The Oldest (Baby) Sister: Part One
It was a Winter's Night in Altador; the snow was piled up and it continued to fall from the grey sky. I found myself waking up, and turned to read my alarm clock. I sighed when it read 5:00am NST. I sat up, knowing that there was no use in going back to sleep; I had to wake up at 6 to get ready for Neoschool at 7. Slowly, I shivered as I put my Christmas Shoyru coat on. I walked out into the hall with a flashlight, and made my way towards the restroom. I reached the door, and opened it slowly to not wake the twins or Mom. As I stepped in, the nightlight flickered to life at the sense of me entering the room. I closed the door and waited a few seconds for my eyes to adjust. Debating on the next best move, I took the coat off (and slippers) and got into the shower. The water was absolutely freezing, and I yelped in shock. I waited for a few seconds for the water to warm up, and I took a quick shower.
I walked out of the restroom after I was done and was zipping up my coat. I turned to go to the kitchen, and I noticed that Mom's bedroom light was on. She opened the door, and we had a moment of looking at one another. She waved and yawned silently as she came up to me. I jumped up slightly, and she caught me, hugging me.
"Why in the world are you awake at this hour, Dragon?" Mom whispered to me as she sat me on the counter.
I shrugged. "I should ask the same thing."
"The shower and your yelp woke me. Want some breakfast?"
"No thank you..."
She looked at me in concern. "Tell me."
I sighed. "Mom..." I faced her. "Can I spend my allowance?"
"It's your neopoints, Duchess."
"Yes, but I need a little help." I closed my eyes, refusing to look into hers. "I...I want a Paint Brush."
"Dragon." She cut me off, knowing where I was going with this, "...they're worth a lot."
I dropped the conversation there. I jumped off the side of the counter where Mom sat me, and I grabbed my lunchbox. I handed it to Mom, and she placed a few assorted food items in it. After handing it back to me, I saw the concern etched into her eyes, but I turned away before she could say anything. I grabbed my bag and headed for the door, but Mom beat me there.
"...School's canceled." She answered my question before I could ask. "There is too much snow on the ground."
"How do you know?" I asked.
She handed me a small, rectangular device. It had a screen on it and it was lit up, showing her NeoMailbox. There was a message about the Altadorian Schools being canceled due to the snow and cold temperature. I nodded, and set my bag down, and handed Mom back the lunchbox. As she took it into the kitchen, I walked into the twins' room. Slowly, I walked up to Pup and shook her gently. She grunted, and lifted her sleeping mask off her eyes. I told her about the school cancellation, and she nodded, thanking me. I did the same for Al as Pup warned Sixey. I was about to go back into my room and get some sleep, but I heard the coffee maker go off, and I knew that there was no use. If there was one thing Mom required us to do; it was family meals... no matter what hour they were at. I walked into the kitchen and grabbed a few paper towels. I soaked one of them with soap and water, and started to clean the small glass table we owned. As I was drying, Pup followed me with place mats. Sixey had the coffee mugs and Al walked into the room while yawning. He walked into the kitchen and reached the juice glasses and set them next to the coffee cups.
"How did everyone sleep?" Mom asked out in the open.
"Fine, thank you," Pup answered first.
"I've slept better," Sixey answered, "but I'll get through the day alright."
"I woke up early," I responded.
Al stayed silent. He sat down at the table and waited patiently for breakfast. Mom walked over to him and rubbed the back of his head, asking him again. Once again he said nothing. I sat down next to him and asked if he had a nightmare. He nodded lightly, and he just mentioned the Pound. Suddenly, Sixey pulled his chair out (he was in the office chair) and shouted 'family hug' at the top of her lungs. We hugged Al, and happy tears filled his eyes as he hugged us all. Mom waited a little bit before she hugged him softly. She retreated into the kitchen and I smelled the scent of fresh biscuits. She came out again, with two plates with biscuits and gravy on it and set it in front of Al and Pup. Both waited patiently until Sixey and I got our plates. We all chorused our thanks to Mom as she passed around napkins. She went back to the kitchen and grabbed the coffeepot, pouring a little bit into each of our cups. As she returned, she asked if we needed anything else.
"Do we have Orange Juice?" Al asked softly.
Mom came back with the carton and set it on the table. We passed that around, and set it back in the middle once we were done. Mom brought in sugar and cream for the coffee, and went back one last time to grab her plate to join us. Sixey closed her eyes and hummed softly. Slowly, a small flame appeared in front of her. It floated around our food, and warmed it up again until it got toasty hot before moving to another plate. Once all the plates were warmed up, the flame returned to her, and it diminished. She opened her eyes, and smiled softly.
"That was really cool!" Al exclaimed. "Can you teach me that?"
"It's not as easy as it looks," Mom answered. "Too many things were burned when she was learning."
"I paid for the damages, though," Sixey defended.
Mom nodded, and told us to eat before the food got cold. Slowly, I ate breakfast and listened to the conversations that were happening. The Winter Holiday was one of the main topics of conversation, and everyone was talking about what they wanted, but I stayed silent. I ate what I had on my plate, and set it in the sink. I returned to the table and slowly sipped my coffee. Making a disgusted face (I forgot that it was black), I set the cup down and got a few sugar cubes. As I set them in my drink, Pup looked at me in concern.
"Sis." She spoke. "You've been rather quiet this morning. No adventure stories?"
I shook my head, drinking from the cup. Deciding that it wasn't quite right, I grabbed the creamer and sprinkled a little bit into it. I stirred my drink again, still ignoring my sister's question. I drank the coffee lightly.
Mom sighed, and left. She was gone for a few minutes and came back with a brightly wrapped box. I faced her in concern as tears filled my eyes. Mom cleared my face of tears, and handed me the box.
"I was going to wait for The Winter Holiday to give this to you," she said lightly, "but I think you need this today."
I shook my head and handed it back to her. She stood there, waiting on me to open it. Sighing, I gently pulled the sparkly red ribbon apart. I turned to Pup, and gently tied it around her neck to make it look like a scarf. She undid the knot and tied it differently. I faced the box, and slowly tore the paper apart. I opened the box, looked in it, and faced my Mom. She laughed as I pulled out a smaller box that was wrapped also. I unwrapped that one, and an even smaller box was inside that one. This happened a few times until I opened a box the size of a ring box. There was a tiny note inside. I unfolded the paper, and read it lightly. All it said was for me to go look in my room under the bed. Confused, Mom nodded and I left the table and went into my room. Mom followed me, and I found another box under there. I sat on my bed, and opened the box. Unlike last time, there was a brown paper bag inside. I opened that, and there was another note.
"Is this a scavenger hunt?" I asked her.
"Somewhat," she answered. "You might ask your siblings for help."
I walked back into the dining room, and opened the note.
"Say what has been said, sing what has been sung," I read out loud. "This room used to be red, go there and the next clue is hung."
"Is Mom making you answer riddles?" Sixey asked. I nodded. "Well, let me have a look."
She sat down next to me, and read the riddle to herself.
"The room used to be red..." Pup mused. "The problem is that all the rooms used to be red."
"So do we look in every room for the hung clue?" Al asked.
"Seems like we have to," Sixey answered.
So we all split up, looking into different rooms. Mom drifted from one room to another, watching us and making sure we don't destroy anything in the process. We would ask her for hints, but she would stay silent until we got absolutely lost. She didn't give us much help, though; one hint she gave us was that it was in the house.
Not like I would go outside in this weather.
I walked in Mom's room, and looked around in there. I knew better than to move her stuff, so I just glanced around. As I walked out, I noticed a piece of paper that was above the bed. I asked her if that was it, and she nodded. Using my wings, I flew up to the ceiling and grabbed it lightly. As I sat down on her bed, I unfolded the note and Mom sat down next to me.
"The only way to get is to give. Give everything you got. It is the only way to live... now ask what I got," I read. Confused, I turned to her. "Do I have to?" She nodded, and I sighed. "What did you get?"
She stood up and knelt down in front of me. Slowly, she pulled out a box, and set it on my lap. I opened it, and all that was in there was a light blue ribbon. Let's test your knowledge was written on one end of the ribbon. The other side read: Where did this come from?
"The store," I answered.
"Try again," Mom responded. "It is a piece of something."
"A piece of ribbon."
Mom laughed. "Yes... but the ribbon was attached to something... what is that something?"
I sat there looking at the ribbon. I ran it through my fingers, thinking. I ended up closing my eyes, thinking deeply. I heard footfalls, and I opened them lightly to see Al. He looked at me, then at the ribbon. He studied it, and looked back at me.
"It was once tied," he said. "I can tell by the folds and creases. Try to mimic the knot; maybe that will give you a hint of some sort."
Following his advice, I experimented with the creases and folds in the fabric. Slowly, the shape of a large bow formed in my hands. I looked at the newly-tied bow, still thinking. I ran it through my fingers.
"I have no idea." I turned to Mom after a few minutes.
Mom told Al to leave the room, and he followed her order obediently. She silently took the bow from my hands and set it on my head. It stayed there for a few seconds, and it fell off. I laughed lightly.
"Dragon," Mom said to me. "Do you remember what I told you the first day I got you?"
"I love you," I answered.
She nodded. "What else?"
Mom sat down next to me and sat me down in her lap. "I remember the first night we spent together. You were crying because it was storming. I held you... just like this."
"You sang to me," I said, remembering. "You sang me a song about sleeping in a bed of clouds and a blanket of stars."
Mom nodded. "Do you remember the lyrics?"
"Hush, my little baby don't you cry. Close your eyes and drift into the night; give it a try... That's all I really remember." I looked at her, and all the sudden things made sense. "Wait... the red room... the red room was my old room. The thing that was always hung was a picture. The picture was of me, and it had the words "The New Baby" on it..." I faced my Mom in shock and amazement. "You... you got..."
Mom gave me another box, and this one was wrapped in light green paper. I tore it open and felt the tears build in my eyes as I saw the Baby Paint Brush inside. I screeched in joy and hugged Mom as hard as I could. She held me back, and the other siblings came in as well. Sixey and I hugged each other; she was the only one of the three of us (Al wasn't a part of the family yet) who knew how much I wanted this. I faced Mom and held her tight.
"You didn't have to." I sniffed.
"Duchess... I used your allowance for it," she answered. "I knew you wanted this and that you were saving up for it, so once you hit the mark, I went and bought it; got the last one at the Hidden Tower for the day. I had to let you know, or you would have tried to buy something and have no money in your account."
"When can she get painted?" Pup asked.
"If you want to risk it, we can go today," Mom answered.
I nodded, and hugged her once again. We gathered our winter attire, and Mom asked the others to 'fix the house'. I asked why, but she didn't answer me. They nodded, and Al called dibs on my room and charged off in that direction. The twins charged outside and went to the storage shed. Mom and I walked out of the house. She carried blankets, and I clutched the Paint Brush with a death grip close to my heart.
This is happening...
I'm going to be a Baby Shoyru.
To be continued...