The Autumn Fayre: Part One
If there is one thing that Keriso cant stand, it's me being better than her at anything. And spoiling my lovely party dress was one of the nastiest things she ever did.
I had made the dress for the autumn fayre, which we have at school every year in The month of Collecting to raise neopoints for sports equipment and stuff. The funny thing is, we never seem to get any new sports equipment, and I bet you anything the parents and teachers spend all the neopoints on the party they have afterwards.
Anyway, the best part of the day is the fancy dress competition and you should just see the super prizes they give. Every year they choose a different theme, heroes & villains or royal neopians or something like that, and the rule is that all costumes have to be homemade. The theme this year was 'Autumn' and I racked my brains for ages without any success. There was only a week left when at last I had an idea.
My mother keeps all her scraps of fabric that she has left from dressmaking and curtains and stuff, and I was rummaging around in her box among the silks and cottons and velvets when I came across a big piece of the most autumny-looking material you ever saw. It was soft and shiny, with a swirly pattern of misty shapes in red and orange and gold and brown. I stared at it for a minute, then I folded it over my arm and went to find my mother.
"Yes, it's nice, isn't it?" She said chopping apples at the kitchen table. "I bought it in a sale years ago. Pity I never got around to doing anything with it."
"Can I have it, please mum?" I said sliding my arm around her pink krawk waist and putting on a pleading look, like my plumpy, Cortana, does when you're eating bacon. "It'll make a lovely costume for the fancy dress party. I'm going to be The Queen of Autumn."
"What a nice idea," said my mother. "The colours are perfect. Of course you can have it. But I don't want to find my sewing box in a mess. Put everything back when you’ve finished." I gave her a smacking great kiss on her cheek.
"Thanks, mum," I said. "You're my best friend."
"I thought Keriso was," she said with a smile.
"She's not anymore," I said, scowling. "I'm sick of her and her rotten jokes. I'm not playing with her ever again."
"You’ve said that hundreds of times," grinned my mother, and went back to her apples.
I was still mad at Keriso over that chocolate cake. It was really a horrible trick. I had called round to see her the evening before, and had found her in the kitchen, sticking chocolate faerie mallows into the icing of a big scrumptious looking chocolate gateau. Chocolate cake is my favourite kind, especially with chocolate buttercream and chocolate icing and chocolate faerie mallows on top.
"Wow!" I said. "What a fabulous cake!"
Keriso put her head on one side as she placed the last mallow in the icing. Then she slid the cake towards me across the table.
"Have a slice, if you like," she said.
I gazed at the cake doubtfully. "No, I'd better not," I said, "your mum might not want to cut into it yet."
"Don’t be silly," said Keriso, plonking herself on a stool and swinging her legs. "She won't mind. She makes them all the time, you know she does. She likes friends to eat them. Go on Eastly, have a bit. I can see you're dying to."
I suppose my greed must have got the better of my doubts because I got a knife and cut myself a big wedge. Keriso watched me tucking in and there was such a sly expression on her zombie draik face that I began to feel very uncomfortable.
"Aren't you having any?" I asked, my mouth full of buttercream.
"No fear," she said. "My mum will go up the wall. She made that cake specially for the autumn fayre on Saturday. You won't half catch it when she sees it now."
My eyes bulged out of my head and I choked half to death. The cake suddenly tasted like something from the Meridell Rubbish Dump an I pushed the half eaten slice hastily away from me. I was wiping my chocolatey fingers on my hanky when Keriso's mum came in. She gave a little shriek of horror when she saw the cake.
"Keriso!" She shouted "I told you not to eat any of that cake. I told you it was for the fayre. You never listen to a thing I say."
Keriso put on a hurt expression. "It wasn’t me" She declared virtuously. "I never touched it, honest. Did I Eastly?"
My throat went dry and my face went red. I felt like crying. "It was me," I gulped. "I'm sorry. I didn’t know it was for the fayre."
The yellow aisha looked at Keriso and then at me. She must have seen how upset I was.
"Keriso should have told you," she sighed at last. "Never mind, Eastly. I can always make another one. And you might as well finish that piece now you’ve started it."
But somehow I wasn’t hungry anymore. I turned and ran for the door and I was almost home when Keriso caught up with me.
"Wait, Eastly," she called. "It was only a joke."
"Some joke," I shouted, glaring at her. "You can just keep your jokes to yourself in future, because I'm not playing with you anymore,"
"Please yourself," shrugged Keriso. "See if I care." And she flounced off home with her snout in the air.
Well you can imagine how surprised I was when I was in my room cutting up that nice material for my costume and I heard Keriso's voice downstairs. I quickly bundled up the cloth into a drawer and picked up a book, pretending to read. After a few minutes Keriso appeared in the doorway, looking sheepish and holding out one of her most treasured possessions. The lovely faerie lenny tail feather that she got when she went to farerieland for her holidays.
"I don’t want to talk to you," I said grumpily.
"Please, Eastly. I've brought you my best feather," she said humbly. "To say I'm sorry and can we be friends." She gazed at me with those big blank eyes. "I'm not going to be horrible to you anymore, Eastly. Honest."
"I don’t believe you," I said. "Just get lost, will you?"
Keriso took a couple of steps into the room "I mean it, Eastly," she said earnestly. "I know I've been rotten to you sometimes. But a person can change, can't they?" And she looked so sorry for herself I hadn't the heart to be cross anymore.
"All right then," I said, a bit grudgingly. "But the very next time you do a thing like that..." I took the feather and put it in a jar on the window sill where the sunshine would light up the colours.
Keriso took a flying leap on to my bed and trampolined in delight. Just when I was expecting my mother to start shouting about all the thumping and banging, she flopped down flat on her back and lay staring at the ceiling.
"What are you wearing for the fancy dress party?" She asked casually. I eyed her suspiciously. Now I knew why she was so keen to make friends.
"I haven't made my mind up yet," I fibbed quickly, crossing my fingers behind my back. I certainly had no intention of telling her my idea. She was quite capable of pinching it for herself.
"It's ever such a hard subject," complained Keriso, screwing up her face. "I've thought and thought and I still can't think of a thing. What does autumn make you think of, Eastly?"
I looked out of the window into the back garden where my mum was filling another basket with apples from our tree.
"Apples," I said. "You could go as an apple."
Keriso sat bolt upright and stared at me.
"What do you mean I could go as an apple? How could you make an apple costume? Don’t be so stupid."
"It would be easy," I said, thinking hard. "You could cut two great big enormous apple shapes out of cardboard. You could join them together with little straps at the shoulders and sides. You know, like a sandwich-board. You could paint the card all lovely red and green apple colours. You could even make a hat out of a tube of paper and paint it to look like a stalk."
Keriso's eyes widened. "And I could have green paper leaves, growing out of the stalk," she said getting excited. "It would be great. Eastly, you're a genius!"
She leapt off the bed and started dancing about. Then she came over and gave me a hug.
"But what about you, Eastly?" She said. "What about your costume?"
"Oh don’t worry. I'll think of something," I said. The less she new about that, the better.
Well, of course I had to help her with the costume, because she's pretty useless at that sort of thing. So went down to the garden to find my mum and ask her for some cardboard.
She found us a huge flat box, and she cut out the two big apple shapes for us with a sharp knife. We carried them upstairs to my room and spread some old copies of the Neopian times out on the carpet to stop paint getting on it. Then we got busy with the nice thick paints that my grandma sent me last year for my birthday.
We made the apple rosy red on one side and a sort of yellowy green on the other and it really did look great. When the paint was dry we stuck some strips of card to the tops and sides of the shapes and Keriso tried the costume on. And I couldn't help rolling about laughing when I saw her, with only her head and feet sticking out.
"Come on, Eastly," she said, grinning at me. "Let's go show your mum."
She had to go sideways through the door and down the stairs and she kept bumping into things and saying "Ooops." We were helpless with the giggles by the time we reached the garden, and my mum made us even worse.
"I can see you're going to live appley ever after," she told Keriso. And Keriso lurched crazily around the garden causing Cortana to hiss at her and stalk off.
So off she went home as pleased as anything with her costume and she took my big pot of strong glue with her so she could have a go at making a stalk hat and some leaves.
"I'll bring it back when I've finished with it," she promised.
I hardly saw Keriso at all that week. Every evening after school I went straight home and worked on my costume and I didn’t half enjoy myself, all cosy and peaceful in my room with Cortana snoozing on the rug beside me.
I'm not much good at sewing so I all I did with my mums material was make a simple tunic by folding it in half and making a hole in the middle for my head. The tunic came right down to my feet and I fastened it round the waist with a gold dressing gown cord my dad lent me. There was a spare bit of material left to make a short matching cloak and I sewed on some bits of gold velvet ribbon for the ties at the front.
And now came the nicest part of all. I borrowed my mum's big shopping basket and went out into the country lanes round the edge of Neopia Central and I started to collect all the autumn fruits and berries and nuts and dried flowers I could find. There were conkers and hazelnuts and acorns. There were long trailing strands of some sort of creeper with fluffy white seed heads. There were ears of corn and barley and all sorts of other stuff I didn’t know the names of. I brought them all home and set to work with a sharp needle and some strong thread and I made a great pile of the most beautiful jewelry you ever saw.
I made garlands to hang around my neck like the neopets at Mystery Island do, only mine were made out of dried flowers and grasses. I strung together long necklaces of acorns and conkers after my dad had made holes in them for me. I made bangles and bracelets and even things to go round my ankles. And you should have seen how all those lovely reds and browns and golds and yellows glowed together like precious stones.
Last of all I made a golden crown. I cut it out of card and covered it with gold foil and decorated it with flowers and nuts and berries and ears of wheat. Keriso still hadn't brought back my glue, but my dad let me use some of his super glue, which worked even better.
Every day at school Keriso would say, "have you finished your costume yet, Eastly?" And every day I shook my head. She was dying to know what it was, but I wouldn’t tell her a thing. She could find out on Saturday, when it would be too late for her to pinch my idea.
I finished the costume on Friday evening. I put the final touches to the crown and dressed myself up in the whole outfit. I was grinning at my reflection in the mirror when my dad, the brown kyrii, popped his head round the door.
"Wow," he said. "You don’t half look smashing. Hey, Connie!" He bellowed down the stairs to my mother. "Come and get an eyeful of our Eastly. She's a right bobby-dazzler."
I looked in the mirror and I knew he was right. I don’t quite know what it was, but I had never looked so nice in my whole life. Something about my white face and beady black kacheek eyes seemed to contrast the autumn colours and make them glow even brighter. I couldn't wait for Saturday to come and I was sure I would win a prize.
To Be Continued...