Where are you, Caramel?
The touch of sun rays coupled with its warmness woke me up earlier than usual. I’m not exactly a light sleeper; my older twin, Caramel, could vouch for my grogginess. She would always be the one to wake me up saying, “C’mon Cannoli, the bakery was your idea! I prepared all the ingredients late last night, it's your turn to bake it!”
And I would cynically reply, “Just chop my arm off, I’m made of biscuits after all.”
“Yeah, too bad you don’t taste great,” Caramel would say dragging me off the bed.
“Neither would you!” Then I would say under my breath: “Dark Chocolate is not a thing the customers would immediately grab off the shelves.”
“What was that?” She would glare menacingly.
If eyes could punch, I would have been beaten numerous times. Thankfully, my sibling charms always get the best of her. I would then tell her that “Dark Chocolate was the best type of chocolate there is to me”. From that flattery, she would instantly warm up, give me a tight squeeze and breakfast. That’s right that good o’l fresh pancakes and syrup, both our one of kind recipe and a good cup of mocha coffee to start the day. Honestly, I usually wake up to the smell of her baking but I always go right back to sleep, waiting for her to wake me. But today was different, she didn’t wake me up.
There was no fresh scent of any baking done, I thought perhaps she must have overslept which seems likely to other folks but not my sister. She is meticulous in sticking to a schedule, and that is coming from a person who though does not like getting up on time is, in fact, a person who gets things done. Yes, I’m the type who doesn’t work harder, I work smarter. So, instead of lingering in the bed any longer, I stood up and called for her, “Caramel!?”
I thought to myself, that sounds like falling pots and pans, I just stood there since it took my brain a while to process it.
“Oh no, don’t tell me!—”
I rushed straight to the kitchen and found our petpets, Cookie the Birthday Kadoatie and Soufflé the Brown Snowbunny, ravaging the kitchen counter, scrounging every inch of cookware for food.
“For crying out loud, look at the mess you’re making!” The two at that moment ceased all at once. Knowing full-well of what trouble they made, they slowly made their way towards me, lowering their heads as if telling me to forgive them. Of course, I knew their little tricks, so I’m not going to let them go off easy. “Cookie, Soufflé, stay! And if you so much move an inch, just know that you two will be sharing the same bowl of food for the day!”
As I was cleaning up their mess, I continued scolding them, “What were you two thinking? How could you be that hungry?”
For a second there I thought they started whimpering in an attempt to make me cave in. That is till I finally notice what time it was. “Its two in the afternoon? Thank goodness the Summer Festival is being hosted at night.” I then turned towards them and apologize, “Sorry, guys I didn’t realize. Did you guys tried to wake me up?”
The two nodded.
“And this was why Caramel was in charge in the morning, I can’t believe I overslept. But where is she?”
The two looked at each other then shook their heads, they had no clue where she was. I immediately rushed upstairs to her bedroom with a bazillion thoughts running through my mind but just as I got to her room all those thoughts disappear along with her. If it weren’t for our two petpets who came rushing in to see how I was, I think I would have just stood there, frozen.
“Maybe she was at the bakery,” I said out loud to calm myself but I knew somehow she was not there. And I was right. After all, the bakery was part of the house just a step through the other door of the kitchen. She would have responded if I called out to her, she would of feed the petpets, she would have woke me up like always and now she’s just gone. There was no sign of break-ins, nothing out of the ordinary besides her missing presence.
“Where is she?” I checked the time and it has just been five minutes past two. I rushed out through the front door without even changing out of my pajamas. Our house was situated in the middle of the Marketplace in Neopia Central. I went to every store there asking if they saw Caramel around.
“Caramel? No, haven’t seen her around,” said the Shop Wizard, “I would search for her but my powers can only find items. I’ll give you a heads up if I get word of her.”
“Thanks, this isn’t like her,” I said.
“Well, things are quite hectic at the moment with the Summer Festival tonight, don’t you have a booth stationed up?” the Shop Wizard responded kindly, “Maybe she’s gone preparing it.”
“I’ll go check,” I sighed knowing it wasn’t possible since we finished preparations weeks before the event.
“Cannoli, wait!” The Shop Wizard magically poofed out a BLT sandwich with cheese and a lemon kiko drink, putting it in a paper lunch bag, “Judging by the pajamas you’re wearing, you haven’t eaten yet, right? Here, these are on me.”
“It’s alright I’m not—” GROWL “—hungry.”
“There’s a table and a seat available, go on now! You shouldn’t be starving in this weather, you might get a heat stroke, Caramel wouldn’t want that,” The Shop Wizard insisted. Reluctantly, I did what he said and took my time finishing the food. The food should have tasted great, it’s just I wasn’t in the mood for enjoying it.
The adrenaline in me still did not slow down but the food in my stomach did. I could not just dash around with a full stomach and that means I couldn’t just run from the Sun’s rays. The warmth it had now felt like a laser beam blasting at high speed. If I couldn’t even stand it I wonder how Caramel could be out and about with all the Sun. Although she’s made of the toughest chocolate there is in Neopia, I bet this heat would of melt her right up in an instant. The thought of her being a puddle of chocolate was plausible and a tad bit funny but knowing her, she would have brought an umbrella with her.
“There it is our booth…Caramel and Cannoli Galore.” I walked up towards it. I check the machinery that held up and store the pastries. And like my gut told me, she was not here. There were no signs of anyone fiddling with our booth too. To think we placed an extra dough, a compact oven just in case we ran out of food to serve. We even had a mini-fridge to store the eggs, butter, cheese, milk and even ice. Since we also plan to serve fresh chocolate milk. But how could I do all that alone? I looked around for a while and asked the other’s whose booths were stationed around ours but again she was nowhere to be seen. I went to search somewhere else. I went to the Bazaar first, then to the plaza and again she wasn’t there.
“Oh, the other Usul sister? The Chocolate one right? Yeah, haven’t seen her.”
“Thanks for your time, Mr. Wishing Well,” I replied in a monotone voice.
“Well, if you drop a penny—”
“—I JUST DID!” I shoved back the milk chocolate Usul the Wishing Well just gave me.
I decided to go to the main shops next.
“Maybe she ran away?” The Food Shop’s shopkeeper said. “Did you by chance fought yesterday?”
“No, we’re close,” I said annoyed.
“Look, I don’t mean to pry. Things happen! Maybe without you realizing it.” He said impartially, “You need to retrace your steps, maybe you said something that does not necessarily mean much to you but to her it meant something?”
“Meant something to her?” I contemplated and as sudden as that thought was I had a flashback. “Dark Chocolate is not a thing the customers would immediately grab off the shelves,” it echoed continuously in my mind. “I can’t believe this, how could I say that...” I murmured to myself. If someone ever said that to me I would be just as upset and it’s coming from her own sister. “...and I said that almost every day.”
“Huh? Did you thought of something?” he reconsidered and apologize, “Forget it, I don’t even know what I’m saying. I’ll help you put up fliers once the Summer Festival’s over, oh I’ll get some of my workers to help you kick-start your booth.”
“It's alright, thanks.” I walked off wondering how insensitive I was to her. After that, I just went home with a heavy heart. I looked at the time and it's already five. The house felt quiet. I just sat on the floor as exhaustion just came pouring out on my muscles. Cookie came to comfort me, she got close to my chest and began purring.
“Caramel!” I screamed in delight opening the Bakery’s door, and all I saw was, “Oh, Granny Hopbobbin...what brings you here?”
“Oh deary, I came to pick up my order of course! Is it ready?”
“But we’re close—” I saw the sign on the door for the customers was actually open.
“B-But Caramel told me my order would be ready by five in the afternoon,” Granny said showing her receipt, “I came by early in the morning, the orders for tonight’s Summer Festival I’m hosting in Neopia Central. I know I should of order two days before but all the other shops, even the Food shops were busy. Can’t blame them since I’m the caused.”
I skimmed through the receipt, and it was definitely our receipt. I read aloud, “Server...Caramel...ice cream...six in the morning?!”
“Well, I did meet Caramel yesterday night asking whether or not it was too late to order, and she told me it wasn’t. ”
“Wait, you saw Caramel?”
“Why yes, she told me to meet her in the morning for an in-depth discussion of what ice cream flavors I wanted. You see, I knew you two operated a bakery but all the other shop were occupied with their own booth and everybody knew you guys finished prepping weeks ahead. And—”
“—Okay, Granny but so you saw Caramel, right? How was she, was she okay?”
“Yes, she cheerfully accepted my proposal for an Ice Cream Summer special.”
“What’s wrong dear, didn’t Caramel told you? She said that you two would get it done by five.”
So, she wasn’t mad at me. Then where is she? Before I could finish that thought, Cookie tugged on my pants. As she got my attention she leads me inside all the way to the kitchen, Granny also tagged along. “But I just fed you Cookie,” I raised her up and look straight to her eyes, her eyes dodged mine and instead turned to the direction of where Soufflé was. “Soufflé what are you doing scratching up the freezer?”
“Is that were my Ice creams are being stored?” Granny asked sweetly.
“Wait, Ice cream?” Then it hit me. “Of course!”
Soufflé moved out of the way as I open the door’s freezer. Our freezer was huge, and we often use it to store our Ice Cream Cake, fondant and you guess it ice. Yet, recently the door’s handle inside the freezer had a jamming problem. I was going to ask a handyman to fix it after the whole Festival was over. And I should of.
“Caramel?!” Granny and I both screamed.
“C-Canoli-i-i, f-finally!” Caramel slowly came out of the freezer and instantly collapse on my arms. “G-Granny, y-your order’s i-inside.”
“Caramel, oh Caramel, I’ve been searching for you everywhere.” I hugged her so tightly. She was nearly frozen, I wiped out all the frost. Cookie and Soufflé managed to drag a blanket out. I wrapped it around her and continued to warm her up. Cookie and Soufflé cuddled up beside her too.
“S-So c-cold,” Caramel jibbered out.
“Here you go, dearies, have some of my famous Cocoa Juppie Mocha.” Granny handed out two cups of hot cocoa with tiny marshmallows sprinkled to each of us. “Hope you don’t mind that I used your kitchen and sorry for troubling you all with the last minute order.”
“It-it’s no trouble Granny,” Caramel smiled, taking a huge gulped of the warm delicious drink. “Cannoli, the booth.”
“Don’t worry I got you covered. You got some friends to help out with the booth. Right, Granny?” I glared at her.
Feeling compelled to help Granny agreed: “I have some spare helpers. They can pick up my order, and after that, they could help around the booth until you recovered Caramel.”
“Granny…get the doctor!”
“Oh yes, yes!” She then tried to run out as fast she could but it only appears as if she was just walking.
Caramel tried to refuse, “B-But—”
“—Please, just stay here.” At this point, I could not hold back my tears. I let out a big ugly cry.
“Its alright, Cannoli, I’m here. I’m here.” She said gently patting my back. “What’s gotten into you?”
“I thought you hated me and ran away.”
“Silly, why would I do that?” Caramel raised her brows, “You’re my sister. No matter how annoying you are, I’ll never leave you.”
Caramel made a full recovery, the very next day. Although we missed the Summer Festival we were content that at least the both of was doing okay. And I started to wake up just a bit early to help around. It’s actually not so bad being an early-bird in the Summer, it’s refreshing. We also added ice cream to the menu but only during Summer and Fall. I guess if there’s a lesson to be learned here, it’s fixing the freezer’s handle. I’m serious before something breaks, repair it or prevent it. And if nothing is broken, maintain it. Have a Happy Summer Vacation, I know we did :)