The Autumn Fayre: Part Two
Saturday morning was chaotic with everybody dashing about all over the place. The kitchen was so full of sliced bread you could hardly move. Keriso and her mum came round to help bake the scones and faerie cakes and they brought with them another chocolate gateau like the one I'd cut a chunk out of.
And do you know, Keriso's mum never said one word about the first one. She only gave me a wink and a quick smile and I could have hugged her. I sometimes can't help wishing that Keriso was as nice as her mother.
I did my best to help with the sandwiches and things but I kept on being told to get out of the way. So in the end I went outside into the garden to help my dad instead.
It was one of those beautiful autumn days when the air is warm and still and the light is sort of golden and everything in the garden looks pleased with itself. My dad was sweeping up the fallen leaves and putting them in a big pile at the end of the garden, I got a rake out and gave him a hand for a while, and it was much nicer than being in that hot and steamy kitchen.
My dad went off and got us all some pizza from Pizzaroo's for lunch and we ate them in the garden, straight out of the box to save the washing up, which I think is the nicest way to eat pizza.
Keriso joined us in the garden, her mum and mine went off to school to set up the cake stall in the tea tent, so it was just us and my dad. At last it was time to get dressed for the fair. Keriso ran to her house to get her costume, and I hurried upstairs to get myself ready.
I was just settling my crown more firmly on my head when I heard this funny bumping and scraping noise on the stairs and Keriso appeared, easing herself sideways round the door. I started to giggle as soon as I saw her.
She had green tights on and green shoes and she had completed the apple costume with a green stalk hat. A big bunch of green paper leaves dangles from the stalk around her face which she had painted red. She was carrying my big pot of glue in her hand.
"You look great," I said admiringly, turning from the mirror to look at her properly.
"Thanks, Eastly," she grinned, "I've brought your glue back. Where shall I put it?" And then she gave a long whistle through her teeth as she suddenly noticed my costume.
She stared at me for a long time without saying anything and her eyes went all glittery and strange. She came a bit closer and stared harder and I felt like laughing even more because somebody in a cardboard apple outfit with their face painted red looks ever so funny when they get mad
And Keriso was mad. I could tell. She was so mad she was almost spitting.
"So this is what you’ve been up to," she hissed furiously. "You sneaky meepit, you never said a word about it." She stamped her feet.
And then something awful happened. She sort of lurched towards me with that big open pot of glue in her hands and to this day I don’t know if it was deliberate or whether she tripped on the corner of the carpet but somehow she managed to tip the whole jarful right down the front of my dress.
I looked down at myself, speechless. A big dollop of glue rolled down my skirt and dripped on to my sandals.
"Oooh Eastly," said Keriso "I'm ever so sorry." She grabbed a box of tissues from my dresser and started to dab at the worst bits, but all she did was smear the glue even further.
"Get out" I said, clenching my fists. And she began to edge herself out of the door.
"What a shame," she said "I'd better go to the fayre by myself. I don’t suppose you'll be going now will you?" I picked up my hairbrush and threw it at her but she was already sliding sideways out of my room and down the stairs.
I stood there for a minute, breathing hard to try and calm myself down. I don’t know when I've been more upset. I felt like running after her and jumping up and down on her stupid red face. My lovely costume that I'd worked so hard on was totally ruined and there was nothing I could do about it.
My eyes suddenly filled with tears and a great big horrible lump came into my throat. I dashed down stairs and into the garden shouting for my dad but I couldn’t find him anywhere and the sobs started to come faster and faster and in the end I flung myself down into the big heap of leaves and howled my head off.
My dad found me there a couple of minutes later.
"There, there, bonny lass," he said kneeling beside me and putting me on the shoulder helplessly. "What's brought all this on?"
I sat up and flung my arms around his neck and blurted out the whole story, but it was so muffled by my sobs and the hiccups and the leaves that at first he didn’t seem to understand.
"Glue? What glue?" He said. "Keriso what? She spilt it on your dress?" He gave me his big hanky and I mopped my face. I blew my nose hard and told him all over again what had happened.
"Maybe she didn’t do it on purpose" he said, not sounding very convinced.. He helped me back to my feet and then stepped back to look at me. I dint half feel stupid standing there covered in leaves from head to toe.
"Eastly," said my dad, smiling broadly all over his face. "Your friend has done you a good turn. She hasn’t spoiled your costume at all. She's made it look even better."
I looked down at my dress and my tears suddenly vanished like magic when I saw what he meant. Hundreds and hundreds of autumn leaves had stuck to the glue and the front of my dress was covered in them. They looked just perfect, all shades of gold and read and orange and brown, and the best thing was that they were real leaves. Much nicer than any old dress material.
My dad picked up my crown from where it had rolled away into the flower bed and put it back on my head
"Hang on pet" he said "I'll get the rest off the glue." In no time at all he was back with the jar of glue in his hand and he helped me to stick more leaves to the sides and back of my dress until I was covered in them from my waist to my feet.
"That'll show them" he said, looking at me with his head on one side. "You’re the bonniest Queen of Autumn I've ever seen. Now let's get a move on. The judging starts in ten minutes."
So we hurried along to the school field with me rustling like mad and shedding leaves at every step. And I was just about in time to join the end of the procession as they paraded around the edge of the judges arena.
There were clowns and pirates and witches and hardly anyone had taken any notice of the autumn theme. As soon as I got near the judges table I knew they liked me because they made me stop and turn round in front of them and Miss Gest, the green grarrl who teaches my class, asked me all sorts of questions about how I had made the costume and whether the leaves had been my own idea.
"A friend helped me," I said, and they nodded and smiled and said how ingenious it was. Then at last the headmistress, and elderly tuskaninny called Mrs Cotterell went to the microphone to announce the winners.
"Perhaps 'Autumn' was rather a difficult theme," she began. "But I am pleased to see that one or two people have made a real effort to meet the challenge. Third prize goes to Fyn Hudson, as a haystack."
Everybody clapped as Fyn, the chocolate kacheek, baled up in straw from head to foot, walked out to collect her prize.
"Second prize," Mrs Cotterell went on, "goes to Keriso Morris for her extremely clever apple costume." The crowd whistled and stamped and you should have seen the way Keriso danced about and showed off.
Then we all held our breath as Mrs Cotterell looked at the bit of paper in her hand. Everybody went quiet, waiting to hear the name of the winner.
"The judges are all agreed on the winner" said Mrs Cotterell smiling. "And we have no hesitation in awarding first place to Eastly Jones for her delightful Queen of Autumn. We particularly liked the way she used natural fruits and flowers and leaves of the season to decorate her costume."
The crowd all clapped like mad and I felt myself go pink with pride and delight right there in front of all those people. I could see my dad going even pinker and my mum looking dead pleased and smug.
And then I looked at Keriso, and I found a huge grin spreading over my face because she was tearing off her apple costume and ripping it to shreds and jumping up and down on it.
The prize turned out to be four tickets to see any show we liked at the tyrannian concert hall, with two hundred neopoints to spend on a nice meal afterwards.
"We'll take Keriso, shall we?" Said my mum as we strolled happily home later that afternoon. "To use up the spare ticket?"
"Not likely" said my dad. "I wouldn’t take her if she was the last neopet in neopia."
In the end we took the new girl Awin, the island kacheek, and we all had the time of our lives. Keriso went wild with jealousy when she heard about it. But I didn’t care. She only got what she deserved after all.