My Childhood Neohome
My Childhood Neohome, Part One: A Home for Sale
When the buyers arrived, Rupies was already sitting on the front steps of her childhood Neohome waiting for them. The pair of Kacheeks seemed surprised to see such a brilliantly painted pet in a neighbourhood as… well… ordinary as Neopian Central. However, after only a brief moment of hesitation, they approached the Darigan Lupe and introduced themselves politely.
Though Darigan is considered a bit of a… aggressive color, Rupies did not consider herself an aggressive Neopet. She had her vices, and her brothers sometimes got on her nerves, but overall she was a gentle soul and of no danger to anyone. Her fierce appearance was softened by a twinkle of kindness in her red eyes.
Rupies stood at their approach and nodded, listening to their introduction before turning to gaze at the place she, until very recently, had called home. A wistful expression came over her, but any regrets were quickly pushed aside as she welcomed the pair and began to point out key selling points of the front yard.
She took them along the beautiful front gardens, featuring a lovely display of Aurora Lilies as the main focus. A whimsical gnome nestled between two bushes, a cheerful smile frozen on his face. There was even a section dedicated to bamboo, a favourite of one of Rupies’ brothers.
"Although it may not be as new as others listed at the same price point, this Neohome has been built with only the best materials. It was designed to last a lifetime." Rupies directed the Kacheeks to the porch, inviting them to look closely at the wood for signs of wear and tear.
As they admired the craftsmanship, the female turned to Rupies with a smile. "How long have you lived here?" she asked shyly.
"Since I was quite young," Rupies replied, hesitating for a moment. "It used to belong to an elderly Cybunny. She was very kind." The wistful look returned. "Perhaps I should tell you the story. I was just a pup then, and was out exploring with my brother Gosun…"
A young Rupies, full of nervous energy and frightened of the active neighbourhood around her, followed a small Lutari as he strolled purposefully down the sidewalk.
"Gosun! You know we shouldn’t be here! Isn’t in forbidden to enter the Neohome neighbourhoods without a valid address?" Rupies whispered urgently, finally tugging on her brother’s tail with her teeth when she did not receive an answer.
"Relax, Rupies!" Gosun laughed, yanking his tail away and holding it in one paw as he walked. "We can just say that we’re thinking about buying a Neohome. No one will even question it."
Rupies glanced down at her dirty clothes. The pants had holes at the knees, and Gosun’s ensemble wasn’t much better. "Like we could ever convince them that we could afford it," she grumbled, tagging along behind and glancing over her shoulder often as they walked.
A Cybunny sat on the front step of a lovely little home up ahead. She looked old, but kind. Her hair and mane had long since gone grey, and she wore pink spectacles that were perched rather precariously on her little twitching nose. Her fur was a soft purple and impeccably groomed, if patchy with age. Her plaid cardigan was pulled tight around her to ward off the child, but her eyes were warm.
Gosun seemed obvious to the stranger as he continued his trek past the little white porch, but Rupies gave the Neohome a wide berth, her eyes flicking nervously over to the Cybunny. She appeared to be watching them closely, and smiled when she caught the Lupe looking over at her. Rupies quickly looked away, anxiously speeding up to walk alongside her brother.
They had only gone a few steps past when Rupies pricked her ears and paused. Her voice was quiet and wavered, but the Cybunny had definitely spoken. Slowly, hesitantly, she turned around and was rewarded with a welcoming expression.
"Little ones," the elder called a second time, "would you come here for just a moment? I wish to speak with you."
Gosun, sensing that his sister was no longer behind him, turned just in time to catch the last of the Cybunny’s friendly request. Unlike Rupies, who appeared to be frozen in place, he had no fear of strangers – especially when they were kind and, well, old. "Of course, madam!" He called cheerfully, heading back toward the home.
"GOSUN," Rupies hissed, grabbing his tail in her teeth again. "We shouldn’t speak to strangers. Besides, we shouldn’t even be here."
"Relax, sis! We could easily outrun her if things got hairy. Besides, maybe she needs help with something. Maybe, if we do help her, she’ll give us a treat to thank us!" Gosun laughed merrily and ran toward the Cybunny, quickly outpacing his sister as she followed cautiously behind, muttering under her breath.
The Cybunny smiled at the siblings, appearing not to have heard their argument – or choosing to ignore it. "Hello young Neopets," she said, winking at Rupies, who quickly looked at her paws, "Thank you for indulging an old lady in her curiosities. Now tell me, do you happen to live in one of the Neohomes here?"
A hush fell over the siblings – Gosun didn’t look quite so sure of himself anymore. Looking within and finding at least some courage, he squared his shoulders and glanced at the elder bravely. "Nah," he replied, attempting to be casual as he glanced at Rupies with an unsure expression on his face. The young Lupe was still staring at her paws in silence, obviously distressed. "We’re just… uh… in the market for a new home! So we thought we’d look around." He smiled, confident in his clever lie.
The Cybunny looked at both Neopets, carefully noting the way they held themselves and the state of their clothes. Her eyes took in the dirty faces, the skinned knees, the shoes that were so worn they had holes in the soles. Finally, she met Gosun’s gaze again, this time with a twinkle in her eye.
"What luck that you two happened to come by today! It just so happens that I’m trying to sell this place." She turned her attention back to Rupies, who was starting to look a little ill. "Perhaps you might be interested? After all, it is why you came all this way." She winked at the Lutari, who looked unsure.
Gosun opened his mouth to answer with what he would consider a very clever excuse to decline, but held his tongue when he heard the soft voice of his sister, who still refused to meet the gentle stranger’s eye.
"We don’t have enough money," Rupies said quietly.
"Hmm." The Cybunny pretended to consider, though she continued to smile. After a moment, she clasped her paws together excitedly.
"I have an idea! You see, I must sell this Neohome by the end of the day. I’m to move immediately and won’t have the time to come back anytime soon. Travel is hard on these old bones." She chuckled. "How about we make a deal?"
Rupies pricked her ears, and Gosun looked suspicious. "What… kind of deal?" He replied slowly.
The Cybunny rubbed her paws together and beamed at the young Neopets. "How about I sell you this Neohome for… oh, I don’t know… whatever you have in your pockets?"
Astonished, the siblings looked at each other. Again, Rupies spoke quietly, finally looking up and into those kind eyes. "Miss, this place is worth MUCH more than that."
The Cybunny winked. "Do you think so? Well then, I suppose it just must be your lucky day!"
The pair looked at each other and finally seemed to come to a decision. They emptied their pockets and piled everything together between them. In total they had: half of a plain omelette, a keyring, two well-used Neodeck cards, a Plain Faerie Cake (carefully wrapped) and 1009 Neopoints.
The Cybunny looked at the pile and exclaimed how delicious the cake would be warmed and enjoyed with new friends – after gathering her "payment", the three entered what was to be Rupies’ new home for the first time.
Rupies blinked and found herself back in the present moment, as two wondering little faces gazed up at her. She looked away, embarrassed. "Anyway, it’s a great little house. I think you’ll be very happy here!"
"Who was that Cybunny?" The younger male asked excitedly. His sister tapped his shoulder and shook her head. He looked down awkwardly, but spoke again anyway. "I mean… did you ever see her again?"
"No, actually. I didn’t." Rupies thought again of the kind elder and that fateful day, passing this same garden with her brother. "But I hope that wherever she is, she is as happy as she made us."
A long silence fell over the trio, until Rupies turned back to the matter at hand. "Anyway," she said, turning to unlock the front door, "I’m sure you’ll want to see inside
To be continued…