The Most Wonderful Time of the Year...?: Part Three
Phersephi wrestled with herself for the next week coming up to the Day of Giving. What could she do? There was no way she could find a group of Jetsams and take all of those Neopoints back.
“But wait,” she thought. “Maybe the police can!”
And so Phersephi rushed out of her nearly empty Neohome and down to the police station.
“It was a group of Jetsams who stole the Neopoints,” Phersephi explained to an Elephante dressed in a uniform too tight for him. “They might still be in the area, so...”
“We’ll keep an open eye out,” the Elephante replied, and went back to his work of filling out papers.
Phersephi returned home, not quite as hopeless as before.
It was the day before Christmas Eve when Phersephi was taking a snowy afternoon stroll around the Neopia Central Park. Already the sun was beginning to set. Phersephi was very deep in thought, wondering what she might do to make things right and if the police would ever find the Jetsam gang.
Suddenly, Phersephi collided with a boy and sent them both tumbling to the ground. The boy got up, clutching his head. He was very smartly dressed and his hair, now flecked with snow, was still neatly combed.
“I’m sorry,” Phersephi said, getting up. “Are you alright?”
“Yes, I’m fine,” the boy replied blandly.
A royal girl Aisha came running up behind the boy, her blue sating dress dragging after her.
“Are you alright, Nicholas?” she asked formally but worriedly.
“I’m alright!” The boy informed her impatiently. “I told you to call me Nick, Ali. Nick, not Nicholas.”
“Nick?” Phersephi asked, half remembering something. Ever since Nick dumped us out on the streets, we...
Who had said that? Baylie! It had been Baylie.
“Excuse me, erm, Nick,” Phersephi asked awkwardly. “Did you ever happen to own two Kacheeks - a red and a green - named Baylie and Pepper?”
Nick looked momentarily surprised. “Maybe,” he said with an absent wave of his hand. “But does that really matter anymore?”
Phersephi was shocked. It really was the Nick that had sent Baylie and Eppa out on the streets!
“How could you have done that to them?” Phersephi demanded.
“They were only basic-colored.” Nick shrugged. “It’s not like if I put them in the Pound people might actually want them. Besides, Baylie was annoying and Pepper was a runt.”
Phersephi couldn’t believe the boy, and neither could Ali, Nick’s royal girl Aisha.
“You said that I was the first pet you created!” Ali whined. She stomped off, snow catching in the train of her elegant dress. For a pet in high heels, she sure stomped off fast. Nick followed closely behind, though it was hard to keep up, and tried nervously to explain his excuse to Ali.
“Ali, Ali,” he called. “Don’t listen to that. It was so long ago, and like I said, they were basics! They didn’t count. Come on, Ali, if I didn’t love you, would I have spent all those Neopoints on a Royal Paint Brush? What does it matter that you weren’t the first pet I created?”
“Well, what does it matter if Baylie and Pepper were basic-colored, then?” Phersephi shouted after him. Nick heard her, but he didn’t listen or care about what some girl said. He continued to run after Ali.
Then he was gone.
“What have I done?” Phersephi thought, horrified. “I kicked them out of my house! Look what kind of owner they had. Look what he thought of them! And now look what I’ve done to make it better... oh, Phersephi, you Psimouse!”
Phersephi felt disgusted with herself. The Day of Giving was just over forty-two hours away. She had until then to make things perfect.
Phersephi remembered George the bank teller’s words from nearly two weeks ago: It’s the Season of Giving. Something must work out!
“And something will work out!” Phersephi declared firmly. “I am going to turn this around.”
And even though Phersephi had a nearly empty Neohome, not a Neopoint to her name, and not a single clue how “something would work out”, she felt better and stronger and ready to do whatever it took to get Baylie and Eppa back in her life.
The happy holidays might just take place, after all.
Phersephi sat at her creaky kitchen table where two weeks ago, she had sat there and read the headline news in the Neopian Times. So much bad had happened in that period of time that Phersephi could not get it all organized.
“What am I going to do, then?” Phersephi asked herself aloud. “I can’t do anything to feed any pets, and...”
She sighed. “I can’t figure this out at all!”
Just then, the doorbell rang, though it was so old (the house had had many owners) the bell gave a sort of half-hearted ring and fell silent again. Phersephi stood abruptly and answered the door, not trying to hide her dismay at how the holidays were turning out.
It was George from the National Neopian. “Hello, Phersephi!” he said, beaming. “I am terribly sorry to bother you on Christmas Eve, but I have some wonderful news! Oh, it is the happiest news, Phersephi!”
“Really?” Phersephi asked, though she was wondering if there could be better news than hearing she’d gotten Juan and Baylie and Eppa back. “What is it?”
“You won’t believe it,” George continued. He was positively trembling with excitement. “The police have found a group of Jetsams – the same group of Jetsams, Phersephi, which they say you reported to them! They found every Neopoint, Phersephi, every one! They were all returned to their rightful accounts and the security has been upgraded.”
Saying that Phersephi was shocked and that her jaw dropped would be and understatement. Phersephi did a joyous sort of dance and jump routine around her entry room until George announced he had more news to tell her.
“The police say that if you had not tipped them off that Jetsams had the stolen Neopoints, they never would have suspected the group when they crossed paths with them,” George said. “They are offering you a large reward, Phersephi – over 200,000 Neopoints!”
Phersephi could not dance. She could not move. She could barely breathe. Two hundred THOUSAND Neopoints? That was like, an enormous and infinitely impossible amount of Neopoints! To think of how long she could feed Juan on 200,000 Neopoints...
“So, Phersephi, what do you say?” George asked, beaming.
“I say...” Phersephi began slowly.
“That I have a withdrawal to make!”
Phersephi was glad to have her 6500 Neopoints restored to her bank account, needless to say, along with the 250,000 (George had said over 200k, after all). Phersephi made sure it was all safe in the bank before she walked off with the 5000 she had withdrawn. She went straight to the Pound, where she banged on the door. The Gnorbu, Ms. Roberta, answered.
“Happy Christmas Eve!” she said. “Are you here to — oh, it’s you again.”
Ms. Roberta did not look happy to see her at all, to say the least. She put her hands on her hips and scowled at Phersephi.
“What is it?” she asked coldly. “You want to abandon on Christmas Eve? The nerve of you owners, honestly. The only reason I don’t refuse to accept your pet is because I know you’d just leave it on the streets on your way home. Well, which pet is it now?”
Without waiting for Phersephi’s happy answer, Ms. Roberta called into the Pound, “Theresa, come out here please! That same owner who abandoned poor Juan has another pet for us.”
Theresa appeared next to Ms. Roberta surprisingly fast. She glared at Phersephi, which made the girl squirm.
“Um, Ms. Roberta,” Phersephi began. “I am not here to abandon any pets.”
Ms. Roberta remained unmoved. “What kind of joke is that?” she asked.
“It isn’t,” Phersephi explained. “Really, honestly, I have totally learned my lesson with abandoning pets. I didn’t want to abandon Juan in the first place, ma’am. My bank account was robbed and I couldn’t afford to...”
Ms. Roberta was astonished. “No! You were really one of those poor robbery victims?” she asked in a whispering voice. “I heard about them in the Neopian Times. Forgive me, please! I was so awful to you. I didn’t even bother to ask why... oh, how dreadful I was!”
The green Gnorbu looked close to tears when Phersephi interrupted, “It’s alright, really, really! The thieves were caught and the Neopoints were returned! That’s why I’m here: I would like to adopt Juan again.”
Ms. Roberta was quiet and said nothing. She looked expectantly at Theresa, who was the one in charge of knowing who was adopted and who was still in the Pound. Phersephi caught the sadness and regret in the Xweetok’s piercing eyes.
“Oh, no.” Phersephi’s heart fell. “He’s been adopted, hasn’t he?”
Theresa quickly shook her head. “No, I am just...” Theresa sighed. “I’m ashamed of myself to have treated you like I did when you abandoned Juan. I was horrible when really I had no idea why you had to give him up. Please forgive me.”
“It’s no problem,” Phersephi assured her.
Theresa smiled. “Thank you. Juan is still here. He’s been crying his eyes out, wondering where you are. I’ll go and get him.”
Words could not describe their meeting. Phersephi could hear Theresa telling Juan inside the doors of the Pound, “I have a surprise for you, Juey!”
And when Juan came galloping out, he nearly tripped. He stopped in his tracks and his large brown eyes grew even larger.
“Mama,” he murmured, and Phersephi was sobbing and laughing and calling his name all at once.
Juan did not hesitate and ran up to her, skidding down the icy steps to where she stood. He was in her arms in an instant, and Phersephi wanted never to let go.
“I thought you were never coming back,” he whispered.
“And I thought I would never see you again, either,” Phersephi cried back. “I’m sorry, Juan, I am a thousand times sorry.”
And then Juan and Phersephi, laughing and waving Ms. Roberta and Theresa goodbye, walked down the sidewalk and into town. They wandered for a very long time, and it was cold and the sun had set when they’d found what they were looking for. Phersephi had answered, “We are looking for someone,” when Juan repeatedly asked why they didn’t go home.
They came to an alley between the Magic Shop and the Pharmacy. Phersephi was calling their names – “Baylie! Eppa!” – with no answer. Suddenly they heard a cry and the little form of a Kacheek who couldn’t stand to hide anymore can rushing out from behind a garbage can. She threw herself into Phersephi’s arms not unlike Juan had done only a few hours ago. Baylie ran after her, shouting, “Pepper, come back! Pepper!”
But Pepper clung to Phersephi and cried and cried, and the girl hugged and whispered that it was going to be alright, that she’d gotten back her Neopoints and Juan and everything was fine.
At last Baylie reluctantly stood next to Phersephi and asked, “How are you?” with an obvious helping of bitterness.
“Baylie,” Phersephi said softly. “I met your owner, Nick.”
And then Baylie was crying, too, like they were bent on flooding all of Neopia with their happy tears. Phersephi was apologizing over and over, and soon so was Baylie. Pepper and Juan joined in because they didn’t see why they had to be left out, even though they didn’t know exactly what to apologize for. They were already good friends.
Phersephi did not need to ask if Baylie and Pepper wanted to join their family. They all went out to the Food Shop, where Phersephi paid for the biggest Day of Giving Turkey the Shopkeeper had ever cooked. They ate until they couldn’t anymore and then Phersephi took them home. She set them up to play a board game, then announced she had to go shopping for extra beds and rugs and lamps and whatnot. She came home and her three pets helped her set up Pepper and Baylie’s new beds. Phersephi then brought in the Christmas tree she’d purchased, and the pets stayed up late helping to decorate it. Then, once they all went to bed, Phersephi wrapped the presents she’d bought for them and placed them under the tree.
When Baylie, Pepper, and Juan woke up the next morning, they opened the presents Phersephi had gotten them as well as some from Santa, of course. Phersephi watched them, ecstatic, and all decided that Christmas was the best they’d ever had.
Phersephi, though, thought of the month’s events.
“When I needed a miracle to bring my pets back home,” she thought, “I found one. George was right, after all – during the Season of Giving, something will work out.”
The happy holidays had finally set in.