A Valentine's Surprise
Julia twirled a spoon with her hands, watching as it spun. The Blue Acara didn’t look up until the spoon had settled on the table.
“So, what should we do?” she asked her siblings. Amasaia, an Island Gelert, chewed on her sandwich thoughtfully. She rested her head on the kitchen counter.
“A party?” she suggested. Julia shook her head.
“We do that every single year. Sendrii doesn’t say anything, but I think she’s tired of it.” Julia knew that their sister, a Plushie Cybunny, hardly complained.
“What do you think, Jaraiya?” Amasaia asked their little brother. The Pirate Poogle looked up at his sisters, and went back to playing a game on the floor.
“I think that idea sounds good,” he said.
“You know, the one you just said.”
Julia rolled her eyes. “We only have two days!” she said. “It’s Valentine’s Day AND our sister’s birthday in two days. And we haven’t done anything.”
Amasaia reached over to pat her sister’s shoulder, but the Acara brushed her off.
“I’m going shopping tomorrow,” she said. “I’ll try to find something for Sendrii then. And if not... well, I don’t know what will happen.”
She hopped off the stool and climbed the stairs to bed.
It was a bright, brisk morning the next day. Julia woke early, dressed, and left her room before anyone else was up. As she approached the stairs, she looked down and saw that Amasaia was waiting by the doorway.
“What are you doing?” Julia whispered. “I thought you were going to the Employment Agency!”
“I was, but I decided to go with you instead. Then I came down here and Jaraiya was already awake.”
“What d’you mean? Where is he?”
Amasaia pointed at the couch, where a mass of blankets began to arouse itself.
“I’m up,” Jaraiya said. He rubbed his eyes and stretched, letting his toes touch the coffee table.
“Then let’s get going,” Julia said. She grabbed Amasaia’s hand and waited for Jaraiya to catch up.
“This is why I love living in Mystery Island at this time of year,” Jaraiya said as they walked into the bright sunshine. “No snow, just sun and sea.”
“And mud,” Julia added as Jaraiya slipped in a puddle. Dirt and water splashed onto his paws, and he grabbed a tree branch to pull himself up.
“Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day,” Julia said as they approached the market place. “That means we only have a couple of hours to get a great gift for Sendrii.”
“I have an idea!” Jaraiya said excitedly. Julia narrowed her eyes as she looked at her brother.
“You do?” she asked. She raised her eyebrows.
“There’s this thing that everyone’s been going crazy about at school. It’s a big deal to get one.”
“What’s it called?” Julia asked, and Jaraiya stopped talking. A blank look crossed his face.
“I think it’s like a Valentine’s... Card, or something?”
“A Mysterious Valentine’s Card,” Amasaia finished.
“What is it?” Julia asked.
“It’s almost impossible to get. They sell so quickly, and not many of them stock, even at this time of the year.”
“What about the Trading Post?”
“It would cost about a hundred thousand neopoints.”
Julia looked sadly at the few coins in her hand. As they passed the Trading Post hut, she saw a few pets walking away, clutching light pink envelopes.
“Let’s try here,” she said as they approached a cluster of shops. A few shopkeepers waved at the three pets, pointing to sale signs in front of their store. Julia and her siblings approached a small shop at the corner.
The three pets stood in back of a green Techo. He moved aside to let them through.
“Why is the line so long?” Julia asked him. He turned around, and smiled when he saw the Acara.
“Everyone’s waiting to get Mysterious Valentine’s Cards,” he said. “This is one of the only shops on the island that sells them.”
“How often do they get released?” Jaraiya asked. Julia turned to give her brother a look, but his gaze was fixed on the Techo.
“This is the last time today,” the Techo said. A bell rang, and all of the pets looked to the front of the store. A shopkeeper walked through a side door, his hands laden with envelopes. The yellow Kacheek stuffed them into a box on the counter. When he approached the register, pets began to crowd around the container.
“Go, Amasaia!” Julia said to her sister. The Gelert rushed to the counter, and bumped into the Techo.
“Sorry!” she said. The Techo turned and smiled at her, then reached forward to grab a card. By the time he pulled away, Julia saw that the box was empty.
“Oh, no...” she said under her breath. Amasaia looked from the Techo to the box, and frowned when she realized what had happened. He gave her a smile and approached the register.
“Why do you have to be so polite?” Julia said when they exited the shop. “You could have just reached forward and grabbed it.”
“I’m sorry!” Amasaia said for the third time. “He was in front of us.”
“And it’s not like he has anyone to give it to,” Julia muttered. “I bet he’s just going to keep it to himself.”
As she finished talking, a cool breeze passed by the pets. Julia turned to see the Techo’s back as he walked by their side and down the path.
“Good going,” Jaraiya said to his sister. She threw her paws up in the air.
“I can’t do anything right!” she said. She looked like she was on the verge of tears. Amasaia tried to reach for her sister, but Julia began walking faster and stayed ahead of her siblings the whole way home.
“Balloons, wrapping, presents...” Julia muttered to herself. She sat in the middle of the living room, reaching for items to hang on the banister and from the ceiling.
“Need help?” a voice asked. Julia heard her sister’s footsteps as she descended the stairway. The Gelert walked into the room and surveyed the decorations.
“It looks great,” she said.
“I’m almost done,” Julia said, but she didn’t look up. “Could you pass me that glue?”
Ama reached for the bottle and handed it to her sister. She sat down on the floor and began helping Julia with the last part of the process. By the time they were done, the room was covered in pink and red – Sendrii’s favorite colors.
“I just hope it’s enough,” Julia said. “I always try to make her birthday special, because it must be hard to have her birthday on a holiday.”
“Why do you think so?” Amasaia asked.
“Well, pets usually get presents on Valentine’s Day. So that means that Sen gets half the presents that she deserves. And she’s so generous the rest of the year.”
“I’m sure she loves anything that you do for her,” Amasaia said softly. “We’re her family, and that’s her biggest present – to have people she loves around her.”
Julia nodded, but she wasn’t really listening. Her head drooped, and she settled against her sister’s shoulder.
“I think it looks great,” Amasaia repeated, but Julia didn’t hear her. She was already asleep.
Knock. Knock. Knock.
Julia turned over.
A great crashing came from upstairs. Sendrii ran into the living room and to the doorway. The door opened and closed with a click, and Sendrii shrieked. Julia raised her head.
“What’s that?” she said. She jumped up and ran to the door, tripping over Amasaia in the process. The Gelert winced and put a paw to her head.
“You okay?” Julia asked Sendrii when she reached the door. The Plushie Cybunny looked at Julia, holding something in her hand.
“This just came in the mail!” she said. Her face was split into a huge grin. She opened her palm to reveal a light pink envelope stamped with a heart. The paper was crushed from being held so tightly.
“It’s a Mysterious Valentine’s Day card,” Amasaia said. She had appeared behind Julia. “But who...?”
Julia looked at her sister, and both pets rushed to the window. Julia pulled back the curtain and pressed her nose to the glass.
In the distance, a stooped green back reached the last line of houses and disappeared.
If you're reading this, I made it into the Valentine's issue!! Woohoo! Happy Valentine's Day, everybody. :)