"Sold!” The Scorchio auctioneer exclaimed. “The Vo Codestone goes to the purple Blumaroo in the second row for 5,500 Neopoints!” Serena watched as the enthusiastic Blumaroo bounced up to the auctioneer to claim her prize.
Serena the Shoyru nervously clutched her bag. It contained exactly 12,000 Neopoints—her entire summer savings. It was the last day of vacation and she had come to the Auction House with her best friend, Callie, in hopes of buying something new and exciting. But the sun was sinking lower in the sky, the crowds around the Auction House were starting to thin out, and Serena had not spent any of her Neopoints yet.
“What are you waiting for?” Callie asked her. Callie’s backpack was stuffed full of items that she had won throughout the day. It seemed like she had gotten all of the best deals: three plushies, two bracelets, and even a rare negg, all for less than 10,000 Neopoints. Callie seemed to be exceptionally talented at bidding on auctions, winning them all without a struggle.
However, Serena was so nervous that she hadn’t even made a single bid all day. She had only visited the Auction House one time several years ago, and she hadn’t won anything back then. She remembered she had watched the prices get higher and higher, and then she froze without making any bids at all. It seemed as though the same thing was happening today. “Loosen up! Have fun,” Callie told her, trying to stuff her plushie prizes deeper into her backpack. “I only have 200 Neopoints left, so I don’t think I’ll be able to win anything else.”
Serena sighed. She knew that if she didn’t make a bid soon, she’d be returning home with her bag still full of her Neopoints and no new items. Maybe she could continue saving her Neopoints until next summer, so she could return and buy something even more expensive. But she pushed the thought out of her head. She was determined to win something today before the auctions were all closed. She just had to get enough courage to make a bid and get the ball rolling.
The Scorchio auctioneer roared, “This next item will be the final one of the day, folks!” and he started to reach into a large box behind him. Serena heart skipped a beat. Did he really just say it was going to be the final item? This was her last chance! Callie seemed to agree, nudging her and motioning towards her bag full of Neopoints.
Serena watched the auctioneer carefully. Her eyes widened as she saw the item that he placed onto the table. The auctioneer bellowed, “Let’s start the bidding at 5,000 Neopoints for this B-E-A-UTIFUL item… an authentic Usuki Music Box!”
Serena stared longingly at the magnificent item that the auctioneer had placed on the table. It really was beautiful—the base and lid were a rosy pink color, shining brilliantly in the setting sunlight. Inside the rounded box was a tiny Usuki doll with its bow perfectly in place. The Scorchio auctioneer twisted the key in the back of the box, winding it up. When he released it, the Usuki doll began to twirl around and around, dancing to a clinking tune for the entire crowd to see, before slowly coming to a stop. Everybody around Serena started to murmur with excitement, and she noticed that they were fishing around their pockets eagerly. This is going to be a really popular item! she mused.
“Serena, doesn’t your sister collect music boxes?” Callie interrupted Serena’s thoughts. Serena nodded. It was true, her younger sister Viola began collecting music boxes a few years ago. It became her hobby—whenever she went to a store or yard sale, Viola would keep her eye out for any music box that she didn’t own yet. Every vacation, Viola was sure to bring back a music box as a personal souvenir. She was fascinated by the exquisite objects that danced around inside and the lovely music that the boxes played. Serena thought about Viola’s collection, and she realized that her sister did not have a music box that was anything like the Usuki Music Box.
“I’m going to win this music box for my sister!” Serena declared, lifting her bag of Neopoints. All of her uncertainty had vanished. Winning this auction seemed so right.
Callie poked her. “You better hurry up and bid, then. The price is already starting to get higher!”
Serena paused to listen. The Scorchio auctioneer was shouting again. “Did I hear 5,500 Neopoints? The current bid is 5,500 Neopoints!”
Swallowing nervously, Serena forced herself to have courage. “8,000 Neopoints!” she shrieked as loud as she possibly could.
“Whoa, that’s quite a jump. 8,000 is the current bid!”
Callie shook Serena’s shoulders. “What are you doing?!” her friend hissed. “You should have bid only a little bit over 5,500 Neopoints to keep the price low!”
“I didn’t know!” Serena protested, beginning to feel nervous again. It was a lie, because she had been watching successful auctions all day. She knew very well that it was best to bid in small increments so that the final price wouldn’t be too high. But she was so determined to win the music box that her eagerness got the best of her. Serena knew that she had to concentrate and start bidding wisely if she wanted to be going home with the item.
The pair of friends watched and listened anxiously as the bids became higher and higher. “8,500, no, 9,000 Neopoints! Do I hear 9,100? 9,100! 9,100 Neopoints is the current bid—I hear 9,500! Keep the bids coming, folks!”
Serena felt a drop of sweat running down her face. She stared at the 12,000 Neopoints in her bag. Should she make another bid soon? She was terrified that the current bid was going to go over the amount that she had with her. It was already at 9,500 Neopoints and it was still rising. She decided to make another bid, hoping that nobody would want to go any higher. “9,700 Neopoints!” she squeaked.
But only a moment later, an Aisha in the back of the crowd topped her by shouting “10,000 Neopoints!”
The auctioneer didn’t slow down. “10,000 Neopoints now, do I hear 10,500?” The bids were still flowing in. “10,500 Neopoints, was that 10,800? Did I hear 11,000 in the back? Oh, it was 11,500! 11,500 is the current bid and time is running low!” Keep it up folks!”
This is my last chance! Serena thought. If the bid went over the 12,000 Neopoints she had, she wouldn’t be able to win. She would have to make one final bid, and hope that the auction ended before anyone decided to bid a higher price. Serena took a deep breath and held up her entire bag of Neopoints. “12,000 Neopoints!” she declared for the entire crowd to hear. It’s out of my control now, she thought, glancing around to see if anyone was ready to outbid her.
For a few seconds, nobody said a word. A few people started to put their Neopoints back into their pockets, not willing to bid any higher. Serena couldn’t help but smile. She was really going to win the music box!
But suddenly, she heard a voice call out, “12,100 Neopoints!” Serena snapped her head around and saw that the voice came from a green Wocky who was staring up at the auctioneer anxiously.
The auctioneer started to close the bidding. “12,100 Neopoints! Will anybody beat this price for such a lovely item? No? 12,100 Neopoints going onceeee…”
Serena let her head drop and she stared into her bag of Neopoints. The bag may as well have been empty, because her measly 12,000 Neopoints was no longer going to be enough to win the music box for her sister. “Let’s get out of here, Callie,” she murmured quietly to her friend.
“Not so fast,” Callie said. She dug deep into her pocket and pulled out the leftover 200 Neopoints that she hadn’t spent earlier in the day and handed it to Serena. Serena stared at her, not understanding. “Use this to bid on the music box again!” Callie urged. “This is your last chance to win it! Hurry!”
“12,100 Neopoints going twiceeee…” the auctioneer continued, his voice drawing out.
Serena took the 200 Neopoints from Callie, flashing her a grateful smile. “I’ll bid 12,200 Neopoints!” she shouted up to the auctioneer before he could finish his next sentence. She glanced over to the green Wocky who had bid before her and noticed him shrug and put his Neopoints back into his pocket. She felt a rush of excitement all over again as she noticed nobody else was bidding any higher.
“Aaaand… Sold! The beautiful Usuki Music Box goes to the young Shoyru in the front for 12,200 Neopoints!” the Scorchio auctioneer boomed. Serena could hardly process what had happened. She actually won! With shaking legs, she approached the auctioneer’s table to accept the music box. She couldn’t wait to give it to her sister and tell her all about how she won it in her very first auction.
Serena returned to where Callie was standing and saw that she was smiling proudly. “I knew you could do it!” Callie squealed.
“It was all thanks to you!” Serena said back to her. “I wouldn’t have had enough to bid if you didn’t give me your extra Neopoints. And even more importantly, I wouldn’t have had the courage to bid at all without your help!” She embraced her friend in a hug. Serena was not only proud of herself for stepping outside of her comfort zone, but she was also thankful for having a great friend in Callie who helped and supported her.
As the friends walked home, Serena was already thinking about visiting the Auction House again soon, and next time it would be to win a gift for Callie.