I remember that day, that moment, in such clarity that it's like I'm always living it.
There were no words, no warning. She was just… gone.
Her eyes sparkled like the stars she would always gaze at. She smiled at me, and spread her wings to leave, and there was a soft breeze, and then nothing. She never flew off, she never took another step. She just vanished.
Her name was Crystal. She was a year or two younger than me; my little sister. Her silver wings were fluttering before she even opened her eyes. From the day she was born she was awe inspiring.
She was always cheerful, always excited. Whenever we would do something she just about burst with anticipation. As time went on that never ending excitement would mellow out, but she would always have a smile on her face and a touch of enthusiasm in her heart. One of those days she developed a bit of a sarcastic edge, and worked on it so such a comment could pop out at the littlest of things.
Crystal never met someone she couldn't like. She would always search and eventually find something to like in a person, even if they never had that trait. She trusted practically everyone, but in different ways. I was always a bit shy, but occasionally she spurred me on to do things I never would have expected of myself.
Crystal was… special. She had faerie magic coursing through her veins. And she could send that magic out, like an actual Light Faerie. She would release little spheres that burst into fireworks, make swords that we would battle with. I always would marvel and stare as she performed feats that few pets could ever accomplish. She couldn't just control light.
She was light.
Time went on, and her powers grew stronger. She matured; we both did. I'd do anything to get those days back. It was just her and me and Ivy, in our little house in the middle of nowhere. It was bliss; pure happiness.
As we grew, Crystal wanted to see the world. There were so many places that were just a flutter of the wings away for her, and she wanted to visit. Ivy was reluctant to let her leave, and I begged for her not to go. She stayed, for a while anyways.
That letter changed anyway. Crystal had been in touch with an administrator from some college in Faerieland, and they had finally accepted her. She was going off to become more powerful, but so far away from home. She stayed with us for another month, which went by in a moment. But then it was time for her to go.
And she left. Crystal vanished before our eyes. We haven't heard from her since. The college she was supposed to go to never got in touch, whether to compliment her progress or to ask of her presence. We searched shop and travel records, but Crystal never came up. After months of scouring and waiting, and with nothing else to go on from, we gave Crystal up as dead.
One day Ivy surprised me. She went out for most of the day, but when she came back she brought another. A Starry Xweetok named Star. Ivy said she was worried that I might be lonely without Crystal around anymore, so she got me a sibling from the Pound.
That shocked me. Ivy had given up. She never would have gotten Star unless she was convinced Crystal was gone. But it made me realize that it was time to move on.
The first few months with Star were shaky. Her previous owners (apparently she went through three homes before Ivy picked her up) had left her with a bad impression, so she was struggling to learn to trust us. I could see the conflict in her eyes most of the time as she wondered whether or not to let us into her heart.
I had trouble accepting Star as well. I felt that she was supposed to be Crystal's replacement, but I never stopped believing that Crystal would one day turn up somewhere. I knew that once hope was lost, Crystal would be lost forever. But I guess most of my reluctance was fear. Fear that if I grew close to Star and lost her like I lost Crystal, my heart would be broken twice as hard. I put up walls in my heart to protect myself from the pain of loss.
But Star wasn't leaving. Time wore on and she grew more friendly, and I started to see the real her. I began to notice how similar she was to Crystal, but how different at the same time.
Star was a dreamer, like Crystal. But instead of adventure, Star longed for a solution to mysteries that could never be solved. Things never meant to be understood Star longed to comprehend, while Crystal pushed those wonders aside as she longed for excitement. Star was patient and understanding when Crystal couldn't wait to get problems aside and get moving. When Crystal would wave at life as it passed by Star would take the time to appreciate the little things. They both loved dance and music, and dislike violence with a passion. They have the same heart, but different souls.
Every night Star would sit out on the grass and gaze at the lights she was named for. I used to look at her from my window, tracing constellations with her paw and laughing quietly at things only she knew. One night I joined her. Instead of watching her, I lay down beside her and asked for her to point out patterns for me. Star was shocked at first, but smiled and started outlining shapes in the night sky. I ended up pointing out something too; a star shape like the ones on her pelt.
"It's like I'm resting in you. That star shape represents me and the sky represents you. Us, bonded together forever," Star said, grinning as she laid her head on my shoulder. I smiled back, and the walls I lay up, that had been crumpling for weeks, finally came crashing down. Both of our barriers guarding us from each other had been destroyed, and for the first time since Crystal left I felt as though I had a family. But inside I still fervently wished that Crystal would return, but just so she and Star could meet and our family could be whole.
Star's eyes widened as a shooting star streaked across the sky. It flew across the constellation we were looking at before vanishing. "Maybe that star was Crystal, telling us that she's still watching over us. That she's glad we're family, and she wants to be back with us," Star said. That line surprised me. Could Crystal really be watching over us?
I saw her in my dreams that night. She appeared before me in a beam of light, and before I could saw anything she took my paw and took off. We flew beyond Neopia, soaring in the stars and places I couldn't imagine. I have no idea how long we explored the reaches beyond home, but when I woke up I felt elated. The shooting star I had seen before I fell asleep flashed in my mind, and I hoped that what Crystal had done with me in my dream was the kind of life she was living. Free to explore the stars and whatever came after.
Life carried on easier after that. In the day I would play with Ivy and Star, and at night I would fly with Crystal in the night sky. In the dream we would talk, laugh, and soar until we grew tired, when we would rest in stars and converse like old times. Slowly I came to accept that I would only get to see Crystal in my dreams, and that became good enough for me.
Ivy started taking me and Star out at one point. We would go to different lands for weeks upon end, so we could experience the full magic and culture of the lands beyond home. We ate delicious cuisine, watched and participated in the best of sports, and learned all kinds of things that I never would have imagined. At night I would share these experiences with Crystal, but I knew that words of what we did were no comparison to actually doing them.
Sometime after Ivy started taking us to explore she sent us to Neoschool. At first I was reluctant (mostly because Crystal had disappeared just before she left for such a place) but I learned to love the establishment. I was an average student, but I did well in math and music. I learned to play the clarinet, and I would play it as Star danced to my songs. I had fewer friends than some kids in my school, but they were the best I could ask for and I knew them well. I even got myself a girlfriend; an Island Eyrie named Feather. Over summer we spent time on Mystery Island, just the two of us.
My dreams with Crystal became shorter and fewer. She seemed sad a lot of the time for most of them. When I asked her about it, she said that I was moving on; moving away from her. She said that she was my sister, and I shouldn't be moving away from her.
"You left us!" I had yelled. "You vanished before our eyes without any warning! You could be dead for all I know! This dream is only that; a dream. You're not really here! You are my sister, and I still love you, and I still want you back. But that's not going to happen! I haven't really seen you in years! Do you expect me to wait for you forever? Well sorry to burst your bubble. Sure I'm moving on, and my life is much better because of it. And you're not exactly giving me enough to stick around for, not anymore."
She disappeared after I said that. I haven't dreamed of her since.
I still love Crystal, I really do. But I can't be with her anymore. Not in my dreams, not in my waking hours. I have friends have a family that care about me. And I care for them, too. Even without Crystal, life moves on.
For most of my life since I started dreaming about her, I've moved forward, but gone just a little bit back to old times to be with her again. My time of stepping back is over.
I've put the past behind me, and the present is better than I dreamed it would be. The future is open, all I have to do is keep moving forward.
And that's exactly what I'm going to do.