Maeryc and the Wishing Star: Part Two
The next day, when Maeryc went to neoschool, he had a tremendously hard time trying to keep himself from falling asleep. He had an even harder time making up excuses when people asked him why he was so tired.
"You stayed up all night playing Kiko Match?"
"It was really fun." He tried to sound convincing. "I just couldn't stop playing. I even beat my high score," he added with a weak smile.
He couldn't let anyone know about Ceila, not even Brenner. It was a small, tight-nit community on the top of Terror Mountain, and if word got out that Maeryc was hiding a fallen star in his room, it would only be a matter of time before his uncle found out. Then Ceila would be sent away. Out of the house, or who knows where. He couldn't let Uncle Kent know about her, but he couldn't keep her hidden forever either. Then he had an idea. What if he told him about Ceila, but forgot to mention the small detail of where she came from? Or better yet, what if he told him he'd found her today while he was walking home from school? It would be a perfect plan, if he could pull it off.
When he arrived home and peeked into the workshop, he was relieved to find the carpenter had a customer. He could easily get up to his room, with full confidence that he wouldn't be caught. He told Ceila of his plan, and the two of them sneaked back outside. From there, Maeryc knocked on the basement window, waving to his uncle and motioning for him to come out.
Once he was finished with his customer, the carpenter came out to the yard, to see what his nephew needed. "Hi, Maeryc. Is there something wrong? What are you doing out here?"
"Look!" Maeryc scooped up the petpet, and held her so that he could see her. "I found her on my way home from school."
"You found it, eh?" he said, and looked the petpet over. "That's a white ona you've got there. Maybe it wandered too far from home and got lost. Or maybe it's a wild one. There are colonies of wild ona around here."
"I think she might have gotten separated from her family. Can she stay with us for a while, until she can go back with them?"
The older Scorchio thought this over. His cabin was small, but it was certainly big enough to fit two neopets and a petpet. And it wasn't going to be for forever. The ona would only be staying until it could go back with its family, and it seemed very tame...
"Please, Uncle Kent?"
The hopeful look on his nephew's face was enough to win him over. "Okay, it can stay, but only until you can find its family. You can ask the kids at school if someone's lost a petpet, and I'll ask around town."
"Yes! Thank you, Uncle Kent!"
He almost wanted to laugh. He and his uncle would never be able to find the ona's owner. The ona wasn't even an ona, or any petpet for that matter. Ceila would be living with them for as long as she liked.
"Maeryc?" she asked when Uncle Kent had gone inside. "What language was your uncle speaking just now? Was it Tyrannian?"
Now Maeryc really did burst out laughing. "No! Why, couldn't you understand him?"
He stopped laughing when he realized Ceila wasn't joking. She seriously couldn't understand him.
"It makes sense, I suppose," she thought. "I lived in the sky all my life, and you could see everything from there. But I never saw a petpet that could actually talk to a neopet."
Maeryc was confused. "But if you can't understand him, why can you understand me?"
By the second day, the question still hadn't been answered. But Ceila had been able to start using her wings.
"When did you learn to do that?" Maeryc gasped when he came home and found his ona friend hanging in the air near the ceiling.
"Right after you left this morning! I just started flapping my wings, and to my surprise, they worked!"
She gave the baby Scorchio quite a fright when she let herself drop out of the air and land on the bed.
"Why did you do that?"
"I haven't figured out how to land yet."
Whether she could land or not didn't matter, as far as he was concerned. Ceila could fly, and maybe that was all she needed to get back to her home in the sky. Once darkness fell over Terror Mountain, the two friends went to the knoll where they had met two days earlier.
"You see? From up here, the stars don't look so far away. I bet you could fly to them."
The ona didn't know if she could fly that far, but it was certainly worth a try. Maeryc got a good running start. Then he threw the ona as high into the sky as he could. "Flap your wings, Ceila!"
Ceila flapped her wings with all her might. She was flying! Flying in the open sky! She soared through the evening air with ease and grace. Her friend got smaller and smaller as she got closer to her family. For a moment she thought she was going to make it. But then her wings started to feel so heavy.
"Don't fall again, Ceila."
She didn't fall. She managed to catch herself, and float back down to the ground.
"Don't worry," he tried to comfort her. "You won't be stuck here forever. I promise."
Ceila was beginning to wonder if being stuck there would really be so bad. She was starting to get used to her new petpet form, and more and more attached to the pet who had helped her. Late in the afternoon, when Maeryc had finished his homework, the two of them sat in the spare bedroom, talking.
"So stars really can grant wishes?"
Ceila smiled. "You've never wished upon a star, Maeryc?"
"Well, yeah, I guess I have. But I don't remember any of them coming true." He regret saying this immediately after doing it. He hoped his words hadn't offended her.
Ceila, thankfully, was unperturbed. "That's because you weren't wishing on the right kind of stars. Only wishing stars can grant wishes. And only the ones who are powerful enough. Those are generally the older ones."
The boy appeared to be deep in thought. "I'm seven. How old are you?"
"Almost a hundred. Star years are different, though."
That comment made Maeryc laugh. "So my wishes didn't come true because the stars I wished on were too young?"
"There are some other reasons why a star might not grant a wish," she explained. "If you've already made too many wishes, they might refuse to grant anymore. That is, if they're wise enough." she laughed without humour. "You also have to want what you're asking for, with all your heart. If you don't truly want your wish, it will never come true. That's just how it works."
No rule could have possibly made more sense to the Scorchio. It was like what his mother had told him. If you want something badly enough, you will get it one day. Maeryc thought about how important getting home must have been to Ceila. After all, how could she want anything more than to be back with her family, where she belonged? It must have been her biggest wish. But stars weren't allowed to grant their own wishes, and even if they were, Ceila's power was gone. If she wanted to get home, she would need help from a neopet, and Maeryc was more determined than ever to help her in every way he could.
It was the evening of the sixth day. Maeryc was going home the day after. It was their last chance. The sun had set beneath the mountain peaks, and Kreludor was at its fullest. It shone down on the two friends, who at the time appeared to be insane. In truth, they were just acting their ages, Maeryc like a seven-year-old neopet child, Ceila like a ninety-nine-year-old star child. They were trying to get the star's attention. On the very top of Neopia they stood, shouting at the tops of their lunges. When the shouting didn't work, they sang, all the songs they knew. Then they started to dance, and jump around like wild pets. They threw snow up in the air, and then at each other, running and laughing, making as much noise as they could. By the time the carpenter called them in that night, the stars hadn't even blinked. But they didn't mind. They both agreed that that night had been one of the best times in their lives, even though they weren't successful in getting Ceila home.
"Uncle Kent," Maeryc asked when they had come in. "Remember that board game I was playing at Brenner's house the other day? He lent it to me, and I was hoping we could play it,"
The older Scorchio shook his head sadly. "Not tonight, buddy. I have too much work to do."
He wasn't upset. He'd been expecting that answer anyway. He followed his uncle down to the workshop, a place where he'd spent many hours of his visit. He sat on his usual bench, and watched him work.
"I feel so bad," he said to the ona who was sitting beside him. "Look how long it takes just to build that silly table. No wonder he never has time for anything but his job. And when I go home, he'll be all alone."
They watched in silence for a little while longer, until Maeryc remembered he had homework to do, and the Scorchio and petpet trudged up the stairs to the spare room.
"Miss Nikolson still isn't back yet," the boy said as he took a stack of paper out of his backpack. "It must be awful being sick for so long. I hope she gets better," he laid the papers down on his wooden desk. "Before I leave."
When he was finished his homework, he said goodnight to Uncle Kent and went to bed. Exhausted from the evening's fun, he slept soundly until morning. Ceila, on the other hand, had a horrible sleep, probably due to a strange feeling she'd had ever since playing outside with Maeryc. It was unlike anything she'd ever felt before. She didn't know how to describe it. She felt rushed, like her body wanted to move, but her mind did not.
In the early morning light, it had become clear. Her power was coming back to her.
Maeryc's bags were packed. At the end of the day, he would be leaving the snowy land, and his hard working uncle, to return to Mystery Island, where everyday was a holiday. After six weeks away from home, he was looking forward to seeing his mom and dad, and his friends. But leaving Terror Mountain was difficult for him, all the same.
All the friends he'd made had promised to keep in touch by neomail, and as much as he hated to leave Uncle Kent, he knew the carpenter was used to being alone. The only matter left to be dealt with was what to do with the ona he'd found.
"I'm sorry I couldn't help you get home," he apologized to her as he got ready for one last school day.
"It's alright. You did the best you could, and I thank you for that."
Maeryc only smiled.
"You've done so much for me. Now let me do something for you. I got my power back, Maeryc. I can grant wishes again."
The Scorchio was overjoyed when he heard this. "When? How? Why did if come back? I thought you said you would never be able to grant wishes again!"
"I don't know how it came back, I thought it was impossible. But I can do it now, so..." She hopped down from the bed to stand in front of him. "What is your wish?"
He didn't know what to say. He was brought back to the time when he had first seen the falling star. He was going to make a wish then, but he hadn't been able to think of what to wish for. There was nothing missing from his life, nothing he would change if he could. He was already as happy as could be, but he saw so many people around him who did need something.
"But who should I use my wish on, Ceila? I wish I could help them all."
It didn't take long for the ona to find a solution to the problem. "If that's what you wish for, then that's what you'll have."
It was as simple as that. All at once, the boy was filled with a strong, rushing sensation, overpowering him and causing him to stagger backwards and fall over on the bed. It made his eyes squeeze shut, and his hands shake violently. And then suddenly, the feeling was gone.
"I've given you half of my power, my friend. Now you can help as many people with their wishes as you want."
The Scorchio was unable to speak, partially from the transfer of power from Ceila to himself, but mostly from shock and disbelief. This had to be a dream. Pets couldn't grant wishes!
"Try it out!" the ona urged, laughing at the awestruck expression on his face.
"What do I do? Who do I grant it for?"
"Any one of them you just mentioned!" Ceila was so excited, her wings were starting to lift her off the ground. "Because they're not here, you'll have to make the wish for them. It will work with anyone, as long as they really want it."
He was unsure, but he was not one to be afraid of trying new things. "I wish Miss Nikolson would get better, and come back to school."
He didn't know what he was expecting, something phenomenal he supposed. All that happened though, was that he felt a bit of a jolt. "Did it work?"
"I guess you'll find out today."
That was a good enough answer for him. But he still had many more questions about his new ability. "How many can I grant?"
"All stars have a limit on the number of wishes they can grant. I'm sure it's the same for neopets. You'll be able to feel when your power is running out. If that happens, you'll have to stop, or something terrible might happen."
She answered every question he had. He tried to grant another wish, this time for Brenner to get his trip to Krawk Island, and before he knew it, it was time for school.
"Goodbye, Maeryc!" Ceila waved from the bedroom window. "Good luck."
Maeryc sat down at his desk with his fingers crossed. When the classroom door swung open, and Mrs. Beezely walked in, his hopes began to deteriorate. Why wasn't Miss Nikolson back? Was she still at home, sick in bed with neomonia? Had the wish he had granted her not worked? Were pets just not capable of granting wishes like stars? He turned all these questions over in his mind, until the bell rang for recess, and Brenner practically ran him over in the hallway.
"Maeryc! Guess what!"
"What?" He waited for his friend to catch his breath.
"You know that company my mom just started working for? They neomailed her this morning, asking if she would be able to go on a business trip to Krawk Island! They said our whole family could go!"
Maeryc's heart leaped for joy. Brenner's wish had come true! But was it because of him, or had it merely been a coincidence? He didn't know, and right now, he didn't care. His friend was going to Krawk Island, and was the happiest boy in the world.
For the rest of the time he sat in school that day, the baby Scorchio couldn't keep the smile off his face. He couldn't wait to go home and tell Ceila about the wish that had come true. At the end of the day, the time when Mrs. Beezely gave out the homework, he felt like escaping out the back door and running all the way home before anyone saw him. It came as a surprise, and a delight, when the substitute teacher informed her students that they weren't being assigned any homework.
"This is my last day teaching you children," she explained to the sea of confused faces. "On Monday a different teacher will take my place."
"Who's going to teach us now, Mrs. Beezely?" asked a Xweetok with curly blonde hair.
"Who's our new teacher going to be?" asked several others.
Then, as if by magic, the classroom door opened, and in stepped a blue Usul whom the children all knew and loved.
The class cheered, everyone jumping up from their seats to greet their beloved teacher.
"When did you get better?" someone asked, when the noise died down.
"I felt a hundred percent better when I woke up this morning." she replied. "It was the strangest thing. When I went to bed last night, I felt awful. I guess it was just time for me to get better, and come back to school."
Everyone agreed, especially Maeryc. Another wish he'd supposedly granted had come true! For some reason though, he still didn't believe it was really his power that had done it. Brenner was going to Krawk Island because his mom had been sent there on business. And Miss Nikolson's neomonia might have just run its course. There would be no way of telling if he was actually able to grant wishes or not, unless he tried to grant one that would never come true without power. He knew exactly what to do.
The neighbourhood was used to hearing him talk to himself. No one thought anything of it when the boy left the schoolyard mumbling to no one in particular.
"Uncle Kent wishes for an assistant," he said as he walked. Then he went on to list all the reasons why he needed one, and why he deserved it. This was a really, really big wish, so the power would probably need a lot of convincing. Then again, it was his power. Shouldn't he be able to do what he wanted with it? He'd have to get Ceila to clear this up for him when he got home.
When he did get home, the first thing he did was go down to the workshop. It looked the same as usual. Scraps of wood and various tools were strewn about the cement floor. Unfinished projects littered the dimly lit room, and a lone carpenter struggled to finish them all before their deadlines.
"So I guess nothing different happened while I was at school?" he tried to ask nonchalantly, after he'd filled his uncle in on all the events of the day.
"I finished that table for Mr. Adams," was the older Scorchio's distracted reply.
His face lit up as he recalled something else that had happened. "Uh, yeah buddy, I found my oven mitts in your room. What was that about?"
"I was using them for boxing gloves."
The carpenter chuckled. He never mentioned anything about his wish coming true. They talked for a few minutes more, until Maeryc remembered that the fallen star in the spare room would be wanting to hear about his day.
"So?" she said by way of greeting. "Did they work?"
"Yes! Brenner's going to Krawk Island in two weeks, and Miss Nikolson got over her neomonia this morning." He quickly went from ecstatic to disappointed. "My uncle's wish didn't work, though."
"I didn't know you granted one for him."
There was a knock at the door, and then the sound of footsteps, as Uncle Kent came up the stairs to answer.
"I wonder who that is?"
They peered through the railing to see a yellow Shoyru standing in the doorway. In her hand was a small square of paper. It was Uncle Kent's assistant ad.
"Her name's Kara," the carpenter told his nephew that evening, as the two Scorchios and the ona sat on the living room sofa, watching Neovision. "She's going to start working here tomorrow."
"I wish I could meet her," said Maeryc, popping a doughnut into his mouth.
"No granting your own wishes," teased Ceila. Only Maeryc could hear her. No one else had ever been able to understand her but the little boy. Why this was, they would never know. But they could guess.
Later that night, when Maeryc was collecting his suitcases to meet his parents at the dock, he and Ceila talked about their guesses.
"Maybe I can talk to you because I was the one who caught you."
"Maybe." The petpet got down from on top of the suitcase, so the Scorchio could pick it up. "But I don't think so."
"What do you think the reason is?"
"I think it's because you're special."
He smirked. "I'm just a normal kid, Ceila. I am lucky, though." His smirk turned into a genuine smile. He didn't need to say anything more. "Are you ready?"
On the last day of his visit, Maeryc had finally found a way to send his star friend home. He was going to wish her back.
"Ceila wishes to go home." He waited for the jolt he'd felt while granting his first three wishes. He waited for the roof to open up, and for Ceila to be taken back up into the sky. But neither happened. Nothing at all happened.
"Why didn't it work?" He sat down on the bed with his head in his hands. He wanted to cry. Ceila's was the one wish that mattered most of all, and he hadn't been able to grant it. Maybe he had been wrong all along. Maybe every wish he'd made come true hadn't been anything to do with him after all. "I'm so, so sorry, Ceila. I got your hopes up, and then I let you down."
"No, Maeryc." She sat down beside him on the bed. "It's not your fault. I'm a petpet now, and petpets are meant to live on Neopia. With their owners."
The stars shone down on the Neopian sea, as their youngest sister sailed towards Mystery Island with her new family. On the late night voyage home, Maeryc asked Ceila something that had oddly never occurred to him to ask before.
"Why did you turn into a petpet when you fell anyway? Why didn't you go out like other stars? No offence."
"I've been thinking about that a lot lately," she replied. "And I think it's because I have something important to do on Neopia."
"Yeah? What's that?"
"There are so many people on this planet who need wishes, but never think to ask a star. Now that I'm aware of these people, I can help them. And so can you."
Maeryc agreed. "But you'll have to teach me a lot more about how to do it."
The two friends had wandered out onto the boat deck, which was lit up like daytime by the zillions of dazzling stars.
"You said something earlier about the most basic rule of wish granting. What was that again?"
"A wish won't come true if the person doesn't want it with all their heart."
"So what you're saying is that your wish to go home--"
"I didn't want to go home with all my heart."
Make the biggest wish you can
Hold it safely in your heart
Want it more than anything
You've already made your start
Try to catch a falling star
Guard it with your soul and mind
Dream it with all that you are
And your wish you're sure to find