Grundo on Ice: Part Two
"Wait for me, Fal, wait for me, too!"
Fallicina's little sister Norabet was trying to keep up with her, while they both ran towards their neohome. Fallicina rushed into living room, where her baby brother was sitting on the sofa and flicking through a book with big colorful pictures in it. Norabet also arrived, panting while entering the room and closing the door behind her.
Fallicina found her mother making fire to the fireplace and she shouted excitedly: "Mommy, Mommy, I have an idea! Remember the back corner of our neogarden which is empty and where you thought of building a shed next summer? We should put an ice rink there instead!"
Fallicina's sister and brother cheerily nodded to support the idea.
At first, Mother was surprised, because this idea had come so suddenly. Besides, she had recently traded two very rare and expensive stamps for her stamp album and had purchased nice Christmas gifts for the family (which was still a secret), hence the number of neopoints on her bank account had drastically decreased. But when they all sat together for dinner, Fallicina shared the story of finding the blue skates from their attic and explained what she had found out about the price of curved ice skating rink at the Neopian Garden Center. Mother promised to think about it. When dinner was finished and all siblings helped to clean up the table and kitchen, Mother finally announced that she agreed to buy their own ice rink.
Fallicina was very excited. Her plan seemed to go more smoothly than she had expected. She sat by the fireplace, took her faerie notebook and wrote down everything she needed: Ice rink, skating outfit, music, a coach and a routine. Then she crossed out the first line, because Mommy had already promised to buy the curved ice skating rink the next day.
Fallicina ran upstairs to her bedroom and opened her closet. It was enormous! She had so many clothes, she wasn't sure where to start looking for the perfect skating outfit. It had to be comfortable and good looking – not only for skating in their backyard, but for the annual Happy Valley Skating Competition, too! All her dresses were too long or too fancy, so she thought to browse through her skirts:
"Holiday tutu - too fluffy and heavy.. probably not. Khaki skirt - nope! My sisters frilly skirt – perhaps this could work, but it doesn't match with the blue skates. Homemade Polarchuck costume – what is this even doing here?! I'm not wearing this, maybe I should give it to my younger sister... School girl plaid skirt – I guess Mommy would get angry when seeing me skating with this... Ahh, snowflake skirt – this one is perfect for this season! Plus, it goes well with the blue skates and I have a matching top, too! Yay, outfit problem solved!"
She also found antennae warmers from a drawer and thought these would come in handy. Then she crossed the second line in her notebook and moved to next issue in the list – music.
The anxious Grundo danced to the window. She had a Snow Bruce music box on the windowsill. She opened it and listened to the music over and over again for many times. "This melody is perfect for my skating music and the length should be good, too!" Now she had just one last obstacle left – she was missing a coach who would train her and help to create a skating routine. And this problem seemed to be the hardest to solve. On that evening, Fallicina browsed through all the issues of the Neopian Times which she had at home, in hopes of finding an advertisement of skating lessons, but she found none.
The next morning Fallicina woke very early, put on her pink Grundo jogging suit and went out for jogging. She was running in the neighborhood and noticed that one family was putting up a yard sale. Fallicina stopped to catch her breath and decided to check out the yard sale. There weren't many items out yet, but one thing immediately caught Fallicina's eye. It was an Ice Skating Bruce toy. Fallicina winded up the toy and watched it gliding on a frozen puddle on the ground. The toy was making very interesting moves and the little Grundo thought that she could learn the moves, maybe adjust a little, and she would have a routine! She asked how much the toy cost and since she was the first customer of the day, she got it for only one Neopoint. She found the Neopoint from her pocket and jogged happily back home with her new toy.
After the family had breakfast, they went to the bazaar and bought the curved ice skating rink from Garden Centre. It was delivered and set up on the same day. And from that day onwards, Fallicina committed entirely to figure skating.
Fallicina did not find a coach, but she decided to be her own coach. A very strict one, in fact. She began every day with jogging. The only time she spent with her family was at the table for either breakfast, lunch or dinner. Fallicina used to be known for her picky and expensive food preferences. She had dreamed of winning the Gourmet Club award since she was a toddler and she always chose very carefully what to eat and what to not eat. This had even caused several arguments at home, when the young lady had refused to eat some mom-made simple food, such as sausage and cheese rolls or Pteri spaghetti. But after she had got obsessed with skating, she didn't mind any mom-made meal, because she needed lots of energy for her intense and long practice hours. She spent whole days on ice. She started from the simplest moves and after getting better balance, moved on to more advanced elements, such as the spins and jumps. Nothing came easily. Despite her natural purple color, she was covered with many bruises and abrasions from falling. Not to mention that her feet were hurting really bad when she took off the blue skates to go inside for the night. But the brave girl never cried, never complained, never gave up. She had created her own dance program on ice and she was determined to compete with it at the annual Happy Valley Skating Competition.
Three weeks had gone by. On one evening, Fallicina invited her family to the backyard, telling that she has something to show them. Her siblings and mother gathered around the ice rink without knowing what to expect. The only one who knew what was going to happen, was Fallicina. She felt she was ready for her first audition, to show off what she had learned for the upcoming skating event. She took on her snowflake patterned outfit and the blue skates, set her music box ready and glided on ice.
Music started playing. Fallicina waited the first four beats in her starting position, legs crossed, arms together and her body slightly bent on one side. As the music played on, she gracefully waved her arms around her, stood on tiptoes for a second and then pushed herself gliding onward. The first steps did not come out as well as they had before, when Fallicina had been practicing alone. That's because the young skater had become a little bit nervous. Even though it was only her family watching, she got afraid to fail and fall down on ice. But as the program went on, Fallicina gained more confidence. And after her first successful spin, she forgot all worries, managed a smile on her face and put her whole heart into skating through her routine.
When the skater took her ending pose and music stopped, there was a moment of silence in their backyard. The audience was speechless from what they had just seen. Mustafaakene was the first to applaud and very soon the others joined him clapping and cheering. Fallicina's mother was very proud of her daughter's accomplishments and went to give her a big hug. She said she was so impressed and suggested that her daughter could perform it again, but for bigger audience. Fallicina had actually hoped to hear that and decided it was the best time to reveal her plan.
"Mommy dear, I've been dreaming of skating for a bigger audience. And I have the chance to do so! I... I signed up for the Happy Valley skating competition. It's on the 25th day of this month. All I need now is your permission to go. Please, Mommy, please, please, please!"
Her mother was speechless for the second time that evening. She gathered herself for a moment, looked into Fallicina's big orange appealing eyes and said:
"Yes, you are going to Happy Valley. We all are going!"
All three siblings started cheering while Mother revealed that she had bought tickets from Neopia Central to Happy Valley for the entire family as a Christmas gift. They would be leaving the night before Christmas and arriving to Happy Valley on Christmas morning. But Fallicina got startled and her voice was shaking when she said:
"Oh no! Wait, the competition is on 25th, but I should get there at least one day earlier to get used to the ice rink and have enough time to practice..."
As it was getting cold outside, the family went back inside to discuss the situation. The tickets had been bought in advance and their date couldn't be changed to earlier. Nor could they afford new tickets for all four of them. The only possible option Mother could see was letting Fallicina go alone, a couple of days early, and follow her on the planned time with other siblings. But Mother wasn't comfortable with that idea. Even though Fallicina was the eldest of the siblings and had been to Happy Valley before, she had never traveled out of Neopia Central by herself. She could get lost or attacked by dangerous creatures, such as the ghosts, Pant Devil, Balthazar or others. But Fallicina wasn't worried at all. She saw it as a fun Christmas adventure and she thought that all monsters would behave nice and friendly during the holidays. Fallicina gave her best to convince her mother at the dinner table and somehow she managed to succeed. They both moved closer to the wall calendar and had a look at it. Then Mother shouted:
"But that would mean... that you will leave TOMORROW!?!"
Fallicina gave her mother a big hug and ran upstairs to her room. She had to pick up her stuff and she didn't have much time left for that. She started packing right away. The little Grundo needed not only her skating equipment, but also other clothes and items for the rest of her stay in Happy Valley. Since she was traveling there alone, she didn't want her bag to be too heavy. But as a typical young lady, it was difficult for her to select only the most necessary items and leave some other outfits at home.
All this rummaging in her closet and drawers had made her sleepy and she thought to rest for a couple of minutes. But as soon as she lay down on bed, her eyes closed, she fell asleep and started dreaming. In the dream, she was alone on a giant skating rink, doing high jumps and speedy spins, not seeing anything happening around her, when suddenly a massive blue ice worm appeared and surrounded the skater with its body and twirled closer and closer... And when it had come so close that Fallicina could feel the monster's icy breath, the giant worm opened its mouth and...
Fallicina opened her eyes and sat up abruptly, gasping for air. She looked around – the light was still on and she saw her pretty pink room, her almost packed bag lying on the floor and her Snow Bruce music box on her desk. Fallicina sighed with relief when she realized that she had fallen asleep. It had been just a meaningless dream and she knew she was going to have a most amazing adventure in Happy Valley.
To be continued...