The Dancer's Scarf
"C'mon. Let's go in. There's nothing to be afraid of," I
"But, Akiri, what if they don't like me! You
said yourself that none of them are Peophins like me!" protested Mage, my Christmas
"Nonsense, they'll think you're great," I assured
We stood in front of a small building, which
could also be described as a large house. It was the dance academy that I was
a part of. After Mage had seen me dancing once, she had told me how much fun
it looked like and admitted how much she would love to learn how to dance. I
had suggested that she learned to dance, which had really seemed to take her
"But I don't think I can do it," she had said.
After a while, I had convinced her to come with
me to the dance school and sign up for lessons, but I had to drag her all the
way. She was always unsure of herself, but when she put her mind to something
she was always very good at it. Except the time when she tried to bake pastries
and ended up blowing up the oven. But that's beside the point.
I pushed open the to reveal a wooden dance floor
raised a few feet off the ground. A pair of Acaras danced on this little stage.
The ground around the dance floor was tiled, and a group of all kinds of pets
sitting in a circle and laughing at a joke a Gelert had just said. There was
a wide variety of pets present; there were no Peophins. This must have made
Mage nervous because she began to back out of the door, but my arm around her
shoulders kept her from doing so. After a moment she must have realized it was
too late to back down because a red Usul stood and began to walk towards us.
"Akiri," she greeted me, "It's good to see you
again. And who's your friend?"
I was a female fire Kyrii, and I'd known the
Usul, who was the dance instructor, for at least a few years. I took lessons
every now and then. I had been Mage's friend for about a year since we had met
at Kiko Lake. Now we were the best of friends. The last member in our little
circle was a Techo, but he was on a trip for the rest of the autumn and for
part of the winter.
"This is Mage. She wants to learn how to dance,"
I said, elbowing the Peophin. I was trying to get her to speak, but for a moment
I thought she didn't understand. Then she spoke.
"Um, yeah. Do you teach Peophins?" Mage asked.
"I teach everybody," said the Usul. "My name's
Jeanie. I've never actually taught a Peophin before, but we'll invent some steps
for you. Everybody can dance."
Mage nodded, seeming to relax a bit now that
the dreaded introductions were over. "When do the lessons start?" she said.
"I'm not teaching anybody at the moment, so
what about right now?" replied Jeanie.
"Uh," Mage said, casting a glance at me. "I
guess that's fine."
Then the Usul smiled warmly and led my friend
towards the raised dance platform. She hopped up and motioned towards the two-step
stairs. Mage took those instead of hopping right up like the Usul had. Once
again she looked to me, obviously not sure what she was supposed to do. I followed,
leaning against the wall to watch but staying out of the way. The two Acara
continued to dance, but there was plenty of room for Jeanie to teach Mage.
While Jeanie began to show Mage some basic steps,
explained how things worked at the school, and made Mage comfortable on the
dance floor, I thought about how I had convinced Mage to come.
"No offence, Mage," I had said to her, "but
Peophins might not be well balanced enough to dance well."
"We have very good balance! I'll take your dance
lessons just to show you," she had said, glaring at me.
I had gotten her fired up on purpose, knowing
that Mage would want to prove me wrong. Although she seemed shy right now as
I watched her on the dance floor, she was actually very stubborn.
"Akiri, come here," called Jeanie, bringing
me back into the present. "Come help me show Mage how this is done."
After an hour or so, Mage and I returned to
her house. Nobody else was there. According to a note we found on the counter,
her family was getting lunch and we were welcome to join them if we wanted to.
But Mage was tired out, so we flopped down on the sofa.
"I don't think I'll be any good at this. I mean,
I don't think I know anything more about dancing than I had when I went in there,
and I'm sore all over," the Peophin complained.
I knew this wasn't true because I had watched
most of the lesson, and she had learned a lot.
"These things take time. You'll get better before
you know it," I encouraged.
"But Jeanie said that she's never taught a Peophin
"You worry too much. How about I get us some
After about two and a half months of Mage taking
dance lessons every day, she came running full speed into her house, where I
was staying. Her family, the Nineteen family, had been nice enough to let me
stay at their house for a while because I lived in Meridell and wanted to be
with my friend Mage. I lived too far away to got back and forth between Meridell
and Neopia Central every single day.
"What is it?" I asked, sitting up straight.
It was unusual for her to come running in after a dance lessons. Usually she
"Jeanie says that I'm going to be entered in
an amateur dance competition next week! Isn't that great?" she said, nearly
"That's exciting! You'll do great," I replied
with a wide grin.
After hopping around the room and doing a few
dance steps, Mage plopped down next to me on the sofa. "I can't wait!"
"Where is the competition being held?" I asked.
"Altador! Isn't that great?"
Altador. It was so far away, and it would be
so much fun to see the city and to watch one of my best friends dancing on the
famed stage where Sasha performed every now and then.
But as the week wore on and the competition
came closer, it was obvious that the Christmas Peophin was getting more and
more nervous. She was afraid, she told me, of what would happen if she forgot
her steps and everybody laughed at her. Or what if they didn't let Peophins
into the competition? Or maybe something would happen before the competition
and she wasn't able to compete? I assured her that she would do great. And I
knew she would. I had seen her dance recently, and she stood a good chance against
the other pets at her level.
The day finally came. I stood in the dance academy
early in the morning while Mage nervously paced the floor. Jeanie entered the
room and approached us.
"Okay. Let's get going!" she said in her usual
peppy and cheerful tone.
We left at a walk, but Mage insisted that we
go quickly. She didn't want to be late.
We arrived at the port, where we boarded a ship
as the sun rose. After a long, long boat ride we arrived at Altador. Mage practically
leaped off the boat and all three of us raced excitedly towards where the competition
was held. We were there early because we had hurried, but we didn't mind.
Mage stared in awe at the beautiful stage, draped
with ribbons and flowers and bows.
"It's so beautiful! I can't believe I'm going
to dance on that," Mage said quietly to me.
We both spun around as we heard a voice behind
us that called out names.
Jeanie stood grinning beside a beautiful blue
Cybunny in an equally beautiful dress who said, "So you're the Peophin Jeanie
had told me about?"
Mage's mouth dropped open, and I barely managed
to keep mine shut. It was Sasha the Dancer. There was nobody else it could be.
Although Mage would be dancing on the stage that was called Sasha's Stage, we
hadn't expected Sasha to actually make an appearance.
I elbowed my friend hard in the shoulder, and
she immediately realized how silly she looked. She closed her mouth and smiled
"Yes," the Peophin said. "My name's Mage. And
you're really Sasha the Dancer...?"
"Last time I checked, I was," the Cybunny replied
in her soft, smooth tone that reminded me of velvet. She laughed goodnaturedly.
"We don't usually see many Peophins dancing around here. I can't wait to see
Then she was gone and Jeanie wrapped an arm
around each of our shoulders.
"Check that out! That was the amazing Sasha,
obviously. I was telling her about you, Mage," she said.
"We know. She told us," I pointed out.
As the sun began to set and twilight came upon
us, multicolored lanterns were lit all around the stage and hung in trees. By
then many more pets had come, most wearing beautiful dresses and jewelry. The
competition was about to start.
"I don't look as nice as them..." Mage said,
referring to the other pets. "I don't stand a chance. I don't think I'm ready
"Nonsense. You look fantastic, and you're a
far better dancer than them, I'm sure," I said.
Just then Jeanie came towards us after being
gone for about an hour. She held something behind her back and looked mighty
pleased with herself. When she stood right in front of us she whipped out the
most marvelous looking cream-colored scarf I had ever seen. With a flourish
she wrapped it around Mage's neck. Little golden bells tinkled on the edges
of it. It looked as if it were made for Mage as they both stood in the starlight.
"Now you're ready," Jeanie said firmly and surely.
Mage smiled widely, and I knew that she was
Then, a loud voice announced the beginning of
the competition and for the performers to come and meet him and the other judges
at a small tent next to the stage. Jeanie and I wished Mage luck as she smiled
and trotted off towards the tent, looking fabulous with her cream scarf that
drifted lightly behind her.
Jeanie and I waited nervously (though neither
of us would admit it to each other) for Mage's turn to dance. We seated ourselves
in the front row of chairs along with many other pets and owners who had come
to see the competition. First on stage was a white Kyrii who danced beautifully.
A group of musicians played at the very back of the stage, providing the music.
I knew that Mage was better. Or at least I hoped she was.
Mage entered the stage as the third-to-last
pet to perform. At first she looked out at us, the audience, blankly as if she
had stage fright. After a few silent moments in which I thought she wasn't going
to dance at all, I called out, "You can do it! Show them what you're made of!"
She smiled in embarrassment as if she just realized
that she was supposed to perform. I heard a person behind me whisper to his
friend that there was no way a Peophin would be able to dance better than any
of the other competitors. I glared at him icily, and he shut his mouth quite
quickly. I turned my attention back to the stage. Mage took her starting position
and the music began.
The Christmas Peophin began to dance. First
slowly, then the music quickened and she did as well, gracefully dancing a few
traditional, well-known steps and maneuvering her long tail around in a way
that just seemed right. Then she added her own twist to it, leaping and spinning
with her scarf twirling around her with its bells tinkling quietly along to
the music. After it was over and she took her bow, there was a silence. I was
afraid nobody enjoyed the show, but I bravely stood and clapped wholeheartedly.
Jeanie stood as well, applauding enthusiastically. No matter what anybody else
thought, my friend did excellent. Soon others began to rise and clap with us
and stamp their feet. Typical, I thought as the slow applauding turned into
a roaring cheer just like a fairy tale. Go figure. However, I wasn't complaining.
And so after the last pets performed, Sasha
stepped out onto the stage along with the other judge, an Acara. Every one of
the dancers that competed followed them after a moment. Moonlight bathed them
all in a white glow that accented the lantern light perfectly. Mage had a wide
grin on her face, obviously looking very proud of herself. Honestly, I was proud
of her as well.
"We are proud of all the dancers who performed
tonight, and we believe they all deserved to be here," announced the Acara,
and cheering rose from all of the audience, especially me. "But the winners
Sasha took over from here, saying, "In third
place, Sammy the white Kyrii!" Here everybody cheered as the white Kyrii who
had performed first went to shake hands with Sasha, accepted a shining medal,
and stood a few feet beside the judges.
"In second place, Mage the Christmas Peophin!"
Everybody cheered, Jeanie and I being the loudest, as Mage did the same thing
as Sammy had. She got a slightly larger and, I thought, a slightly shinier medal
that was silver to Sammy's bronze.
"And in first, Xero the green Xweetok!" The Xweetok
followed what Mage and Sammy did and stood beside them, smiling proudly.
"Have a good night, everybody!" Sasha said,
waving to us all.
The crowd dispersed and I raced over to the
place where Mage was leaving the stage. I gave my friend a huge hug and said,
"That was brilliant! I can't believe you won second place! You're amazing."
Jeanie appeared beside us. "Indeed. You did
great, Mage! Good job."
Mage smiled proudly at us, looking obviously
extremely pleased with the way things went. "Thanks. Maybe next time I'll get