I always look forward to the times when my grandmother comes to stay. She's my dad's mother and she comes from a little fishing village on the outskirts of Kiko Lake, and she's small and round and cuddly, just like you'd expect from a plushie Kiko. You should hear the lovely funny way she talks. Sometimes you can't understand what she's talking about and I have to get my dad to translate. When she's here for a holiday she never stops cooking, from the minute she arrives until the minute she leaves because she is so convinced that my dad and I don't get enough to eat.
"Ee, shkinny," she says, poking me in the ribs. "There's not a scrap of meat on them bones of yours. We'll soon fettle that." And she rolls her sleeves up, puts a pinny on and sets to work baking cakes, cookies and the yummiest mince beef and potato pies you ever tasted.
One morning, during the Festival of Neggs my mother was out for lunch with a friend, whilst my dad was out shopping, Grandma and I were having a great old time rolling out pastry and baking strawberry tarts. I was glad to be indoors in our nice cosy kitchen, especially with my grandma for company. She was cutting out the circles of dough and I was putting them in the tray and spooning dollops of jam into them. Quite a lot of the jam was finding its way into my mouth.
"Give over, our Eastly," said my grandma, rapping my knuckles with a wooden spoon. "You'll not want any dinner. And then it'll be me that gets the blame from your mam."
Just then there was a loud bang at the back door and Keriso, my zombie Draik best friend, stuck her head in.
"Hi Eastly," she said. "Gosh, its lovely and warm in here."
Keriso came in and shut the door. "It's freezing out there. What shall we do, Eastly?"
I scowled at her, not feeling pleased to see her at all. I was quite happy as I was. But she had come round specially to see me and I supposed I could hardly just tell her to go away. My grandma could though. She's never been all that fond of Keriso.
"You can both get away upstairs out of my way," she said, shooing Keriso and me out of the kitchen.
"Let's play in your room," said Keriso. So we went upstairs.
I got out my Don't Splat the Korbat! board game and started setting it up, I like playing this game with Keriso, I am much better at it than her and I almost always win.
"Can't we do something else?" Keriso complained. As I was thinking of something else we could do that I would enjoy and would maybe make Keriso want to go back home, my grandma shouted up the stairs "post's "ere!! Come get it for me Eastly?"
Sighing heavily, I got up and made my way across the room, out of the corner of my eye I could see Keriso searching round my board games, trying to pick something she might be able to beat me at. I trotted down the stairs toward the front door. There was a pile of boring looking brown envelopes addressed to my parents, as I picked them up a brightly coloured flyer slipped out from the bottom of the pile and landed neatly at my feet. My beady black eyes widened as I scanned the flyer.
"What's taking you so long?" Keriso had appeared behind me, apparently having flown down the stairs, I wish she wouldn't do that in my house. Normally this would bug me as she knows I can't fly being a small white Kacheek as I was, but I was too transfixed on the big bold letters on the flyer to pay her any real mind.
"Look at this!" I said shoving the flyer under her snout. "I could see here blank eyes roving the page and widening just as mine had. She looked at me and I could see the excitement creep over her face, just as it must have done on mine. I looked back at the flyer, rereading it to make sure I had not imagined the whole thing. "To celebrate our 15th anniversary, Hubert's Hot Dogs wants to you to sample our new giant hot dog for free!! Today only". We looked briefly at each other, then without a word we sped into the kitchen, I threw the post onto the side, scattering it everywhere. "Now come on, pick that up!" My grandma shouted, but I was already out the back door.
We reached the gate at which point Keriso turned to her own house and shouted to me "I'm just going to let my mum know where I'm going, you run ahead and get a place in line. There's bound to be a massive queue."
So I tore off along the street as fast as my little legs could carry me, I was in such a hurry I wasn't really looking where I was going and collided with Duimu coming out of his gate, Duimu is the biggest grey Grarrl I know, and it knocked the wind right out of me, I can tell you.
"Eastly," Duimu gasped, "What's all the hurry?"
'sorry," I said hastily, trying to get my breath back. "I'm in a bit of a hurry. They're giving away free hot dogs at Hubert's."
"They're what?" Squealed Duimu, his piggy eyes lighting up greedily. "Are you sure?"
"I got a flyer through the post today," I said. And with that I set off again. I could hear Duimu lumbering along behind me.
I reached the Neopian Bazaar and ran past the collectable card shop, and who should be coming out but two of my schoolmates Fyn, the chocolate Kacheek and Ollisi, the sponge Kiko. I puffed out the story of the free hot dogs all over again, while the two of them stood there with their mouths hanging open.
"Nah, you're having us on." Jeered Fyn. "Free hot dogs? What a load of nonsense." She took Ollisi's arm. "Come on Olli, she's pulling a fast one. You know what she's like, her and that Keriso."
"It's true" I insisted, wishing I'd brought the flyer with me, the two of them stared at each other, then at me.
"It won't do any harm to go have a look," said Ollisi at last.
"All right," said Fyn. "But I'm warning you, Eastly. If this is a hoax, you're half in for it."
Duimu had just about caught up by now, and the four of us hurried round past the smoothie store expecting to see an enormous crowd outside Hubert's.
There was nobody there. We all stood outside, peering stupidly in through the window, gasping and panting for breath.
"Well there's no point in standing out here," said Fyn sensibly. "Let's go in and ask."
So we all trooped in and went up to the counter where Hubert the blue Mynci stood in his yellow uniform. He opened his mouth wide and hooted with laughter when I asked in a small voice about free hot dogs.
"Nah. There's nothing like that happening around here. We never give nothing away, as far as I know." He called over to a purple Shoyru, busily wiping tables in the corner. "Hey Shelly, you know anything about this?" The Shoyru shook her head, "Somebody's been having you on, I expect," said Hubert. "But I can soon rustle you up some hot dogs, if that's what you're after, fifty Neopoints each."
Nobody had any money and we all shuffled out, red in the face. Duimu looked as if he was about to cry. And I don't know what Fyn would have done to me if my dad hadn't come round the corner just at that moment.
"Dad!" I shouted, and flung myself at him. I've never been so pleased to see him in my life.
"Eastly," he said, his brown Kyrii face looking cross. "What are you doing? Out in the cold with no coat on? I thought you were at home helping grandma."
And so I had to tell the whole story all over again, "and now nobody believes me." I said helplessly. "But it was all on the flyer. Cross my heart."
My dad scratched his head and looked baffled.
"You must have made a mistake, perhaps its the wrong day or something?"
"That's all very well," grumbled Duimu. "But she's made me run all this way for nothing."
Fyn and Ollisi marched away up the street making disgusted faces. My dad smiled at Duimu soothingly.
"Come on," he said. "I'll buy you a hot dog. The biggest one they've got." And Duimu brightened up at once.
Well, of course by then I was so upset I couldn't have eaten a hot dog to save my life. So we left Duimu happily tucking in and set off back home, expecting to meet Keriso on the way back.
"I can't understand it," I said. 'she only went to tell her mum where we were going. She should have caught up by now."
My dad made a grim face and shook his head. "It all sounds a bit fishy to me," he said. "I still reckon it's one of her horrible tricks. And I wouldn't mind having a look at that flyer." He added, as he pushed the back door open.
So while my dad was telling my grandma all about it I sat down at the kitchen table and stared at the flyer. My dad came over, "let's have a look love," he said and peered at the flyer. He turned it over "there! Look!" He exclaimed. And I looked, and there in the bottom left hand corner, on the back of the flyer was printed "From the desk of Keriso Morris". The letters were such a pale pink you could be excused for mistaking them for a watermark.
The three of us sat down at the kitchen table looking glum. "Well, what a nasty trick to play on a friend," said my grandma pursing her lips. "That Keriso wants a good telling off, if you ask me." Then a sudden gleam came into her blue eyes and she jumped to her feet.
"We'll sort her out," she grinned, fastening her pinny once more. "Hot dog was it? I'll show her hot dog." And my dad and I watched in awe as she banged a frying pan on the cooker and went into action. She put four sausages and some chopped onion in the frying pan and while they were sizzling away she cut open the biggest hot dog bun I've ever seen; it was almost as big as my arm. My grandma spread the roll with butter and then put slices of cheese on it, then popped it under the grill to brown. When it was all bubbly she crammed the four sausages together inside the roll, topped it off with the onion, a huge squirt of ketchup and a dollop of mustard. She grinned triumphantly.
"There," she said, her face all pink. "Show that to your fine friend."
I looked at it and giggled. It was the biggest hot dog in the world, and I couldn't wait to see the look on Keriso's face. I put on my coat and my woolly hat and picked up the enormous hot dog.
It was so big it took two hands to hold it. My dad had to hold open the door for me to get out, and my grandma was laughing so much she had to keep wiping her eyes on her pinny.
Anyway, I strolled round the corner and sauntered into Keriso's garden. I stood leaning against the gate where I knew I could be seen from the windows, and I started taking great bites from the hot dog.
"Yum, yum," I kept saying loudly, and it wasn't long before a face appeared at the window. Keriso's eyes bulged out of her head when she saw what I was eating. She flung open the window. "Galloping gallions!" She exclaimed " Where did you get THAT?"
I waved the hot dog under her nose so she could smell the onion and that lovely toasted cheese. "Best hot dog I've ever tasted" I said, taking another huge bite and licking the melted butter off my wrist. "Pity you didn't get to Hubert's in time."
Keriso looked so flabbergasted I almost choked. She hung out the window watching enviously.
"Go on Eastly give me a bit," she wheedled. "You're never going to manage that all by yourself."
I don't know how I did it, but I did. I ate it all. Every scrap. Right down to the last bite. And I didn't give her one single crumb. I was so full I almost burst, but it was all worth it, just to see the look on her face.