Fruit Shakes: Part Two
Tamara could not scramble up to the rim of the bowl, so she had no idea where Mackenzie was taking her. All she could guess was that she was being taken upstairs, judging by the enormous amount of bumping and vibrating that was going on. After the staircase ended, Tamara couldn’t tell which room she was being carried to. All she could do was wait. Finally, a recognizable smell drifted in even through the plastic wrap. Jared’s room.
Suddenly Tamara perked up. Jared – he may have a paintbrush! And if he didn’t, he had been saving up loads of Neopoints for a Shadow Paint Brush, so maybe he could help her out. She knew he would, after he saw his sister had turned into a grape. Tamara gulped. He’d help her – if he didn’t eat her first.
Mackenzie started to talk in a soothing voice to Jared, saying, “Hey, buddy. How’re you doing?”
“Mff... tired,” Jared moaned.
“I know, I know, sweetheart,” Mackenzie said sympathetically. “We’re trying to get that cure. Until then, eat lots of fruit. It’ll help you stay strong.”
The bowl was set down on a lumpy surface – probably Jared’s bed. Tamara slapped her forehead. How had she forgotten – her teenage brother was down with a bad case of Blurred Vision! Mackenzie had yet to buy the Extra Thick Goggles that would cure him. Now how was he supposed to help her?
Tamara heard Mackenzie leave the room. After a while, an Ogrin paw weakly lifted the plastic wrap. It occasionally grabbed a pear. Sometimes it grabbed an apple. Finally, it grabbed Tamara the grape.
“STOP!” Tamara yelled at the top of her lungs as she was lifted out of the bowl. Jared paused, and opened his eyes feebly. She was taken aback for a moment. Never had she seen her brother in this state: his eyes were red, as was his nose, and he looked at her wearily. He groaned and closed his eyes again. He said something unintelligible, though what Tamara could make out had something to do with being crazy and talking fruit.
He closed his eyes and groaned. Tamara thought he had fallen asleep again, but he said, “Alright, alright. As long as my fruit is talking to me, I guess I may as well respond. What can I do for you, weird talking grape?”
Tamara breathed a sigh of relief. “Jared, listen closely,” she explained in a serious tone. “It’s Tamara. I was at the shop and it turns out that Mackenzie accidentally packed me a Magical Chia Pop. I ate it and I turned into a grape. We don’t have any starter paintbrushes left to turn me back to normal. I need your help. Mackenzie doesn’t believe me – she thinks it’s just Mick throwing his voice. Do you still have all those Neopoints you were saving for a Shadow Paintbrush? I need to borrow them. I promise I’ll buy a cheap paintbrush like a Christmas.”
Tamara let her brother process this for a moment. He still lay with his eyes closed, as if deep in thought. Tamara wailed in dismay when he gave a snore. She cried, “Jared, wake up!”
Jared jerked awake. “Huh? Oh, yeah, um, can you repeat that? Sorry.”
Tamara wearily repeated her dilemma to Jared. Instead of nodding, he closed his eyes and sighed. “I thought I was only seeing spots with this blasted disease. Now my sister is appearing to me in the form of a grape. But if I’m only imagining this, then you can take the Neopoints. Because if I’m only hallucinating, they will still be in that shoebox-bank when I can see again.”
Tamara assured him they would be (she planned to re-earn the Neopoints she would spend), and asked, “Where is your shoebox-piggy-bank anyway, Jared?”
“Under my bed,” Jared said weakly. He sounded very ill. Tamara and her brother had never gotten along, but she hated to see him like this.
Nevertheless, she bravely ventured under the teenager’s bed and pinched her nose as she wandered amidst the smelly socks and old pizza slices. She found a dusty shoebox and pushed the lid open. There were many plastic bags with various amounts of Neopoints in them in the shoebox. Tamara estimated one of the bags to hold about 50,000 Neopoints and figured she could find a Christmas Paintbrush for that much or even less. So she, grunting, hauled the heavy bag out of the box and started to pull it out from under the bed. Jared had resumed sleeping and saw none of this.
It was tough going getting the load down the stairs and through the house unseen. At last, though, she came to the petpet door and set the bag down. She knocked on the plastic. A delighted cry came from the porch. Boris pushed the petpet door open so excitedly that he almost sent Tamara flying.
“I got 50,000 Neopoints,” she said, panting. She had Boris reach in through the petpet door and grab the bag.
“So, your owner believed you?” Boris said incredulously.
“No, actually,” Tamara admitted. “I got these from Jared. Good thing he’s sick and thought he was hallucinating. I’ll just have to earn them back before he’s better. Now come on, let’s go down to the Marketplace. The sooner I’m myself again, the better!”
Boris nodded and put Tamara in his jacket pocket. He ran down to the Marketplace and started to browse shops. It was a very boring hour-and-a-half before Boris exclaimed, “Tamara, look! Here’s a Christmas Paintbrush for only 45,000 Neopoints!”
The shopkeeper looked at Boris suspiciously. Boris lowered his voice. “I mean, my owner will be most pleased when she sees I’ve got such a wonderful paintbrush for such a small price. Oh, how my sister has longed to be painted!”
The shopkeeper looked very unconvinced, but he sold the paintbrush to Boris without an argument. Boris stepped outside and went around the building, to the back. He took Tamara out of his pocket and then the paintbrush out of the plastic shopping bag.
“Alright, ready?” he asked.
“No, no!” Tamara cried. “We have to do it at the Rainbow Pool, or it won’t have any effect!”
Boris quickly put the paintbrush away and then put Tamara back in his pocket. He rushed down, huffing and puffing, to the Rainbow Pool. He set his friend down in the shallower waters, and then retrieved the paintbrush.
“Ok, now we should be ready, right?” he asked. Tamara nodded.
“Here we go, then...” Boris said. He touched the paintbrush to Tamara’s purple skin. The green-and-red paint poured all over her tiny body.
“Hey, hey!” Tamara exclaimed. “Not so much!”
Immediately, though, she felt herself begin to grow. The lump on her head went down and disappeared. Tamara guessed that it had not been from her fall but had been a stem. Either way, she was glad it was gone.
For a split second, Tamara was a yellow Chia. But suddenly, a cap and overalls appeared. Not only was she back to normal, but she was a nice color, too! Tamara hugged her friend the Skeith.
“Hurrah! I’m me again!” she cried. “And not only that, but I’m painted!”
Boris laughed. “At least there was something to be gained from it!”
Tamara agreed excitedly. “I have to go home to show Mackenzie! Boy, will she be surprised!”
And so Tamara ran home. She burst into her living room and found Mackenzie reading the Neopian Times. Mackenzie’s jaw dropped when she saw her precious pet – painted.
“Tamara!” she cried. “You’re... Christmas!”
“Do you like it?” Tamara blushed.
“Like it?” Mackenzie was ecstatic. “I LOVE it! Oh, Tammy, it’s gorgeous! When did this happen? HOW did this happen?”
Tamara recounted the interesting events of the afternoon. Mackenzie was staring in awe at her Chia.
“Y-You were a grape?” she said shakily.
“Tammy, that’s one of the rarest colors in Neopia! A fruit color... it’s like, a color to be proud of! Couldn’t you have stayed like that just for a little while? Why didn’t you tell me?”
. . . .
Things returned to usual around Tamara’s household. Mick complained about all the pranks that he could’ve played on his sister if she had remained a grape. He even made a list of a thousand things he could do to her. Tamara was a thousand times for glad she had NOT stayed a grape.
At The Gold Rush, Tamara asked her owner if they could stop selling grapes. Her owner asked why. To this Tamara replied, “Maybe they don’t want to be eaten. It isn’t exactly pleasant. Been there, done that, DON’T need to go there again.” Mackenzie cocked her head and said no more. But they did stop selling grapes.
One day, months later, after autumn had begun, Tamara sat on the shop’s new stool, reading a book.
She reached down to the cooler and pulled out a Grape Snow Puff. They had become her new favorite. After, of course, she had learned that there was no such thing as a Magical Snow Puff.
The bell on the door chimed as Tamara bit into her Snow Puff. It was Boris, carrying a bag.
“Happy birthday, Tam!” he said, smiling. Tamara was relieved it had not been a customer.
Boris handed his best friend the bag he’d been carrying. “Thank you, Boris!” Tamara exclaimed. She hastily opened it. A plushie! A brand new, Starry Lupe Plushie!
“Oh my gosh, it’s so CUTE!” Tamara squealed. “I love it! I--”
She stopped. “Tam, are you ok?” Boris asked worriedly. “What is it?”
“Oh, nothing,” Tamara said, snapping back to attention. “I could’ve sworn this plushie winked at me. But it’s all in my head, most likely. I’ll play with him right away!”
The plushie had, in fact, winked at Tamara. And as she started to play with it Tamara started to glow.
But that’s another story.