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Neopia's Fill in the Blank News Source | 24th day of Awakening, Yr 22
The Neopian Times Week 50 > Short Stories > Moeioe's Memory

Moeioe's Memory

by tdyans

MOEIOE WAS SQUEAKY clean from the tips of his faerie wings to the bottoms of his hooves, from his brightly-polished tusks to the bristly hairs at the end of his tail. For a special day like this, he'd given in to his brothers' oft-ignored demands that he take a bath. He stood with his hind legs on the seat of his chair and his front hooves propped up on the kitchen table as he stared excitedly at the pyramid of chocolate faerie cakes topped with a single flaming candle. The faerie Moehog broke his attention away from this mesmerising sight and offered a toothy grin to the other Neopets and humans who surrounded him as they finished singing, "Happy birthday, dear Moeioe... Happy birthday to you!" Puffing up his cheeks with air, Moeioe turned back to the cake, blew with all his might, and watched the candle sputter out as everyone clapped and cheered.

     Later that evening, the partygoers relocated to the living room to watch Moeioe rip through the wrapping paper on the stack of gifts he'd received. His older brothers, Achilles81 the cloud Gelert and MaxKanine the green Lupe, had gotten him a copy of Classic Moehog Tales (with a Moehog Comic slipped inside) and a Lupe Warrior Lunchbox respectively, and the newest member of their family, Rooruon the mutant Cybunny, had given him a fancy new stencil set. Once he'd made his way through the presents and gone around thanking his family and friends, he settled down into the seat of honour--his owner Tdyans' lap. As he surveyed the pile of toys, books, and supplies that he'd accumulated, he suddenly realised something. "Tdyans, didn't you get me anything for my birthday?"

     Tdyans smiled down at him and patted his mane. "Of course I did, Moeioe," she said. "But it's a surprise, and you'll have to wait a few days." Satisfied with her response, if a little curious, Moeioe sat back contentedly and listened as his friends and family shared fond memories from a year before when Moeioe had been adopted from the Pound. Moeioe had been too young at the time to remember anything about it himself, but he liked to hear the story, even as a part of him felt that there was something missing from it.

     Suddenly, their companionable chatter was interrupted by a knock at the door. Tdyans looked around the room, noting everyone present and wondering who their new guest could be. Still perplexed, she picked Moeioe up, carried him to the door, and opened it to reveal a girl with short brown hair standing on the porch. Moeioe looked up at Tdyans to see absolutely no recognition on her face, but there was something about this girl that seemed familiar to him somehow. "I'm sorry," Tdyans spoke up after a moment, "but who--"

     She was interrupted as the girl held out a nicely wrapped gift with a card resting on top of it. "For Moeioe," the girl said, smiling. Tdyans took the gift and opened the card, holding it in front of Moeioe so that both of them could read the words that had been written inside:

     "There are many paths that life can take us down, but somehow it always leads us in the right direction, even if we don't recognise it at the time."

     Moeioe looked up again to see his owner's face etched with even more confusion. Then he turned back to look at the girl, only to find that she had disappeared into the Neopian night. "Well, that was strange," Tdyans said, shutting the door slowly and carrying Moeioe and his new present back into the living room. She seemed to put the odd incident out of her mind once they returned to their company, but something about the girl's face continued to nudge at the back of Moeioe's mind for the rest of the evening.

     After their guests had finally trickled out one by one, Moeioe was sent upstairs to bed while the rest of his family took on the job of cleaning up after the party. The faerie Moehog settled into his soft Kau print bed, and their strange visitor's face swam before his vision just before his mind went blank in sleep...

***

A little blue Moehog awoke suddenly to stuffy darkness and the sounds of muffled voices. He'd been born just a couple of hours earlier, with only the sense that he was a Neopet and that Neopets were supposed to have owners who loved and cared for them. But he'd hardly gotten a glimpse of *his* owner before he'd been shut up inside this cardboard box and, in the midst of his new-born fright and confusion, had fallen asleep.

     Now the voices finally ceased, and the flaps of the box opened up above him, letting in glaring, fluorescent light. The little Moehog trembled and squinted up at the creature who loomed above him--a yellow Techo with frazzled, gray hair in a white lab coat. The Techo reached into the box and pulled him out, and the little Moehog turned his head to catch the barest glimpse of a human walking out the door. "Come on fella," the Techo said, holding the little Moehog against his chest and leading him away from the reception area of the Neopian Pound. "You don't need a human like that." The Moehog looked up at the Techo In spite of his stern expression, there was a hint of kindness in his voice.

     A red Uni fell into step beside them and patted the little Moehog with her hoof. "Yeah, don't worry little guy. You'll find the perfect owner here and then you'll both live happily ever after." The Techo rolled his eyes at that, but nodded enthusiastically when he noticed that the Moehog was watching him. Finally, they arrived at the back of the Pound. The Techo opened up a cage and gently placed the little Moehog inside, trying to offer the same reassuring smile as the Uni before they both turned and headed back to the front desk.

     The little blue Moehog turned his head this way and that, taking in his new surroundings. There were Neopets of every size and shape all around him and all in cages just like his. "Hmph," he heard from his left, and turned to see a purple Poogle staring disdainfully at him from the next cage over. "A Moehog?" the Poogle said, her voice conveying her disgust. "Fat chance you'll ever find an owner!"

     The Moehog's tiny ears drooped, but just at that moment, the pets heard someone coming, and every head turned anxiously toward the new human who had just walked into the room. A girl with short brown hair strolled slowly through the rows of cages and came to a stop in front of the little Moehog, who looked up at her hopefully. "Ooh, what a cute pet!" she exclaimed, looking at the name tag that had been attached to his cage. "And a cute name too--Moeioe!" As the girl stood before his cage staring at him, the little Moehog, Moeioe, stared back. He looked at her friendly smile and shining eyes, and suddenly he found himself picturing a life with her. He saw her opening the cage and taking him to a cozy, warm NeoHome. He saw her feeding him and buying him toys. He saw them playing in a grassy yard together, and he sighed happily at the pictures that had formed in his mind of their future.

     But then the girl began to turn away, and the happy visions in the little Moehog's head shattered. "I'll keep you in mind, and maybe I'll come back," she promised him, but he felt none of the reassurance that she tried to inject into her statement. He watched in silent dismay as she walked away and out of sight to continue browsing through the pets.

     "Ha, that's not likely!" the Poogle chimed in again with a delighted sneer. "Wave goodbye, Moehog. There goes *your* last chance of getting out of here." Moeioe laid down dejectedly on the floor of his cage, resting his head against his hooves as tears gathered in his eyes. He'd been born expecting to be loved and instead he'd been given away. He'd allowed himself to dream of a life with that girl, and now that dream had been crushed. He was determined not to hope for anything again, but that resolution only added to his despair.

     He didn't bother turning his head as the other pets did when the door to the back room swung open again, but out of the corner of his eye he could see another human, flanked by two pets--a green Lupe and a cloud Gelert "I'm still not quite sure why I brought you guys here," the girl was saying. "I mean, I think I'm just a two-pet person."

     "Well," the Gelert pointed out, "you used to think you were just a one-pet person too--"

     "But you kept being drawn back to the Pound," the Lupe continued. "And then you found me, and you said you knew it was meant to be..."

     The Gelert concluded, "So maybe this is meant to be too. Maybe there's someone here you're supposed to find."

     Their owner sighed and nodded a little uncertainly, finally turning to observe the pound pets who were all staring intently at her--all except one. She walked slowly to stand in front of the sniffling blue Moehog's cage, and then quietly asked, "What's the matter little guy?" Moeioe finally looked up through tear-blurred eyes to see a girl with curly, brown hair and hazel eyes standing over him with a concerned look on her face. "Aw, of course you can't talk yet to answer me," she said, reaching through the bars of his cage to scratch his head. "You're practically just a baby!"

     Moeioe leaned into her comforting touch, but then remembered his decision not to hope for an owner any more and pulled away a little. Still, his crying had stopped. With a sigh, the girl pulled her hand back and began to turn away. The Moehog just nodded to himself, having forced himself to expect just this outcome of the encounter. But then the girl hesitated and stepped back to his cage to stare into his eyes again. She lingered for a few moments, indecision written across her face, and then looked down at her two pets, who simply nodded back at her. The girl smiled. "Try not to look *too* smug about it guys." Then, to the little Moehog's surprise, she opened the door to his cage and reached in to draw him out and into her arms. "Come on--" she paused to look at the name tag--"Moeioe. You're coming home with us."

     As she carried him away, Moeioe looked over her shoulder to see the first girl who had stopped in front of his cage returning, only to notice his absence with a disappointed expression. He looked from her--the pictures of a happy life with her that he'd entertained still floating through his mind--to the girl who carried him now and the two pets who walked by her sides, and he couldn't bring himself to picture a happy life with them. What he'd thought was meant to be had disappointed him already in his young life, and he could neither let go of it completely, nor allow himself to hope again.

     The Lupe was trying to teach Moeioe how to talk as they walked down Neopia Avenue in the fading daylight. "I'm MaxKanine," he said, "but you can call me Max. Can you say that?"

     "Ma-Maxi," Moeioe tried.

     The Gelert snickered lightly, but MaxKanine just grinned and said, "And that's Achilles81... but you can call him Achi."

     Achilles frowned at Max, but couldn't help but smile slightly when Moeioe repeated, "Achi."

     "And that's your new owner, Tdyans," Max continued, nodding up at the girl who walked beside them.

     "Tee-Tee-die--" the little Moehog struggled with the strange name.

     Tdyans just smiled and picked him up off of the ground. "It's okay, you'll figure it out eventually." As they turned into a driveway that led up to a large house, she said, "And *this* is your new NeoHome."

     MaxKanine gave Moeioe a tour of the NeoHome, and then they all led him to the guest bedroom, explaining that they'd have to start building him a room of his own tomorrow as they tucked him into a soft royal oak bed. "All right Moeioe," Tdyans said, "Max and Achilles will be in their rooms just down the hall, and I have to go back to my own home."

     As the little Moehog watched them walk toward the doorway, the bed around him suddenly seemed very big and lonely. They turned back to look at him one last time before closing the door, and at seeing his frightened expression, Tdyans looked down at her two older pets and they nodded in unison for the second time that evening. "Sleep over in Moeioe's room!" she exclaimed. Without another word, Maxi and Achi leaped onto the bed and curled up on either side of Moeioe. The little Moehog laid his head against the Lupe's soft, green shoulder and watched as his new owner laid across the end of the bed with a yawn. "Just for tonight," he heard her say in an indulgent voice right before his eyes fell closed and he drifted off to sleep.

     When Moeioe awoke the next morning, Tdyans was gone, but Maxi and Achi led him into the kitchen for a breakfast of warm hotcakes. Just as he was sipping the last of his Kau Kau Milk, Tdyans walked through the door smiling. "We're going into town, guys," she said. "I have a surprise for you, Moeioe."

     Moeioe's heart sank. He was certain that he knew exactly what this "surprise" was, but he followed along obediently as they left the house and walked toward Neopia Central together. He consoled himself with the fact that he hadn't allowed himself to dream of a life with them as he'd done with the other girl before. Well, perhaps he had, but then a Neopet couldn't control what he dreamed about in his sleep, especially when that Neopet spent the night with a soft, snoring Lupe, a Gelert who whimpered in his sleep, and a human who awoke every couple of hours to check on him and pat his head reassuringly.

     Moeioe kept his head down as he trudged after Tdyans, Achilles81, and MaxKanine, so when they finally stopped, he was surprised to find that they were standing not in front of the Pound, but in front of a strange looking pool with a rainbow rising out of it. He looked up at Tdyans, confused, and she smiled and pulled a brightly wrapped gift out from behind her back, setting it down before him. Moeioe was even more puzzled now--he'd never received a present before in his short life. Maxi helped him get the idea by grabbing one end of the bright red bow between his sharp teeth and pulling it free. Then he nodded to Moeioe encouragingly, and the little Moehog stuck his hoof out and scratched at the blue wrapping paper experimentally. The glossy paper tore off, and he curiously scratched away more and more until finally, his gift was revealed--a strange-looking paint brush with black paint and flames on its bristles.

     "Would you like to be painted fire, Moeioe?" Tdyans asked. Moeioe, still not completely sure what all this was about, looked around and noticed the other pets who were gathered around the pool. A Peophin nearby hopped into the pool with another strange paint brush, and her reddish fur slowly changed to a lovely purple. All of the other pets present seemed to be undergoing similar transformations, and Moeioe turned back to Tdyans and nodded his head enthusiastically.

     She picked him up and set him down gently into the cool, shallow water, and then she slowly dipped the bristles of the strange paint brush into the pool near his feet. The colour from the paint brush spread through the water, clinging to Moeioe's legs and spreading up and around the rest of his short fur. Moeioe looked down at himself to see ash gray hooves and handsome, coal black fur with painted orange flames leaping up his little legs. For the first time since he had been created just a day earlier, Moeioe smiled a real, toothy Moehog grin and leaped out of the water to dance around excitedly on the bank, admiring the way that his new coat looked under the friendly Neopian sunlight.

     He hopped joyfully up to MaxKanine, who was so caught up in the little Moehog's gusto that he threw his head back and howled. Moeioe watched him curiously for a moment, and then threw his head back and did the same. "Aa-ooooo!" Even Achilles81, after rolling his eyes, joined in the celebratory howl. Moeioe stopped for a moment and looked up again at Tdyans--his new owner--and smiled before he threw his head back once again. "Aa-oooooo!"

***

"Moeioe, Moeioe, wake up." Moeioe opened his eyes slowly to darkness rather than bright sunlight and wondered where he was. Then he looked down at his fur and saw that it was no longer black and orange, but light blue and green. Finally, he looked up to see his family--Tdyans, Achilles81, MaxKanine, and Rooruon--gathered around him on the bed. "Are you all right, Moeioe?" Tdyans asked. She smiled a little as she explained, "You were... howling... in your sleep."

     Moeioe smiled back, realising that he had been dreaming, but also knowing deep down that it had been more than just a dream. He looked over at the strange card that had been set on his dresser and remembered the girl with the short, brown hair--how he'd imagined a life with her and then been disappointed. And then he turned back to his family, and he realised life without *them* was unimaginable.

     He climbed into Tdyans lap and nuzzled her contentedly. "I'm glad it was you Tdyans," he said.

     He looked up at her and watched as her face showed first confusion and then a simple smile as she hugged him back. "I'm glad it was you too, Moeioe."

The End


Author's Note: The one year anniversary of Moeioe's creation, abandonment, and adoption was July 24th, and in case you hadn't guessed, this is my birthday gift to him. Perhaps it's really "just another adoption story" at heart, but I felt the need to write it. It's based on a true story; someone Neomailed me after reading one of my stories and said she'd recognised Moeioe's name because she had almost adopted him way back when. And although I'm sure she would have been a good owner to him, I'm still glad that he ended up with me instead. I simply can't imagine my little Neopian family without him.

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