Painting the Maypole
“Hey, Tsukasa! Do you want to come help decorate the maypole?” Feather Dust called up the stairs. The gold Uni waited for a response from her Peophin sister, but there wasn’t one. She knew that Tsukasa was probably wallowing out in the bathtub for three hours like she always did. After all, water was where a Peophin loved to be.
It was the most exciting day of Feather Dust’s life. She was going to her Neoschool to set up the maypole for the May Fair. If she was lucky, she might even get to dance around it, holding one of the brightly coloured ribbons that fluttered in the air.
She quickly walked out of the house and climbed onto her pink, funky, flower-power bike and cycled off down the pavement, singing quietly to herself as she went along.
Spring was the best time of year in Neopia Central. Everything was blooming, and large cotton-candy-like blossoms appeared on the soon to be green trees. Petpets twittered in the branches, and every young Neopet was out and about playing.
As Feather Dust approached the school gates, she lifted her head high, letting her mane flow behind her along with her loose flower petal shirt which billowed in the warm breeze. She dismounted, looking at the rest of the decorating committee running around the paved school courtyard carrying boxes of ribbons, paper plates and cups and a whole manner of decorations for the fair. The young Uni couldn’t wait.
“Feather Dust!” a voice called as she flattened out her matching flower petal skirt. A royal girl Usul and an orange Kougra came running across the courtyard to the bike racks, each of them holding one end of a long banner that read May Fair in multicoloured letters.
“Feather Dust,” panted the Kougra, “You’re just in time! We thought you were going to miss making the maypole.”
“Thanks, Fadey,” replied Feather Dust, “but I wouldn’t miss that for the whole of Neopia!”
“You’ll never guess who showed up,” added the Usul, Annabel, with a hint of sarcasm in her voice. She turned to look in the direction of the school field (where the fair would be held) and Feather Dust looked over her shoulder. Another Uni, a pink one, was walking about the field holding a clipboard and seemingly criticising every single member of the committee.
“Clarissa,” Feather Dust murmured darkly. She didn’t even know why Clarissa was there. She wasn’t a member of the decorating committee and everyone knew that she would be crowned the supreme title of May Queen. The popular girl was just there to make everyone’s lives harder.
Taking their eyes away from the Uni, the three friends continued over to the field where a large, white pole stood in the centre. It didn’t look much like a maypole at all, but once Feather Dust got a hold of it, then it would be the most beautiful sight ever to be seen.
“You three!” a voice suddenly snapped.
“Oh, here we go,” muttered Fadey, rolling his eyes as Clarissa hurried towards them.
“You,” the Uni said. “This banner is in no condition to be placed up! Make it more... flowery!”
“The whole thing is covered with flowers,” replied Annabel. “What do you suppose we do?”
“Put on some stickers. Make giant flowers and stick them on. I don’t know,” Clarissa said, quite harshly.
“You’re not even a member of the committee,” retorted Fadey. Clarissa didn’t reply. She just pointed to the banner and strutted away. Feather Dust watched as Fadey took out his anger on his Neoquest II T-shirt, which he was now screwing up in his paws, but before they could leave, Clarissa turned back and looked at Feather Dust this time.
“And you... Fiona,” she said, accidently-on-purpose ‘forgetting’ her name.
“Whatever. I want you to go and clean out the compost heap. It’s going to be the garden shack for people to buy plants.”
“But actually, I’ve already been assigned to decorate the maypole.”
She watched as Clarissa became speechless and scowled, flicking her mane and storming away, her designer clothes seemed to be melting off her back with the invisible anger she was going through. Feather Dust felt pretty pleased with herself, but raised an eye as Clarissa went and asked another poor soul to do the wretched job of cleaning out the compost heap.
“That girl is such a... ARGGHHH!” steamed Annabel.
“Bye, guys,” Feather Dust interrupted. “I’m going to do the maypole now.” The Uni skipped happily towards the white pole and grabbed a box of ribbons. She looked up and saw Tommy the purple Tonu balancing on top of a wobbly ladder, trying to fix the May decoration to the top of the pole. Several others were painting the pole from top to bottom in pastel colours. Feather Dust put down the box and took out an extremely long green ribbon. She kicked off the ground and flew up to the top, fastened the ribbon and then set back down again on the grass.
It was the job of all the winged Neopets, such as Shoyrus, Unis and Eyries, to attach the ribbons, as it was so high to the top, even though Tommy was still trying to get the ladder to stay still when he placed the big bouquet of flowers on top of the pole.
Red, yellow, pink, blue, purple, green and orange; all the coloured ribbons were attached one by one. And pretty soon the maypole looked amazing. The swirling pastel colours twirled around the pole, while the ribbons were held down on the ground by a basket of colour changing tulips. When the May Fair would begin, the chosen Neopets would get to dance around the maypole, holding one of the brightly coloured ribbons.
Oh, here we go again, thought Feather Dust as she watched Clarissa come towards them, her nose stuck up in the air. The snooty Uni examined the maypole for a few minutes before turning to the rest of the Neopets.
“Do it over,” she said blankly, barely even looking at any of them in the eye. A few whispers went around the group.
“What?” asked Tommy in shock. “We’ve spent all day working on the maypole!”
“I can’t be held responsible for things not being as perfect as they can be,” Clarissa replied, smiling viciously.
“But it is perfect,” murmured a small voice. Everyone looked around to see a little red Zafara trying to look away from Clarissa’s icy glare.
“Nobody asked your opinion,” she said. “You’re just a worthless unpainted pet.”
“Don’t talk to her like that!” yelled a voice. Feather Dust emerged from the crowd, and looked hard at Clarissa. “Leave her alone.”
“Oh, well, if it isn’t Fiona.”
“How dare you talk to me like that! You pathetic, unwanted LOSER! You will do that maypole again.”
Whispers went round the group. To call someone that was one of the biggest insults at Neoschool. Feather Dust’s face turned bright red with either anger or embarrassment.
“I won’t do anything you say,” she replied, feeling like everything she ever wanted to say to Clarissa was about to come out. She saw out of the corner of her eye that Fadey and Annabel were running over to the scene. “You think that just because you’re popular that you can push everyone else around. You think that just because you’re a Uni that you’re prettier than everyone else? Well, if you haven’t noticed, I’m a Uni, and I have a lot more true friends than you’ll ever have.”
Clarissa looked, for once in her life, taken aback. Everyone else had gone completely silent.
“So you know what, Clarissa?” Feather Dust continued. “You boss everyone around and just put Neopets down. But I’m done here, and I hope that you’re happy with yourself about how you truly are.”
She felt the tears sting in her eyes as she turned to leave. The little golden Uni walked away towards the bike racks, not even caring about anything she had just said. She didn’t even care that her precious maypole was about to be torn down.
Feather Dust peddled forward and cycled out of the school gates.
“Feather Dust?” a voice called and someone knocked at the door.
“Go away,” the gold Uni replied, rolling over on her rainbow bed. Despite her words, the door opened, and a girl walked in. Her big brown eyes looked at her Uni with sorrow and she sat down on the bed, next to her.
“Do you want to talk about it?” asked Capricorn.
“It was only this morning that I saw a certain Uni prancing around the house happily, because she was going to decorate the maypole with her friends,” Capricorn said. Feather Dust didn’t reply. “And you know what? She looked a lot like you.”
Feather Dust frowned and thought to herself.
“I don’t know what happened today,” her owner continued, “but I know that Uni will get through it. You know why?”
“Because she has the most spirit, and the most caring personality that I have ever seen in a Neopet. Just don’t tell her brothers and sister I said that.”
Feather Dust giggled, and she felt a bit better. She rolled back over and faced Capricorn.
“Thanks,” she said, hugging the girl tightly.
“So the May Fair is on tomorrow,” added Capricorn, “and we’re all going to it. Do you think that Uni would like to come?”
“Yes,” answered Feather Dust, smiling, “I think she would.”
Fadey and Annabel’s sign seemed to light up the whole courtyard as the Hunter family walked through it. Blitz, the baby Gelert was jumping around excitedly with his red baseball cap turned backwards. Tsukasa was gliding along gently, flapping her new stained glass wings. Ever since she had been bought these, she found it a lot easier to move on land. Hennagell the checkered Gelert was looking most peculiar with his wizard cloak and hat, and a charm tied around his neck. Feather Dust looked more or less the same, except her happy expression had gone, and she trailed behind the rest of the family.
“Welcome to the May Fair,” said the happy voice of a yellow Blumaroo, who was granting access. The whole place was filled with stalls and Neopets who ran around like mad. There was even a Ferris wheel which Tsukasa and Blitz left to ride on. Feather Dust barely looked up. She didn’t even want to see the new maypole that had been built. The one she hadn’t even been a part of making.
“Feather Dust!” a voice called. She looked up to see Annabel running towards her. “Oh, it’s so good to see you! I thought maybe you wouldn’t show.”
The Uni looked down again. Everyone was having a good time except her.
“Speaking of which,” Annabel continued, “there’s something I need to show you.” Capricorn nodded and the two Neopets ran through the crowds until they reached a clearing. Feather Dust felt like her wings had just lifted her to the heavens as she saw it.
The maypole stood in the middle of the clearing; the very maypole she had helped make. The ribbons were held down by flowers and the coloured paint swirled around the pole. Tommy’s May decoration sat on the top and each of the ribbons had someone’s name written on them.
“So,” said Annabel, “Do you think you want to join in? It starts in a few minutes.” Sure enough, Neopets from all over the school were walking into the clearing, searching for their ribbon. Fadey already had his blue one, and waved to Feather Dust and Annabel. The two held hands/paws/hooves and ran to the maypole.
Annabel’s was behind Fadey’s and her name was written in swirling silver letters on the purple ribbon. Feather Dust’s was in front of Fadey’s, and her name was written in gold writing on a pink ribbon. She watched as her family pushed through to the front to watch the dance.
The music began and the Neopets began to dance around the maypole, the ribbons twisting and twirling to make a rainbow. Almost as soon as it had begun, the music stopped, and the ribbons were tied to the ground. The maypole looked magnificent now that it was finished.
“Attention, everyone!” a voice called through the speakers. “We will now be announcing the winner of our title of May Queen!” Fadey groaned and they all set off to the stage to watch Clarissa be crowned. At the side a golden crown with flowers on it sat glistening in the sunlight.
“Quiet down, everyone,” said the voice again. It was a blue female Techo who had come onto the stage holding an envelope. The whole place went silent.
“We will now announce the winner by the most votes,” the Techo said. She opened the envelope and said it – the name. But it wasn’t Clarissa’s.
“Feather Dust Hunter!”
Feather Dust couldn’t move. She couldn’t think. The crowd erupted into cheers and Fadey nudged her forwards. The Uni climbed onto the stage and just made the biggest smile in the world as the Flower Crown was placed on her head. Her friends, family and the rest of the decorating committee were clapping the loudest, and some of them came up and threw flower petals on her.
Feather Dust laughed and gestured to the rest of her friends.
“Thank you so much,” she said as everyone quietened down. “I really think this is great, but it wasn’t only me who deserves this. My friends are the ones who really helped make this happen as well, so they should all come up here too.”
All the Neopets who had helped out on the May Fair scrambled up onto the stage. They all held hands as everyone cheered for them.
“What do you make of the fair then?” asked Annabel, giggling. Feather Dust didn’t answer.
She didn’t have to.