It was huge. It was purple. It was... a BOAT.
“A yacht, actually,” my owner Day said cheerfully, arms akimbo and a huge grin on her face as she surveyed the thing. “A gorgeous beauty of a yacht, fresh from our Mystery Island shipyards!” She turned to us, still wearing that big cheesy smile. “Isn’t it GREAT?”
Silence. From behind me, I heard a muffled cough.
“Day, it’s... big,” I said finally, trying to be tactful. “It’s really big. Like, big. And flashy too. Not that flashy’s a bad thing,” I added hastily as I saw Day begin to frown. “It’s just that... um... why exactly do we need a boat again?”
“Yacht,” Day corrected, a crease appearing between her eyebrows.
“Right. Yacht,” I repeated, glancing again at the purple abomination that floated serenely in the harbor. Unable to help myself, my yellow Aisha ears twitched involuntarily, giving away my distaste.
Day sighed. “You shouldn’t be so resistant to change, Takario,” she chided me. Looking over my head to address my siblings behind me, she added, “And that goes for you two, Llinias, Idytarod.”
“I’m not resistant to change,” I heard Llinias murmur. Glancing behind me, I saw a look of exasperated amusement on the island Acara’s face as she continued. “Just to big ugly purple boats.”
“Yacht!” Day yelled, her sense of hearing clearly keener than previously suspected. “It’s not a boat, it’s a yacht! There’s a distinct difference!” She scowled. “Come on, guys, why the long faces? New Year’s just gone by, and I thought a nice big change was in order. Why—”
“New Year’s was a month ago, Day!” That would be Idytarod, striding forward to glare impressively into Day’s eyes. (Of course, seeing as she’s a rather short snow Pteri, this was less impressive than it might have been, considering that she had to stand on tiptoes.) Anyway.) “That’s just a pathetic excuse to buy this ugly boat—”
“Yacht,” Day interrupted.
“—and a purple boat, at that! Whatever possessed you to buy it, I don’t know, but you’d better come to your senses right now because a boat is—”
“Yacht!” Day insisted, to no avail.
“—completely unnecessary, a waste of neopoints as well as a big galumphing eyesore, and you know perfectly well that I get seasick!”
She stopped, panting for breath. Day paused for a moment to make sure she was done before flashing that big smile again. “Not a problem,” she assured Idytarod airily. “I’ve set up a little, um, what-do-you-call-it, crow’s nest on top of the mast! So when we sail—” she waved a hand to indicate Llinias and I—“you can fly around, seeing as you’re a Pteri and all. And then you can land in the crow’s nest for a breather, and then fly off again. I mean, you can’t possibly get airsick, can you? Otherwise you’d be quite a mess when you land!” She beamed, clearly dazzled by her own wit.
Idy huffed, exasperated. “That’s not the POINT!” she yelled after sputtering for a few minutes. “The point is that you went and bought an ugly boat—yacht—whatever—that nobody ever wanted, with our hard-earned neopoints that we could probably use to buy more worthwhile things—”
“Not a problem either,” Day said, but her smile was decidedly strained now. “I got a reeaaaaal bargain down at the dock—a real bargain. Apparently, this poor yacht has gone unsold for several months now, so it was half price—”
“How much?” I interrupted, folding my arms.
Day squirmed. After a moment, she said in a falsely cheerful tone, “Only two million neopoints.”
“ONLY—” came the collective yelp. We stared at her, at a loss for words. Day sighed and waved her hands in the air. “Don’t look so appalled—think of it as an investment! I mean, imagine—long, idyllic summer sails around the harbor, just the four of us and the ocean and the sea breeze! And the races—we’ve always been jealous of the yearly races in the harbor, now we can join them! The salty sea breeze! The rising sun!”
“But Day—” Llinias began.
“All right, no more arguments!” Day yelled, her jaw sticking out stubbornly. Glaring fiercely, she shot us the Look—the Look that, when I was younger, could turn me into a quivering jelly. It had less effect now that I was older, but still was impressive enough to stop any argument. “We are keeping this yacht and that’s that,” she said firmly. “But—”
“But what?” I blurted out, unable to stop myself.
Day paused. “But...” she said, drawing it out. “But. As your contribution to our yacht—to make you feel as if this yacht is ours, all of ours, and not just mine, I’ll let you name it!” Her smile at full force again, she held up a paint can and three brushes. “Think of a really cool name—one that’ll make all our neighbors drool with envy. See? It’s fun!”
When this announcement failed to make us run giddily around the dock, Day gave up. She stomped down the dock, leaving us with poleaxed expressions, the can of paint, and of course, the boat.
“Of all the colors in the WORLD, she just had to pick purple,” Idy remarked wearily, flopping down to sit in the nearby shade. “Purple. I mean, I could handle another color, I think. Wood color. You know, like teak, or ebony, or mahogany. Anything! Anything but purple. I don’t even want to know how she got her hands on a purple boat—who sells purple boats?”
“Well, you know, it could look black if you squinted on a really dark night,” Llinias said lazily, dipping a paw into the harbor water. “Maybe the painter was colorblind?” As Idy shot Llinias her own version of the Look, Llinias shrugged and said, “Just saying. Glass half full, you know.”
Idy rolled her eyes and turned back to griping, pitching a stone moodily at the boat’s—sorry, yacht’s—general direction. “We should go see if the shipyards will refund us,” she said at last. “Secretly return it while Day’s back is turned.”
“All sales final,” I reminded her.
Idy groaned. “Don’t remind me, Takario,” she said. “I’m trying very hard to not think about the two million neopoints Day wasted. Two. Million. Neopoints! I mean, what was she thinking?”
“Probably on a sailing craze on something,” Llinias said, skipping stones on the water. “Well, look on the bright side—at least we get to name the thing.”
“Why are you always so cheerful?” Idy demanded, turning around to glare at Llinias. “It’s absolutely maddening!”
“Someone has to be cheerful in order to counteract you, oh pessimistic one,” Llinias retorted. “Just because I try to think myself some pretty pink and blue thoughts—”
“Oookay, that’s enough,” I said, holding up my paw in a futile attempt to forestall yet another quarrel between my sisters. “Once you two get started, there’ll be no sense out of you for the whole day, I swear. Back to the topic at hand, shall we?” I gestured at the harbor. “The boat?”
“Takariospakato, it’s not a boat!” Llinias said, grinning in spooky imitation of Day. “It’s not a boat, but a yacht. Say it with me. It’s a YACHT!”
“It’s both,” Idy grumbled. “A yacht is a boat as well as a ship, while we’re at it, only a boat doesn’t have to be a yacht, and neither does a ship. They can be other things, like canoes or something.” She sighed. “Oh, whatever. I suppose ‘boat’ just has no charm.”
“Probably,” I agreed glumly.
“Oh, stop being so cynical, you two,” Llinias said absently, skipping another rock. “Five, six, seven,” she said, counting skips. “Eight! Yes!” Turning back to glance at us, she said, “Anyway, we’ll feel better once we name it. You know, it’ll be more... homey. To paraphrase what Day said—less a waste of money and more like home!” She brightened. “That’s what we should call it—‘Ocean Home!’”
“Ocean what?” Idy said, frowning.
“‘Ocean Home!’” Llinias said. “Or like, ‘Home Away from Home’ or something.” Seeing the dubious look on Idy’s face, Llinias snapped, “Fine then, what’s your bright idea?”
Idy snorted. “Me? I think we should call it ‘The Great Big Floating Ummagine.’ You have to admit it looks like one, you know, except not as tasty.”
“‘The Great Big Floating Ummagine?’” Llinias repeated. “You’re kidding, right? And you scorned ‘Ocean Home.’”
“‘Ocean Home’ makes it sound as if I like it, which I don’t,” Idy retorted. “I can’t stand sailing; I swear I’m getting nauseous just looking at the thing!”
Llinias shook her head pityingly. “Poor, seasick Idy,” she said. “Puking over the side... this paint is black.”
We blinked at this abrupt non sequitur. “What?”
She pried off the lid of the paint can and dipped a paw into the paint. “It’s black. Black doesn’t show up well on purple—not the kind of purple the boat is, anyway. We should go buy white paint to make it clearer.”
“And waste more neopoints on this boat?” Idy demanded.
Llinias shrugged, setting the paint can back down. “I'm just saying, but if you don’t want to, I’m fine with that.” She rolled over onto her back, staring at the clouds in the sky. “Hmm... what do you guys think about, oh, ‘Meowclops’ Gaze?’”
“The what?” I said incredulously. “What do Meowclops have to do with any—oh, man, Llinias,” I groaned as it hit me. “‘Meowclops’ Gaze,’ ‘Cyodrake’s Gaze’—oh, that’s just—that’s so—”
“Well, they do have only one eye,” Llinias said, raising an eyebrow. “So whyever not?”
“Because all the Shenkuu people will throw tomatoes at us,” Idy said, shaking her head exasperatedly. “Not to mention laugh us to death. You know, here’s an idea. What if we tried to sell the boat to someone else? Some other poor fool with bad taste in color—”
“The shipyards don’t refund, remember?” Llinias said.
“I’m not talking about the shipyards!” Idy said, fluttering her wings agitatedly. “I mean through the trading post or something. Or even place an ad in the Neopian Times. We could do it ourselves, without the shipyards acting as middlemen.”
“Day would never go for it—”
“So,” Idy said stubbornly. “She shouldn’t have bought the boat in the first place.”
Llinias sighed. “Look, Idy, I don’t like the boat any more than you do, but you know, we’re stuck with it. And that’s that, you know? I mean, just get on with it. Change with the times. Go with the flow. We’ve got a boat, let’s make the best of it. Once we name it, it’ll be better.”
“Day should’ve at least consulted us,” Idy insisted. “I mean, you can’t make this kind of big purchase without at least asking us—”
“It’s not as big a deal as you’re making it, Idy!” Llinias cried. “It’s just a boat, and I can see the bright sides to it even if you can’t—”
“That’s just because you actually like sailing—”
“I don’t, I’m just saying that we need to be optimistic and not gripe about it all day—”
“Guys,” I said. “Guys. Llinias. Idytarod, stop. STOP! THAT’S ENOUGH!”
They stopped, glaring daggers at each other. I sighed, rubbing my temples. Being the eldest is a pain; it’s always up to me to resolve their constant arguments. “Look, maybe... maybe...” I sighed, trailing off into silence. “There’s... we can...”
I paused. Inspiration came.
“Maybe there’s a way we can do both at once,” I said. Picking up a brush, I beckoned them both closer. “Let’s go and get some brighter paint; something that’ll show up better. Something neon, maybe, and orange—”
“You’ve got that look in your eye, Takario,” Idy said suspiciously.
I grinned, unable to help myself. “Yeah, I do ,” I admitted. Turning to Llinias, I said, “I’ve got the perfect name for you—it’ll make this boat—yacht, sorry—perfect for us. And as for you—” I turned to Idytarod—“I daresay it’ll be just fine for you, too.”
“Yeah?” Llinias prodded.
Leaning closer, I told them.
“So, you’ve decided, then!” Day said, grinning as we led her blindfolded down the dock. “You guys must’ve done a really good job—I bet all the neighbors will be green with envy, huh?”
“The perfect name for our yacht,” Idy assured her solemnly. “And see, I’m using ‘yacht’ now, because it’s a yacht and not just a boat, now that it’s got the perfect name.”
“And we never want to change it,” Llinias said cheerfully, “because it’s just that amazingly perfect. You’ll never change it, right?”
“Of course not,” Day said.
“Really?” Llinias prodded.
“Really really,” Day promised. Lifting her hands to her eyes, she said, “Can I take off the blindfold now?”
We pulled it off for her. With a big smile, Day turned to regard the purple yacht floating in the harbor, as well as the name emblazoned in giant neon letters on the side: For Sale.
Author’s Note: TY to my sister Angel for inspiring this, as well as reminding me just how much fun sibling bickering can be. :P