Celebrating the Day of Giving With Nobody
Frosty air was blowing down from Terror Mountain, bringing with it the first hints of winter weather. All over Neopia Central, shoppers were busily going from store to store, hunting for last minute bargains and buying food in preparation for their Day of Giving feasts. As Cavillace, the mutant Draik, made her way through the throngs of Neopians, a single white snowflake seesawed through the sky and landed at the tip of her upturned nose. As she was stopped in contemplation of this event, Cavillace could hear the excited chatter of those around her: Have you heard that nobody is having a party this year? I did hear, we have nobody to thank this year. Nobody having a party. Nobody.
The Draik beamed and licked the melting crystal off of her nose with one swipe of her long purple tongue and thought, That's it. The Day of Giving is tomorrow and I should host a party. This sudden inspiration filled Cavillace with so much joy that she immediately made her way to the Fresh Foods store to shop for snacks.
On her way home, her overloaded arms straining to hold all of the grocery bags, Cavillace was so excited at the mere idea of hosting a party that she stopped at the house of her oldest friend, GitchiManitou, the ghost Krawk. When he opened his door and saw her, the Krawk rushed forward to help Cavillace with her bags.
"Thanks so much, GM," the Draik said with a chuckle as she stepped into his entryway. "I thought I was going to lose something there for a minute."
"No problem," the Krawk replied. "What brings you by today?"
"Well, I was wondering if you have plans for the Day of Giving?"
"Well, nobody is having a party this year."
"That's what I heard," Cavillace said with a huge grin pasted on her face. "That's why I thought I would have a party. And I wanted you to be the first I invited."
GitchiManitou's face twisted with confusion. "Well, I have plans, Cav. Like I said, nobody is throwing a party, so I'm just going to hang out with nobody."
"That's your... plan?" Cavillace felt hurt and confused. A stinging in her nostrils warned the Draik that she might just burst out crying, and not wanting her friend to see her in tears, she nodded and picked up the bags that had been dropped to the floor when she first entered. "OK, then. Sure. I'll see you around." Before the Krawk could stop her, Cavillace opened the door and escaped on to the street, heading quickly toward her own home and the privacy of a darkened room in which to let the tears flow.
After a while, Cavillace had cried herself out. Still not understanding why her best friend had rebuffed her, why he would prefer to spend the festive day alone, the Draik decided that she would proceed with her party plans. Sitting down at her writing desk, Cavillace opened the case of her calligraphy set and spent a joyful time writing out invitations in her most careful script. When the last was completed, the Draik gathered up the cards and headed back out to deliver them.
Cavillace's first stop was at the home of Krawkawk, the Darigan Krawk. The Draik rang the bell and soon Krawkawk opened the door with a merry greeting.
"Cavillace! Happy holidays to you, my friend." The two embraced and Krawkawk continued, "Would you like to come inside? I think there's a snowstorm fixing to blow and I've just made a nice pot of tea."
"Thanks so much, but I really don't have the time today." Extending her hand with the invitation in it, the Draik asked, "I was wondering if you would come to my party? It's tomorrow."
Krawkawk took the card and her eyes darted over the details, the joyful expression draining from her face. "Cav, did you hear that nobody is having a party this year?"
"Well, yes, that's why I...."
"Well, since nobody asked me," Krawkawk anxiously interrupted, her face an apologetic frown, "you'll understand why I can't come to your party, right?"
"Oh, um, sure," Cavillace said, backing away from the door. "Another time then." The Draik turned and ran to the crowded sidewalk, being careful not to knock over anyone in her haste. Despite finding herself swept along in a throng of others, Cavillace was feeling very alone. Bracing herself with a deep breath, the Draik decided to continue with her plans. She painted a strained smile on her face and made her way to her next friend's house.
But the result was the same.
At house after house, friend after friend declined her invitation, each declaring that they were content to spend the Day of Giving with nobody.
Cavillace returned to her home, her heart and feet as heavy as stones. As she opened her door, the Draik took one last look over her shoulder at the now empty streets and shivered at the oppressive and complete solitude that overwhelmed her. Walking into her kitchen, Cavillace gathered the party food that she had purchased earlier, and one by one, dropped each item into her rubbish bin. The Draik walked to her bedroom and closed the door, placing a thin shield of wood between herself and the world that had rejected her so completely.
The Day of Giving arrived with a furious blast of snow and hail. By noon, the streets were knee-deep with snowdrifts, and by evening, they were nearly impassable.
Cavillace spent the day looking out her front window, watching as merry revellers attempted to clear their way to the streets with brooms and shovels; as they tried to visit each other on skis and toboggans and sleds. She watched with detachment as those outside greeted each other with waves and hugs and a shared laugh as they slipped and stumbled through the snow. The Draik felt numb with sorrow.
Sitting as she was, distant and depressed, Cavillace barely reacted when she suddenly heard her own doorbell ring. With robotic movements, she moved to the door and opened it, revealing GitchiManitou standing there, shovel in hand and a ridiculously floppy knit cap on his head.
"I thought I'd dig you out, Cav," the Krawk said with a huge grin on his face.
"What's the point?" Cavillace replied, her voice sounding thin and distant to her own ears.
"Well, don't you have plans?" GM asked, the smile never leaving his mouth. "Who are you spending the evening with? Are you still having a party?"
"No, the party is cancelled. I guess I'll be hanging out with nobody. Just like everyone else."
"That's great, just great, Cav. Let me start shovelling."
"Yeah, that's great all right," Cavillace said with a sigh as she closed her door. Outside, the Krawk shrugged and started to clear his friend's walkway.
The light began to dim outside, but as the sun set beneath the horizon, every home that Cavillace could see from her window seemed to come alive with flickering candles. Every window along her street lit up to show the houses' occupants, merry and festive, eating and talking and laughing in groups large and small. One house in particular, just at the limit of Cavillace's view, seemed full to overflowing with partygoers. The light that streamed from this house seemed as a beacon to the Draik, and despite her feelings of detachment, Cavillace was inexorably drawn to have a closer look.
Cavillace wrapped a warm cloak around herself and stepped onto her walkway that was slowly filling back in with snow from the storm's renewed fury. The Draik pulled the hood up over her head and leaned into the wind and driving blizzard, determined to see inside the window of that one house she had never paid much attention to before. Although it was only at the end of her own street, it took Cavillace a very long and tiring time to make it there. When she arrived, the Draik hid herself in the shrubbery of the front yard and peered up into the enticingly lit window.
At first, her warm breath fogged up the glass, but Cavillace balled her freezing hand into a fist and rubbed a circle on the window through which to see. She immediately wished she hadn't, for there, close enough to touch were it not for the pane of cold glass between them, were her dearest friends: GitchiManitou; Krawkawk; Acrodion; YourFlyness; Briccriu and the rest, all happily chatting and laughing and nibbling on a generous display of fine foods.
"But... but they all said they were spending today alone. Every one of my friends said they were going to be with nobody. They all lied to me?" Cavillace's teeth chattered uncontrollably in her mouth from the cold as she spoke aloud to herself, her words blowing away unheard in the violence of the storm. The Draik turned her gaze from the holiday scene and raised her face to the sky, allowing the snow to build up on her long green snout. "I just don't understaa...," Cavillace began, but exhaustion and cold caught up with the big Draik and she fainted, crumpling to the ground like a toppled snowman.
Cavillace awoke with a start, the warm scent of mulled cider and freshly baked cookies and gingerbread overwhelming her senses. As her eyes focussed, she could see the concerned faces of GitchiManitou and Krawkawk hovering over her.
"Where am I?" Cavillace asked, attempting to prop herself up on an elbow and noting the plush luxuriance of the sofa she was on.
"You're at the party, silly," Krawkawk said, the seriousness of her tone undermining her attempt at lightness.
"Why didn't you come inside?" GitchiManitou asked, his face a scowl of confusion. "It's a good thing nobody saw you laying out there..."
Cavillace shook her head with disbelief and interrupted, "It's a good thing that nobody saw me? How is that good? And how did I..."
A small voice at the Draik's shoulder interrupted. "Well, I do think it's a good thing I saw you there. I've been meaning to introduce myself for weeks. You see, I'm new to the neighbourhood and I am delighted to make your acquaintance."
Cavillace jumped as she felt her hand being grasped by unseen hands, hands that seemed to belong to the disembodied voice that continued to speak.
"I understand your name is Cavillace. My name is ‘nobody'."
The Draik chuckled, then guffawed, then her laughter built into a riotous fit as understanding dawned then grew. Looking at the area where the voice had come from, Cavillace said, "Your name is ‘nobody'? And you're what... invisible?"
"Yes, I am an invisible Bruce."
Turning her attention to her circle of old friends, Cavillace asked, "And when you all said you were spending today with nobody, you all meant here? With nobody the invisible Bruce?"
"Of course, Cav," GitchiManitou answered. The scowl vanished from his face as understanding came to him as well. "Oh, Cavillace, when you invited me to your party and I said I already had plans to spend the day with nobody, you didn't....? I didn't realise you hadn't met yet. Oh, no wonder you've been acting so oddly. I would never..."
Cavillace reached out a hand and patted the Krawk on the shoulder. "Of course, GM, I should have known that. I should have asked you to explain in the first place when this whole misunderstanding started." Looking around at the loving faces of her friends, the warmth Cavillace felt from them filled her whole body, causing her eyes to glaze over with grateful tears.
Sniffling and swiping a hand across her nose, Cavillace attempted to lighten the mood. "Well," she said with a chuckle, "I, for one, am delighted that nobody decided to have a party this year."
With a heavy wink, GitchiManitou said, "And I am grateful that nobody went to all of this trouble, that nobody prepared a huge and delicious feast."
"And I," added Krawkawk, "I think we should all wish nobody a very happy holiday this year." The room resounded with dozens of voices calling out, "Happy holidays to nobody!"
A small voice chimed in, "I would like to say that nobody is happy to have you here and nobody wishes you all a happy holiday too!"