The Golden Weewoo
I tossed and turned in my four-poster bed, my thoughts coming too fast, and I unable to keep up with them. Another sleepless night. I groaned, staring at the pink-veiled ceiling, and tried not to think about how tired this would make me tomorrow. Now that I was fully awake, there was no hope of me getting back to dreamland.
Every noise in our little house seemed louder than usual, the ticking of the kitchen clock downstairs, the quiet snores of my Tasu, Angelica, in the corner. Realising that trying to catch forty winks would be futile, I slid my hooves into some slippers and made my way to the window.
If not the most exciting thing, it was at least therapeutic to sit at my window sill and gaze out at the inky, starless sky. The moon was noticeably luminous tonight, casting an eerie, pale glow on the surrounding countryside.
Directly opposite my bedroom window was a grand oak tree, with gnarled and twisted brown branches extending in every direction. If I opened my window, I could just about brush my hoof against the tip of one. I opened the windows, relishing the invigorating cold night air.
My mind continued to buzz, thinking about Angelica, my family, what I'd spend my pocket money on, the school trip... at last my brain seemed able to focus on something. Everyone in my class had been anticipating this school trip for months, and it was finally here. In two days time, my classmates and I would be paying a visit to the sunny shores of Neopia Central, where the most beautiful beach was - second to only Mystery Island. I hoped it would be sunny.
I sat huddled by the window and thought about the trip - I would probably be paired with my sister AJ for the excursion, which would involve collecting different shell samples and investigating rock pools. I shivered at the excitement of it all.
At that very moment, while my mind was occupied with the difference between a Nupie and a Mundo, I saw her. Well, I actually can't be certain that it was a her - but in my mind she was a her, because she couldn't be a him, you know?
It was a Weewoo.
I had only heard of these in tales of lore, these beautiful little birds that were sold in the far away land of Krawk Island, and even then for a hefty price and not often seen. Of course, I had seen them on the cover of my mother's Neopian Times as well, but it was just a photograph. She was smaller than I had imagined, but twice - no, fifty times - as beautiful.
Her feathers were not the usual light brown of the natural Weewoo, not even the rumoured white, said to be the rarest of all. I have been doubted many times on this account, but I promise to you, dear reader, that this Weewoo had feathers of the most magnificent gold. Not brown, or white, or not even the yellow - for gold and yellow do vaguely resemble each other - but a shining gold.
She sat on the branch closest to me, though not close enough to touch. She must have alighted on the twig, as softly as a whisper, while I was daydreaming about the beach, for I had not noticed her arrival. She perched on the tree, twittering a sad little tune that sounded lonely and beautiful in the still night. While she sang, she flitted from branch to branch, collecting leaves, bits of fur and small twigs to build a nest.
It was slow work, and I am ashamed to admit that I quickly grew tired of watching this Weewoo gather materials. In my own childish, impulsive way I wanted to hold her, look after her, keep her for my own. I would surely be the envy of my classmates with such a lovely petpet! I am aware that I cannot keep more than one petpet, but Angelica would probably not have minded sharing.
I stretched my limbs out of the window as far as I could, but to no avail - I was almost breaking a sweat with the effort, and the Weewoo was no closer to me. She looked at me with intelligent eyes, almost laughing at me, and I was sure that she would not be foolish enough to come closer to me.
I decided to join her in the garden outside, just to watch her even more closely. As silently as I could, I exited my bedroom, passing the hall mirror as I went outside. I caught my reflection as I hurried - a harried-looking Faerie Ixi looked back at me. My appearance had been better, but it didn't bother me, for my eyes were shining too much with excitement and glee for me to care about some unkempt fur.
Breathless, I ran to the back garden, my eyes darting around eagerly in the moonlight, trying to find the branch where my Weewoo sat. But I could not find her. It seemed a hopeless quest, and after a few minutes of pointless searching my eyes filled with tears. My Weewoo seemed to have outwitted me, and made a hasty escape!
"Stop crying, Ginger!" I said, scolding myself. "These tears are a waste. I'll - I'll simply have to find a way to be even smarter than this Weewoo - which will prove difficult!"
My attention was caught by the unfinished nest, still hanging on the branch. Surely the Weewoo would make a return, and finish her nest. I would simply resolve to be there when that happened.
* * *
The next morning I was sat at the breakfast table with the rest of my family, though I barely ate my NeoCrunch. My brother, Kou, noticed my absentmindedness - probably because he was wondering if he could finish my cereal.
"What's up, Ginger? Your NeoCrunch's going soggy," the Starry Kougra pointed out.
I sighed. "It's just that... well, the weirdest thing happened last night!" I explained everything to my now-attentive siblings, trying to stick to the truth as much as I could.
When I finished, the silence seemed to hang in the air awkwardly.
"Well?" I asked, encouraging them to make a comment.
AJ was the first to break it. A small giggle left her lips, which prompted my brothers to of course erupt into laughter. Fiona, my owner, glared at the trio of cackling hyenas and hushed them.
"Oh, stop laughing, you fools!" she snapped, looking irritated. "Sorry, Ginger, it's just that... well, are you sure you didn't dream it?"
I frowned, stung by her disbelief. "I didn't dream it, she was there! And she'll be there again tonight, I'm sure of it. She left her nest behind, just you wait and see!" With that, I huffed and got up from the table, leaving my chortling family behind.
For the rest of the day I was too distracted by thoughts of the Weewoo to concentrate. Even my favourite subject, History, couldn't hold my attention, with my mind always drifting back to the little bird. I didn't talk to AJ at lunch, either.
Instead I spent my lunch break devising plans and making a list of supplies I would need for the night, in order to catch another glimpse of the Weewoo.
* * *
I huddled by the window again that night, in the exact same spot as the previous night.
"Any minute now," I whispered to myself. "She'll be here soon."
I glanced at the clock on my wall. It was approaching 1AM NST, and I was already becoming tired, cold and fed up. I pulled my rucksack of supplies closer to me, just so I could be prepared for every occurrence.
Inside was a camera - naturally, for my siblings of little faith - a flask of tea, an extra blanket, some expensive bird-watching binoculars, a first aid kit in case the little bird was injured, and my favourite plushie - well, even explorers can get nervous!
The clock ticked by, well into the night, and still nothing happened. With every passing minute my mouth curved a little downwards, and my heart despaired more. She wouldn't arrive, I should have known. Of course my siblings were right, as usual! I had been an idiot, unable to tell the difference between dreams and reality.
With an enormous sniff I climbed back into bed, noting that the clock now read 3AM NST. I had better get some sleep before the school trip tomorrow - although now I doubted that I would even enjoy that.
* * *
"Get up, Ginger! It's nearly 8 A.M. - you'll miss the trip!" Fiona's calling drifted through my bedroom, eventually stirring me enough to rouse myself out of bed. Still gloomy after the disappointing results earlier, I reluctantly gathered my rucksack again, barely speaking to my siblings as I passed them while fetching a packed lunch.
Melienah, my Rainbow Kacheek sister, seemed especially concerned about me. Melienah always hated to see people upset.
"Is something the matter, Ginger? I'm sure there is, you've hardly said two words to any of us today." Her little face creased in a frown.
"It's... it's nothing, Mel - I just didn't get much sleep last night."
Melienah accepted this explanation without question, and wished me a safe trip. AJ and I trudged through the soil to where the school coach was waiting - neither of us were over-enthusiastic, as I rather think my glumness was dampening my sister's spirits.
The coach trip passed in relative silence, as AJ's attempts at conversation failed while I slept uncomfortably in my seat. Every now and then our teacher would point out an interesting monument or unusual landmark, but for the most part it was quiet. Soon my sister just burrowed down into her seat with a Faerie Crossword - I could never solve them, but she had the brains.
When we arrived at the beach, however, everyone's energy and excitement nearly toppled over the small carriage. We were pushed and jostled in the eagerness to reach the seaside. Even the energy seemed to affect AJ's mood, and she broke into a gentle skip, dragging me along with her.
The teacher divided us into twos, and as predicted, I was paired up with AJ. Between us, we were given the task of locating some cowry shells - a very important job, I'll have you know, as such shells are rarely found on Maraquan shores, let alone in Neopia Central. Together we combed the beach contentedly, occasionally pointing out a stray Felly or brightly coloured shell.
Our search was proving fruitless, however, and after fifteen minutes or so, I decided to pursue my own hunt further inland, as opposed to my sister's tactic of tackling the sand closest to the sea. I was wandering aimlessly around the dunes, and was quite enjoying myself for the first time that day.
The air was bracing and salty, and the day was cool - but not too breezy, just ideal for a fur-conscious Ixi like myself. I was happily tripping over some scattered twigs when I saw her again. I assume I don't need to explain that statement further to you, dear reader, but I will anyway.
The Weewoo was back! And there was no doubt in my mind that it was the very same from a few nights ago. You may be sceptical of such a claim, but it really isn't likely that I would stumble across two gold Weewoos in the space of a few days. They're a rare occurrence, I've heard.
Even if there wasn't that factor, I would have recognised her. She had a certain quality, charm - aura, almost, about her. She seemed vague and absent-minded, and yet other times an almost unnervingly focused gleam crept into her beady eyes. In many ways, this Weewoo reminded my of myself.
Anyway, the Weewoo was perched atop one of the cliffs far above my head. I'm lucky to have fairly sharp vision, but I withdrew my binoculars regardless. Upon closer inspection, I was more certain than ever that it was my Weewoo. She was staring right at me, too. It was as though she remembered me. Perhaps she did - she certainly seemed to be far more intelligent than the other Airaxes surrounding her.
This, I decided, was the moment to tell my sister.
"AJ!" I cried at the top of my lungs.
My sister rushed to my side immediately. "What is it, sis? Did you find the shell?" She was breathless and excited.
I laughed, for I had plainly forgotten about that pursuit in the wake of this amazing incident.
"Of course not! Why, it's my Weewoo again - you remember, the one you didn't believe me about?"
"...Yes?" asked AJ, not grasping the point. Poor thing, she was being unusually dense.
"Well, just look above you!" I spluttered. A crowd of my classmates gathered around me, for my screaming had created quite the ruckus. But the cliff was deserted, save for the odd Airax.
"I don't see anything," a small Tonu piped up, and with that spark, the whole class erupted into protestations at my claims. There was no such thing as golden Weewoos, they told me, and I was just looking for attention by calling everyone over.
I couldn't say which was worse, the laughter or the criticisms. Eventually they all ambled off, leaving AJ and myself standing at the cliffs.
"AJ," I began. "I swear -"
She smiled sadly at me, then to my surprise, reached over and hugged me.
"Don't worry about the shells, we'll be going soon anyway. Want to go for a walk?"
I sighed. It was just like a few days ago, although I think I disliked the pity most of all. Still though, it wasn't too bad, whiling away the rest of the trip by strolling around the sand with my sister.
* * *
I recounted the whole story to Fiona as soon as we got home, and was perhaps a little too forceful in my insistence that I had seen the Weewoo. I could tell that she didn't believe me, but she didn't want to hurt my feelings. Instead, she bought me a can of NeoCola and a new perfume to improve my mood.
That night, I didn't bother waiting up for the Weewoo. I made myself lie in bed until sleep finally arrived, and I could catch forty winks.
When I woke, however, the most incredible thing awaited me on my desk. I could scarcely believe it, although I knew immediately what it was.
I crept towards my desk in glee, where a small, daintily crafted nest sat. I don't think I need to explain who the sculptor was. Amongst the dull browns of the branches and twigs, golden straw was weaved. It gave the nest an odd, beautiful glimmer in the sunlight streaming from the windows.
I felt no need to inform my family of this. I didn't mind if they didn't believe me, but I had made peace with myself. This was my own omen that it had all happened, and I knew I would take the best possible care of it.
Just a few hours later, however, I heard an enlightening conversation outside my door. Fiona was talking to AJ, recounting to her the most amazing thing that she had found outside. She told AJ of how the first thing she did this morning was leave it on my desk.
"You know what it means, AJ," she said in hushed tones. "The golden Weewoo was real, after all! I guess sometimes you just have to believe in the weird and wonderful..."