Eleanor's Gift:Part One
It was a lazy Sunday morning, and I was planning to spend
all day in my bed, lounging around and maybe reading my favourite book, The
Magic Paw. I sat up and gazed blearily around my bedroom, rubbing sleep from
my eyes. I could hear loud thuds from downstairs, which meant that my little brother,
Spyke, was already up.
"Tiff! Tiff, your breakfast is ready!" I heard
my mother, Dion, shouting me. I sighed and snuggled deeper into my bedcovers.
"Tiffany," my mother called sternly. I knew
then that she wasn't messing around, for she only called me Tiffany when she
was annoyed. Reluctantly, I pulled back my bedcovers and stumbled across the
room. Glancing into my mirror, I saw my sleepy reflection staring back at me.
My green fur was untidy and needed grooming, and I thought that I could do with
a fair bit of toothpaste, judging from my teeth. I am a young Kacheek, and in
fact the only Kacheek in my rather disorderly family. My mother always adopts
pets from the Pound, because she knows that these pets have been abandoned.
I was the first pet she ever adopted, and have lived with her ever since. Soon
after she adopted Spyke, my blue Shoyru brother, who's extremely hyper, but
very handsome. Lastly, she adopted Murgle a couple of months ago, who is a baby
Bruce and a very temperamental little thing. He always cries when he doesn't
get his way, but he's got a heart of gold underneath.
"Tiffany I am not shouting at you again!" warned
Mum's voice, and I hurried down the stairs as fast as I could.
Spyke was jumping on the sofa, and throwing
his bouncy ball at the wall, causing the loud thuds that I had heard earlier.
Mum was attempting to feed Murgle his baby food, but he was screaming loudly
and getting the strawberry mess everywhere.
"There you are," Mum said. "Your cereal is on
the table. When you're all cleaned up, could you nip to the shop and get a loaf
of bread? We're all out."
"Sure," I said, eager to be out of the house.
I spooned down my cereal as fast as I could, brushed my teeth and fur, and finally
sprayed myself with a bit of perfume, before I headed out of the NeoHome. I
had grabbed a few of the last Neopoints that were left in my mother's purse,
to buy the bread, but she was really running out of money. Ever since she had
adopted Murgle, we had been hard up, even though she worked as often as she
could to get more. I tried to forget my worries as I strolled along in the lovely
heat, but even the beautiful sunshine couldn't distract me today. I was feeling
rather down in the dumps to tell you the truth.
I arrived at the Food Shop, where I bought a
loaf of bread and patiently waited in the queue to be served. When I finally
paid for the loaf of bread, the friendly Shopkeeper could tell something was
"Hello Tiff," he beamed heartily. "Why so sad?
You're young, you should have a big smile on your face."
"It's nothing," I muttered. "See you later."
I hurried out of the Shop, and was just going to head for home, when I decided
to go for a walk and clear my head. I turned and strolled up the huge rolling
green hills to my left, swinging the bread in my hand as I went. I walked for
what seemed like forever, when I suddenly heard something that warmed my soul….
Somebody was singing, but it was like nothing
I had ever heard before. I couldn't make out the words, but all I knew was that
I never wanted them to stop. It cheered me up and carried me away -- I was floating
in the clouds, I was waltzing up in the sky… I squinted to see who it could
be, and could just make out a solitary shape in the distance. I broke into a
run, urging myself to get there as fast as I could, and finally skidded to a
halt in front of the singer. I gave a huge gasp as I looked at her face for
the first time.
She was covered in head to toe in thick brown
mud, so thick that you couldn't see what colour she was underneath. I could
just make out that she was an Ixi, for her little horns protruded slightly,
and her tail appeared underneath her. The only part of her not covered up was
her piercing pink eyes that glittered and shone. Those eyes were beautiful;
they showed her very soul, and they looked sad. She looked as if she had been
through a lot. The singing had stopped, and she was gazing at me intently. I
felt as if she could see right through me, and felt very bare. The surprising
thing was, I felt as if I had to help her, though I didn't even know her.
"Who are you? Are you alright?" I asked kindly,
putting my green paw gingerly on her muddy shoulder.
"I am Eleanor," she said sadly, bowing her head.
"I will be fine here."
"Well, I am Tiff," I said. "And I must insist
that I take you home to your owner. Where do you live?" But Eleanor was shaking
her head miserably.
"I don't want to go back there ever again,"
she answered fearfully. "Please don't make me. I ran away, so I didn't have
to face my owner again. He will be every so angry, he will put me in the Pound
if ever I return!"
"Okay," I said worriedly. "But I can't leave
you here. Come with me, we will look after you at my home for a while, until
you are fine enough to be on your way. Would you want that?"
"Oh no," Eleanor said. "I mustn't put upon people."
"You won't be," I insisted. "You're extremely
welcome, and I really can't leave you here. Come, follow me." I began walking
away, and soon Eleanor was by my side, limping slightly on one of her hooves.
"How did you hurt yourself?" I asked, watching
her with sympathy. Eleanor didn't answer for a long while.
"There are things which should be forgotten,"
she said finally. "And things which can't be, no matter how hard we try." Large
tears rolled silently down her face, and at that moment huge amounts of anger
bubbled up inside me. Who had done this to her? Who could hurt such a lonely,
helpless creature? I didn't know the answers to any of these questions, but
by the look on Eleanor's face, I was quite sure she didn't want to talk about
her past. That would have to be saved for another day.
After a long time walking, we finally reached
the front door of my NeoHome. Before I opened it, I turned to Eleanor and said
quietly, "My mother is called Dion. She will look after you for as long as you
want, or need. She's very kind, but my little brothers can be a hassle, especially
Spyke when he's in one of his crazy moods. But don't worry, we're all friendly."
I smiled encouragingly, and opened the door for her to enter. As I led her into
the Lounge, she looked extremely nervous. I stepped in front of her and faced
my mother, who was gawping at Eleanor. Spyke had stopped running up and down
the stairs and was frozen to the spot, his mouth hanging open. But Murgle was
laughing with delight, and crawling towards Eleanor.
"Mum, this is Eleanor," I said loudly, sounding
more confident than I felt. "She's wounded, and covered in all this mud. She
has nowhere to go, so I took her here for a wash and everything. Would it be
alright if she stayed for a little while?" Mum, who had come to her senses,
had stepped forward and was smiling kindly at Eleanor.
"Of course," she said warmly, and I was pleased
to see that Eleanor smiled shyly, though it was hard to tell underneath the
grime. "Spyke, run and set up a bed for Eleanor in Tiff's room. I'll go and
run a bath, then we'll set about helping you with this injury, eh?"
As Spyke and Mum rushed around sorting things
out, I picked up baby Murgle, who was about to crawl right into the dining room
"Here's Murgle," I said, cradling him. "He's
a right handful. But he has a heart of gold. Look Murgle, it's Eleanor." Eleanor
was gazing at him adoringly, and I could tell that she loved babies.
"Ellie, Ellie, Ellie-nor," Murgle giggled, who
always had trouble with names. "Ellie, Ellie hold Murgle!"
I passed Murgle to Eleanor, grinning, who was
looking delighted with her new nickname. She held him carefully, and tickled
him underneath the chin, which made him whoop with delight.
"Ellie," she murmured. "I like it."
"Well, Ellie," I beamed. "Welcome to the family."
She smiled when I said that, but I got the impression
that there was something in her eyes still quite sad. They looked woeful, as
if she was remembering things that happened a long time ago. Where was the key
to unlocking Ellie's past? How could I learn to understand her? From that moment
on, I was determined to help Ellie, no matter what it would take….
To be continued...