Usuki Singing Stars #34: At the Money Tree
"Isn’t early-summer cleaning fun, girls??” Sparkles asked enthusiastically. The pink Bruce was sorting through a pile of sweaters, separating them into two categories: sweaters to keep and sweaters to donate. “How are you guys doing?”
Patricia sighed as she sorted Sparkles’ shoes. “Why did you ask me to help you clean?” asked the faerie Shoyru. “And how am I supposed to know which shoes are for donation and which ones aren’t?”
Scary sat down on a beanbag chair. “Well I’m not going to waste my afternoon sorting through someone else’s junk,” sneered the purple Bruce. “Especially if I don’t get paid for my services.” Narrowing her eyes at Sparkles, Scary began to file her nails. “This file you have is almost dull.”
“Then throw it away after you’re done with it,” Sparkles instructed. “Patricia, you can just organize my shoes by colour and line them up near my closet. I’ll go through them later.”
As the girls, minus Scary, continued to work, Snaw barged into the room and began jumping on Sparkles’ bed. “I can fly like a Bruce in water!” Snaw cried, jumping higher.
“Snaw, have you finished sorting through your room yet?” asked Sparkles, folding a sweater.
“I will never bow down to the evils of cleaning!” Snaw exclaimed.
“That makes two of us,” Scary mumbled.
“So have you sorted through your stuff, Scare?” asked Sparkles.
Scary shook her head. “I’m not bothering to give anything away this time. I’ve already lost a pile of unnecessary clothing to the Charity Scam Store, so I don’t need to do any more donations for...well, forever.”
“It was really cool of you to donate those clothes,” Patricia remarked, sorting through Sparkles’ jewellery box for unmatched earrings. “Now all you need to do is sort through your Usuki dolls!”
“No way,” Scary gasped mid-file, “will I part with ANY of MY Usukis! You’ll have to pry them from my dead hands before you can even lay a finger!”
Snaw jumped off the bed and began to dance crazily. “But you already donated a Usuki, and I sent it to the Money Tree!”
“YOU WHAT!?!?” Scary exclaimed. She immediately ran out of the room, leaving Sparkles and Patricia speechless. Several minutes later, when the sorting was halfway through, Scary returned to Sparkles’ bedroom, her face burning with intense fury. “YOU WILL PAY FOR THIS, SNAW!” she boomed in her loudest voice.
Sparkles and Patricia froze while Snaw, who was still dancing, said, “I love paying!”
“What happened?” asked Patricia.
Scary pointed an accusing finger at Snaw. “After tearing up my entire room, I discovered that…that NITWIT gave away my Prom Queen Usuki doll!!”
“Wait, that doll was yours?” asked Patricia. “I always assumed it was Sparkles’.”
“Nope,” said Sparkles, folding a skirt. “Scary chose that one because she thought it would act snootier to the other Usukis–especially mine.”
“Well now it’s probably in the hands of a grubby street urchin or something!” Scary insisted urgently. “So I’m going to that stupid Money Tree right now to retrieve it!”
After Scary stomped off, Sparkles sighed and turned to Patricia. “I suppose we should go help her. You know, before she yanks it out of the hands of a baby pet.”
“What I don’t get is why Snaw would donate the doll in the first place,” Patricia mused, raising an eyebrow.
“The Snaw works in mysterious ways,” Sparkles remarked, leaving the room while Snaw began spinning plates.***
“There it is,” Scary fumed as the girls approached the Money Tree. “Look at that stupid tree, always smiling and waving to everyone as if it has friends.” She scowled. “IT HAS NO FRIENDS!”
The Money Tree turned and waved happily at the girls. Patricia and Sparkles waved back while Scary, still upset about the whole Snaw-mishap, pushed her way through a heap of items on the ground. “Where should we start?” asked Patricia, looking around at the large piles of donated items.
“How about over there?” Sparkles suggested, pointing to a pile of plushies. “We can rummage through this toy pile first, and then we can work our way to the miscellaneous items.”
Scary approached a pile of old boots and began throwing them at different directions. “I don’t care where we start; just as long as I get what’s MINE!”
Patricia sorted through a pile of rubber ducks and red kelp while Sparkles rummaged through a heap of broken toy cars. After demolishing two piles of rotten left shoes, Scary began tearing through a heap of brown kelp, red collars and copies of various NT issues, desperately searching for her Prom Queen Usuki. “Where is that stupid doll??” Scary fumed, tossing clumps of brown kelp backwards.
“I…don’t think…it’s here anymore…Scary,” Patricia stated as she attempted to dodge the flying kelp.
“We can check out the eastward piles if you want,” Sparkles suggested. “There’s bound to be more piles there.”
“I’m going to stay here for now,” said Scary. “There’s more kelp under here and I want to make sure I’ve searched every nook and cranny of this place!”
“Suit yourself,” said Sparkles. She led Patricia, who was picking kelp off her head and shoulders, towards a pile of toys and old newspapers. They had just begun rummaging through the toys when a baby Eyrie nearby shrieked, “Mommy! Mommy! Look what I found!”
A pink Eyrie smiled as her baby pet waddled over to her, holding her new newfound possession. “Why, what a lucky girl you are, Daisy!” she mused. “That doll must be worth quite a lot of money.”
Daisy hugged her doll. “I’m going to call her Fiona and make her the Queen of Faerieland! But first I need to find wings, because I think her wings may have fallen off when she fell to the ground.” Excited, she toddled over to Sparkles and showed off Fiona. “Look what I found!”
Sparkles looked the doll with surprise: it was Scary’s Prom Queen Usuki doll! “You found it!” she cheered, smiling with relief. “Thanks so much, little girl!”
“Thanks for what?” asked Daisy, looking confused.
“For finding that doll,” said Sparkles. “It belongs to my sister, who’s very upset about–”
“It’s mine!” Daisy shouted, clutching the doll closer to her. “I found her fair and ware, so back off!”
“That baby Eyrie found Scary’s doll?” Patricia murmured.
Sparkles nodded. “I don’t think she’s going to give it up,” she whispered back with concern. “And I’m even more afraid about what you-know-who will do if she ever finds out–”
“Yeah, I know what you mean,” said Patricia. “Now what?” Looking at the pile of toys gave Patrica an immediate idea. “Why don’t we find another toy and ask her to trade? Then she’ll get a new toy and Scary will get her doll back.”
Sparkles agreed and the girls began searching for the perfect toy to trade with Daisy, who was busy ogling over her new doll and petting its hair. Sifting through the plushies, Patricia pulled out a baby Eyrie plushie and shouted, “Sparkles, I found something!”
“I did, too,” said Sparkles. She showed off the Magical Hair Usuki doll she found. “This doll would be perfect for Daisy! The hair’s a little messy, but the doll is still in good shape.”
“Sparkles! Patricia!” Scary boomed. She stomped over to Sparkles and then, noticing Daisy, exclaimed angrily, “Is that my Usuki doll??”
“Well…sort of,” said Patricia.
“Don’t worry, Scare,” said Sparkles. “We’ll get your doll back. Now, just wait patiently while I go–”
“Give that back!” Scary snarled, grabbing the doll and pulling it towards her.
Daisy clutched the doll harder and attempted to pull the doll away from Scary, grunting and snarling as the Usuki was pulled back and forth between the two. “She’s mine! Finders keepers!” Daisy argued.
“You’re such a brat!” Scary scoffed, pulling harder. “Just let go before I break your rattle!”
“My rattle’s at home!” Daisy countered, pulling the doll away.
“Scary, calm down!” Sparkles gasped. “She’s just a little baby! Stop before you hurt her!”
“I don’t care if she’s the Queen of Neopia,” Scary fumed, “I will NEVER, EVER let this baby take my Prom Queen Usuki doll! It’s mine!”
“Fiona’s mine!” Daisy screamed.
Her anxiety rising, Patricia grabbed the Magical Hair Usuki doll Sparkles found and flashed it in front of Daisy. “Look at this, Daisy,” she said sweetly. “This pretty doll has sparkly purple hair you can comb and style.”
“Ooh!” Daisy released the Prom Queen Usuki out of her hands and reached over to the Magical Hair Usuki doll. “Does it talk? Is it a princess?”
“She can be whatever you want her to be,” said Patricia, “and you can have her if you give our friend her doll back.”
Enchanted by the doll, Daisy agreed and ran off to her mother, happily waving her new toy by its hair. Patricia sighed with relief. “Thank goodness it’s over!”
“Good thing our plan worked,” said Sparkles, smiling. "I was afraid Scary would pull too hard and Daisy would fall!" She turned to Scary, who was smoothing her Usuki’s hair. “Now we can go home and never, ever speak of this episode again.”
“Agreed,” said Patricia.
“That brat ruined my doll’s hair,” Scary fumed. “It’ll take me hours to smooth the frayed strands!”
As the girls walked, Sparkles stopped to bend over a blue headband on the ground. She gasped, “This is my headband! I just got this last week!”
“How’d it get here?” asked Patricia.
“Snaw,” Sparkles suggested. She sighed. “And, well I’m afraid to say this, but who knows what other stuff Snaw donated while we were gone! What if another Usuki doll was given away?”
“Then we better go back,” said Patricia, turning back towards the Money Tree. “We’ll have to find all the other items Snaw gave away. Then we’ll finally be done.”