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Neopia's Fill in the Blank News Source | 15th day of Sleeping, Yr 23
The Neopian Times Week 60 > Continuing Series > Heilley Plays It Cool: Part Five

Heilley Plays It Cool: Part Five

by scriptfox

Heilley slipped out the front door to go play Cheat while I sat back and waited for MonoKeras and Kallisari to come home from the water faerie. I sat and worried about whether she'd be over her ugga-ugga. I sat and worried about what they'd be saying about Heilley when they found out she'd left. It was a relief when the front door finally opened. One look at Kallisari and I knew things were OK again. She had her hat tucked down straight and that sparkle in her eye.

     "Kallie!"

     She laughed. "Hi, blchocobo." We gave each other a hug.

     "All better now?"

     "All better! Now just where is that sneaking little Kyrii?"

     I followed them into the room. "Uh... she went off to play some Cheat."

     MonoKeras snorted. "Didn't even wait to see what would happen, obviously."

     Kallisari's eye glinted dangerously. "Well it's nice to know where I stand- somewhere below a deck of cards, and other rotten things."

     "Er... yeah."

     "Sister. Hah! Just plain trouble is more like it. Throw her to the Jetsams and be done with it, I say."

     MonoKeras growled his agreement while our owner frowned slightly.

     "Uhhhmm... I'm sure Emerald will be glad to see you well again."

     Kallisari failed to grin at my rather lame try at diverting her. "Oh yeah, I'll be glad to see her, too. But as far as I'm concerned, that Kyrii can be tossed out into the trash with the rest of the slime around here. Oh well," she shook herself. "Enough of that, she's not worth it. I'm going to see what I can fix us up for dinner- I'm hungry!"

     She and MonoKeras headed into the kitchen. I looked after them rather mournfully as I heard a sigh behind me. I looked up at our owner.

     "She really hates Heilley doesn't she."

     "Looks that way," I admitted. "I guess I can see why, too. It's not like Heilley shows a lot of sympathy."

     "Yeah, but..." he struggled for words. "She's not really a bad sort. She just has a 'tough girl' image that she keeps up, that's all."

     I nodded slightly. "Probably. It's hard to know for sure."

     "Maybe so. But I've never put a pet in the pound, and I don't intend to start now. Think you can talk to her?"

     I hesitated. "I guess. I don't know what to say, exactly, though."

     He grinned and patted me on the shoulder. "I'm sure you'll think of something. Anyhow I better run, I've taken off enough from work for one day already."

     I just nodded as the front door shut behind him. I sat down in one of the recliners and thought. The sounds of happy talk and laughter floated out of the kitchen and disturbed my thinking. Maybe it was just as well- the more I thought about it, the worse I felt, but I didn't come up with any ideas on what to tell Heilley. MonoKeras eventually came out, gave me a breezy goodbye and headed for his office. The sounds in the kitchen told me that Kallisari was busily fixing up all sorts of stuff to eat. I hoped it would be edible She's learned a lot, but sometimes she can pull a real doozy. I have to admit she's never poisoned any of us, though. Unlike Heilley, I added mentally.

     As if thinking of her name was all it needed, Heilley chose that moment to come in the front door.

     "Hey there... is something wrong?"

     Heilley switched her glare from the floor to me. "Stupid Kau," she grumbled. "That Meerca sits there yelling his head off at Brucey, and between the two of them, all she had to do was drop her cards down any way she wanted. Some game."

     "No luck?"

     "Oh, there was luck all right- all of it bad!" She snorted. "Never been so humiliated in all my life. I think I'll grab something to eat and figure out a way to make sure it won't happen again."

     "Uhh...." Heilley ignored me and sailed on into the kitchen- and straight into trouble. I winced at the shouting match that sounded back through the doorway.

     "HEY! STAY OUT OF THERE!"

     "Wha... OUCH! OK, OK, I get the idea!"

     "Oh you do? Well let me give you a few MORE ideas! STAY OUT OF MY KITCHEN! I'LL NOT BE POISONED BY YOU AGAIN!"

     "Oh cool it, I didn't do anything on purpose."

     "I DON'T GIVE A KAU'S TAIL! NOW GET OUT OF HERE BEFORE I LOSE MY TEMPER!"

     I groaned and rolled my eyes as Heilley shot back out of the kitchen, sputtering angrily.

     "Stupid fishtail! What does she think she is, anyway, the faerie queen?" Leaning back in she shouted, "HAVE YOUR DIRTY OLD KITCHEN SEE IF I CARE!"

     It was only her quick reflexes that let her dodge the bowl that came flying through the doorway. I winced as it whacked against the wall while Heilley ran up the stairs and slammed the door to her room. I stared at the bowl as it oozed its gooey contents all over the living room carpet. Kallisari's crying broke the unnatural silence. "I hate her, I hate her, I hate her," came the choked sobs from the kitchen.

     Before Kallisari could come out to retrieve her bowl, I slipped up the stairs as quickly and silently as I could. I paused outside the door to Heilley's room long enough to take a couple of deep breaths. I knocked as softly as possible, then a bit louder. No response. I listened closely, but didn't hear anything. Puzzled and concerned, I turned the doorknob and let the door drift open.

     Heilley was sitting on her bed, staring up at her Jazzmosis poster with a blank expression. I couldn't tell that she'd been crying. In fact, I couldn't tell much of anything. She slowly turned her head when she heard the door open.

     "Oh. Hi."

     I stepped inside. "What are you doing?"

     "Trying to decide what to take with me to the pound."

     "The pound? Who said anything about that?"

     A shrug. "That's what comes next. First time you have a big argument with one of the other pets, you get dumped in the pound. Oh well, at least I had some fun before it ended this time."

     "Mmhmm..." I fished desperately for inspiration. "Hey, why don't we go for a walk? It'd do you more good than just sitting here staring at the wall."

     Heilley thought that one over. "I guess. OK, let's go."

     I stopped her at the head of the stairs and peeked below. The bowl was gone off the living room floor, along with most of the mess, so we managed to sneak out the front door without having Kallisari see us.

     Once we got outside, I headed straight for a walking path that was close by. Soon, Heilley was trailing along beside me as we walked through the greenery. It was a hot midsummer day, with just a hint of cool breeze rustling the leaves. I could feel the heat trying to undo the tension in my neck muscles, and I stretched gratefully. I glanced sideways to see if Heilley was relaxing, too, but she still had that blank expression. I wondered briefly if that was her professional Cheat expression- if it was, I saw how she won.

     "Nice day out, isn't it."

     "Yeah."

     Strike one. I sighed to myself and tried to keep the talk going. "Why do you want to go back to the pound, anyway?"

     Heilley looked at me strangely. "Are you nuts? I don't! But hey, I've done it a few times before, I can handle it again."

     "Ah. How many times?"

     "Oh, I dunno, I lost count."

     Her overly casual look gave the lie away. Can't remember? Yeah right. You could tell me each and every time you saw an owner walking away, along with a list of whatever meagre possessions you had clutched in your paws. "I see. Well.... I hate to see it end this way."

     "Why?"

     "Well... I just do, that's all. Seems like a waste."

     "Oh." A shrug. "That's life."

     "Yeah but... it doesn't have to be that way."

     "What, you know something I don't? I think everyone around here has had their shots at me- including you."

     I winced. "I know. I felt bad about that afterwards. I guess I just lost my temper."

     Heilley shook her head. "I don't get it. I always try to play it cool, keep things under control, and everyone just gets madder when I do."

     "Well, maybe if you did show a bit more emotion...."

     Heilley skidded to a stop, and I had to turn around to look at her. "Now wait a minute. Don't tell me this is The Talk."

     "What?"

     "Oh come on. 'Yeah, Heilley, just start playing nicer and all the little boys and girls will like you. Oh and if you don't you're going to the eek eek pound.'"

     The bitterness and sarcasm in her tone took me aback. I floundered mentally, trying to think up a response. "Uhh..."

     "What I don't understand is that the owner is usually the one that lowers the boom on you. Why didn't he do it this time? Chicken?"

     "Well... he did ask me to talk to you."

     "Hah! Chicken. Couldn't face up to it himself. OK, get it over with, then I can go home and pack."

     "But no one said you were going to the pound."

     She threw me a dirty look. "What sort of fool do I look like? Everyone's itching to see me go- I should know, I've seen it before. You're supposed to be my last chance, so I have to listen to what you say."

     "Not necessarily. In fact, he said he hadn't ever put a pet in the pound and he didn't want to start now."

     "Yep, I was right. Whenever they say that, you can kiss your freedom beddy-bye."

     "But I don't want to see that happen!"

     "Oh, what's it to you. It's not like you've had to worry about it."

     My frustration snapped. "OK, now hold it right there! You can get away with that line if you're talking to MonoKeras- he was created by our owner. You can even say that to Kallisari- she got captured in the wild and wound up in the pound without knowing what it was. But I know full well exactly what the pound is! I've been there!"

     She raised a sardonic eyebrow. "Ohhh, so the quiet guy finally has something to say. I always wondered what you were hiding under that mask."

     "Well now you know! Yeah, a lot goes on in my head, and do you know why more people don't hear about it? Because the one time I came out and said what I knew, I found out exactly what it was like to be abandoned! Oh yeah, I told her what sort of lying, rotten cheat she had for a pet, and so guess who winds up behind bars? Not him! Me, for having the nerve to insult her. Oh boy was I ever naive. I can still remember shaking the bars and yelling after her, 'But it's the truth!' while the dirty liar pauses to turn around and flip me one last rude gesture with his paw. Yeah, I learned what happens when you speak up, all right. I learned a lot of lessons at that pound. There's plenty to learn there, isn't there? But...." my tirade began to wind down as I took a shuddering breath "...but the one lesson you don't learn is love."

     Silence followed my outburst while I caught my breath. I was avoiding looking at Heilley when she finally replied. "Well... OK, so you've been there once maybe. You still don't know what it's like to do it again and again."

     I almost cried- and that's not a light statement for me. I'd told her a whole lot more about myself than I'd ever told anyone, and it still hadn't snapped her out of her fatalistic mood. "OK, have it your way. But before you lock those pound doors behind you, let me ask you something. You know what it's like to be abandoned, but do you know what it's like to be part of a family? Come on, admit it- you don't view any owner as a family, you view it as just another vacation. I'm telling you it can be different here, but it's not going to be if you just give up! Which is more important to you, anyway, to go through life being proved right by being rotten and miserable, or by really finding and grasping a chance at happiness???"

     Heilley didn't say anything at first. She simply folded in on herself until she was sitting cross-legged on the ground while she stared into space. When she finally did reply, I had to strain to hear her. "You really know how to hurt a girl, don't you."

     I sighed and knelt down beside her. "Look, I'm sorry. But I just hate to see someone deliberately make themselves miserable when they don't have to."

     "Mmm... you really think they'll accept me?"

     "I don't know. But it's worth a try."

     Heilley drooped. I watched her expression shift with her emotions and realised that I'd finally pierced her shell. Even though I'd set out to do that, I still felt almost guilty about opening her up this way. I finally couldn't stand the silence any longer. I put my arm under her shoulders, and pulled her up. "Come on. Let's go home and see what we can do."

     She shoved her way out of my hug. "Well... OK... but if this is some trick to get us romantically involved, you're gonna regret it!"

     I gaped. "Faeries forbid!" I blurted. "One married couple is more than enough around here!"

     She laughed and punched me lightly on the arm. "Finally, someone with sense! OK, let's try it--it can't hurt any worse this time than it has before."

To be continued...

Previous Episodes

Heilley Plays It Cool: Part One

Heilley Plays It Cool: Part Two

Heilley Plays It Cool: Part Three

Heilley Plays It Cool: Part Four

Heilley Plays It Cool: Part Six

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