Usuki Singing Stars #11: Patricia's Holiday Miracle - Part Two
"You did?" Patricia gasped in disbelief. "No way! I can't believe that you're an actual Neopian Times writer!"
Mr. Ridgewood gave Patricia a proud grin. "It's true. For many years, I have been contributing to the Neopian Times with some of my finest works of literature. It was always a dream of mine to get something published so that everybody in Neopia can read what I wrote." After a second glance at an old copy of issue 314, he sighed and said, "But I'm afraid I don't write as much as I used to anymore."
"What! Why would you say such a thing??" Patricia demanded. She looked at the title of Mr. Ridgewood's series again and began to skim through the first part. "Hey, this story doesn't sound so bad," Patricia realized as she continued to read. "Mr. Ridgewood, would you mind if I borrow this for a day or two? I'll give it back to you as soon as I'm done! I promise."
"If you wish to take out the whole series, then please don't let me stop you!" Mr. Ridgewood laughed. He handed a stack of papers to Patricia and told her that there were the other nine parts. "I was always very enthusiastic when it came to writing series," Mr. Ridgewood explained. "In fact, I was the first writer in the Neopian Times to write a series that was more than five parts! And now look at all of these newer writers: why, some of these newer writers have even written the dreadful thirteen part series! How preposterous!"
"So can I really borrow these newspapers, Mr. Ridgewood?" Patricia wondered.
"Borrow? Heck, I wouldn't mind if you had decided to keep them for your own Neopian Times collection," Mr. Ridgewood reassured her. He looked around at his study again and said, "But before you could take those papers home, you must help me clean up this old place before the sun starts to set. Only then can I permit you to read my series. Is that fair?"
Patricia nodded. "Yep. I'll go get the duster!"
"And I'll go find you a bookmark!" Mr. Ridgewood teased. "You will need one if you want to read my series."
As soon as she was finished helping Mr. Ridgewood with cleaning his study, Patricia immediately ran to her house, took off her boots and coat, and quickly ran up the stairs with all ten parts of Mr. Ridgewood's series clutched to her chest.
I can't wait to start this series! Patricia thought as she untied the knot that was tied over part one. She threw the twine to her bedroom floor and began to read the first part of 'The Return of the Traitor' right away.
The first part of the series was very slow for Patricia and the descriptions of a big Brightvalian ball made Patricia feel like she was reading a faerie tale. It was not until part two that Patricia began to feel the intrigue and mystery of Mr. Ridgewood's series. She was just finishing part two up when she heard her mother call her name. Sighing, Patricia quickly finished part two and jumped out of bed, hoping that dinnertime would only take a few minutes and not the usual half hour.
As soon she entered the kitchen, Patricia saw her younger brother Alan eating gingerbread cookies while Ms. Winston was busy making mashed potatoes. Marc, who was Alan's Puppyblew, greeted Patricia with happy yapping and wagged his tail in delight. "Good Puppyblew," Patricia cooed as she pet Marc's head. Marc barked with joy while Patricia joined Alan at the dinner table.
Alan handed his sister a cookie. "Did Mommy tell you the big surprise?" the blue Shoyru wondered.
"What surprise?" asked Patricia. She turned to her mother and asked her, "Is it a little surprise? Or is it a big one?" Ms. Winston just replied with a sly smile, but Alan was so excited about the surprise that he was practically bouncing in his seat.
"Didn't Mommy tell you? We're going to have a baby!!" Alan exclaimed. He immediately jumped out of his chair and ran towards Ms. Winston. "We're getting the baby before Christmas, right, Mommy?" Alan reassured.
"Wait, are we actually getting a BABY, Mother?" Patricia echoed, still not believing what Alan was saying. But her mother only blushed and nodded slowly.
"The new baby will be coming to us tomorrow, Patricia," Ms. Winston explained. "A good friend of mine claimed that an adorable baby Shoyru is going to be pounded tonight by his parents, so I have decided to adopt the little fellow tomorrow. I'm sure you won't mind having two little brothers now, eh?"
"Yay! I'm getting a baby brother!" Alan cheered. Marc barked with agreement while Patricia sulked in her chair. She was beginning to feel upset that her mother had told Alan about the big news before her.
But at least she didn't hide it from me for too long, Patricia considered. And besides, maybe having a new baby brother will be fun. Hopefully he won't be as annoying as Alan! After she finished her dinner, Patricia ran upstairs to her room to continue reading Mr. Ridgewood's series. She had decided to tell Mr. Ridgewood about the new baby when she visited him tomorrow, which was when she had promised to help with dusting the antiques. She also hoped that she could finish early, since Mr. Ridgewood's series was getting better and better!
"Why, that is wonderful news, Patricia!" Mr. Ridgewood agreed, dusting an antique vase while he talked. "You know, babies are playful and cuddly things. That was something that I read in a baby book." He sighed and began dusting another vase while he continued. "So, Patricia, how do you like my series you're borrowing? I hope it's not too dull for a young Shoyru like you."
"Oh, it's not dull at all," Patricia insisted, taking care that she would not drop the antique sculpture that she was holding. "It's actually really interesting. In fact, I had actually finished the first five parts last night!" After she finished what she was dusting, Patricia turned to Mr. Ridgewood and asked him, "Did you say you actually read a baby book?"
"Yes," Mr. Ridgewood said solemnly, "but I got rid if it many years ago. It was just not the... hmm, right book for me anymore, if you know what I mean." When Patricia shook her head at him, Mr. Ridgewood sighed and pulled out a golden locket from a coat pocket. He handed the locket to Patricia and instructed her to open the clasp.
Patricia opened it and gasped at what was inside. "Who is this baby Ixi?" she wondered, her eyes fixed at the portrait of a crying baby Ixi. Because it was a black and white photo, Patricia guessed that it must have been taken a long time ago, which meant that the baby Ixi could be roaming Neopia Central as a young lady right now.
"Her name is Elizabeth," Mr. Ridgewood explained. He quickly wiped a tear from his left eye and said, "She is my daughter."
"Your daughter?" Patricia gasped. She looked at the locket that she was holding and noticed that it was browning. "Where is she, Mr. Ridgewood? Will she come visit you on Christmas Day?"
"I don't know," Mr. Ridgewood replied. He beckoned Patricia to sit on one of his sofa chairs while he tried to recollect himself. Patricia couldn't help but notice that although Mr. Ridgewood was covering his face, tears were still streaking his checks and his mouth was quivering very nervously.
"Are you okay? Should I go home now?" Patricia wondered, but Mr. Ridgewood just waved his free hand at her and told her to stay.
"I regret everything that I did that day," Mr. Ridgewood sighed. He gave Patricia a wide eyed look, as if the truth was something that he was baring for way too long. "It was sometime during this month that I had first laid my eyes on my lovely Elizabeth. But of course, this had happened a very long time ago, so I'm sure that Elizabeth is much older now. Anyways, more than anything I had wanted to be a father to Elizabeth and I had greatly enjoyed her company, but even I knew that our happy times together would eventually end for good."
"Why would you think that?" Patricia wondered. "I thought you were a world famous Neopian Times writer?"
Mr. Ridgewood gave Patricia another solemn look. "This was before I started my career," he explained. "I was too busy caring for Elizabeth to even consider writing for the Neopian Times. Now that Month of Giving was exceptionally cold for a reason that I do not understand, and me and Elizabeth were freezing in our little hollow by the Money Tree. He gave us everything we could possibly need, but I still had a gut feeling that Elizabeth would not be able to survive the dreadful winter if she had to continue living like this. So I had to do something that no other father in Neopia would have done in my place."
"And what was that?" Patricia wondered, hoping that she wouldn't hear what she was thinking.
"I placed her in the Pound," said Mr. Ridgewood.
To be continued...
To Shae, Shannery, Courtney and Brad: Hooray for my Neo family! *hugs* I believe that the true meaning of the holiday season is about spending time with family and your very close friends, who can also be considered as family. Like last year's series, this one is also themed with the 'family' premise that I'm sure all of you will love. Thank you for including me in your Neo family.