A Love of Music: Part One
She always liked that little doormat with the faellies on it. Lydia’s house was small, but it was filled with cute furniture. She opened the door and plopped onto the sofa. It was Friday, and the only thing to do was homework. Now only if her owner Sophie would come home soon, it could be a perfect weekend.
But the cabinets were empty; Lydia had been going to the soup kitchen all week. She willed Sophie to come home with all her might; sometimes she came back with cupcakes or candy. Lydia loved it when she brought surprises with her.
Lydia was a tiny yellow Shoyru with large dark eyes and small hands; besides that, she was an average Neopet. She had taken a notion that she was poorer than most, though, because she wasn’t painted and had no Petpet like most of her friends.
She was getting restless waiting on the couch, so she sat by the window to try and find Sophie. The afternoon sun was warm on the windowsill. Lydia felt her eyelids droop; they drooped until they blocked out the sun, and she fell asleep.
“Lydia... Lydia... you awake yet?”
The Shoyru felt something warm on her cheek, her opened eyes revealed that Sophie was above her face.
“Sophie? Sophie, you’re home!” The fogginess from her nap cleared and she tackled her owner in a hug.
They let each other go, and she realized that the sun was setting. She looked for a clock. It said it was six. Lydia had napped for hours! She hugged Sophie again.
“When did you get home, Sophie?”
“Um... only a few minutes ago. I think.”
“I bet. What did you have for lunch at school today?”
“Leftovers from the soup kitchen.”
“Well, I have a few neopoints; you wanna go out for dinner?”
Lydia’s little face brightened. “Yeah! Let’s go have a big dinner!”
Sophie laughed. “Heehee, okay. Just let me get my coat.”
Sophie was a stocky girl with waist length blonde hair and watery green eyes. She was a well-intentioned owner, but could have been considered too young to undertake the big task of raising a Neopet. Sophie was in her fifth year of her own school, and though she had plenty of love for Lydia, it didn’t always show in the right ways.
“So where should we go, Lydia?”
They had never gone out to eat before; there were so many choices.
“I want some bakery food!”
“Yeah!” Sophie jumped with delight.
“You want muffins for dinner?” The breadmaster’s face was blank.
“Yes, please! Two banana nut!” Sophie said.
The Kacheek shrugged and handed over two generously proportioned muffins.
“Hey, Sophie?” the Shoyru said while they ate their dinner.
“What is it?”
“Can I have a Petpet?”
Sophie’s face darkened. She looked away. “Um... I don’t know.”
“It’s just that everyone else has a Petpet.”
“We can’t afford one.”
“But we can play games and stuff! Can’t we try this weekend?” Lydia pleaded.
She smiled through a mouth full of muffin. Her eyes were bright; she trusted her owner's words.
As they walked home, and the moon was high in the sky, Lydia decided that today had been a good day. Maybe she could finally get her own Petpet. It made her stomach flutter, and she felt even happier when Sophie played a board game with her before bed.
“Sophie! Can I play this one?”
“Yeah! Just let me finish!”
Lydia felt hungry again; they had been playing games since before breakfast. Not that they had had breakfast, but the earnings so far were 7,000 neopoints. She couldn’t wait for her Petpet!
“How much does a faellie cost, Sophie?”
“I dunno.” She was too preoccupied with Meerca Chase to hear.
Maybe she could find another game. She approached Deckswabber when something blue brushed across her face. A faerie Zafara turned to look down at Lydia.
“I’m sorry, did I bump you?”
“Aah... no-no- I’m fine.”
She had never seen such a pretty color, or rather, colors on a Neopet. The Zafara lady was a pretty blend of blues and purples, set off with a pair of translucent wings.
“Oh, alright then. I’m off to play Deckswabber.”
“I am too!” Lydia gasped.
“Great, why don’t we play together?” She grinned and started the game.
Lydia felt slightly overwhelmed; she had never played with anyone older than herself before. She didn’t even know this girl’s name. That was nice to invite her, though, right?
An hour and three games of Turmac Roll later, Lydia heard Sophie calling her name.
“Is that your owner?” the Zafara asked when she came into sight.
“Yes.” Lydia frowned. Sophie had taken way longer than she had promised. And she herself had only earned another 500 neopoints.
“There you are, Lydi- who’s your friend?”
“I’m Shachi,” she said and turned back. “It was nice meeting you, Lydia. I’m sure my owner is looking for me also.”
“Wait!” She lightly tapped her back. “Um... where do you live?”
“On Bracknell Road, why?”
Lydia swallowed her shyness. “I-I was wondering if I could come over... someday.”
Shachi smiled. “I’d love that! Come with me and I’ll give you my address.”
Lydia wondered if Sophie would care where she went, but it was worth finding a friend, especially such a nice one like Shachi.
“Mom! Mom! Write down my address for me!”
Lydia looked up to see a tall dark skinned girl; she looked a lot older than Sophie, and she was dressed in weird clothes.
“Shachi, you ask me to do something.” The lady had a deep voice. “And did you ask that little Shoyru’s owner if you could bring her here?”
Shachi’s wings lowered on her back. “Oh... I think I forgot.”
The tan lady rolled her eyes and smiled at Lydia. Her eyes were dark, but her teeth looked really white.
“Forgive Shachi; she can be a little forward with people.”
“Mom!” Shachi whined.
“What’s your name?” she asked.
The Shoyru felt her shoulder being tugged by Sophie; she looked flustered.
“I found you, Lydia! Gosh, I got scared!”
“I’m okay, Sophie; this is Shachi and her owner.”
Shachi’s owner was a head taller than Sophie. They shook hands and she slipped her their address.
“I’d love if you could visit someday, Sophie.”
“Me too.” She looked around.
“Let’s leave, Lydia.”
She felt sad at first that they were leaving, but then she remembered that she was getting a Petpet. Her heart started to pound with anticipation. What kind of selection would there be at the store? And how many neopoints did they all cost? Lydia didn't even realize she was hovering a few inches from the floor.
“How long does it take to get there, Sophie?”
“Only a few minutes, silly; I counted our neopoints too; we’ve got about 9,000.”
“Is that a lot?” Lydia asked eagerly.
“I dunno. It seems like lots.”
The two made their way to the busiest section of Neopia Central, Lydia loved this part of town where you were crowded with all the people and stores. And the only store she had never visited on this street was the Petpet shop. The little bell rang when they entered.
“Hello! Are you here to find a friend for you pet?” a cheery Usul asked from behind the counter.
“We wanna see what you have!” Lydia answered,
“I think we’ll have enough.” Sophie sounded confident.
“Well, we can always haggle if we need to. Let me show you some of our Petpets.”
Lydia gasped with delight at all the Petpets; they were so many different colors and types. She immediately spotted a little square one, and her heart skipped a beat.
“That’s a Kookith,” the Usul replied.
“Do you like him?”
“Yeah!” She jumped with excitement. He looked way cuter than the Faellie she had had in mind earlier.
“He’s adorable!” Sophie agreed.
“That one is 90,000.”
“9,000?” Sophie repeated.
“No, 90,000,” the Usul said lightly.
Sophie blanched and looked down at Lydia. “I-I don’t have that much.”
The shopkeeper smiled. “Then can we try and find something else?”
Lydia’s eyes met Sophie’s.
“Okay.” The blonde nodded slowly.
“Here we have a Puppyblew; he’s about 20,000.”
“D-do you have anything for 9,000?”
Now the clerk frowned. “Not even close.”
“You have to come with a lot more, dear. 9,000 is barely anything.”
They wilted. “Okay,” Sophie whispered. “Let’s go, Lydia.”
“I can’t believe it,” Lydia said later at home. “We played games all morning, but it still wasn’t enough.”
Sophie fell to the couch. “I’m so sorry, Lydia. I can’t even earn enough to get you a Petpet.”
“Don’t be sad, Sophie. We can save up, can’t we?”
She didn't look too convinced. “...I guess.”
The rest of the weekend they promised to save up as much as possible to get a Kookith. Lydia perked right back up after the deal; she would have to wait, but it would be worth it.
The rest of the week flew by until Friday. After a lunch of Soup Kitchen leftovers, the teacher announced that they would be working on a project with the older students upstairs. Lydia had never been to the upper level. She figured it would be fun. She hoped the older pets would be nice to her.
“Everyone, pick a partner. After that we’ll give directions on what supplies to pick,” an old Techo said. He looked stern and cross, and it showed when he bent over Lydia. “Go find a partner, quickly.”
But Lydia didn’t know anybody! Who was she supposed to ask? No one else was just randomly selecting partners; they seemed to know each other. Tears of frustration stung behind her eyes. Suddenly a furry paw grabbed her wrist, and she looked into the eyes of Shachi.
“Lydia? Is that you?”
“S-Shachi?!” Her light blue eyes calmed the Shoyru down. They looked soft, like Sophie’s.
“You go to this school? That’s great! Be my partner!”
“O-okay!” Lydia looked back.
“Do you know who that Techo guy is?”
She glanced upwards. “Oh yeah, that’s Mr. Jorgensen.”
“He’s kinda scary.”
“Don’t mind him; all the teachers are mean on the upper level.”
Lydia drew a sharp breath. “Really?!”
“I’m kidding; they’re not meaner, just stricter. Don’t be scared.”
Shachi was fun to work with. She offered help when Lydia needed it, and she praised her ideas. They had to make no littering posters for outdoor walls.
“Hey, Shachi? How do you spell-”
“Oh my gosh!” Fran the Nimmo squealed right in Lydia’s ear. “That’s Shachi Niraniya!”
Shachi just smiled. “It’s nice to meet you. A fan, I assume?” Her voice was at the calmest level Lydia had ever heard.
“Totally!” Fran bounced on her feet. “I play too, and my teacher took us to one of your shows.”
“I hope you enjoyed it, then.”
Lydia was scrambling to process everything, and it was difficult with Fran’s yelling bombarding her ears.
“Bye, Shachi!” The Nimmo bounded away.
The faerie Zafara returned to cutting up some foam letters.
“What was that all about?!”
“Nn?” Shachi looked up. “Just someone who’s seen me perform.”
Lydia’s jaw dropped. “P-perform what?”
“What’s a viola?”
“It’s like a violin, only slightly bigger. I’ve been playing it since I was little.”
“Then how come you never told me you did shows?!”
“You didn’t ask.”
Lydia was about to argue, but the bell rang and the frenzy of exiting Neopets became too loud. She descended the stairs to her locker, but a hand stopped her.
“Can you come over?” Shachi had followed her downstairs.
“What?! Um... I don’t know...”
“Please? Can we ask your owner?”
“My owner? She’s... not home...” It's not that she didn't want to come over, but it was Friday, and Sophie would probably come home later.
“Then just come with me!”
“Wait!” Lydia said. “How about I go home first and make sure it’s okay, and then I’ll come over.”
“Okay!” Shachi flitted off, barely on her feet.
To be continued...