Usuki Star: Part Two
At dinner that night the family was unusually quiet. Ali had returned home from her friend’s house an hour ago, bearing fresh cookies that the two had made from scratch during their afternoon together. Their owner sat at the head of the dining table. Mat was on her left; Ali and Rose were on her right. Ali, a Starry Yurble, was eating her dinner hungrily. She knew something was wrong, but no one had told her about the events of the afternoon while she was gone.
“I know something’s wrong,” Ali declared, looking up from her dinner plate, “Rose has hardly touched her food, and it’s silent. I want to know what’s wrong.”
Mat looked over at his owner, who nodded. “Rose wanted to enter a contest, but she couldn’t,” he replied simply, and continued to eat.
“It’s just a contest, Rose.” Ali turned to the Shoyru. “There will be more contests you can enter. Why are you so sad about this one?”
“I really wanted to win, Ali,” Rose sniffled sadly, “but the rules said that I was too young to enter! I think everyone should be able to enter a contest.”
Ali looked down at Rose’s uneaten plate of food. She examined Rose, who was trying hard not to cry in the middle of their dinner. “Rose,” Ali told her sister calmly, “you can enter another contest. I’ll find one for you. My magazine has lots of contests each month.”
“I know,” Rose replied, looking away from Ali’s curious gaze.
“The contest she wanted to enter was in your magazine,” Mat explained. He looked over to Rose, expecting her to finish the story.
“I was bored, Ali. I had nothing to do, so I decided to read your magazine. And then I saw the advertisement with the contest, and I knew I had to enter.” Rose started to cry softly. She bent down, trying to hide her tears.
“The prize was to meet the members of Usuki Star, the pop music band,” their owner explained calmly, looking tenderly at the unhappy Rose.
“It’s my favorite band, and I knew I would win!” Rose’s words were muffled; she refused to raise her head up when speaking.
“Oh, Rose.” Ali reached over to the Shoyru to comfort her. She got up from her chair and gave her sister a hug. “I’m really sorry.”
“No you’re not.” Rose looked at her sister, her eyes watery and her cheeks stained with teardrops. “You don’t understand because you don’t love Usuki Star as much as I do.”
“I may not love Usuki Star as much as you do, but I know the feeling.” Ali tilted her sister’s head up. “One year ago, my school had a talent show. The prize was a gigantic gold trophy and a paint brush. Everyone was so excited about it, including me. I started to prepare something for the talent show. I wanted that paint brush so badly, and I knew that everyone else wanted it, too. I was determined to be the winner. I had prepared to sing for the talent show. My friend and I were singing a duet, and we had worked extremely hard on it.”
“She practiced at home every day,” Mat added, smiling at the memory.
“I did.” Ali grinned. “And finally the day of the talent show came. It was a Saturday, and I was very worried, because my partner hadn’t been in Neoschool on Friday. Soon before I left to go to the talent show, my partner Neomailed me and said she was sick. She apologized, but she wished me the best and said that she knew I would be the winner somehow. So I arrived at the talent show anxious and excited. I was determined to win that paint brush. I knew I had to do something.”
“What did you do?” Rose’s crying had stopped and she was now listening carefully to Ali’s story.
“I decided to sing solo. I was confident that my voice was decent, and I knew the song well. Luckily, in the song, both my partner and I sang at the same time, so all I had to do was sing my melody. My name was called and I went up to the stage. I was scared, but I figured that even if my voice was bad, I would show them through my song that I was determined to win that prize and that I believed in myself. I sang my song, and I received a lot of applause.”
“Did you win?” asked Rose, eager to hear the end.
Ali laughed. “Yes, I did win. I won a Starry Paint Brush, which is why I’m a Starry Yurble now. And the reason why I’m telling you this story is to show you that one voice can make all the difference. I’m sure you’ll find a way to meet the singers of Usuki Star, somehow. You’re a smart Shoyru, Rose.”
Ali looked at her owner, who was smiling, proud of the Yurble for helping Rose. “That was a very nice story, Ali,” her owner said.
“Ali?” Rose asked, after pausing to think. “Couldn’t you enter the contest for me?”
“Oh, Rose,” Rose’s owner replied. “You’ve already filled out the form yourself. I don’t think we have another form. And I don’t know if you’re allowed to do that.”
“Are you sure, Mommy?” Rose asked hopefully. She wasn’t sure if there was any other way she could enter the contest.
“I really don’t think you’re allowed to do that, Rose. But if you’d like, I can read over the form again and see what the rules are. Maybe we can find an exception.”
“There are always loopholes,” Mat explained. He stood up, walked over to Rose, and patted her head gently. “I’m sure Mom will find something, Rose. Don’t worry about it.”
“I’ll read over the rules, but you all have to finish dinner first.”
The three Neopets and their owner laughed. Ali and Mat sat back down in their chairs and continued eating. Rose smiled at her owner joyously and started to eat her food. The dinner table was quiet, but it was a happy kind of quiet. All of Rose’s trouble had gone away.
Soon Ali, Mat, Rose, and their owner had all finished eating their dinner. Mat got up to clear away the plates, and Ali got a cloth from the kitchen to clean the table with. Rose stood and watched, eager to find a way to enter the contest.
“Will you help Mat wash the dishes, Rose?” Rose’s owner asked kindly. Rose nodded and ran into the kitchen, happy to help out in some way.
“I’m going to help you wash the dishes, Mat,” Rose explained, grabbing a dirty dish from the large pile on the countertop.
“No, Rose.” Mat took the plate from her and put it back on top of the pile. He continued wiping the plate he had in his hand. “You’ll dry the plates, and I’ll wash them. There’s a dry rag over there.” He nodded his head in the direction of the rag, and Rose went to get it.
“Okay, Mat,” Rose replied. “Are there any dishes that need drying?”
Mat put down the plate he had been washing on the counter. “You can dry that one. I’ll put the dishes down on the counter there once they’re clean. Make sure that there’s no water left, okay?”
“Okay!” Rose agreed, starting to dry the first plate.
Mat and Rose continued to wash and dry all of the dinner dishes until they were all clean and sparkling. Mat then took all of the plates and, one by one, he placed them in a cabinet full of dishes.
“All done.” Mat washed his hands in the sink. “Go tell Mom that all the dishes are clean and put away in the cupboard.”
Rose nodded and walked out of the kitchen, wondering where her owner was. She looked in the living room, which was empty. She looked in her bedroom, where Ali was reading a book. Ali waved and Rose closed the bedroom door. Rose finally found her owner in the messy study. She was going through boxes and putting the papers inside them into two piles.
“What are you doing?” Rose asked curiously. “I thought you were going to read over the contest form for me.”
“Oh.” Her owner stood up and dusted off her pants. “Well, I figured it would be better if we read over it together. You might catch some things that I won’t.”
Rose nodded and followed her owner into the living room. They sat down in a large green armchair and Rose’s owner pulled out the contest form from her pocket. She unfolded it and pulled Rose onto her lap.
“We’ll read this together,” Rose’s owner explained. “Tell me if you notice anything.”
Rose nodded and her owner started to read the rules aloud.
“Only one form per person. Submitting more than one form will not increase your chances of winning, as if you do, your entries will be disqualified and will not be placed in the raffle.”
“I guess there’s a raffle to see who the winner is,” Rose murmured. “That’s just luck, Mom. How will I win against all those people?”
Rose’s owner calmed the Shoyru down and continued reading. “All forms must be sent to Neopia Culture; 98431175 Bracknell Road; Neopia Central. If you have questions or comments about this contest, please contact us.”
“Mom,” Rose leaped off of her owner’s lap and turned towards her confidently, “Thank you. Now I know what to do.”
Rose grabbed a pencil sitting on a table in the living room and took a piece of paper from a box in the corner of the room. She turned to smile at her owner and walked out of the room. Rose went into the bedroom she shared with Ali and closed the door behind her.
To be continued...