“So, you have your toothbrush, and your toy, and Ariel?” Olivia asked.
Sendrii, a Plushie Cybunny, nodded. “Mom... I’m okay, all right? I have everything.” She looked self-consciously in the mirror before turning around to face her owner again.
“I’m just checking,” Olivia said. It was the first time Sendrii had been away from home, and Olivia was nervous. Sendrii clutched Ariel, her Whoot, tightly.
Jaraiya and Lee, her brothers, walked into the room. Jaraiya was trying to juggle, and as Sendrii looked over at him, he dropped all of the balls he was holding. Lee giggled.
“Jaraiya and Lee,” Olivia said, “say goodbye to your sister.”
“Bye, Sen,” they said in unison.
Sendrii grabbed her bag as her owner walked out the door with her.
“Now, if you have any problems, neomail me,” Olivia said as they walked to the docks at Mystery Island. “And it’s only for three days, so I’m sure you’ll be fine. You’ll be staying at the Faerie Castle, in room 20-”
“Mom, please,” Sendrii said.
“I’m just trying to be helpful,” her owner said.
Shortly, they approached the docks. As Olivia handed Sendrii the ticket, the Eyrie in front of them grumbled. He would be flying her to Faerieland.
“Bye, Mom,” she said. Her voice faltered a little. Olivia pulled her quickly into a hug.
“Ma’am,” the Eyrie said. “Please hurry up.”
“I’m coming!” Sendrii said enthusiastically, and in a short while became nothing more than a dot in the sky.
Sendrii stumbled as she hopped off the Eyrie’s back, but righted herself quickly. She handed the Eyrie a handful of Neopoints, and began walking towards the Faerie City.
“Wow, it’s gorgeous, isn’t it?” she said to no one in particular. She looked at the piece of paper in her palm.
“Apple Street ... or does it say Adage?” She looked intently at the writing.
“Do you need help?” someone asked. Sendrii jumped and looked around. A blue Kacheek was watching her from a narrow doorway.
“No – I mean, yes,” Sendrii said. “Do you know where the Faerie Castle is?”
The blue Kacheek nodded and stepped out of the doorway. He was wearing an apron, and Sendrii guessed that he must work in a food shop.
“If you go up that hill, it should be on your left. It’ll take you at least two miles.”
“Two... miles?” Sendrii asked. She already felt tired.
The Kacheek looked surprised. “This is Faerieland, my friend! Everything here is high up.” He laughed to himself and went back into his shop. Sendrii sighed and hoisted her bag further up her shoulder.
“WATCH OUT!” someone yelled. Sendrii felt herself knocked to the ground. A large cart with at least ten suitcases on it whizzed past her. She had finally reached the Faerie Castle, and barely had time to take in the sight before she found herself on the ground.
A red Kyrii approached her and offered her a hand.
“Thank you,” Sendrii said as she struggled to her feet. She dusted off dirt from her fur. “That person must have been in a hurry.”
“We’re all in a hurry,” the Kyrii snapped. He withdrew his hand quickly. “What are you looking for?” he asked.
“My room,” Sendrii said. “But – ”
“Go to the Uni at the front desk. I need to get going.”
The Kyrii sped off as fast as he had come. Sendrii brought her bags to the concierge, who snapped her fingers at someone to bring them up to the room. Ariel flew up in a huff when the Lenny tried to take her as well.
“Do you remember what room you’re in?” the Uni asked. Sendrii suddenly wished she hadn’t cut off her owner before when she told her what room she was in.
“I know I’m on the second floor,” she said.
“Room 208. Here are your keys. Notify us if you need help. Restaurant’s on the first floor, pool’s upstairs, cocktail party tonight at nine.”
As soon as she dismissed Sendrii, she turned to the next person in line.
Gosh, Sendrii thought as she climbed up the stairs. Everyone here is so rushed.
Once Sendrii had found her room – one in a hallway of dozens – she gasped in delight. The room was enormous. She hadn’t realized it would be this big. There was a large king sized bed next to a glass table, upon which there was a pitcher of water. Sendrii poured herself a glass while exploring her suite.
The main room connected to a smaller living room, and there was a bathroom off of each room. After Sendrii grabbed a copy of the Neopian Times, she collapsed on the bed.
“This is great, isn’t it, Ariel?” she asked. Ariel whooted and flew down on the pillow next to her.
“Chance of thunderstorms increase tonight as clouds drift into the area...” she read out loud in the paper and gradually fell asleep.
Once Sendrii woke up, she dressed and walked downstairs. Pets were running all over the place, and she had trouble making it to the concierge. The Uni, however, was still in the same spot she’d been in before.
“Hi,” Sendrii said. “I’d like to have two towels, please.”
The Uni handed her the towels and turned to the next customer. Sendrii thought to ask something else, but then gave up and walked downstairs to the pool.
Once she’d gotten upstairs, she looked at the signs.
“It says the pool is to the left...” she muttered. “But all I can see there is an exit.” Nonetheless, she pushed open the door and walked out into the dazzling sunshine.
“The pool is outside?” she said. She suddenly remembered the Kacheek telling her, Everything here is high up. The pool itself was positioned on a cloud, which hung over Faerie City. The view was breathtaking. Sendrii lowered herself in the pool, but before she could jump in completely, she drew back. The water was scalding.
“Miss?” she asked a passing maid. “Do you know if the pool can be colder?”
“No, ma’am,” the lady said. “We try to raise the pool’s temperature to match our guest’s needs.”
“But I need to be cooler!” Sendrii said. Even though the air was chilly, she could feel the steam from the pool on her face.
“I’m sorry, ma’am,” the maid said, and disappeared from view.
Sendrii returned to her room sopping wet. She’d finally decided to jump in, which had left her body sore and burnt all over. To make matters worse, the sky had started pouring five minutes before she got inside and had continued to pour ever since. She walked outside and found a Techo standing near an office.
“Hi,” she said, and he turned around. “Do you know where I can get room service?”
“Yes, ma’am,” the Techo said. “I can take care of it.”
“I’d like to have a hamburger and a bag of ice, please.”
“Anything else?” he asked. “That’ll be ten Neopoints total. I’ll tell someone to be at your room in thirty minutes, tops.”
“That’s fine,” Sendrii said. Since Olivia hadn’t signed her up for the restaurant, she had to pay for her own food.
Someone knocked on the door a few minutes later. "Is that the room service already?" Sendrii muttered. She got up to answer the door.
“Here’s your food,” a blue Draik said. He handed her the receipt, and Sendrii looked at the plate.
“This isn’t what I ordered,” she said. There was a mix of greens and carrots on her plate. She was a Cybunny, but she wasn’t that healthy.
“I’m sorry, ma’am, I just order what’s told. I have another pet to take care of. Excuse me.” He shut the door.
Sendrii spent the night flipping through the Times and munching on carrots. Before she was about to go to bed, someone knocked on the door.
“Yes?” Sendrii said to the Lenny who appeared. She hoped he would reimburse her for the room service.
“Here is a Neomail that arrived for you,” he said. “It arrived here ten minutes ago.”
Sendrii grabbed the envelope and tore it open.
I hope things at the Faerie Castle are going well. Have you made any new friends? Are people nice? Hopefully I’ll be able to send all of you there sometime. Jaraiya and Lee went for a swim today in the ocean.
So did I, Sendrii thought. But not in the ocean.
Anyway, sweetheart, I hope you’re having a fun time. Call me if you need something.
Sendrii folded the letter and felt a tear slide down her cheek. As nice as the hotel was, it didn’t feel like home at all. The pool was too hot, and the people were too rushed... and everything just wasn’t the same. She rolled over and went to bed.
Sendrii went to the new store downstairs for breakfast the next morning. I’m sure this will be great, she thought hopefully. I’ve heard their breakfasts are amazing.
There was a long line of Neopets waiting to get into the restaurant. Sendrii stood behind them and tapped her foot impatiently.
“Number Twenty,” the cashier said. Sendrii held up the small piece of paper she’d received upon arriving. “I’m Number Twenty!” she said loudly. “That’s me!”
“No need to be enthusiastic,” the cashier said. He looked like he’d never been enthusiastic in his life. “Table 7.”
Sendrii looked miserably at the small table. “Can’t I get a... bigger one?” she asked. “With other people? At some of the restaurants I go to –”
“Take it or leave it.”
Sendrii sat down at her table and ate her omelette in silence. The omelette tasted good, but the atmosphere felt awful. Once Sendrii got upstairs, she grabbed a notepad and wrote a quick letter to her owner, and then handed it to someone to bring to Mystery Island.
Olivia arrived the next day, a day earlier than she was supposed to, a huge smile on her face. She hugged Sendrii tightly upon seeing her. They packed her bags quickly, thanked the Uni, and made their way down the hill.
Once they’d entered the doorway of their home on Mystery Island, Sendrii felt a familiar smell wash over her. She put away her bags upstairs and walked down to the kitchen.
Her owner was cooking a pot of tea. Once it was done, she handed a cup to Sendrii, who gulped it gratefully. Jaraiya and Lee both hurtled toward her to give her a hug.
“Why’d you come back?” Jaraiya asked. “Is it Sunday already?”
Sendrii laughed. “No, it’s not Sunday. I came back...” She looked around at the kitchen, at the rooms she knew so well, and at her siblings. “I came back because I realized that however great it could have been, it’s just not like home.”
Thanks to my dad, especially, and to everyone who encouraged me! :) And thanks to my pets for letting me use them!