"Do you like bubbles?"
Clara groaned. She stared out the kitchen window as she scrubbed the dirty dishes.
'It's a perfect Saturday afternoon, and I'm stuck babysitting,' she thought to herself, her eyes gazing over into the living room where her little brother, Todd, a baby Kacheek, was playing with some colorful building blocks.
When she was done with the dishes, she washed her pink Kacheek paws and then dried them on a plain white towel.
"Sissy!" Todd called from the living room, his bright blue eyes beaming up at his older sister. "Can we go to the park? Pwease!" he begged.
"No, Todd," Clara said, a bit annoyed. It wasn't that she was angry at her brother; she was just irritated that her parents had gone to Neopia Central. Clara could guess by the way her mother spoke that they were going to be out of the house for most of the day.
"Awwww! Why not?" Todd frowned.
"Because 'Sissy' doesn't want to," Clara stated, speaking harsher than she intended to.
Todd's head tilted down and he hugged his baby blue blanket tightly. "Okay...." he murmured. He then got off the floor, and walked to the back door. "I'm going to go outside." He spoke quietly, sliding the glass door open. He slowly walked to the back yard, dragging his blanket behind him. He gently closed the door and Clara sighed.
A wave of guilt flooded over her. She didn't mean to sound so harsh. 'Todd probably thinks I don't like to be around him.' Clara thought for a moment.
A lot of times when Todd asked if Clara wanted to play with him, she usually said no. She usually preferred to go hang out with her best friend Heather, a red Cybunny, or go into town, or go to the Game Room within Neopia Central and play her favorite arcade game. Most of the time, her mother or father were the ones who forced her to play with Todd, or babysit him.
Babysitting. There was nothing fun about that. Her parents never paid her any neopoints for babysitting him. She didn't think much of it until a classmate at the Neopian School said that they got 25 neopoints for babysitting their cousin. Of course, Clara asked her mother if she could get paid the next time she babysat Todd, but she didn't exactly get the response she wanted. Her mother told her, "Babysitting isn't a job, Clara. It's a way to become closer to your siblings. If it was a job, then you would get paid, but it's not a job. It's fun and enjoyable for both you and Todd."
Fun? Enjoyable? Those were definitely not the words Clara would use to describe babysitting. Babysitting was a job! She had to make sure he was well fed and bathed. She had to make sure he took a nap so he wasn't cranky, and most of all, it took her free time away. Babysitting was more than a job--it was a chore!
Another wave of guilt engulfed her. 'That was kind of harsh....' Clara thought again. Even to her, the words she just described 'babysitting' was a bit more cruel than she thought.
'Well....' Clara's conscience began to take hold of her. She hadn't spent time with Todd for the past month! If that wasn't being a terrible older sister, then she didn't know what was.
Clara opened the fridge and grabbed a can of neocola. She opened it and gulped a bit down refreshingly. Clara then turned her head and stared out the window once more.
'It is a nice day outside....' Clara then turned to stare towards the back door. 'I really should go play with Todd.... just for a bit.'
Clara finished her neocola, and went into the living room. She opened the back door and took two steps outside. Clara's smile was quickly wiped off as she saw the scene before her.
Todd climbed to his feet, his head down a bit. "S-Sorry, Sissy," he apologized.
"Todd! You're covered in mud!"
Todd was standing in a mud puddle. His fur was dripping with mud from his neck to his feet. His baby blue blanket was also splattered with the thick, brown substance. Clara had forgotten that it had rained yesterday. She wasn't thinking about the puddles that were in the yard.
"I was kicking my ball, and I slipped," he explained, pointing towards the blue bouncy ball that was also lying in the mud.
Clara sighed, her irritation filling back inside of her. "Get inside. It's bath time."
Clara sighed, shaking her head as she tried to scrub the mud out of Todd's hair. Todd happily splashed around in the bathtub, bubbles and water were splashing around everywhere, some spilling on the floor.
"Todd, don't splash around so much. You're getting everything wet, including me." Clara frowned as some of the water splashed onto her.
Todd then splashed around a bit more in the soapy, bubbly water, playing with his rubber duck. Todd then stopped playing and his blue eyes stared up at Clara.
"Do you like bubbles?"
Clara was caught a bit off guard with the question. "Why do you ask?"
"Because I like bubbles." Todd smiled and then picked up his rubber duck and showed Clara. "And I wove Duckie!"
Clara then remembered that a year ago, she had bought that rubber duck and given it to Todd as a present. Todd didn't wait for Clara to say anything before he splashed around in the water again. Todd, forgetting to not splash around too much, began to get water everywhere once more. Then a splash of water hit Clara on the cheek. Todd stared wide eyed at his sister.
Clara's eyes met Todd's fearful gaze. That rubber duck. That yellow rubber duck that squeaked when you squeezed it. That was back before Clara and Todd played together. Clara wasn't always this harsh to Todd. When Todd was first born, Clara played with him a lot. It wasn't until up to this year that she stopped playing to Todd so much.
Her birthday had changed a lot. She seemed to have forgotten what it was like to be a kid. To play around with Todd. To go to the park and play. To have bubble baths. To finger paint. To do all those kid things when she was little. She was older now, and she didn't do that stuff anymore. When she was playing with Todd, she actually found it enjoyable to do all those things again. All those things that if she just thought about it, seemed boring and dull.
She stared at a single bubble that had found its way onto her pink, furry paw. She stared at her own smaller reflection. There wasn't a law that said she had to dislike all of those things. There wasn't a rule that said she had to do anything at all.
Her reflection stared back at her. Clara. Who was she? Clara then smiled. She was Todd's big sister, and role model. She was the one who wasn't going to let her aging stop her from playing with her brother.
She didn't know what had happened exactly, but she wasn't going to be the big sister who shunned her sibling. She was going to be the big sister that Todd would always look up to and love with all his heart.
Todd continued to stare at Clara with large eyes. "Sissy?" Clara snapped out of her thoughts.
Clara then gave Todd a wide smile. "You know what?" She spoke softly. "I like bubbles too."
Clara then splashed Todd, making him giggle. He splashed back, and the two of them began to have a splashing war until they were both soaked with water, soap, and bubbles.
"Sissy?" Todd then asked.
"Can we go to the park tomorrow?" he asked slowly, giving her a hopeful stare.
Babysitting wasn't a chore. It was a way to get closer to their siblings. It wasn't a job. She didn't need to get paid to watch and play with her own little brother. Fun? Enjoyable? Clara smiled. Those were definitely words she would use to describe it.
"Yes, Todd," Clara said with a warm smile. "We can go to the park tomorrow. Just me, and you."