Has it really been only a month since I've been home? It seemed like it has been only a day. The experience seemed like it happened years ago. Everything that has happened to me; it seems like a distant memory now. I don't think I've rested enough; I still felt tired and weak, and my chest hurts a lot. I breathed in deeply, and couldn't help to notice the smells of the Star Festival around me. Mainly, I could smell the funnel cakes and I felt my mouth water as a result.
Out of the corner of my eye, I couldn't help but to notice a particular flying yellow mass, carrying what looked like two ice cream cones. I felt a smile on my lips as the mass flew closer to me, trying not to drop one (or both) of the two ice cream cones with his little hands. I stood up, and approached him. I reached my hand out slowly, and a strawberry ice cream cone was put into it along with a few napkins.
"Luma got Mama ice cream, too!" he piped.
"Thank you, Luma." I spoke lightly.
I laughed as I took the cone from his tiny hands. I walked back to where I was sitting, and Luma sat next to me on the rim of the fountain in the heart of the Mushroom Kingdom. Watching Luma trying to eat a double scoop of Cookie Dough ice cream was quite entertaining to say the least (counting that it was taller than him). He wasn't sure how he was going to eat it, let alone where to start. I knelt to his height, and held the cone steady for him while he ate from the top of it. He would look at the ice cream, find a cookie dough piece, and only eat that section. I would scold him from time to time, telling him that he had to eat the ice cream and not only the cookie parts. Once it got to the point where he could eat it himself, I let it go and started on my own. By that time, however, it was very runny. I managed however, and Luma scolded me for making a big mess. I smiled and laughed as I cleaned him off (and myself as well) with the napkins.
"Mama?" he chirped after finishing the cone.
"Yes, Luma?" I responded.
"Where everyone go? Luma no see Tall Purple Man or Flower."
"They'll come. They had to do some things first." He sat down again, and turned away from me. I rested a finger on his shoulder "What's wrong?"
"Luma not Star…"
This again…the poor guy only wants to fit in.
I picked him up and held him close to me. "Luma, Mama love Luma just the way Luma is. No more sad, okay?"
"Luma wanna be Star, Mama. Luma can't be." He started to cry.
"Luma is. Luma Mama's Star. Always Mama's Star. Mama's Star forever and ever."
"And ever?" his eyes lit up.
"Uh-huh. Ever and ever and ever."
I dried his tears and kissed the top of his little head before he flew out into the Fair. I watched him chase a few balloons into the sky, and talk to the Toads. I could tell that he was enjoying himself, even though he knew that he wasn't a Star like all the others.
"Luigi," I looked up to see Mario and his Star, "we need to head to the Pavilion."
"We?" I asked. "Why 'we'? I thought you were the only one speaking."
He shook his head. "Haven't you heard what everyone is talking about?"
"…no. Should I?"
He sat down next to me as I closed my eyes, focusing and concentrating. The only things I could hear were the sounds of a fair; nothing too special. I also heard Luma, his cheerful laugh bringing a smile to my face once again. The shouts of joy from the townsfolk were the majority of the sounds.
Then, I heard them. The voices; the voices of the fair were talking. I felt raw fear enter me like never before. Mario noticed my reaction, and held me hand for comfort. I couldn't distinguish all what they were saying, but two names stuck out to me: Mr. L…and Mario. I opened my eyes, and Mario's face was soft and understanding.
"There has been a mistake." He whispered. My vision blurred with tears of rage and frustration. "I am not going to take this one from you, Luigi. L was a master planner; it was practically flawless! No one knew that it was him. I plan…" he fell silent, thinking. He looked at me in the eye with determination a minute later. "No, I can't. I was planning on explaining everything to them at my speech, but I don't want to take this chance from you."
"I appreciate your offer, but I don't think I can…" I whispered.
"I can't! I am terrified of the thought! Everyone staring at me… You are the hero because you can talk to a whole crowd of people without breaking a sweat! I don't mind if you take this one from me, Bro. Promise."
He sighed, nodded and left; telling me that I should still head there none the less. I stood up to follow him, and Luma sat on my shoulder, eating what appeared to be the last of a chocolate bar. I rolled my eyes as he offered a bite to me. I took a small piece off, and placed it in my mouth.
Dark chocolate; he knows me too well.
I patted his little head and he sat on my shoulder, continuing to munch away on his candy. Eventually, we caught up with Mario. He smiled a warm smile, but his eyes were uncertain. I knew that he wanted me to speak for myself. I knew that he wanted me to get out of his shadow to make a name for myself.
Suddenly, a hand intertwined mine. I held it gently as I brought it up to my lips, and kissed it lightly. I wrapped my arm around her, and finally took notice of what she was wearing.
"I like the dress, Daisy." I whispered lightly.
"Pretty." Luma cooed cleaning himself off.
"Do you think it is too…well…" she trailed off.
She was wearing a sleeveless, formfitting black formal dress. It reached down to her ankles, and I could see the blood red heels. Her hair was down (probably because it was too short to be pulled up into anything fancy) and pearls accented her neck and ears. What shocked me was that she was wearing more make-up than the usual splash of mascara and eyeliner that she usually does.
"Flower pretty." Daisy looked at Luma. "Not overdressed. You seen Pretty Girl? Pretty Girl overdressed for Luma."
"I think he got your sense of fashion, Luigi."
"At least he got that." I answered patting his head.
In Luma language, 'Pretty Girl' was Peach.
We got to the Star Pavilion, and we went our separate ways. Mario headed backstage, and Daisy and I went towards our seats. Luma flew off my shoulder to surprise hug an unsuspecting "Tall Purple Man". Rose waved to us as we approached. We sat down next to her and Wendy. Daisy told me that she had to check on something, so after a short kiss on the cheek, she left. So, all in all, I was left by myself with Rose and Wendy (which didn't seem to bother me too much). Wendy went into her 'doctor mode' and asked me how I was feeling and if I was well recovered yet. She told me that the scar would probably crust over and feel tight, and that it will get slightly uncomfortable.
All of our conversations were cut off when a female voice called everyone to the Star Pavilion. I couldn't hear it quite well, so it was safe to assume it was Princess Peach.
Imagine the shock when I saw Daisy walk on stage instead of Peach.
Everyone had the same amount of shock and confusion as I did. Every year, for as long as I could remember, Peach was the one who ran the Star Festival. Apparently this year was the year of change.
"Welcome, everyone!" Daisy spoke loud and clear into the microphone. "I hope we are all having a good time. So, as you can tell, there are going to be some changes to this year's Star Festival. Unfortunately, we received no new Blessings this year."
My gut dropped.
"Instead, we were all put against a trial of darkness and corruption. Not to mention the confusion that followed along with it. Through this trial, it is hard to admit that the Mushroom Kingdom fell victim to this darkness. We all know the story about Fawful and his plan to control us all, but there is one story that none of us do know.
"How one man, who lived in the shadow of his brother all of his life, finally broke free, and made himself known. Hiding in the most unlikely of places in the worst conditions, he fought the darkness and prevailed. With the aid of the few people who believed in him, a Luma came down, Blessing one of our very own.
"It is my honor and privilege, to open the stage to the man who set us all free, and the man who I believe needs to receive the best of Blessings: Luigi Mario!"
I was actually shocked at how many cheers of happiness erupted from the Pavilion. Luma sat on my shoulder, telling me to go.
"Luma here for Mama." He piped.
I stood up, and made my way towards the stage. This time last year, I was running to save Mario and Peach from Bowser. How much I wished for that again; just having little bursts of glory here and there, but most of it going to Mario.
Once I got to the podium, I received a kiss on the cheek from Daisy, and Luma looked around, his eyes filled with wonder and excitement. I closed my eyes, took a deep breath, and started the speech that I had been practicing with ever since I got home.