A New Start for Meridell: Part One
Shieylah couldn’t believe it; could it actually be happening again? After six months living in one place, she had begun to convince herself that it would be different this time. She had made good, solid friends here. Shieylah tightened her grip on Rufus, her teddy bear that hung by her side as if it was the only stability left in her life. Shieylah lifted her fingertips to the window in front of her as a single tear slid down her cheek, wishing she could bottle this view from her bedroom window forever.
Six months earlier...
I squinted my eyes as the bright sun beamed down at the sidewalk in front of me, casting a shiny glare right in my walking path.
“Where are we, Mom? Are we there yet?”
“Almost, Shieylah. We’ve been making pretty good time, don’t you think?”
I looked over at her and saw that she was just as exhausted as I was; we both had been walking the entire day to get to our new neohome. My mother and I had packed up our bags just the night before. I was getting used to packing all my belongings in a bag that could fit on my back.
Some kids might have been excited to move from Brightvale to Meridell. It brought new scenery, new neopets and, for me, a new life. But that was just it. I didn’t want a new life. I was happy living in my small, classic neohome with my mother back in Brightvale. But my mother, a carefree Rainbow Kacheek who loved traveling, was never satisfied staying in one place for too long. Once word spread that there were new and improved neohomes in Meridell, I knew my fate had already been sealed.
“I just know you’re going to love this new place, Shieylah. Just wait until you see it!”
I knew my mom was trying to make me feel better about the move so I smiled and said, “Yeah, Mom, I’m sure it’ll be great.”
Right about when I thought my legs would give out, we rounded a corner and turned onto Meri Acres Avenue. There, in the distance, before my mom even pointed it out, I saw our new neohome.
“Mom, is that-”
“Yes, honey, that’s it!”
It was a quaint little home with four windows on the top of a small hill. I guessed that there was probably only two bedrooms inside, which was ok, since that’s all we needed.
I was used to living in smaller neohomes since we moved around so much, but for once I was hoping for something a bit bigger, maybe to signify a more permanent living environment.
I did notice how different this neohome looked on the outside compared to our last one. This one was much more modern, the latest look from neohome customization.
I had lived in more new places than I could count. I had had so many friends of all different neopet species that I had come to learn who was friendly (Poogles, especially) and who to avoid (I’ll never forget a run-in I had with a Skeith). I always put on a brave face for my mother. I knew she thought that all this moving was exciting for me. In reality, I just wanted to be a normal Blue Kacheek. I just wanted to settle down in one place and make friends without having to wonder how long it would be until we moved again.
I reached back into my bag to pull out Rufus. I stared into his beady eyes and whispered, “Don’t worry, everything will be ok.” Rufus was my teddy bear that my mother had given to me at birth eleven years ago. Even though some other neopets my age thought I was too old to keep playing with him, I knew better. Rufus was my best friend and the only one who understood me. No way would I ever let anyone tell me I was too old for my best friend.
As we made our way into the long, skinny driveway that led up to the neohome, I looked over at my mom. Her face shone with joy and excitement of living in a new place so much that I started to feel a bit of it myself.
This time, I told myself, it’s going to be different. Mom will be happy and we’ll start our lives here and never have to move again.
I started to take down my bags from my sore back, shaking myself loose a bit after they had hit the ground with a thud. Dragging my bags along the ground beside me, I began walking toward the front door, eager to see what the inside of the house looked like.
“You go ahead,” my mother called breathlessly as she started gathering her bags together herself, “I’ll be right behind you. Go pick out your room.”
I put my bags down inside the door and looked around. There was a staircase to the right that led upstairs where there were two bedrooms, one on the left and one on the right. The kitchen was to my right and to the left of the stairs sat the living room. In all, it was quite a cozy place to live.
I ran upstairs and peeked inside each bedroom, choosing the one on the right. I walked over to my new bedroom window as I heard the front door opening.
“Shieylah?” my mother called from downstairs.
“I’m up here, Mom!”
I let out a small gasp as soon as I reached the bedroom window; the sight was simply beautiful. Outside my window was a crystal blue lake that spread a thin line through the backyard. There were three tall trees that burst with Tigersquash. The grass shimmered like a bottle of green sand and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky.
“I think I’m going to like it here,” I thought to myself.
I jumped a little when my mother put her hand on my shoulder.
“Sorry, I didn’t mean to scare you. So this is the room you picked out? It’s nice, I should have guessed that your artsy self would pick the room with the best view.”
She winked at me and turned toward the door.
“I’m going to start unpacking. I'll be downstairs if you need me.”
Her voice trailed off at the end since she was halfway down the stairs by then. I looked around the rest of the room quickly and went back downstairs to collect my stuff.
After I had unpacked a bit of my stuff I went downstairs to find my mom.
“Why don’t you go next door and introduce yourselves to the neighbors?” she asked me.
“Sure, good idea,” I answered.
It was a beautiful day outside and I was eager to see if there were neopets my age next door.
I opened the front door and felt a warm breeze brush past my face. The month of Relaxing was my favorite time of the year. Not only were the flowers blooming, but all the Neopets were outside enjoying the warm weather. Everyone was more cheery this time of the year.
I looked down the road to my left and spotted a neohome that looked similar to ours but quite a bit bigger. I started to make my way down the road, wondering what kind of neopets I would encounter at our neighbors’ house. I decided to hope for the best and starting picturing a young girl Poogle, about my age.
Once I arrived to their doorstep I took a moment to think to myself.
“What if there are young neopets my age? What if we become best friends? I don’t think I can take losing another friend.”
The more I thought about it, the less I even wanted to knock on the door at all. I had tried with all my might to keep my hopes high, that this time would be different, but would it really?
I started turning around, disappointed, shoulders slumped, when the front door opened behind me.
“Well, hello there!” a cheery female voice said behind me.
I turned around to see a beautiful Faerie Poogle standing at the doorway.
“I’m Arianna, you must be the new neighbors! What’s your name, dear?”
I stood there for a moment, forgetting my worries and hoping to the Faerie Queen that Arianna had a daughter.
“Hello, I’m Shieylah. My mother Rosie and I just moved next door today. It’s very nice to meet you.”
She opened the door wider to usher me inside. I walked inside and was instantly surrounded by a wonderful aroma. It smelled like a very wonderful spiced apple pie was being made in the kitchen.
“Please, come in, I’ll go call Lori to come inside so she can meet you.”
As Arianna went outside to go call some Neopet named Lori, I took a look around. This place was very cozy and neohomely. There was a fireplace in the living room and two comfortable looking couches across from each other with a wood table in between. I walked into the kitchen, the smell of the spiced apple pie getting stronger. There was a sign above the kitchen sink that read “Here’s to Meridell, a land of friendship and abundance.”
“She’ll be right in,” Arianna said as she came back inside through the back door.
Before I even had time to say anything in return, in bounced an energetic Blue Poogle.
“Hi! I’m Lorianne, but everyone calls me Lori! Mom told me you just moved in next door? That’s wonderful! I’m eleven, how old are you? Do you like jumping rope? Do you want to outside and play-”
“Lori!” interrupted her mother with an amused grin on her face, “give the poor girl a chance to speak!”
It took me a minute to figure out which question to answer first. I was filled with both bafflement at the fact that any neopet could possibly talk so fast and excitement at the fact that Lori had said she was eleven, my age!
“Yes, my mother and I just moved next door. I’m eleven too and yes, I love jumping rope. I’ll have to just call my mom and ask her-”
“Oh, no dear, don’t worry. I’ll go over to your place and let her know. Besides, I wanted to invite her over for a cup of blackberry tea,” Arianna said politely.
I knew my mother would have rather me come home and ask, but I was too excited to resist Arianna’s offer. Lori and I ran outside into the warm, crisp air to play jump rope and learn more about each other.
Arianna briskly walked to her next door neighbor’s. She was quite eager to meet the Rainbow Kacheek that every Neopet in Meridell had been buzzing about for ages.
Arianna knocked on the front door, perhaps a bit too eagerly.
The door opened to a lovely Kacheek dressed in casual clothes. Her hair was messy, but beautiful, and she looked exhausted, but content.
“Hello, may I help you?” Rosie asked in a cheery voice.
“Yes, hello! I’m Arianna, your next door neighbor! I just popped over to let you know that your daughter is playing in my backyard with my Lori. Turns out they are the same age! I also wanted to invite you over for a cup of blackberry tea.”
“Oh, that would be lovely, thank you,” Rosie replied. “It’s very nice to meet the neighbors and I would love to see your neohome. Besides, I could use a little break from unpacking.”
The two made small talk as they walked back to Arianna’s neohome.
Arianna showed Rosie around her neohome as Rosie politely oohed and ahhed at the different fully furnished rooms. These new neohomes really were as fancy and wonderful as Rosie had thought they would be.
In the kitchen, Arianna began making their tea, carefully choosing her best china to serve her new neighbor.
“So,” Arianna began, “when are you going to tell Shieylah why you’re really here?”
Rosie was surprised that Arianna had asked so soon. Of course, she assumed that the town already knew. Everyone knew. Rosie had tried so hard to keep it from her daughter, to try and give her a normal life. She feared it was only a matter of time before someone in this town told Shieylah the truth about their family’s history in Meridell.
“Well, I’m not sure, Arianna,” Rosie replied slowly. “I would like to be the one to tell her, but in my own time. Please don’t say anything to her; I will tell her... when she’s ready.”
The new realization that Arianna did in fact know the truth about Rosie had placed a new kind of familiarity between the two neopets. At least now Rosie wouldn’t have to explain herself. This gave Rosie a sense of comfort around Arianna.
Rosie looked out the window and spotted her beautiful daughter running around with her new playmate, Lori. The two seemed to have already become best friends and something inside Rosie ached.
Sure, Rosie always tried to convince herself and others that always moving Shieylah around was exciting for her. In reality, all the moving was only a way to keep Shieylah from finding out the truth.
Watching the two girls play together only made Rosie more determined to make this time work. This time, it would be different. Rosie would explain everything to Shieylah and everyone would accept them, despite their family’s history in Meridell. Rosie would do everything she could to give her daughter the life she always wanted. For the first time in a long time, Rosie felt hopeful.
To be continued...