The Kacheek Club: Day of Giving Edition - Part Two
"Sarina, can you please stop acting like you're Sophie the Witch's top apprentice?" Bridgette asked the Cloud Kacheek. She watched in dismay as Sarina continued to add spices and herbs to the soup cauldron with over-the-top enthusiasm.
"I can't help it! In case you haven't noticed, the Soup Kitchen has been getting more and more customers because of my soups." Sarina added a dash of pepper to the bubbling concoction.
"Of course they have." Bridgette rolled her eyes and turned back to her dish washing. She didn't even bother to tell Sarina that the only soups that the pets agreed to eat were the ones made by the Soup Faerie. Bridgette sighed and added another squirt of lemon-scented dish soap to a particularly dirty bowl. She couldn't believe that the Soup Faerie had assigned her the worst job of all. Not only did she have to scrub used dishes, but she also had to spend her time listening to Sarina try to make up her own soup ingredient songs, since she and Sarina both had jobs that required them to be in the kitchen.
"Add a slice of carrot, don't forget the tomato! Toss a dash of pepper to it, then finish off with a potatooo!" Sarina sang at the top of her lungs.
Bridgette paused. Sarina's ingredient song didn't even sound like an actual recipe for a soup. The Faerie Kacheek slowly turned around and glanced at the cauldron. The soup in the cauldron was turning a deep shade of brown.
"Bridgette! Hurry up with those dishes!" called the Soup Faerie from beyond the kitchen door.
"Okay! I'm almost finished with this load!" Bridgette called back. She eyed the huge pile of unwashed bowls before turning back to watch Sarina. Remembering that she was going to be graded on washing the dishes, Bridgette kept her eyes on Sarina's soup cauldron while she blindly reached for the bottle of dish soap. A couple of minutes later, Gwen burst into the kitchen, carrying another basket full of dirty dishes.
"The Soup Faerie needs more bowls," explained Gwen. She placed the dirty dishes on the counter. "Did you finish washing the first batch, Bridgette?"
"Yep." Bridgette handed Gwen the basket of clean bowls, then began to wash the dirty ones. After four minutes of Sarina singing ingredient songs, the Soup Faerie rushed into the kitchen.
"Bridgette! What do you call this?" The faerie held a gleaming, white bowl in front of Bridgette's face.
"Oooh, you're in trouble," whispered Sarina in the background.
"Um, a clean bowl?" guessed Bridgette, ignoring Sarina.
"Wrong!" The Soup Faerie swiped her finger across the side of the bowl, leaving behind a sticky fingerprint.
"What's wrong with it?" Bridgette asked, puzzled.
"Well, obviously you didn't use the lemon dish soap I told you to use." The Soup Faerie walked over to the sink and picked up a small, round bottle full of sparkling, purple liquid that was placed right next to the dish soap. "I see what happened. You must have used my bottle of Fyora's Magic Airspray instead of the soap by mistake."
"Why do you keep hair spray right next to the sink?" Bridgette asked incredulously.
"You wouldn't believe how much your hair frizzes when you're working in front of a steaming soup cauldron," the Soup Faerie explained matter-of-factly. She shook the almost-empty purple bottle. "Great, now I have to go to the Grooming Parlor and buy a new one," she muttered.
Bridgette shook her head in disbelief. The Happy Holidays project wasn't turning out exactly how she had planned.
Xana took her green glasses off and rubbed her tired eyes. Despite the forty-nine neomails she had answered, the pile of yet-to-be-replied-to letters still looked bigger than ever. Stifling a yawn, Xana tore open a tan-colored envelope and pulled out the neomail. "Dear Soup Faerie," Xana read out loud, "Thank you for everything you are doing to help the world of Neopia become a better... better..." The Disco Kacheek yawned again and propped her arm up to keep her head from drooping. Pretty soon, she was fast asleep.
"Xana! Xanaaa!" an irritated voice pulled Xana out from her dream about Math's Nightmare.
"Sixty times three is one hundred and eighty," mumbled Xana before opening her eyes.
"Tsk, tsk." The Soup Faerie stood before Xana, carrying a clipboard in one hand and a Fyora Faerie Pencil in the other. "Mrs. Green isn't going to be pleased to hear that you were sleeping on the job, Xana."
"Well, can you blame me? Replying to letters all day is boring," said Xana.
"Exactly, now you know why I don't do it myself," the Soup Faerie answered while marking something on her clipboard. "Oh, wait... I-I mean, boring? Puh-shaw. I would reply to my fanmail myself, but... uh, you see, I have to run this errand... yeah." The Soup Faerie was slowly scooting away from Xana while she was talking.
"I wonder if anyone is having fun with this project," muttered Xana before getting back to work.
"Are you guys sure that you won't be able to work here tomorrow?" The Soup Faerie followed the Kacheek Club out of the Soup Kitchen. The chilly, wintry wind blew her brunette hair this way and that.
"Yep. You see, I totally forgot that my friends and I had volunteered to babysit Mrs. William's petpets tomorrow," Gwen explained. She gulped nervously and hoped that faeries didn't have the power to sense when they were being lied to.
"All four of us need to be at Mrs. William's house because she has a ton of petpets," added Xana.
"Well, okay. Good luck babysitting those petpets." The Soup Faerie waved at them, then disappeared into the warm Soup Kitchen.
"Phew, I can't believe she bought it." Bridgette wiped imaginary sweat off of her forehead and buttoned up her lavender coat.
"Agreed. Working at the Soup Kitchen isn't as fun as I thought it would be," Xana said as they began walking down the sidewalk.
"Speak for yourself. I actually liked doing my job," exclaimed Sarina. "I think I really unleashed my inner gourmet chef today."
"Sure, that explains why the Soup Faerie started handing out directions to the Neopian Hospital along with your soups," Gwen mumbled under her breath.
"Huh?" Sarina glanced at the Island Kacheek.
"Nothing, nothing," Gwen said quickly.
"Why's there a line outside of the Book Shop?" Xana pointed a few blocks ahead of them, where dozens and dozens of Neopets were anxiously waiting in line for some apparent reason.
"Maybe Hannah the Usul finally agreed to do a book signing for her book, Hannah and the Pirate Caves," suggested Bridgette as the Kacheek Club moved closer to the shop.
As they got nearer, they could see a giant banner that said 'Annual Book Drive' in red and green letters. The banner itself was made out of holly-print fabric. The Neopets in the front of the line seemed to be buzzing around a table stacked high with books, and three cheerful-looking pets were unloading more books from cardboard boxes. The shopkeeper, a blue Nimmo, was busy arranging a display filled with holiday books, such as Winter Usul Wear, The Polarchuck and the Snow Storm, and Christmas Wocky Carols.
"Gretta?" Gwen couldn't help but stare in disbelief as her little sister, a Pink Kacheek, continued to stack numerous books onto the table.
"Oh, hey, guys!" Gretta waved them over to the table.
"What are you, Autumn, and Lily working at the book drive for?" asked Bridgette.
Autumn, who was a purple Korbat, placed A Buzz Faerie Tale on the table before replying. "Mrs. Green told Gretta, Lily, and me to help out at the book drive for the Happy Holidays project. We all brought books from home that we didn't need anymore so that we can give them to other needy pets who can't afford to purchase books to read. So far, it's been a blast!" She grinned before going back to digging in her cardboard box.
"Totally!" Lily (a Plushie Cybunny) agreed with her friend. "Besides talking to petpets, giving a helping hand is my favorite hobby."
"Oh, can you teach me how to talk to petpets?" Sarina piped up. "I bet that sort of talent comes in handy, right?"
"Yup!" Lily grinned and high-fived Sarina.
Gwen watched as Gretta placed an armload of books onto the table. Some of the familiar titles (The History of Meridell, Amazing Altador, and Romantic Shenkuu) caught her eye. "Hey, wait a minute! Why are you giving these books away? They're your favorites!"
"I know they are. But these pets need them more than me," explained Gretta. She handed Amazing Altador to a grateful-looking yellow Aisha before continuing. "Besides, I can always buy more books to read. What really matters now is that we should give back to the Neopian community instead of receive. After all, isn't that what the Day of Giving is all about?"
Gwen, Bridgette, Xana, and Sarina all exchanged guilty glances. Gretta's words echoed throughout their minds: After all, isn't that what the Day of Giving is all about?
There was only one thing to do.
"I thought you guys weren't going to come today." The Soup Faerie snickered as the Kacheek Club entered the Soup Kitchen.
"We weren't," Bridgette began, "But then, um... Mrs. William decided to cancel her shopping trip, so-"
"Bridgette!" Xana crossed her arms over her chest and glared at the Faerie Kacheek.
"Okay, okay." Bridgette sighed, gulped nervously, then said, "We lied to you. The only reason we lied was because we were tired of working at the Soup Kitchen."
"We were being selfish and self-centered," added Xana.
"Technically, I was planning to come to work anyway, but..." Sarina's voice trailed off, and she smiled weakly as Gwen, Bridgette, and Xana did a triple-glare at her.
"The point is, Bridgette, Xana, Sarina, and I didn't quite grasp the true meaning of the Day of Giving," explained Gwen as she tied on her pastel apron. Her friends did the same.
"What happened after that?" asked the Soup Faerie.
"Well, eventually we found out that the Day of Giving isn't about thinking of only yourself or worrying about what circumstances you may be in," continued Gwen.
"That includes being trapped in a kitchen with a hyperactive Kacheek who won't stop singing ingredient songs," Bridgette interrupted before letting Gwen finish.
"The true meaning is that we should take the time to give back to the less fortunate," Xana finished for Gwen.
Sarina nodded in agreement.
"I'm glad you girls decided to show up today," the Soup Faerie said, smiling. "I have a little gift for all four of you." She pulled four gold name tags out of her apron pocket and handed them out. The name tags doubled as brooches that could be pinned to their aprons. Each name tag had the Kacheek's name engraved on it in pastel blue glitter.
Bridgette gasped and accepted her name tag with an excited squeal. "This is sooo cute!"
"Agreed! Now the pets waiting in line for soup can stop calling me 'the Island Kacheek with the hairnet'!" said Gwen as she decided where to place her name tag on her apron.
"I love it already!" Xana held the name tag in her paw and admired it.
"The Day of Giving may be about giving, but receiving is kinda fun, too." Sarina grinned as she pinned the name tag on her apron.