Usuki Singing Stars #11: Patricia's Holiday Miracle - Part One
"Aha! Take that, Patricia!" Scary exclaimed as she threw a medium-sized snowball at Patricia's face. The purple Bruce laughed victoriously as she watched Patricia wipe the powdery snow off her cheeks and nose.
"And now Team Bruce is in the lead!" Sparkles cheered. She and Scary were well snug in their snow fort while Patricia was hiding in hers. To celebrate the first day of snow in Neopia Central, the three girls had decided to throw a little snowball fight between them for fun. Sparkles and Scary were on one team while Patricia was unfairly placed on her own 'self team'. Now Patricia had to find a way to beat her friends in their little snowball fight before it became dark.
I'll just throw a few dozen snowballs at Sparkles, Patricia decided, and then I'll attack Scary with my last dozen. Hopefully Sparkles would show mercy before Scary does. I know for sure that Sparkles hates to get wet! Splat! While she was deep in thought about her own plans of attack, Patricia was unknowingly blinded by a heavy snowball that was accompanied by one of Scary's crackles.
"Another victory for Team Bruce! We have practically defeated the Shoyru in this brutal war of snow!" Scary shouted with pride. She high fived Sparkles and continued on making her biggest snowball yet, while Sparkles threw a few little minor snowballs at Patricia's snow fort.
"That's it! This means war!" Patricia cried. Without even thinking for a single moment, Patricia picked up her prized icy snowball and quickly threw it at Scary and Sparkles. Both Bruces immediately ducked and watched the snowball as it flew past their yard and into the window of someone's neohome window. They were both in shock when they realized that Patricia was the one who threw the snowball! Now Patricia's face was reddening with guilt and embarrassment.
"Smooth move, Patricia," said Scary. "Instead of actually hitting us, you were able to break the window of a complete stranger. Congrats."
"But it wasn't my fault!" Patricia insisted anxiously. "I mean, sure, I was the one who threw it, but I didn't mean to! You two knew that I was going to throw it at one of you, right??"
"Were you aiming towards Sparkles?" Scary wondered. "Because if you were, then I guess I can turn a blind eye for a while... that is, for a certain price." Sparkles gave her sister a puzzled look while Patricia paced back and forth over what had just happened. Should she go to the neohome and tell the owner what had happened? Or should she wait for the owner to track her down so that he could tell her mother what had happened?
After realizing that she didn't want to confront her mother over the whole 'icy snowball through window' incident, Patricia had reluctantly decided to confront the owner herself after considering that they would go easy on her. "It's better for me to admit what I did than have them find me somehow," Patricia explained to her friends, who were each giving her a disbelieving glance.
"Do you even know who lives there?" Scary wondered. After Patricia shook her head, Scary said, "Old man Ridgewood is the one who lives there, and legend has it that he is the crankiest Ixi in all of Neopia. So good luck when you confront him."
"I'm sure he's not that bad," Patricia insisted, although her insides were starting to twist at the thought of seeing the elderly Ixi. "Maybe he's not a bad buy, you guys? Perhaps he'll go easy with me, since it's the Month of Giving and we're only five days away from Christmas."
"Maybe," said Sparkles. The pink Bruce was forming a snowball in her hands while she talked. "All I know about Mr. Ridgewood is that he doesn't like anybody. He even yelled at our Dad last year when he went to his door to sing Christmas carols! Can you believe it?"
"Wasn't he singing some random song about snowflakes and sock puppets?" Scary wondered. "I always found it odd that he'll sing random songs during the holiday season, and then he'll start singing 'jingle bells' in the middle of the summer."
Sparkles shrugged her shoulders. "But enough about these random songs; now, Patricia, if you need any help with facing Mr. Ridgewood, you just come straight to me and I'll help you escape and flee back to your house. Okay?"
Patricia shook her head. "No thanks," she insisted. "I think I'll just go and explain myself to him before it gets too dark. But thanks for the offer, though. I'll tell you guys what happens tomorrow at the Smoothie Shop." After waving goodbye to Sparkles and Scary, Patricia quickly trudged through the backyard towards the back fence. Then she quickly latched the gate open and made her way to the front of Mr. Ridgewood's house.
"Wow, she sure is brave for doing that," Scary gasped after Patricia disappeared from her sight. She turned to Sparkles and looked at the snowball in her hands. "Sparkles, what are you going to do with that?" Scary asked cautiously.
"This!" Sparkles exclaimed as she threw the snowball into Scary's face. As Scary was wiping the damp snow off her face and coughing it out of her mouth, Sparkles quickly ran to the back door and opened it before Scary could catch her.
"Hmm, I see," an elderly green Ixi said as he rubbed his chin. After answering the door to Patricia, Mr. Ridgewood listened patiently as the faerie Shoyru blurted out everything that had happened in the last fifteen minutes. She explained to him that the icy snowball she threw wasn't meant for him, but for one her friends who had attacked her with a snowball when she wasn't paying attention.
"So you see, sir," Patricia panted desperately, "it was all just an accident. I'm really sorry and I'll be glad if I can somehow repay you, but do keep in mind that I can't actually pay for a new window because I need my neopoints for holiday shopping and-"
"Enough," said Mr. Ridgewood. After a minute of thinking, Mr. Ridgewood asked Patricia, "How are you at doing housework?"
"Well, I'm actually not that good," Patricia admitted. "The only things I can do are dusting, sorting and anything that involves dishes. I can dust something if you want, or maybe I can-"
"Help organize my study?" Mr. Ridgewood wondered. He gave Patricia a mischievous smile, which made Patricia a little bit more nervous than relaxed. "How would you like to help me clean up my study? Because you claim to have a knack for dusting, I'm sure you won't mind dusting a few things here and there. But you must also help me organize my papers and files, and I believe I had lost my black scarf there last week. So I guess you will be a pretty busy Shoyru for quite some time now!"
"Okay," Patricia agreed.
Mr. Ridgewood continued by saying that he will pay for his new window if Patricia could help clean his study and take care of a few other things that he needed help with. After agreeing again, Patricia followed Mr. Ridgewood inside his house and looked around at the many paintings and rugs that furnished Mr. Ridgewood's wooden walls and floorboards.
"You can take your coat and boots off by the door," said Mr. Ridgewood, "and then I'll lead you to my downstairs study."
Patricia nodded and did exactly what she was just told, taking care that she had properly hung her coat and had placed her slushy boots on the green door mat. After she was done, Patricia followed Mr. Ridgewood downstairs to his basement and watched as the elderly Ixi lead her to a wooden door at the far end.
"Why is your study in the basement?" Patricia wondered. She couldn't possible understand why a study would be placed in a basement that was filled with many cardboard boxes filled with old toys and clothing.
"I liked it because of the privacy," Mr. Ridgewood explained as he jiggled a key into the keyhole. "Back when I first came here, I was a very enthusiastic young man who had a very keen interest in-eureka! This old key still works!"
With his mischievous grin returning back on his face, Mr. Ridgewood slowly opened the door to a very dusty, yet very sunny, study to a surprised Patricia. Sunlight shone through the study's foggy windows and there were many stacks of newspapers that were piled over a beautifully carved wooden desk and chair. An empty bookshelf that was encased with dusty webs was standing strong on the left wall, and on the right wall there were different portraits and pictures that were slowly being covered with a thin blanket of dust.
"So, where should we start?" Patricia wondered.
"How about we start with these dusty stacks of newspapers?" Mr. Ridgewood suggested. "I have always been a fan of the Neopian Times, so I must have saved every edition that I have ever read!"
"Well, then you must read a lot of issues," Patricia teased. She picked up an old issue from Year 5 and blew off the dust that was trying to hide what was written on it. After a quick coughing fit, Patricia looked at what she was holding and noticed that it was the first part of a Neopian Times series. "The Return of the Traitor," Patricia read aloud. "Say, Mr. Ridgewood, have you ever read this series before? Is it good?"
"Good?" Mr. Ridgewood gasped. Patricia noticed that his eyes were starting to sparkle. "And yes, I did read it. In fact, I read it more than once! You see: I was the one who wrote it."
To be continued...
To Lombre, Luann and Kale: Yay, we're NT buddies!! It has been a blast to explore you guys' NT entries while you explore mine. Thank you, Luann and Kale, for being two very inspirational Neopian writers. And thank you, Lombre, for your editing contributions. If it wasn't for you, my growth as a writer wouldn't have started.