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The Trouble with New Clothes


by forty2stars

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I hurried home with the bulging shopping bag held tightly in my arms. They were going to be so excited when they saw what I bought them!

      "I'm home!" I giggled. "Look at all the great stuff I bought for you at Uni's Clothing!"

      The expressions on my faerie Xweetok's face fell. "Oh... uhmm." She glanced over at Evee, my rainbow Quiggle, and I saw his expression of glee had disappeared, too. That startled me. Quiggles normally look so happy.

      "Ok, guys. You haven't even SEEN what I bought you. What's the deal?"

      Atarii twisted her wing in front of her, shyly. "It's just that... we can't wear clothes."

      "What? But the Uni assured me they would fit you. Besides, I bought you a scarf. How could you not be able to wear a scarf?"

      "What she means," Evee volunteered, "is that we'd get them dirty."

      "So what?" I shrugged.

      "We don't have a washer and drier," Atarii moaned.

      "So we have to hand wash everything." Evee sighed.

      I was struck silent, slowly comprehending what they were saying.

      "So you didn't buy us new clothes. You bought us laundry," Atarii squeaked. It constantly amazes me that she can be fearless in the Battledome but shiver at chores. She was shivering violently now.

      "It's hard to get excited about laundry." Evee looked dejected. I can't stand it when Quiggles look dejected, it's just too sad. Especially wonderful rainbow Quiggles. He stared at the heavy bag, now on the carpet in front of me, and was actually going pale.

      Have you ever seen a rainbow Quiggle go pale? I hope you never do.

      I knew I had to do something fast.

      "Ok, I tell you what, I'll do the laundry!"

      Atarii and Evee looked at me. Then they looked at the bag, which seemed to be collapsing from its own weight and starting to rip at the bottom. They looked at each other and then back at me. "Promise? No laundry duty, ever?"

      "Never. I'll do all the laundry. I bought all this stuff to make you happy, not to make you unhappy. I promise to do all the laundry and never ask you two to help." I held up my right hand and crossed my heart.

      They started to brighten. Atarii's wings were perking up. Evee was regaining his color. What a relief! I was afraid he was going Grey.

      "Plus, " I added cheerfully, "I think these clothes will make you look really cute!"

      "Hey, I thought I was already cute!" Atarii protested, with a look of mock indignation.

      "Well how do you think you'll look in this!" I pulled out a "I heart Feepits" T-shirt and Atarii squeaked again. This time in delight.

 

      "Hey! Have you seen my blue scarf?" Atarii yelled at me from her window.

      "Have you checked your FLOOR?" I yelled back. I was in the Neogarden, arm deep in suds.

      "Yes! I can't find it in any of the piles. And I looked in the wardrobe, too! I can't find it anywhere!" Atarii looked near tears. "I really wanted to wear it to Hubert's today."

      About that time, Evee came back from Underwater Fishing, slopping sludgy mud from his lucky fishing boots.

      "I caught a squid today!" he announced. "Can you wash my boots?"

      I sighed. "Yeah, toss 'em over here in the stack." I turned my head and looked at the huge pile of clothes on the grass beside me. It was my own fault encouraging them to get more clothes, I reminded myself. I reached down to grab another "I heart Fyora" T-shirt when -

      WHOMP! A big blue boot with a cute yellow fish - and a whole lot of yucky brown mud - hit me in the back of my head.

      "Oh! Sorry! " Evee rushed over to me looking very concerned. "Are you alright?!"

      How did I know it was a blue boot with a cute yellow fish? It had knocked me on my back, and I flipped over just in time to see it coming down to trample me a second time. I twisted out of the way as it landed in a puddle of suds where my head had been.

      "Wowee, Evee!" Atarii yelled from her window."If you could do that in the Battledome you'd be unbeatable! As is, you're just going to get grounded!" She laughed, then stopped. "Hey, have you seen my blue scarf?"

      I sat up suddenly. "THAT'S IT!" I cried, wiping mud, grass, tears and soap bubbles off of my face. "No more clothes!"

      Atarii let out a wail of surprise.

      Evee pulled the Lucky fishing hat off his head. "I'm really, really sorry!" I looked over at him and noticed he was staring remorsefully at his feet. One foot that still had a lucky fishing boot, the other a bright red pirate sock. He loved socks.

      I rolled my eyes and saw that the WHOMP of mud had also flecked all the clean clothes I had hung on the tree to dry. I sighed.

      "Alright, you two. This is just silly. Neopians have wardrobes and wardrobes worth of clothes! I've seen that royal girl Poogle down the street almost every day, but I've never seen her hanging laundry out to dry in her Neogarden on Saturday. Let's just give her a visit and ask her how she gets her laundry done." Having vented, I immediately felt better.

      Evee picked up a towel. "You may want a bath first."

      He helped me to my feet. "And I am really, really sorry about hitting you with my boot."

      "It's ok, Evee. It's just a bit of mud." I smiled, and he smiled back.

 

      "Oh, I send it out. I love your pink heart shaped sunglasses, Atarii, they are too cute!" The royal girl Poogle held out a silver dish filled with Borovan Brownies. I thankfully accepted another as I looked around her living room. The place was a castle. Which, I guess made sense. Sarinka turned out to be very nice, despite her haughty appearance.

      "So, whherr dy yoo sennt id?" I asked, trying to savor the brownie and get it swallowed at the same time.

      Atarii cringed. "I think she asked, 'Where do you send it.' Sometimes she mumbles," she added quickly.

      Sarinka pretended not to notice my uncouth and rude talking-with-my-mouth-full blunder. "I tell you what, if you gather all your laundry and follow me, I'll show you myself!" She smiled.

      Evee, who was already looking uncomfortable in his bow tie, leaned over to her and said, "That might take a while. Can we meet you tomorrow around noon?"

      "Sure! We can do our laundry at the same time. It's so good to finally meet you all! I'm sure we will all be great friends."

      As I reached for another brownie and looked at her wall of wardrobes. "Is that a Fyora music box?"

      "Yes! If you'd like you can play it - it's one of my favorites."

      As I walked over to the shelf, Sarinka leaned in towards Atarii and Evee and whispered.

      "I'll admit I'd been a little concerned about what she's been up to in the Neogarden for the last few weeks. The whole neighborhood was starting to smell like soap."

      They giggled. I pretended not to have heard, and tried not to turn red.

      Evee slowed his giggling and said, "She was only doing it because she promised she would."

      "Really?" Sarinka's eyes widened. "That's a lot of laundry. Didn't you offer to help her?"

      Evee and Atarii looked sheepish for a moment, then Atarii said, "We made her promise she'd never ASK us to help, but I guess it never occurred to me we could OFFER."

      I was still pretending to be fascinated by her faerie music boxes, which wasn't hard. They are fascinating. But so was this conversation. I lifted the lid and let the melody float around the room.

      "Well," Sarinka smiled, "I think your friend is very generous to go to all that hard work and keep her promise to you both."

      "I feel like it's my fault." Atarii admitted. "I kept on begging for all these cool clothes. I guess I'm just a collector type."

      "Me, too. I'm a nut for socks." Evee shrugged and looked sad.

      Sarinka tried to brighten the conversation with, "Oh, then after we drop off the laundry we just have to swing by Uni's. They have the most fabulous new fire Eyrie socks..." It worked. Evee and Atarii leaned forward to hear.

      I smiled, watching Fyora twirl in the music box. I was pretty embarrassed they'd laughed at me, but it would be ok. After all, I had thought Sarinka seemed a bit snobby before I met her. Only fair that she had thought I was a little strange before she met me. Hopefully, her opinion of me was changing for the better. That's usually the case when folks actually get to know one another. Fyora smiled back at me as the three friends continued laughing together.

 

      We were up almost all night, pulling laundry out from under beds, sorting out T-shirts and trying to locate missing socks.

      "Atarii, socks always disappear and reappear in the wash."

      "I always thought that was because of the Pant Devil!" She looked surprised.

      I was about to quip, "That's because you've never done laundry before." But decided against it. Bygones be bygones, and all that. (Besides, I wasn't sure that the Pant Devil didn't steal socks from the wash.)

      The next afternoon, we walked up to Sarinka's front yard with three huge bags of laundry. I yawned as I rang her doorbell. She opened the door with her small bag and laughed. "I hope you're ready for some fun!"

      "I'm ready for some sleep," I answered groggily.

      Sarinka got a mischievous look in her eye. "That can be arranged! Now let's get these bags over to Neopia Central!"

      I felt kinda silly walking into town with a pile of laundry, but Sarinka carried her bag with incredible grace. It was like she was carrying her favorite items to a Safety Deposit box at the Bank. Note to self: Gain poise. Huffing and puffing with my heavy bag, I figured that would be difficult.

      By the time we reached the Money Tree, I was ready to donate the whole humongous bag of wonderful clothes. Evee gasped just in time to distract me.

      "We're not going to wash them in the Rainbow Pool, are we, Sarinka?"

      Sarinka raised an eyebrow. "Noooo," she said slowly, "but it'd be interesting to try!"

      Atarii laughed, "I don't think using the Fountain Faerie or the Wishing Well is a good idea, either."

      "The Wishing Well!" I groaned."I should have thought of that weeks ago!"

      "Wishes get granted in other ways," Sarinka replied. She shot a concerned glance at me. "Let me carry that for you. You look exhausted!"

      I hesitated. "But you have on really nice clothes..."

      "But you are really nice and you've carried it this whole time. And didn't you want a nap? Let's stop in at the Neolodge, my treat."

      "That does sound good..." She took my bag and we headed over to the Front Desk. And yes, she carried the heavy bag with great poise.

      "Four, please," Sarinka said to the clerk. "One night at the Royal Neopian each."

      We gasped in unison.

      "I know it's only four stars," Sarinka apologized, "but it just makes me feel more at home. But if you prefer the Presidential Palace we can stay there."

      "No! No! The Royal is fine!" I stammered.

      "Great!" Evee chimed.

      "Better than any Neolodge we've ever stayed in before!" Atarii gushed.

      "Oh, okay. Four for the Royal Neopian, one night each, please," Sarinka continued.

      "Would you like the use of the Restaurant?"

      "Burger Bar, please." Sarinka winked at Atarii, obviously knowing one of her favorite foods.

      "Fitness Center?"

      "No, thank you."

      "Neopian Times Delivery?"

      "Yes, please."

      "Maid service?"

      Geepers, I thought to myself, I'd forgotten how many options they give you. All I want is a nap, and to get rid of these big bags. I mean, how is stopping at the Neolodge going to help us find --

      "Laundry Facilities?"

      "Absolutely," Sarinka answered to the clerk. "And if we could get some help to carry these bags there we would greatly appreciate it."

      "Certainly, Miss. And they will be returned to your rooms as soon as they are cleaned and pressed."

      "Pressed?" Atarii asked with a confused look on her face.

      "Ironed," I answered automatically, still in shock from what I had just heard.

      "Wait a minute." I gathered myself up to my full height and looked the clerk in the eye. "Do you mean to tell me that Laundry Facilities are available in ALL of the Neolodges?"

      The yellow Techo swallowed uneasily, watching my face go pale. "Yes, Madam. Even Cockroach Towers has a serviced Laundry Facility available for our additional fee of 5 NP."

      At that point, I fainted.

      I woke up in the Grooming Parlor with a kind looking Usul patting a soft pink washcloth on my face. She smiled. "Good! You're awake. Your friends waiting for you in the Jacuzzi. Here's your swim suit."

      I changed and walked over to the bubbly pool of warm water where Evee, Sarinka and Atarii were waving.

      "Check out Evee's great new swim trunks! They're Tropical!" Atarii swooned.

      After a few minutes of laughing about how pale I'd gotten before I fainted, I asked. "Sarinka, I've been meaning to ask you, how did you find out how to get laundry done in Neopia?"

      "Oh." She smiled. "I just asked the Air Faerie."

      I laughed. Of course. Who else would know better?

      After all those weeks of being arm deep in warm sudsy water, I never thought that it would be so fabulous to be neck deep in it. I let my mind wander... until I heard Atarii say, "So let me get this straight: Usuki dolls not only come with their own original outfit, but you can buy MORE outfits for them, too?!"

      Uh oh, I thought.

      Well, at least their clothes don't need washing!

The End

I'm still trying to convince the Air Faerie to add a line of washers and dryers to Faerie Furniture, but until then I hope everyone enjoys thinking of all the creative ways to get their laundry done in Neopia!

 
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