The Possibilities are Endless: Part One
Special thanks to my cousin, kp_rox, who read each part for me while she was sick with the flu. You're awesome!
“Oh, no!” the Soup Faerie murmured, tapping her chin. “I’m out of garlic. Skyler, will you run to the gourmet food shop and ask Harold for some garlic bulbs? He said he got in a fresh batch last week from Meridell, and he’d save a bag of them for me. The last few recipes include garlic as an ingredient, but all I have left are onions.”
“No problem. I’ll be back in a few minutes,” I answered quickly. It was dawn; the sun was just beginning to peek over Terror Mountain. In less than an hour, hungry Neopets would begin lining up at the door of the Soup Faerie’s cottage.
I ran from the Marketplace to the main shops of Neopia Central, panting only slightly. I was used to running errands for the kind faerie, and it gave me plenty of exercise. I looked around. No one walking around the shops yet; almost everybody was fast asleep in their cozy beds. Most of the shops’ lights were beginning to turn on, lighting up the streets. However, the food shop’s lights weren’t on yet.
Where is he? I wondered. Harold always opens his shop at exactly six o’clock. It’s already close to ten minutes after. He’s never late! Just then, the lights flickered on. The yellow Chia lumbered up to the front door from inside the shop, looking extremely tired. He pulled out some keys and fumbled with the lock.
“Good morning, Skyler,” he mumbled. His eyelids sagged as he glanced at me. “Are you here to fetch the garlic bulbs? I just got in some fresh ones last week.”
“Yes, I’m here for the garlic,” I answered slowly. “Are you feeling alright today, Harold? You don’t look so well.” The Chia wasn’t even wearing his favorite “I Love Food” apron yet. I had never seen him without it before.
Harold coughed into a tissue. “I’m feeling a little low today,” he admitted, clearing his throat loudly. “But I’ll be fine. Let me just grab those garlic bulbs from the back room.” He disappeared for a minute, then returned with a big green box in his hands.
I scrunched my nose slightly at the strong smell. The Soup Faerie loved strong smells like garlic and onion, but I couldn’t get used to it, even after a full year of working for her. “Thanks, Harold. See you later. I hope you feel better soon.”
“Thank you, Skyler. Goodbye.”
“Bye!” I yelled over my shoulder as I raced off back to the Marketplace, this time trying to juggle the box in my hands and run at the same time. It wasn’t working so well.
I arrived back at the Soup Faerie’s cottage only half an hour before the Soup Kitchen was supposed to open. When the faerie saw me, a relieved look spread across her face. “Oh, Skyler, you’re back! Thank goodness. You’re just in time.”
I handed her the green wooden box, and the Soup Faerie smiled. “Did you tell Harold thank you for me?” she asked.
“Yes. He didn’t seem to be feeling very well today, though.”
Instantly, the Soup Faerie looked concerned. “Oh, dear,” she said, biting her lip. “I hope he feels better soon. After the morning crowd, I’ll whip him up some spicy tomato soup. That should help some. Would you hand me my wooden spoon? This pot of soup is almost finished.”
* * *
One thing most people don’t know about the Soup Faerie is that she has helpers. Of course, faeries are magical, but sometimes they need extra assistance. That’s why she hired my friend Gordy and me.
I had lived in the pound for as long as I can remember. I’ve always been a checkered Gelert. I know you’re probably thinking, Why would a painted pet sit in the pound for so long? Well, I was sick with Ugga-Ugga. It’s a horrible disease, and the cure is extremely rare and expensive. Nobody would adopt me because they didn’t want a pet who could only speak in grunts.
One day the Soup Faerie sent a request to Rose, the Adoptions Uni. She wanted to hire a helper from the pound, someone willing to run errands for her and do other odd jobs. Rose had always favored me, even though I couldn’t talk to her. She asked me if I’d like to work for the Soup Faerie, and I nodded. Finally, I had thought, I’m getting out of the pound.
I don’t live with the Soup Faerie. Actually, I don’t live anywhere. Just everywhere. I work for her on weekdays – Monday through Friday. She lets me and Gordy, a green Scorchio, have Saturdays and Sundays off, even though they’re the busiest days at the Soup Kitchen.
* * *
At dusk, the Soup Faerie dismissed us. The evening crowd had been fed dinner, and now the Soup Kitchen would close. “Thank you for your help, you two,” the kind faerie said with a smile. “Here’s this week’s pay. Have a good weekend, alright? I’ll see you Monday morning.”
We said goodbye, and Gordy and I each went our separate ways. Unlike me, Gordy had an owner and a family. He used the neopoints he earned from working for the Soup Faerie to support them. I waved goodbye to him and he flew off to Tyrannia, where he lived on weekends with his owner. I wasn’t sure where he lived weeknights.
I trotted from the Marketplace to the Neopian Bazaar. I passed Hubert’s Hotdogs, which is one of my favorite places to eat. I wasn’t hungry tonight, though; the Soup Faerie had let us eat the leftover soup.
I wandered the streets restlessly. I was tired of Neopia Central. I had been in every shop at least a dozen times. That’s when I decided to spend the weekend on Terror Mountain, where my friend Anna lived in Happy Valley with her owner and sister.
Quickly, I set to work. I ran back and forth between shops, buying some supplies that would last me for the two days I was to be gone. I even stopped in the book shop to pick up a book for the ferry ride – When Gelerts Go Bad.
At the dock, I paid for my ferry ticket and took a seat. I had arrived just in time; the boat would leave in less than two minutes. A pink Bruce sat next to me, and before I had a chance to pull the book out of my bag, she began a conversation.
I learned that the Bruce, whose name was Mattie, was on her way home, back to Happy Valley. She had been visiting some friends in Kiko Lake, then had gone shopping in Neopia Central. She gave me a long, detailed list of all the things she had bought on her shopping spree.
Before I knew it, we had arrived.
* * *
As I walked up the front steps of Anna’s house, I took in a deep breath. I remembered that in the pound, Anna always told me how much she loved to cook. I stopped on the top step, and took a deep sniff. Sure enough, I could smell freshly-cooked beef.
I knocked on the door. All of a sudden, I was nervous. What if they didn’t want me to stay? Or what if Anna didn’t remember me? I pulled the woolen scarf tighter around my neck, shivering slightly. The door flew open, and there stood my best friend.
“Skyler!?” she shrieked, laughing with surprise and shock. I hadn’t seen her in over a year.
Anna and I had sat in the pound together for months before she was adopted. During that time, she was a blue Gelert. After her owner, Delilah, adopted her, Anna was painted electric. Since I had been sick with Ugga-Ugga, I could only talk to her through writing. Rose had kindly provided me with plenty of stationary.
I grinned. I hadn’t told her about my job with the Soup Faerie or that my Ugga-Ugga had been cured, so she probably assumed I couldn’t talk. We had only written a few times since she was adopted.
“I can’t believe this,” Anna said, the smile stuck on her face as she studied me. “I haven’t seen you in forever!” She wrapped me in a hug and then invited me inside.
“Are you hungry? I have beef stew pie in the oven. Delilah and Minnie will be home soon. They’re not going to believe this!” I had met Anna’s owner and sister the day Delilah adopted her. Anna had begged her to adopt me as well, but I had rejected. As much as I loved them, I knew I didn’t belong with them.
Anna hurried to the kitchen and pulled the pie out of the oven. The steaming smell floated over to where I was sitting on the couch, and I couldn’t stand it any longer. I had to talk. “It smells amazing,” I said, grinning as I watched Anna’s reaction.
Her jaw dropped, and she stared at me. This was the first time she’d ever heard my voice. “Skyler,” she squeaked. “You can talk.”
To be continued...