That Summer: Part One
"Why does summer have to be so... so..." Bliss the Christmas Uni began.
"...hot?" asked her older sister Paint, a red Ogrin.
"Yes," Bliss replied. "We live underwater, and it is still hot outside," Bliss finished.
"Maybe a nice Mystery Island vacation," Paint replied.
"Don't we still have our old house up there?" Bliss asked.
"The one with the indoor pool?" Paint asked.
"Yeah, and the guest cabin with, like, twenty beds," Bliss replied.
"And the ice rink?" Paint asked.
"Don't forget the pool shed with a bathroom," Bliss replied.
"And the locker rooms," Paint replied, "and the library, the gym, the game room, the party room, and the garden."
"And the petpet barn with a cubby for each petpet," Bliss added.
"HAILEY!" the two pets shouted in unison.
Their flustered owner ran into the room carrying a first aid kit and the key to Paint's bedroom. Her light brown mid-back hair was tied up into a ponytail and her bangs were clipped back with an air faerie clip. Her summer-tanned hand gripped the objects tightly.
"What is it? Is one of you hurt? What did Paint do? How is Bliss being annoying?" Hailey asked.
"How come nobody else ever gets blamed for anything?" Bliss sulked.
"Um... we just wanted to know if we had our old house up in Mystery Island," Paint said.
"Yeah, because we thought that maybe we could add a room and fill it with water for Puddles, and then stay there for the summer," Bliss replied.
Puddles was their youngest sibling, also the reason they moved to Maraqua. The cloud Flotsam swam into the room at the sound of her name.
"Mystery Island?" she asked. "I've always wanted to go there."
"And I could invite Maris and Paris over!" Paint exclaimed, referring to her old snobby faerie Kiko friends.
"And I could see Vesta!" Bliss squealed, referring to her old spindly spotted Uni friend.
"Mystery Island?" Roxxi the brown Moehog bound into the room. "I wanna go back!"
"All right, I'll book us a boat ride there," Hailey replied, "go ahead and pack your stuff."
"Are we there yet?" Roxxi asked.
"Soon," Hailey replied.
The boat had docked a few minutes ago and they were making their way towards their old Neohome. Roxxi, always the impatient one, had been bouncing up and down uncontrollably.
"Oh my gosh!" screamed a voice.
When Bliss turned around, a pudgy purple Uni was bouncing up and down. She had candy stuck in her teeth, presumably from the plastic bag in her left hoof, and she seemed excited. She was wearing a giant squid shirt. For bottoms, she had chosen plain jeans and her shoes were a pair of worn out rainbow colored sneakers. Her tangled mane was pulled back with a yellow Kyrii clip and she smelled like the spicy vanilla-coconut mixture from sun tan lotion. Her lips were shiny from what Bliss recognized as strawberry lipgloss by the smell and she also wore a pair of wool socks. She had bagatelle bracelets on all four legs, superstar earrings on her ears, and a rope choker around her neck. Her horn sparkled with horn polish and her hooves were painted black. Her eyelids were golden and she had moon and star stickies stuck to her left cheek. In the hoof that didn't carry the candy bag, she was carrying a flower purse.
"Who are you?" Bliss asked.
"At first I asked myself the same question but then I saw Hailey, Paint, the petpets, and I'm presuming the Moehog reading the history magazine is Roxxi so I'm like, 'that has GOT to be Bliss! I LOVE your new color! Do you like mine?" the Uni asked.
The last time Bliss was on the island she was a blue Uni, but she still had no clue who this Uni was.
"Who are you?" she asked again.
"Bliss, don't you recognize me?" the Uni asked. "I'm Vesta, remember?"
Then Bliss had understood the new color thing. Vesta had gotten a paint job and was apparently eating a lot more candy than she had been when Bliss left.
See, Vesta used to only eat food from the health store. Bliss finally got her introduced to candy, and apparently the two were a little bit too familiar now.
"V-v-vesta?" Bliss asked, her heart pounding.
"Yeah, I thought my outfit would give it away," Vesta replied.
"That's true... but... with the whole 'now I'm a candy-holic that's purple' thing, it was kind of hard to recognize you," Bliss replied.
"I ate candy when you left," Vesta explained.
"But still, the whole purple and slightly-larger thing takes a while for me to get," Bliss replied.
"I'm fat?" Vesta asked.
"NO!" everyone screamed, Bliss hating herself for making that comment.
That was the reason Vesta didn't eat candy before – she was afraid of being fat. She liked to keep an average weight, which she was doing very well when Bliss had last seen her – possibly a little above average, but not THIS above average.
Apparently, all Vesta had eaten was candy, and now Bliss had inadvertently called her fat. Just great.
"You're not fat, Vesta, I was just – " she began.
"Liar! Look at me! I was bouncing! Remind me not to do that," Vesta observed her waist.
"Vesta... don't stop eating candy, please..." Bliss sighed.
"Then tell me what to do! I don't want to live my life like this," Vesta replied.
"Here's what you do," Bliss said, "you continue eating candy, but you remember to eat your fruits and vegetables in between."
"But that's eating MORE," Vesta groaned, "and fruits and vegetables are gross!"
"Fine, if you don't want to eat more, then cut out the candy," Bliss replied.
"No candy? You're so cruel!" Vesta replied.
"Fine, don't change a thing," Bliss growled.
"So, what brings you back to the island?" Vesta asked.
"My family is spending the summer in our Neohome," Bliss replied, "and I'm pretty sure Paint is gonna get the twins to come, and I'm gonna drag you along."
"But I live three houses away," Vesta replied.
"We have a pool, an ice rink, a game room, a – " Bliss began.
"Let me get my things," Vesta replied.
Bliss turned around to find the absence of a red Ogrin.
"Where's Paint?" Bliss asked.
"Fruity Path," Hailey replied, "she'll be back with the twins."
"Great," Bliss rolled her eyes.
"You knew they were coming," Hailey explained.
"But so soon?"
After they went inside, Vesta walked in with an explorer backpack stuffed with odds and ends of randomly shoved items.
"Bliss, you go help Vesta with her load of junk, I'll finish Puddles's room," Hailey replied.
A cloud Flotsam wearing a water helmet used her front fins to move herself along. Hailey opened the door to a coral/seaweed themed room, then after letting Puddles in took the hose to a hole in the roof and began to fill the room with water. Once it was full, Puddles removed the helmet.
"If you ever start to lose water, the trapdoor next to your bed leads back to your bedroom in Maraqua. I suggest you place your water helmet inside so that you don't forget it when you come back," Hailey explained.
"Thanks," Puddles called.
Meanwhile, in the guest cabin, Vesta placed her backpack on a wooden bed.
"What is this stuff?" Bliss asked.
"My swimsuit, a towel, sun tan lotion, clothes for the week, pajamas, and my Jerdana plushie," Vesta explained.
"No candy?" Bliss asked.
Vesta dumped out her purse to reveal a bag of assorted Neodrops, a bag of humbugs, three caramel creams, a case of air faerie gum, a candy cane, a half-eaten bar of chocolate, a calculator, a fancy pen, a round notebook with several pages torn out, several hair clips, a toothbrush, toothpaste, a star compact mirror, and a mini makeup bag full of eyeshadow, nail varnish, blush, and lip stuff.
"Vesta..." Bliss began.
Suddenly, Vesta's white Weewoo, Piracy, came in with a suitcase.
"The rest of my clothes," Vesta explained.
"Vesta," Bliss began again.
Bree, Vesta's owner, walked in with a CD case, some mouthwash, a faerie Kougra bookmark, a mug, fluoride mouth rinse, a Neo baseball cap, a wool hat and scarf, a pair of Marrow sandals, and an ice caves jacket.
"VESTA!" Bliss screamed.
"What?" Vesta asked.
"We need room in here," Bliss replied.
"How about I stay in your room, then." Vesta shrugged. "You have your own bathroom, right?"
"Go ahead," Bliss said, "but leave me room to breathe, and you're bringing all this junk with you yourself."
"I'll take Piracy to the petpet barn," Bree suggested.
"Oh, great," Bliss groaned, "I thought Vesta had a baggage issue."
Paint looked at her sister apologetically as two faerie Kikos lugged in two rolling suitcases and a large duffel bag each.
"What's in there anyway?" Bliss asked.
When Paris (or was it Maris) dumped out her suitcase, Bliss had no clue what to say. The contents were various sun hats, jewelry, a folded up beach chair with a matching umbrella, a fancy parasol, a few different beach towels, various lipsticks, glittery lotus lotion, perfume, a toothbrush, generic toothpaste, a hair dryer (although she didn't even have hair), gum, a fluffy pillow, an inflatable mattress (in the deflated state, of course), an air pump to inflate the mattress with, a pink fuzzy blanket, a seat cushion, a robe and matching slippers, a few nightgowns, a purse full of more junk she was too tired to search through, a few pairs of sandals, a few swimsuits, Jazzmosis shades, some nail varnish, blush, eyeshadow, various other outfits, shampoo, conditioner, bubble bath, soap, a bag of floss picks, a pink silk fan, and some breath mints.
Bliss was ready to explode when Maris (or was it Paris) had the exact same items.
"I'm gonna run a bag check," Bliss said. "Anything that I find unnecessary will be confiscated until further notice."
"What are you, our owner?" Paris (or was it Maris) asked.
"First of all, I need a way to identify you," Bliss said. "Maris, raise your hand."
Maris obeyed and Bliss took out a red permanent marker. She drew a frowny face on Maris's forehead.
"That will keep for the summer," Bliss said. "You're Maris now."
"What about me?" Paris asked.
"You're the one without the marking," Bliss said.
"Okay, we'll just be taking these bags to our – "
"Not so fast," Bliss said.
After swiping majority of the items, Bliss had left them with toiletries, tank tops, skirts, and sandals.
"But – "
"We provide most of these things, and some of them weren't necessary, so I took them," Bliss explained.
Paint gave the Kikos a look of sympathy before taking the remaining items to the guest cabin.
"Now, I think Hailey wanted to show us the pool room," Bliss said.
"Let's go," Paint said as she came back with the Kikos.
"Here goes nothing," Vesta said.
"I can't wait," Roxxi said.
"You can never wait," Paint said as the group made their way to the locker rooms.
"What are we doing here?" Vesta asked.
"Let's put our swimsuits on, so we'll be ready," Paint explained.
The girls each donned a swimsuit and everyone but Paint and the Kikos put on sunscreen. They all put on sunglasses and took their towels into the pool room.
"Oh – " Paint began.
" – my – " Bliss added.
" – gosh," Roxxi finished.
"Do you like it?" Hailey asked.
"Yeah," they all said.
A rainbow disco ball had been strung across the ceiling along with blue paper lanterns. Two tropical ceiling fans gave the room a cool feeling. A chunk of the roof had been cut away above two beach chairs, a round green table, and a royal umbrella. Torch lamps lit the room and an array of pool equipment had been stacked near the diving board on the deep end. The hot tub's jets were going and the entire room smelled like Vesta's sunscreen.
"Vesta, you can put the beach towel down, now," Bliss nudged her friend.
Sure enough, the purple Uni was wrapped up in a Gulper print beach towel.
"That's okay," Vesta said.
"How can you go swimming with your towel wrapped around so tightly?" Bliss asked.
"Fine," Vesta sighed.
Her navy blue one-piece swimsuit fit her perfectly. She looked like she'd grown a lot since Bliss left.
"Nice threads," Roxxi noticed, "Does that come in gold?"
"Ha-ha," Vesta rolled her eyes, "this is why I didn't eat candy when you were here."
"Ves, that's a compliment," Bliss explained.
"Yeah, it makes you look a little older," the Moehog offered.
"I look old?" Vesta gasped, wrapping the towel around herself again.
"This is going to be a long summer," Bliss said under her breath.
To be continued...