HEILLEY AND I walked in behind our owner as he opened the front door to our
house. I held my breath when I saw MonoKeras and Kallisari sitting on the couch,
sharing a tub of popcorn. They may have said earlier that they thought a new
sister would be neat, but they hadn't met Heilley yet.
That situation changed quickly. "Hey, MonoKeras,
Kallisari, this is Heilley. Heilley, meet your new brother and sister."
"OK, so which of you is which?"
I gulped as MonoKeras stared at Heilley. I wasn't
sure if she really didn't know or if she was baiting them- with her deadpan
expression it could've been either.
Our owner laughed. "MonoKeras is the Uni, Heilley.
It's Kallisari who is the Peophin."
"Cool, nice to meet you two."
Kallie just nodded, apparently not that enthusiastic
anymore. MonoKeras decided to try and match Heilley's wordplay. "Same, I'm sure.
So are you a follower of Rouge? Or just an initiate?"
Heilley looked at him blankly. "What? I'm red
normally, bucko, what do you mean by follower?"
"Oh nothing, just wondering."
Heilley had stepped in front of them as they
talked and Kallie was apparently emboldened by her being taken aback. She reached
out to stroke Heilley's hair.
"Hey!" Heilley jerked back and gave Kallisari
an icy glare. "You touched The Hair. Never touch The Hair."
I didn't know whether to laugh or cry as Kallie's
hoof retreated swiftly to her lap and she said a quick 'I'm sorry'. I'd never
heard someone insert capital letters into a term like that before, but Heilley
managed it somehow. She'd also managed to make such an awkward scene that I
wondered what could go wrong next. It didn't take long to find out.
"Yuck! What's that?"
MonoKeras looked down at the floor. "Oh that's
just Emerald. She's Kallisari's pet Slorg."
"Yeeesh, look at all the slime."
"Yeah, I know, she's a pain to take care of...."
"She's worth it!" Kallisari said firmly.
"Oh sure, just saying...."
Emerald interrupted MonoKeras by looking up at
Heilley and hissing. Heilley cringed. "Oh man, she doesn't like me either does
"Oh she likes you fine," MonoKeras said drily.
"If she didn't, she'd have two blazing orange lights for eyes and she'd be glowing
bright purple as she dove at you screaming your doom."
Heilley backed up a few steps and stared at MonoKeras
with her mouth open. "Uh... you have got to be kidding me."
"Actually, he isn't," our owner interrupted.
"I've seen it for myself. Emerald is something of a watch-Slorg. Makes for a
great burglar alarm. But never mind that, I need to show you your new room."
Heilley walked out of the room, muttering under
her breath about the weird things around here. I took one look at MonoKeras
and Kallie and then followed her. I felt quite distinctly that those two wanted
to be alone, and neither was looking too happy. Kallie was just plain upset,
and MonoKeras was mixing a rather satisfied expression with some disgust...
in short, a rather unpleasant mixture that I didn't want to fool with right
then, or preferably not any time.
I'd fallen a few steps behind, so Heilley was
staring into her room with her paws on her hips when I finally caught up.
"I know it's a bit bare," our owner said rather
apologetically, "but I thought it'd be best to start this way and then you could
decorate it however you wanted."
"One bed, one chest of drawers, one chair, one
nightstand, one lamp... and one mirror. Eh, it'll do for now."
I grimaced to myself as Heilley wandered on into
the room. She sure didn't seem all that impressed, but then nothing seemed to
impress her if she could help it.
"Good, glad you like it. I'll leave you to settle
in and unpack whatever you brought with you from the pound."
"Brought with me?" Heilley held out empty paws.
"Does it look like I packed anything?"
"Er, no, it doesn't. Oh well, you can still
rearrange things however you like. I have those combs in the top drawer of your
"Yeah, cool, thanks."
"Sure thing, see you later." He shut the door
and turned around to find me standing behind him. "Whoa! Sorry, blchocobo, didn't
see you there. Hey, I'm going to be off for a while."
"OK. What's up?"
"Oh, I figured I'd go see if I can find Shelleylow
and interview her for my Web site."
"I see. That's the one you made MonoKeras link
to from his page on pain of death?"
My owner rolled his eyes. "Not you too! You know
very well I asked him nicely."
I shrugged. "Sorry, I was just teasing. Hope you have good luck with the interview."
"Thanks... I'll be back for supper."
I nodded and waited until he'd gone down the
stairs before quickly opening the door to Heilley's room without knocking first.
She spun around and stared at me, a flashy gold comb clenched in one paw.
"Nice gold comb there," I remarked. "I didn't
see that in the stuff our owner had for you."
"So where did you hide it?"
Heilley bit her lip. "Oh.... The Hair. I can
put a lot of things in there."
I looked at her huge red waterfall of a mane.
"I don't doubt that any. Oh well, just as long as you only put your own things
"Sure... hey, why did you pop in here and try
to scare me out of my wits anyway?"
"Just wanted to tell you supper was at six this
evening and to be sure not to miss it. We always show up for that."
"Well of course! Food, gotta love it, need it,
and all that sort of thing. Sounds cool to me."
"Uh-huh. See you there." And I shut the door.
I repressed a slightly guilty feeling as I wandered back downstairs. I'd thought
Heilley had been trying to hide something with that innocent act, and now I
knew what it was. I wondered if that was the only thing she was trying to hide,
and tried to comfort myself with the thought that it would all come out in the
I heard MonoKeras and Kallisari talking about
(what else) Heilley as I came back down into the living room.
"....I still don't see why he'd get her, though.
I mean, she's so rude!"
"Who knows, honey. He's got an odd sense of
humour sometimes, and he doesn't take offence all that easily."
"I know, but still, that's no excuse to tolerate
such.... oh, hi blchocobo."
"Hey, blchocobo, what do you think about our
new little sister?"
I sighed a bit to myself before replying to MonoKeras'
question. "It's hard to say, actually. She hasn't opened up enough to let me
find out anything yet."
MonoKeras snorted. "She puts on a show, you mean.
Well I don't think there's anything behind the show- she just brags to look
"Could be," I admitted.
"I don't care, that's still no reason for her
to act that way!"
"Yeah, I know. Oh well, not much we can do about
it. See ya later." I slipped out into the kitchen, wondering why I felt guilty
at listening to Kallisari's complaints. She was certainly justified in them!
I grabbed some leftover fire faerie pizza and
wandered out back while I munched on it. It was still a beautiful day outside,
with nice warm temperatures and lots of sun, but I couldn't quite relax. I kept
brooding over the whole situation. Kallisari was upset and hurt. I knew she
didn't hold grudges too long, but she also didn't hide her feelings, either.
MonoKeras let his grudges run deeper, and I could tell he was bothered, even
though he wasn't totally committed yet. Heilley herself was..... I sighed. Her
brassy personality was pushing everyone and everything away from her so easily
that I wondered if she even realised what she was doing. More important, did
she even care?
Things didn't improve that much at the supper
table, either. Kallisari and MonoKeras sat on one side of the table while Heilley
and I sat on the other. Our owner sat at the head of the table, and seemed slightly
depressed while the rest of us dug into our food with varying degrees of enthusiasm.
Interestingly enough, it was Heilley who seemed happiest. Her hair had been
brushed and curled until it shone with golden highlights, and she dove into
her meal with an enthusiasm that suggested she'd been starving. I wondered if
She did look up from her plate long enough at
one point to say, "Kallisari, be a dear and pass those tomatoes please."
Kallisari's lips tightened, but she didn't say
anything as she passed the tomatoes. Heilley mumbled a thanks before expertly
littering the top of her pasta with tomato slices.
I tried to break the tension with a bit of conversation.
"How did your interview with Shelleylow go?" I asked our owner.
"Uhmm... not too good. She was flattered I asked,
and interested and all that, but she's got a lot of school work to do."
"So that means..."
"She may not be free to do it for a couple of
months. I think I can talk her into an hour or two of spare time to chat and
get it over with, but I don't know...."
He trailed off and I made some sympathetic noises.
Silence, filled only with crunching noises, set in. That is, until Heilley asked,
"hey, where's the asparagus?"
"Asparagus???" MonoKeras' lips curled as he
stared at Heilley.
"Yeah, can't have good pasta without some asparagus
tips on it. Is it in the fridge?"
Everyone was staring at her. "You like asparagus?"
I asked rather weakly.
"Of course. Doesn't everyone?"
"I'm afraid not."
"You're the first pet of mine that ever liked
Heilley shook her head, totally unfazed by our
reactions but showing an obvious surprise of her own. "Wow, what's not to like
"NOT to like about it? What IS there to like
I winced at MonoKeras' explosive retort, but
Heilley just rolled her eyes. "OK, OK, keep it cool, there MonoKeras. I get
your drift. No one likes asparagus."
"Hmmm... no, but now that you say you do, we'll
know who to give all the asparagus to that we wind up getting."
Heilley quirked a sceptical eyebrow at our owner.
"Thanks... I guess. Just make it soon, huh?"
"Oh, of course. Wouldn't think of delaying your
We managed to finish the meal without any further
large incidents, but I reflected gloomily that Heilley's penchant for asparagus
pretty well reflected the whole situation. If there was any single way for her
to be different and abrasive, she seemed to find it.
I figured I ought to do something constructive
to break my dark mood, but instead I wound up rocking in the hammock in the
back yard watching the sunset. The reds were fading to purples and I was finally
starting to relax when a sudden hiss sounded beside me.
"Hssst! Hey, blchocobo, snap out of it guy."
I jerked my head around to find Heilley staring
down at me. "What? Oh! Hi there."
Heilley just nodded, a worried frown on her face.
"Hey, I've been trying to catch you by yourself today, and just hadn't had the
chance. I need to, well...." she scrubbed a foot on the ground.
"...ask a favour of you," she finished in a
rush. Taking a deep breath, she continued. "Promise me you won't tell anyone
about my comb? Please?"
I blinked. "Why?"
"Because I want to keep it!"
"Why shouldn't you? It's yours isn't it?"
Her lips twisted downward. "Nothing is owned
by a pet, you know that. Sure and all, I got it given to me last time--so I'd
get distracted and not put up a fight when they dropped me off. But I know how
it goes. 'Oh, Heilley, what a beautiful comb! Here, let's put it in our little
safe deposit box!' and you never see it again."
"Ahh. Sounds like personal experience."
"Oh, yeah, real personal. REAL personal, but
forget that- keep it a secret, huh?"
I shrugged. "Sure. But relax, we're not like
"Huh. That's what they all say at first. Oh
well, guess I can't ask for more. Thanks anyway."
I pondered her swiftly disappearing figure. Maybe-
just maybe- I was starting to understand what lay behind that shell of hers.
To be continued...