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Family Feud: Part Two


by alkuna_

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Later that night, Sarah brooded in her home. Her mind kept going over and over how everyone was either oblivious to Kaycee's treatment or hating her with every breath they took but not daring to rant about it. Around and around. Back and forth.

     Finally Sarah clutched the sides of her head in frustration and left her still empty home to take a walk along the moonlit Mystery Island beach.

     She trudged along, staring at the waves as they washed ashore, flowing over sand with a soft hiss, and pulling back again. The never-ending ebb and flow of obsidian black highlighted with Kreludor's orange gleam. Sarah sighed and sat down in the damp sand. Sometimes she wondered if her family could ever be as smooth and flowing as the tide.

     "Your eyes are quite sad.

     Something weighs upon your heart.

     Tell me your troubles?"

     Sarah looked up in surprise to see the Haiku Kougra kneeling next to her; the feline's eyes kind and concerned.

     Sarah thought about saying "Nothing." She considered asking, "What could you possibly do to help?" Instead, the whole story tumbled from her. At first, she stumbled, and the words were halting. Then the words came easier for her as the story rolled off her chest. By the time she was finished, Sarah was crying into her Neopkins again while the Kougra patted her shoulder reassuringly.

     For a few minutes both were silent, letting the rhythm of the waves wash and hiss in the air between them.

     Finally the Kougra rose to his paws with a grunt;

     "I can not help much,

     I am no wise-man Kougra.

     Perhaps another."

     "Who?" Sarah sniffed, looking up at the big feline.

     "The Island Mystic;

     He may have answers you seek.

     Go there and ask him."

     Slowly Sarah built up a watery smile. Normally, the Kougra spouted general nonsense to the public who visited him and was of no help at all.

     As if seeing the knowledge in her eyes, the Kougra touched a paw to his lips to encourage her not to tell anyone, and then wandered off, chanting in a loud but deadpan voice…

     "Her Cybunny flies

     Elephante, timeliness looks

     neighborhood thinks nice."

     …while people on the paths just shook their heads in bewilderment and made gestures to indicate the Kougra's insanity.

     Sarah let her sniffling subside while she thought over the Kougra's advice. Finally, deciding she had nothing to lose, Sarah got to her feet and asked a friendly coconut native to give her a lift to and from the Island Mystic's little hut on its small piece of land.

     The Mystic listened to her story, and this time she managed not to collapse into sobbing again. The old Kyrii rubbed his chin thoughtfully then settled into a comfortable chair made from grasses and soft fur that had been woven into a warm blanket ("No pets were harmed in the making of these blankets," he assured her when she stared at them in horror).

     Finally he sighed and shook his head. "Sometimes, little one, the path of greatest resistance is the only path you can take. And the worst seeming course of action becomes the best in the end."

     Sarah shuddered. The worst course of action seemed to be starting a fight within the family. And Jarla was right; Sarah was not the kind of pet who could normally stand such a shout fest. A royal family row indeed. There would be harsh words, accusations and anger directed at everyone. Still it also did seem to be the only course to take since nothing else was working.

     For now, Sarah decided not to start anything. Christmas was approaching and the family wouldn't get together until then.

     ***

     Sarah walked stiffly into her grandfather's house, her eyes narrowed slightly. In her head, she predicted the evening and counted off the actions silently. There went the adults into the kitchen to cook and laugh loudly amongst themselves. Here came Kaycee with her cheap welcome hug and that smile that never reached her eyes.

     Sarah remained silent as the family separated into groups. Her cousins sought her out immediately, their eyes sullen. Sarah's aunt and the family members who had grudges against Kaycee soon drifted in to join them and to snack on the little foods. Tension rippled silently through them; and everyone in that group seemed to sense that if Kaycee pulled anything tonight, someone would snap.

     Still, there was some conversation that seemed normal. Wish lists for Christmas had passed back and forth in the family. Many of the younger members wished to be painted a particular color. Their wish lists had been simple and clear.

     "This paintbrush, or something I can use to get this paint brush. Neopoints are fine too."

     Sarah herself was eagerly hoping for either the cuddly plushie look or the tribal Mystery Island look.

     Kaycee bustled in and out between groups, often putting in her usual rude and unwelcome remarks in a tone that was just borderline enough to be begged off as "didn't mean anything by it" if anyone tried to object.

     Daylar was scowling with his arm in a cast, falling down the stairs tended to do that to bones, and trying clumsily with the other paw to snack on cheese and crackers. It would, of course, be the arm that he used the most that was stuck in that stupid thing.

     Sarah signed Daylar's cast with a cheery note of, "Good thing your name isn't 'Grace,' or you'd be in trouble. Get better soon, Sarah XOXO"

     Daylar smirked at his cousin and managed to muss the little tuft of fur on top of her head. Then he pulled out a sketchpad and handed it to her with a secretive smile, "Hey, what do you think?"

     Sarah paged through and gazed in awe at the sketches within. There was Fyora in the full Faerie Court, the light blazing down upon her from the windows. Here was a swarthy Pirate Kougra, poised dramatically on the fore side of his ship with his blade drawn and his muzzle open in a battle cry. And there… at the back of the sketchbook was a very familiar Kacheek, painted Plushie and sitting in a warm summer field, surrounded by butterflies and flowers.

     Sarah immediately blushed and slowly closed the book, "Do you think I would really look like that?" she asked her cousin shyly.

     Daylar grinned. "I bet you would. I know I don't really have a say in what you choose, little cousin, but I would love to see you painted plushie."

     With her usual bad timing, Kaycee bustled into the room and snatched up the sketchbook, ignoring Daylar's protesting "Hey! Ask first next time!"

     She ruffled through the sketchbook recklessly, causing the corners to bend and ruffle. "These are good pictures, Daylar. You should get off your lazy butt and draw more pictures."

     Sarah's mouth fell open; from what she knew, Daylar drew once a day, every day. That was hardly lazy!

     Daylar glared, "I have a reason not to draw," he said with an edge in his voice, and moved his broken arm slightly.

     "There is no excuse for laziness," Kaycee snapped. "Learn to use the other arm," and she bustled out again before Daylar's angry growl would escalate to 'Ka-boom' level.

     Sarah clutched Daylar's good arm and shook her head frantically, trying to beg him with her eyes not to get into trouble while his arm was still healing. Daylar looked around at the now silent Kaycee haters glowering darkly after the vicious Kacheek. Satisfied that many others witnessed this latest tidbit of poison, he slowly eased back while Sarah retrieved the sketchbook and tried to smooth down the damaged corners.

     Everyone else bustled into the room with cheery calls of "Time for presents! Everyone pick a spot!"

     Presents were passed around and the rustle and tearing of paper filled the room.

     Jerla looked sarcastic as she pulled out a bunch of cheap plastic grapes. Plastic grapes for a present? Come on! Jerla's friend didn't get anything from Kaycee at all. Daylar sneered and pulled five whole Neopoints out of his own box.

     With a sinking heart, Sarah watched all the Kaycee haters got junk for gifts while those she buttered up got wonderful and expensive gifts. Sarah's own mom got a magnificent pot from Osiri's that had to be worth thousands of Neopoints.

     Sarah's shoulders hunched as she opened her gift to find a five Neopoint gift certificate to Marrows. Her ruined birthday at that horrible place flashed in her mind.

     Daylar curled his lip in fury as his cousin pulled the offending certificate from its box. Anger burned in Sarah's eyes and it rolled off of her in waves, noticed of course, ONLY by the Kaycee haters.

     "So dear, did you get a nice present?" Sarah's mom asked, oblivious to the anger in Sara's eyes.

     Slowly, Sarah raised the eyes to Kaycee. Cold triumph coiled in the cruel Kacheek's face; she thought Sarah would take the blatant insult quietly in order to avoid making a scene.

     Sarah's temper lit like a fuse, burning…. Burning… KABOOOM! Sarah's temper snapped.

     "No, I did not!" Sarah snarled, and everyone jumped about a foot into the air.

     "Sarah, what on Neopia…?" her mom asked, turning.

     "I've had it! I'm sick and tired of being treated like trash in front of everybody's noses and nobody doing anything about it!" Sarah yelled in fury, "That… that Magtile over there treats me like dirt! She interrupts me REPEATEDLY before I've said two words in any conversation. She openly insults my cousins, and me, and then butters everyone else up for support. AND YOU GIVE IT TO HER!" she roared, causing Pteri in the trees outside to take flight with terrified squawks, "Then she ruins my birthday by overriding my dinner decision and EVERYONE LETS HER DO IT! Now she butters everyone up again and she gives those of us who see her for what she truly is nothing but garbage for Christmas!"

     "Sarah lower your voice, you're overreacting and I've had enough-" Kaycee started, but Daylar cut her off.

     "Shut up! I'm sick of hearing you spread poison in our ears and turning family against each other," Daylar snarled. "As far as I'm concerned, you're not family and you don't belong in this house."

     "I'm not putting up with your cruelties any more," Jerla spat, "I've had enough too!"

     "Yeah! Why don't you stop acting like a Petpetpet, you parasite!" shouted Daylar's mom.

     And the Royal Family Row had begun.

     ***

     Sarah slammed out of the house and into the drizzly Christmas air to cool her temper. She was shaking hard from nerves and anger. Cool Mystery Island rain poured over her, helping to ease the frustration and misery she now felt for blowing up.

     She walked along the sodden path toward the beach, stopping well away from the storm tossed waves. With a sigh, she sank down in the mud, hugging her knees to her chest. Now that her anger had drained away from her… she just felt tired. So tired she could take a nap right here, right now.

     Abruptly an umbrella made from Palm Fronds and a shaft of Bamboo was extended over her head.

     "You did the right thing;

     now your voices will be heard.

     Come out of this rain."

     Sarah smiled weakly at the kindly Haiku Kougra. "Thank you… But why are you so nice to me?"

     A tiny smile came to his muzzle.

     "A kindness repaid

     For tiny gifts at my door

     And sweet innocence."

     Sarah blushed, noticing that the Haiku Kougra was still wearing the beautiful shells. Apparently he HAD seen her hiding behind the bush.

     "You are soaking wet

     Let's get warm with hot chocolate

     And a crackling fire."

     The Haiku Kougra slung a warm furry arm around Sarah's shoulder and guided her to his hut. A warm yellow glow blazed out of the windows and the heat of the simple yet sturdy hut wrapped around her as the door opened. Sarah chanced one last look up the beach at the beachside house she had left. The fight was still going on; she could see Daylar shaking a paw emphatically at Kaycee while he shouted at her.

     With a final swish of her white tufted tail, Sarah stepped into the welcoming hut and closed the door behind her. Christmas or not, it felt good to be out of that house.

The End

 
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