"Lilly, it's time I took you on a big shopping spree in the NC Mall," Streamer, a cloud Xweetok and my favourite sister told me matter-of-factly. "Not one of those small ones when you occasionally try on something -- I mean a BIG one!" She seemed a bit excited as she said this, pushing her teal glasses up the bridge of her nose. I sighed inaudibly as I snacked on Crispy Pumpkin Chips. I suddenly had a craving for a burger -- hot and greasy with melted cheese, fresh tomatoes, crisp lettuce, and ketchup and mayonnaise aplenty -- but pushed it out of my mind. I was a vegetarian now, and the deliciousness of meat was something my tastebuds would never have the glory of savouring again.
Don't get me wrong -- I love being a vegetarian. But sometimes I miss the tasty burgers -- my favourite food. "Streamer -- we don't even have any Neocash!" I exclaimed, exasperated. Stream_Ice -- or Streamer, as she was more often called -- loved to make up outfits in the NC Mall. My owner, Lexi, doesn't buy Neocash, so Streamer has to be content with just seeing how the costumes look on her.
"You know, she does have a point, Streamer," Sky pointed out as she entered the kitchen. Skypeltz is an electric Acara writer who has a hot temper and natural stubbornness. She's the second oldest, by a week or two, and always pranks Streamer, who isn't her biggest fan. "Do you know if we have any Apple Neocola? I have a craving for Apple Neocola!" she exclaimed as she looked through the cabinets.
"Try the Faerie Fridge," I said helpfully. Sky smiled gratefully as she opened the refrigerator. "Thanks, Lil. Are you up for a trip to Faerieland tomorrow? I'm going with Star and Shadow." Sky took out a couple Earth Faerie Brownies and a tall glass of milk. She quickly speared the brownies with long toothpick-looking items and went to the living room to heat them over the fireplace.
She came back a couple of minutes later with warm brownies and still-cold milk. She offered Streamer and me some, and I took one, but Streamer refused. "Too much fat and sugar," she sniffed. That's just how Streamer is; she's not trying to act all snobbish, if that's what it sounds like.
"We're going to the NC Mall together tomorrow, so she can't make it. We're going to try on as many combinations of clothes as we can! And I didn't get to see the new spring wear yet! I've heard that it's really good -- have you seen what Ivy did with Crystal, Star, and Shadow?" Streamer took my half-empty bag of chips. I said nothing, since I was eating the brownie.
"Faerieland is way better than the NC Mall!"
"You've been to Faerieland 12 million times!"
"And you've been to the NC Mall 20 million times!"
"At least the NC Mall actually changes!"
"Hey, Lilly, do you want to go to a couple of bookstores tomorrow? I heard there are some new informative exploring books out at Mystery Island! Maybe we could go with Feather and Crystal? After we go to the bookstore, I'm sure they wouldn't say no to having a Gormball tournament," Flight said as she entered the kitchen with a cup of Vanilla Borovan in one cloud Kacheek paw and a thick book with a green cover in her other.
"She can't -- she's going to Faerieland with Star, Shadow, and me!"
"No -- she's going with me to the NC Mall!"
"Hold it, guys, what's the problem?" Lexi came into the kitchen, rubbing her green eyes. Everyone started talking at once, and Lexi held up her hand, her green eyes flashing in annoyance. She ran her fingers through her red hair, and Flight handed her a yellow uni-tail before she asked. "Thanks, Flight. Now, since Lilly isn't trying to implode my eardrums, unlike the rest of you, she can talk first."
"Okay, but first off, I'm pretty sure it's impossible to have your eardrums implode. But I don't speak from experience, so I don't really know..." I trailed off and saw Lexi staring at me. "I mean, we were talking about what we should do tomorrow. Streamer wanted me to take a trip to the NC Mall with her; Sky wanted me to go to Faerieland with Star, Shadow, and, of course, herself. Flight wanted to check out some bookstores in Mystery Island," I explained.
"What do you want to do?" Lexi asked.
"I don't really mind. I mean, I like going to the NC Mall and Pizzaroo afterward as much as I like visiting Faerieland or looking for new exploring books and playing Gormball. Okay, maybe I like Gormball a little more, but really any of them is fine by me." I shrugged.
"How about you guys all give a little?" Lexi suggested. "Like, in the morning, Lilly and Streamer could go to the NC Mall and try on a couple things, and at noon she could go over to Faerieland and have lunch and maybe hit a couple of shops. Then, you can go to Mystery Island with Flight and play a game of Gormball!"
"Sure, thanks, Lexi! Maybe I'll even get the chance to go to the bookstore at Mystery Island, I really do want to see those new books..." I said, opening a conversation between Flight and myself into what type of books were the best, mystery or informative.
"Hey guys, can you go to the living room for a sec? I need to talk to Lilly," Lexi said, interrupting Flight and my conversation as she shooed her other pets out of the kitchen. After she did, she walked up to me and ruffled my fur. "Lilly -- you need to stand up for yourself more. I can't be around every time to figure this out for you -- you have your own interests. You have to pick what you want to do." She shook her head and turned around, leaving the kitchen.
I sighed before making my way to the living room; it wasn't the first time Lexi had to break up an argument between my sisters and me about whom I would spend time with. As Lexi's friend Ivy once said: "It's as if you put all the pets into a blender and mixed them up, the outcome would be a (slightly scrambled) Lilly."
A little harsh, but true.
"I think I'm going to crash, guys. Night," I told my sisters after a while, as I suddenly realised exactly how tired I really was. I yawned before going to my room, where I changed into an over-sized "I Love the NT" t-shirt and shorts, brushed my teeth, and jumped into my Rainbow Bed. I closed my eyes and was welcomed into the peaceful land of dreams.***
I stretched my paws and yawned as I blinked the sleepiness from my emerald-green eyes and switched my lamp on. The sun was just peeking through my blinds, and I looked around my green room. The walls were covered with yellow glittery swirls and hung with posters that portrayed lands around Neopia. I had a wonderful old-fashioned desk with a small lamp and my stamp collection, my trinkets from around Neopia collection, my map collection, my saved-up Neopoints from working in Lexi's shop, and a picture of my family and Feather's. I jumped up from my bed and looked into my closet, from which I took out my adventurer's backpack, a green t-shirt, jeans, blue shoes, and a pair of black sunglasses, as it was supposed to be sunny.
I put my Neopoints, camera, notepad, pencil, and book inside my backpack before going to the kitchen, looking forward to a hearty breakfast of pancakes, Borovan, tea, coffee, toast, eggs, and other food.
As soon as I got into the kitchen, my sisters and owner started trailing in. I got myself Earl Grey Tea, Smiley Pancakes, and Faerie Toast with Butter.
"Streamer! I can't believe -- no, it's worse, I can believe -- that you went behind my back and bought Borovan! I hate Borovan!" Lexi scolded Streamer, who made herself a vanilla-flavoured cup of the previously mentioned beverage and took a Florange out of the refrigerator. Lexi's pretty lenient on food, except for three rules: no carbonated drinks for breakfast, no Borovan, and no doughnuts. Of course, we don't go around eating cake as a meal or adding cups of sugar to our cereal. None of us like doughnuts or Borovan anyway, except for Streamer, who is addicted to Vanilla Borovan and has it for breakfast every day.
"Wow, Sky, you're not up at four!" Flight exclaimed sarcastically (something that if you didn't know her well enough, you would be surprised that it was a thing she was capable of doing).
"Wow, Flight, you don't have a book in your paws!" Sky replied with the same amount of fake-enthusiasm.
"What I don't get is how you still need two cups of coffee no matter what time you wake up," I said, as Sky made two cups of Purplum Mocha and three Wocky Pancakes with extra strawberry syrup and strawberries.
"I don't need it, Lilly; I just work better with it," Sky replied with a shrug as she sat down to the table with her meal. "What I don't understand is how you can eat so little!" she complained, her question directed at Streamer, who was still eating her meagre breakfast. (I personally don't understand why this was complaint-worthy, but with Sky most things are. But don't tell her I told you that!)
"Please, Streamer, I don't want you to starve! Eat toast or a salad or tomatoes or anything!" Lexi threw a tomato at Streamer, one of her favourite foods. She gobbled it up quickly and returned to her Florange. "Lilly and I have to go quickly to the NC Mall; we have a lot to do before she needs to head over to Faerieland," she explained. I quickly ate my breakfast, drank a last sip of my tea, and stood up.
"Ready," I said, heaving my adventurer's backpack over my shoulder.***
"Ooh, this background would look perfect on you," Streamer said, choosing a background of Mystery Island in which the sun set and rose slowly, though, of course, not nearly as slowly as in real life.
"I agree. Have you ever noticed how the 'Down with the NC' sign costs five 5,000 Neopoints, but the 'I Heart the NC' sign costs considerably less?"
"Ironic." Streamer brushed a strand of her white hair away from her eyes as she eyed a Gelert wearing an Air Faerie Bubble Necklace with envy. Since we are both Xweetoks, necklaces are blocked by our neck fur and don't stand out well.
"I have to go; it's almost time for my lunch at Faerieland -- do you want to come along? There will be Celestial Salads!"
"Nah, it's okay. I'll stay here. Maybe I'll meet you at Mystery Island for the Gormball?"
"Sure, hope you can make it."
"Hey, Lilly! You're just in time for some quality food!" Sky high-fived me as I entered Faerie Foods. I seated myself next to Sky, who was on Star's left. On Star's right was Shadow, who was on my left.
"Quality food, eh? Yup, Fire Faerie Fondue, Vegetarian Fyora Day Taco, Fyora Day Fizz, and a Taelia Sundae is really quality. Which, by the way, is what I'm getting," I told the waitress.
"I'll have a Fire Faerie Pizza, Fyora Day Fizz, and a Water Faerie Straw," Star ordered.
"A Rainbow Fountain Burger, Chocolate Fyora Crown, and Fyora Day Fizz, please," Sky decided.
"I think I want a Faerie Chocodrop, Faerie Hotdog, and Fruity Faerie Fingers," Shadow said, fingering the menu.
"Would you like anything to drink, sir?" the faerie Xweetok waitress asked, notepad and pencil in paw.
"Just water, please."
"Okay, the food should be coming shortly," the Xweetok said before flying off.
"Water? Seriously, Shadow?" Sky asked in disbelief. "We go to a restaurant and you want to drink--" she sputtered, "--water?"
"Yes. It's the only thing worth drinking besides the Fyora Day Fizz." The shadow Xweetok shrugged. He had long black hair that covered his startling blue eyes, a rumpled, old Red Marbleman T-shirt, and baggy jeans. He had a comfortable look to him, unlike his sister. She had a perfectly neat "I Love Fyora" T-shirt and green shorts. She also wore a Blue Newsboy Hat that was identical to Sky's and was the exact shade of her also-blue eyes. She was, of course, a starry Xweetok. Star gave the impression that she would scold you for breathing -- but if she was like that, she wouldn't have been such good friends with Sky, who was wearing an "I Love Kayla" T-shirt and blue jeans that had Shadow's rumpled, comfortable effect.
"It is true, Sky. They have good food but bad beverages," Star said as the food arrived.
"Let's stuff our faces fast so we can hit a couple of shops before Lilly has to leave," Shadow suggested. We all dug into our food and were done in a couple of minutes.
"Food's on me guys," Sky said as she pulled out a few thousand Neopoints.
"Since when do you have money to spare?" Star joked.
"Ever since I got the job at the Coffee Cave," Sky reminded her.
"Oh yes, how could I forget the job that makes you wake up at four in the morning five days a week and makes you rush to Neoschool afterward, only to go back to work, then finish homework and eat dinner at ten, leaving you with approximately six hours of sleep which is way too little—."
"Let's head to Faerieland Petpets; I'm sure there'll be something cute and girly that you guys will be interested in," Shadow cut in, smiling to show that he was teasing.
"Don't forget fluffy!" I added.
"And sparkly!" Sky laughed, though she hates sparkles. To tell the truth, I do too, I mean it's not useful. I would prefer my Juma, Janice, any day.
"And brother-eating!" Star joked, and we all laughed.***
I bought a Miamouse to sell in the shop, named it the very unique name of Mia (notice my sarcasm), made sure it was comfortable on the back of a Weewoo to travel the long distance to Lexi's shop, and said my goodbyes to Star, Shadow, and Sky, before taking an Eyrie Cab to Mystery Island. I had just reached the warm, sandy shores of the island when I made out Feather, Crystal, and Flight in the distance. I quickly ran to them and was greeted with a hug from Flight and a high-five from Crystal and Feather.
"How are you guys doing?" I asked. The Island Eyrie was wearing her Mystery Island Academy Yooyuball Jersey and favourite Gormball Necklace, so I deduced she had just came back from a game. "How was the game?"
"We won!" Feather broke out into a grin, and I gave her another high-five.
"Who's ready for some Gormball?" Crystal exclaimed and was met by three very excited volunteers. Crystal herself was in a teal t-shirt, which complimented her faerie Xweetok eyes, and lavender shorts. Her blue hair was tied in a blue uni-tail and had a Candy Cane Bow in it.
Feather got a Gormball out of her backpack, and we began to play. I'm not the greatest Gormball player in the world, but I could hold my own. Feather definitely beat us all, doing tricks like a pro.
After a while, we got bored with Gormball and went into the ocean. Feather isn't that great of a swimmer, her body not being built for that sort of thing, but she's an amiable pet and flew above the water most of the time, splashing us unexpectedly.
As the sun began to set, we dragged ourselves out of the ocean and onto the shore, where we lay on the sand watching the sun set.
"Do you want to see the books?" Flight asked me.
"Nah." I shook my head. I was too tired to do anything but hail an Eyrie Cab and drag myself home.***
"Hello, Lilly." Lexi came into my room, where I was lying in bed, reading a book. "How was your day?" She stroked my hair lovingly as she sat down on my bed.
"Tiring," I sighed as I put down my book.
"Tiring? You mean your day as everyone's best little puppet didn't go well?" Lexi asked harshly.
"What do you mean, 'everyone's little puppet'? I am no one's puppet!"
"Then why do you do everything everyone asks you to? 'Come with me to the NC Mall!' 'Come with me to Faerieland!' 'Come with me to the bookstore!' You never compromise or just flat-out say no! It is your life, Lilly. I'm sorry if I'm being unsympathetic, but you've gone beyond where sympathy can take you! You have your own mind, Lilly! Use it!" Lexi bristled as she stormed out of the room.
I turned off the light and rolled over in my bed as I thought upon Lexi's words. Was I a puppet? Did I do whatever others wanted me to?
I dozed off into a fitful sleep, my mind still whirring.***
I woke up early and rubbed my eyes blearily. Sunday morning, no plans for the day! I gave a loud whoop -- most of my family were probably awake anyway -- and jumped out of my bed and looked into my closet for a Feepits Rule! T-shirt and blue faded-out shorts. I pulled a comb through my hair a couple of times, washed my face, and slid down the stair rail to arrive in the kitchen, for a delicious breakfast of Spring Flower Tea and two slices of toast with jam.
I ate rapidly, hoping to leave the house and check out the books at Mystery Island early, before everyone started wanting to go places with me. I stuck a note on the Faerie Fridge saying, 'Left for Mystery Island. Be back at eight. Love, Lilly.'
I grabbed a pair of Fire Wings and flew out of the window. The wind was in my favour, and I arrived in a mere hour.***
At eight o'clock sharp, I arrived with a knapsack filled with books to find my sisters arguing. Again.
You have your own mind, Lilly. Use it!
Lexi's words rang in my head as I realised they were arguing about where to take me.
"Lilly and I are going for lunch at Pizzaroo! It's way better than any food at Terror Mountain could be!" Streamer was arguing.
"No way, Terror Mountain food rocks. Especially where we're going -- an awesome little restaurant called Snowy Surprises. Your food gets ordered for you, and you have to take your first bite blindfolded and guess what you're eating. It's Star, Shadow, Feather and Crystal's favourite place! Lilly would rather go there; she likes going to different places, and she's been to Pizzaroo a trillion times!" Sky replied.
"You're kidding. Lost Desert food so beats all of those places! Lilly loves going to the Lost Desert!"
"Yeah, what's not made of sand is burnt! Yay," Sky retorted sarcastically.
"Why don't you ask Lilly where Lilly wants to eat?" I asked, the tips of my ears reddening with anger. How dare they discuss me as if I couldn't decide for myself?
And then I realised, I couldn't.
I ran from the room where my sisters were staring, surprised I was saying something and was actually there. I was the little sister. I wasn't there to argue with them, I was there to be taken places, dressed up, talked to, and be entertaining.
I fell into Lexi's arms; she'd been waiting for me at the door of my room. Tears blinded my eyes. I couldn't choose, because I liked the Lost Desert just as much as Pizzaroo or Terror Mountain. I didn't have a favourite. I was average. I had no uniqueness, no difference. Just another speckled Xweetok.
"It's okay, it's okay." Lexi hugged me as I sobbed into her arm. Why didn't she give me anything that made me special? That made me me? She had made Flight the shy, bookworm type and Streamer the fashion-lover but stereotype breaker in the way that she was super-smart. Sky was the coffee-guzzler, writer, unique, brilliant one. Sky was different, but in a good way. I wasn't.
"It's not okay!" I cried.
"Everything! My sisters want me to go with them, and I can't choose! I love everything equally; I have no preference, no favourites, no originality -- I'm average and boring!"
"Is that how you feel?" Lexi asked, shock filling her voice. "Lilly, you're my adventurer! The hero of the bets, brave and curious! Kind and courteous! Your favourite colour is lime green; you love flowers and hillsides, exotic places, herbs and remedies! You love to swim and please others! You are your own Xweetok with your own likes and dislikes, abilities and shortcomings. You are never afraid to be yourself, though sometimes that gets you in trouble. You're Lilly!"
Suddenly, I knew what I wanted. I ran back to the living room, drying my tears. "Hey guys, how about lunch at Terror Mountain? We can all go with Ivy's pets! I'll pay! And maybe we can ice skate for a while before we eat!"
My sisters looked at me, amazed. "Sounds like fun!" Streamer finally said, and my siblings agreed.
Maybe I’m not so average after all.
Author's Notes: Yay, my first time in the NT! Thanks to icedragon_14_1 for the idea and letting me borrow her pets.