The Chocolate Statue
“They say if you make a wish in front of it, it might come true...”
“Isn't that the Wishing Well?”
“Yes, but it works here too! Except you leave chocolate coins, and if your coin disappears by the next day, your wish will come true.”
Kerri and Charlie stood before a huge chocolate statue, each holding a chocolate coin in their right hand, wrapped in golden foil. Despite being a warm day, the statue was not melting due to a protective wrapping around it. It was taller than the Money Tree, this statue, made from milk, white and dark chocolate, with different flavours such as orange and mint to add colour. The statue was of Queen Fyora, looking majestic with her staff and a broad smile. Strawberry chocolate made up her eyes and lips, whilst dark chocolate was her long hair and white chocolate was her skin. Orange and milk chocolate were her dress, which surprisingly suited the very lifelike Fyora, who usually wore purple and pink. Her staff was made from mint chocolate. Chocolate, everywhere! It was wonderful. Many secretly wanted to eat the Queen!
It had appeared in Faerieland a week before the Annual Chocolate Ball, obviously a promotion for it. Then, a rumour had spread if one threw chocolate coins at the base of the statue, where Fyora's shoes were (made from coffee chocolate, no less) and made a wish, the wish would come true if their coin was gone by the next morning. This brought many Neopets from around the world to the statue, eager to make their wishes.
No one knew who made the statue. Fyora herself visited it the first day it arrived and laughed delightedly.
“Whoever made this,” she declared, “is a genius!” And she threw a chocolate coin at her clone's shoes.
The day before the Annual Chocolate Ball, two red Scorchios Kerri and Charlie, a brother and sister from Qasala in the Lost Desert, decided to make their wishes. Kerri was a little sceptical of the whole thing, but Charlie fully believed his wish would come true and was urging his sister to hurry up and make her wish now.
“I'm not sure...” Kerri frowned, taking a step closer towards the statue and peering at it curiously. Fyora beamed nonchalantly back at her. At her feet were over five dozen chocolate coins. “There are so many people wishing. How will we even know if our wish will be granted?” She held the chocolate coin in her hand wistfully. Kerri did have a wish. To be able to attend the Annual Chocolate Ball. It had been a dream of hers ever since she was little, after visiting the Chocolate Factory and wanting to live there forever, gorging on chocolate and little else.
Charlie shrugged. “It can't hurt to try, can it? We'll come back tomorrow and see if our coins are still here. That way, we'll know whether or not our wish will come true.” With that said, he closed his eyes for a moment and muttered something under his breath. Then, he chucked his coin at the statue, which bounced off Fyora's face and onto the ground. Charlie was always a lousy shot.
His sister hesitated a moment longer, then relaxed. “You're right,” she agreed, and with that, made her wish.
On their way back, they were stopped by a pink Aisha holding coupons for Pizzaroo. She handed one each to the siblings. “Remember to come as soon as possible!” She beamed at them.
* * *
Later that night, Kerri couldn't sleep. Where did the coins that were taken go? Who took them? And how did they know about the wishes? Out of the hundred or so coins that were there every day, about ten were taken away. So as not to get their coins mixed up, people wrote their names on the golden foil that wrapped around the chocolate, circular shape. Everyone went first thing in the morning to see whose coin had been taken, hoping it was their own.
How long would the statue be there for, exactly? The Annual Chocolate Ball was tomorrow. Perhaps it would be gone after then. Kerri sighed. As if her wish would be granted! If she chose to believe such nonsense anyway. Charlie didn't half talk some rubbish sometimes.
She turned, and saw from across the room her brother's sleeping face. They were staying in an inn for the night to save the journey to the Lost Desert and back, and only had enough to pay for one room. She wondered what Charlie had wished for, but then, you never found that out about someone or their wish wouldn't come true.
Outside, the sky was dark and clear, not a cloud in sight. The stars looked like sequins clinging to an ebony, velvet blanket. To get herself to sleep, Kerri counted the stars she could see from her window. She'd gotten to twenty three by the time her eyes started to drop, and soon she was asleep, dreaming of who the mysterious benefactors of the chocolate statue were.
* * *
“Kerri! Kerri, wake up!”
“Huh? What?” Kerri mumbled, opening one eye gingerly.
Charlie's face was in front of her, his blue eyes open wide with eager hope shining within them. He had a small scar above her mouth from an accident when he was little, where he was climbing a tree and then had fallen from it, hitting a branch on her way down. It was barely noticeable now, however. Kerri only noticed it because she knew it was there. She was the one on the grass, telling her brother not to be so irresponsible, even at that young age, when he fell. They were completely different, and yet somehow got along really well. Her heart warmed towards her younger brother at that moment, and she sat up and gave him a hug.
“Get off!” Charlie laughed, pulling away. “What was for?”
The Scorchio shrugged, a small grin on her face. “Nothing, I'm just glad I have you for a brother. My life would be so boring and organised with little drama and chaos otherwise!”
He rolled his eyes. “You're too soppy and narrow-minded, that's your trouble. Common sense rules you.” Charlie shook his head. “Come on, get up and get dressed! We need to see if our wishes were granted! What did you wish for, by the way?” he added curiously.
“Can't tell you,” Kerri said. “You know that! Now, get off my bed, you lump, and maybe I'll be able to get ready in double quick time.”
* * *
“It's gone!” Charlie yelped as they drew closer to the statue's usual location. There was nothing there other than a pile of chocolate coins. “How can it be gone?”
Kerri was a little surprised too, but more reserved. “I guess because today is the Annual Chocolate Ball?” she ventured, bending down next to the coins and picking each on up. “Come on, help me search through these to find our names.”
There were ninety four in the end, but with the two of them working together, they managed to rifle through them all in under an hour. Charlie found his name on the thirty seventh coin, but as they reached the final few, hope was growing inside of Kerri's stomach. Her coin still hadn't been found. Would she be able to have her wish granted?
“That's the last one!” Charlie gasped, tossing back a coin labelled Sophie and standing up in astonishment. “Kerri, your coin was taken away!”
His sister nodded in agreement, dazed. Would this mean she would be able to go to the Annual Chocolate Ball? In hindsight she wished she had put she wanted two tickets to go. Charlie would have loved to go too. In fact, what was she thinking? She couldn't stay another night here and celebrate a wondrous event without the brother that got her there in the first place. Guilt hit her in the stomach, and her shoulders slumped. She wouldn't be able to go after all.
But then she realised whoever granted these wishes would surely have the common sense to give her two tickets. Who would want to go to an event like that alone? She cheered up considerably and gave her brother an affectionate pat on the arm. Everything was going to be fine.
“So what did you wish for, seeing as your coin is invalid then?” Kerri wondered as they walked away from the pile of coins, looking for a restaurant to have some lunch in. They stopped in Pizzaroo and ordered two large Mozzarellas. The Blumaroo waiter was tubby and red and jolly, and as he bounced away Charlie gave a small shrug.
“My wish was stupid,” he sighed, fiddling with a napkin. “I wish it had come true, though.”
“Come on, tell me!” Kerri grinned, but Charlie shook his head.
“Not now,” he told her, “maybe another time. What did you wish for?”
“If you're not telling me, I'm certainly not telling you!”
They laughed as their pizzas were dropped in front of them with a flourish. Kerri tucked in straight away, but Charlie seemed thoughtful, staring at a poster on the wall in the restaurant curiously.
“What is it?” Kerri asked, mouth full of cheese and tomato.
“That poster there says something about a competition,” Charlie said, squinting to see better. “A competition to win tickets to the Annual Chocolate Ball!”
His sister smiled. She didn't need to win any old competition – her wish was going to come true! “Don't worry about it.” She waved an impatient hand. “We'd never win. I could always go next year...”
Charlie seemed adamant. “No, come on! Let's go for it.” He persisted, and was up and out of his seat to read the details before Kerri could protest anymore.
“Look, look here, Kerri,” he mumbled as he studied the poster, “it says here that you have to simply solve this Lenny Conundrum to win. Come on, you've always been the smart one. Can you answer this?”
Kerri leaned closer, and read the question in front of her.
Carl the Kyrii gave Susie the Acara as many neopoints as Susie started out with. Susie then gave Carl back as much as Carl had left. Carl then gave Susie back as many neopoints as Susie had left, which left Carl broke and gave Susie a total of eighty neopoints. How much did Carl and Susie have at the beginning of their exchange?
“I doubt you'll be able to solve that, my dear.”
The voice came from an Aisha, pink and wearing an apron, obviously a waitress at Pizzaroo. She was young with heavy black eyeliner around her eyes and big, blonde hair. It was the Aisha who had given them the coupons yesterday. She smiled a lipstick red grin and shrugged at the two Scorchios. “Not one person has gotten it right yet, and that thing has been up all week.”
“Who came up with it?” Charlie asked. “I have no idea how to solve it; I've always been bad with riddles. But Kerri has a knack for them – she's won the actual Lenny Conundrum nine times.”
“I came up with it,” the Aisha told him quietly. “My grandfather is the manager of this Pizzaroo and wanted a good competition to win two tickets to the Annual Chocolate Ball. Many people have tried, none have gotten it right yet. Some people have gotten close, some had no idea. If you think you have the answer, come and find me, and I'll tell you whether or not you have it right. We only allow one try, so think carefully before coming to me.”
At this, she strode away, ready to take some orders. Kerri was too busy focusing on solving the riddle to have even listened to their full conversation, only the end of it. The fact no one had solved it spurred Kerri on. It was a difficult one, that was for sure. But she was also sure she had the correct answer. And when she told the Aisha waitress, her thoughts were confirmed and was presented with two tickets for the Annual Chocolate Ball.
“You did it, Kerri!” Charlie gasped. “We're going to the Ball!”
“It's weird, Charlie,” Kerri said with a frown. “This is what I wished for at the statue. Now I'll get four tickets. What am I going to do?”
Charlie laughed. “For someone who has just proved to be very smart, you aren't half acting dumb. You won't get four tickets – your wish was just granted! You got your tickets to the Annual Chocolate Ball. What were you expecting?”
“Well...” Kerri frowned again. What was she expecting exactly? For the tickets to magically appear on her doorstep? Something like that. “I never thought I'd have to do something to get the tickets I wished for. I thought wishes just... happened!”
“Wishing for something gives you hope, and thinking yours had come true gave you a relaxed mind for the riddle, not a desperate one seeking the answer, because you thought your prize was already definite,” Charlie explained, in a low voice as they walked towards the NC Mall to buy outfits for the Ball that evening. “But you had to get those tickets yourself, because working for something and knowing your reward is justified is extremely important. Things aren't just handed to you on a plate, you know that.”
“When did you become so philosophical?” Kerri wondered. “What happened to my goof-ball brother?”
Charlie grinned. “I'm still here,” he chuckled, “but I guess I felt you had to know this." His tone suddenly grew serious. "I mean, my wish was to impress you, make you see that I wasn't just your stupid, younger brother that always got into trouble... and I think that just came true.”
“Charlie..." Kerri was shocked, to say the least. "I had no idea... of course I thought of you highly and not completely like that -" She stopped mid-sentence with a frown. "But your coin wasn't taken away,” Kerri pointed out. “How does that one work?”
“I think we make our own wishes come true,” her brother murmured. “I think that's how it works.”
* * *
That evening, the wishing statue was the pride of the Annual Chocolate Ball, sitting in the centre of the grand hall, Fyora with a strong, confident smile on her face.
A pink Aisha watched two Scorchio siblings dance together, embracing the evening, joy clear on their faces. They were the only two to realise the truth about the wishes of the chocolate statue she had slaved for hours to make.
And of course she had given them a helping hand here or there to find this truth out, but where would anyone be without a little help?
She giggled to herself, then slipped away in the shadows and didn't return.