Family Feud: Part Two
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
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.
"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
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
"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
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
"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.