to forget about her grief by keeping herself busy. As the sun rose up, we all ate breakfast quietly at the table.

     “Well, this is it.” I finally spoke up. “Your last breakfast with the family.”

     “Yup. I’m going to miss it,” my brother replied, looking remorseful. If I had to guess, it seemed to me that he was regretting his decision, but he never would have told anybody.

     After breakfast was finished, my Mum was packing up last minute things into the wagon that they would be pulling to take with him to the docks. I had wanted to go with them, but my mum heavily protested. She apparently thought that it was more important for me to go to school than to see my brother off onto his first big adventure. I had put up as big of a fight as I could manage, but reached no success. So I would be saying my good byes from the house.

     “So I guess you’re leaving now,” I told him, looking at my feet. This couldn’t be happening. My brother, whom I had known since I was just a little thing, was leaving. What would the house be like without him? When would I see him next? All these questions were swimming through my head.

     “I guess I am,” he agreed. “So don’t get yourself in any trouble while I’m gone, alright?”

     “Yeah, yeah. And don’t you do anything stupid without me to watch your back,” I retorted, mustering a smile. There was an awkward silence, until I finally said, “When will I see you again?

     “You can visit me when school’s out, if you want.” Drake smirked. “Hey, at least now you can turn your music up as loud as you want.”

     Apparently he hadn’t forgotten the argument we’d had the past week. But what I didn’t want to tell him, or admit to myself, was that I would rather listen to quiet music and have him in the room next to me than have loud music with him gone. In the distance my mum was motioning that it was time for Drake to go. “Well, bye, Drake.”

     “Bye, Rachel.” And unexpected to both of us, we parted with a quick hug.

     I watched the Lupe walk off into the distance, waving until I couldn’t see him anymore. It almost felt like a part of me had gone missing and thing would never be the same. Now I only wish we could erase the fights we had, to make more time for better memories. Maybe he was the most annoying person I ever met, but he was also the best person I had ever met.

     A lone tear ran down my face, and I hastily wiped it away. “I miss you already.”

     The biggest irony in life is that we often end up missing most the thing we used to wish would disappear.

The End

 
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