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My Little Aggravation


by imagiknight

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"Can we go now?" I was standing in the entrance hall of my house, tapping my foot impatiently as I waited for my younger sister to be ready so we could start the vacation already.

      And there she came, sweat dripping down her face, lugging a bulging, half-open suitcase. "Michael, can you help me close my suitcase?" she asked.

      I sighed. "Do you really need all this stuff?"

      The Baby Lupe nodded, her tail wagging. She held up her paw and counted on her fingers. "I have my Maraquan Usuki, my Usuki Ballet Set, my Hula Girl Usuki, my Usuki Queen Set, my Usuki Dream Castle … That's… that's…"

      "Five things," I supplied. "But they're all a bit too big for your little rolling luggage."

      Kayla stuck out her tongue. "Mikey's jealous 'cause all he has is his stupid diary!"

      I winced. "Don't call me Mikey," I said through gritted teeth. "And it's a journal, not a diary."

      "It's a diary," Kayla insisted, paws on her hips. "What did it say on the cover before you crossed it out and covered it with stickers and stuff?"

      I didn't answer. Triumphant, Kayla chanted, "Mikey has a diary, Mikey has a diary, Mikey has a diary!"

      "Shut up!" I yelled.

      Kayla gasped. "MOMMY! MIKEY TOLD ME TO SHUT UP!" she screamed.

      Mom came down the staircase, dragging the black suitcase with all the necessities, as she called them, which was really only her collection of squishy stress-relieving balls. "Michael, we don't use that kind of language here," she scolded.

      "She started it!" I cried.

      "No, you did!" Kayla said to me.

      "No, you-"

      "Stop bickering, you two," Mom said, pulling one of her special stress-relievers out of her pocket, gripping it tightly. "We need to get moving. The boat to Mystery Island leaves in an hour." She checked her watch. "We should have just enough time to get there with half an hour to spare, if we don't run into any problems." She gave us a meaningful look.

      I clapped my mouth shut. Seething, I barged out the door, my journal pressed against my chest. The grass, sparkling with dew, tickled my bare feet.

      "Do you need to go to the bathroom?" Mom asked us.

      "No," said Kayla, now sitting right beside me.

      I shook my head.

      "Are you forgetting anything?"

      "No," we replied.

      "Sure?"

      "Yes!"

      "Okay, okay." My owner carefully stepped off the porch, dragging her suitcase along with Kayla's.

      I turned to my younger sister. "Why don't you carry your own luggage?" I said, not really a question, but a suggestion.

      "You don't have to carry anything heavy," she said simply.

      I sighed, something I had started doing very often since Kayla was born. No use arguing with her.

      "I'm tired," Kayla whined.

      "Almost at the port, honey," Mom said. The morning humidity was disappearing and was being replaced by cold, dry air that burned our throats and irritated us all.

      After a while Kayla asked, "Are we there yet?"

      "Does it look like it?" I snapped.

      Kayla started to complain (about how mean I acted, no doubt) but was quieted by a warning look from Mom, who was not in the mood for any squabbling between us. Kayla pouted.

      For a while there was sweet silence from Kayla. The only sounds to be heard in the calm were the Kateils chirping from the trees and our feet plodding along the dirt path. I was glad we had taken the rural route; it was much more scenic. Kayla and Mom weren't particularly happy with the decision, however, being city people. They wouldn't last more than a week on Mystery Island. Good thing we were only staying a couple of days.

      Then Kayla blurted, "Michael, carry me!"

      "What? No!" I cried, emerging from my dream-world.

      "Kayla, you're a big Baby Lupe. You're strong enough to make it by yourself," Mom said to her.

      "But Michael's an even bigger and stronger Electric Pteri," Kayla pointed out.

      Mom chuckled and relented. "Okay, Michael, why don't you carry your sister for a while?"

      "No way!" I exclaimed.

      Mom frowned. "Fine, Michael." She sighed.

      Kayla jumped on Mom's back, happy to have someone to rest on. I shook my head. "Disgraceful," I muttered under my breath, feeling quite content, though a bit guilty, to let the two females struggle while I enjoyed the grassy, peaceful outskirts of Neopia Central.

      "Mom, when does the boat leave?" I asked.

      Mom looked up from watching Kayla bat at the Vernaxes tangled up in the Spyder webs under the wooden railings. I was hanging over the railing, peering out at the rolling, teal waves, trying in vain to spot Mystery Island.

      "The boat should leave soon," Mom told me.

      Suddenly Kayla clapped a paw on her mouth in shock, and, after spitting out a stray Vernax, she said, "Mommy, I forgot my Scratchcard Wocky Usuki at home!"

      Mom took a deep breath, trying to control herself. "Oh Fyora," she mouthed. Then she said in a tight voice, "Kayla, didn't I ask you whether you were forgetting anything? And now there's nothing we can do."

      "But I can't sleep without her! And she's my proud and joy!"

      "Pride and joy," I corrected.

      "I'm sorry, Kayla!" said Mom, her voice rising.

      Kayla began to sob uncontrollably and I edged away, not wanting the female Island Cybunny to think I was related to the immature Lupe now attracting disdainful looks from the other Neopets.

      "Come back here, Mikey darling," Mom called.

      I blushed deep crimson and the Cybunny giggled. I walked over to my owner, clenching and unclenching my wings. "Don't call me Mikey," I said quietly but furiously, putting pauses in between each word for effect.

      But Mom didn't seem to hear. "Mikey, I need you to do me a big favor. Please fly home as fast as you can and get Kayla's Scratchcard Wocky Usuki before the boat leaves in… fifteen minutes."

      I stared at her. "Oh, Fyora!" I cried. "How do you expect me to fly home and back in fifteen minutes when it took us an hour to get here?"

      "Fly quickly. I don't want Kayla to make a scene," Mom whispered.

      And, because I had no choice, I gave her a look of pure poison and took off. The wooden docks disappeared behind me and soon even the water was replaced by the blur of emerald-colored trees and blue sky. Soon I saw my house whiz by. I extended my wings to slow down. I touched the floor and set off at a run towards the door. I grabbed the handle and pulled with all my might, but it held fast. Oh, how could I have forgotten my owner always locks the door when we're not home? I flew over my house, dived through the chimney, down the halls and into Kayla's pink, girly room, where I took a quick breather before snatching Kayla's special Usuki (which was so conveniently placed in plain sight on her bed; I wondered how she could have forgotten it) and flying back to the port.

      Soon it came into sight, the dark brown docks, the cruise ship sailing further into the expanse of blue waves that sparkled like crystal as light bounced off them. Wait… the cruise ship! My eyes widened. They were leaving me behind! My wings ached, but I willed myself to keep going, and the Neopets on the deck laughed as I approached them.

      Suddenly I saw Mom waving. I beat my wings once more before they hurt too much for me to keep in the air. I fell right out of the sky, enjoying the gasps of surprise from the other passengers. I landed right in Mom's arms.

      "I was so worried about you!" she whispered.

      I tossed the doll at Kayla's feet. She hugged it so tightly, I was surprised its head didn't fall off. "Ungrateful little-" I muttered when she didn't pay any attention to me.

      "Say thank you to Michael, dear," Mom reminded Kayla.

      "Thank you to Michael," Kayla said unwillingly.

      "We'd like to welcome you to our fabulous cruise ship," interrupted a voice. It was the captain, a Purple Lenny, sitting on a smokestack as he spoke into a megaphone. "You'll be able to enjoy looking at the sparkling water when you reach Mystery Island, but for now we need you to go down to your cabins and buckle yourselves in. Today is the princess of Maraqua's birthday and all of Maraqua is celebrating, so we may encounter some turbulence. However, try and enjoy the ride. Thank you!"

      Mom took our hands so as not to lose us in the horde of people struggling to climb below. It took us a while, but we made it to our nicely furnished cabin.

      Kayla gasped. "Oooh… A minibar!" She grabbed a can of Neocola off the small, round table and swallowed it in one gulp, letting out a huge burp.

      I grabbed some Orange Chicken. I was starving; my stomach was grumbling just like the Snowager does when someone wakes him.

      "Michael!"

      I looked up. Mom, who had just come out of the bathroom, was staring at me with wide eyes. The scene looked very suspicious, me standing next to the nearly empty minibar table, spices from the Orange Chicken all over my beak. Kayla was suddenly playing with her Scratchcard Wocky Usuki, acting innocent. "Michael ate everything!" she told Mom.

      "Tattletale," I said furiously out of the corner of my mouth. Kayla just smirked.

      "Don't you know how much all of this is worth?" Mom said, squeezing a red ball.

      Fuming, I didn't respond, only climbed in bed and slept the rest of the trip, exhausted from my flight.

     ***

      I flopped onto the hotel bed, forgetting it was made of stone. My head vibrated with pain. It was the second day on Mystery Island, and it had done nothing but rain without any signs of letting up since we arrived. This left us with nothing to do but sit in our crummy hotel room and listen to the drops slide down the small, dirty window.

      The hotel room was appalling. Mom, of course, didn't know it was the princess's birthday and everyone would be crowding Mystery Island to view the celebrations. Of course she hadn't known the only hotel with available space was a mold-filled, dimly-lit room that never stopped dripping.

      "Michael, take me outside!" Kayla ordered.

      I groaned. "But it's raining!"

      "I LOVE the rain!" she shouted.

      "Since when?"

      "Since now."

      "Aw, but Kayla-"

      "Please please please please please with a cherry on top?"

      I slid off my bed and walked over to Mom, who was clenching a ball inside her fist. "No one would notice if you just… abandoned her…" I whispered, laughing softly.

      Mom didn't laugh. She stared at me. "How could you say such a thing? Now go take your sister outside."

      "Kidding," I assured her, backing off. I shook my head. Sometimes adults could never take a joke.

      "PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE!" Kayla shouted.

      "Okay, Kayla!" I said over her voice. I took her paw and she shut up, but wriggled away.

      "Be careful, you two," Mom warned.

      We promised her we would be.

     Because it was the quickest way out, we forced open the window and climbed out into the misty gray, ignoring the loud protests from Mom. My feathers were instantly soaked with cool rain, and Kayla turned around and around, catching raindrops on her rough, pink tongue.

     "Don't get lost," I told her. "It'll be impossible to find you." I gazed off into the fog.

     "Duh," she said, looking at me like I failed all my Neoschool classes. "C'mon!"

     I followed her obediently, feeling like a good big brother.

      A cry rang out through the gloom. "Draw a ticket, and if it ends in a zero, two or five you win a fantastic prize! And best of all it's free!"

      "Wait up, Kayla, I want to visit the Tombola."

      I walked over to the large, cheerful man, reached into the box he was holding out to me, and drew out a slip of paper.

      "Sorry kid," said the Tiki Tack Man after looking at my ticket. "Not a winner. But here, have a booby prize. Try again tomorrow!" He handed me a Bottle of Invisible Sand, then waved me away and started calling again.

      I shook the seemingly empty bottle, but didn't hear the soft grinding of moving sand. "Great. An empty jar." I tossed it over my shoulder and it landed with a splash in a puddle. I looked around.

      "Kayla?" No response. "Kayla!"

      I climbed through the wet foliage, but Kayla was nowhere to be found. I started to panic. Suddenly I saw a dark figure in the fog. I hurried towards it. "Kayla?" But it was just another little Neopet splashing in a puddle. Would I ever see Kayla again?

      I wiped rain from my eyes- or was it tears?

      I poked my head into almost every building on Mystery Island, now faint from worry. Finally I heard a loud, bossy, girlish voice coming from inside the Tiki Tack shop. My heart leapt. I pushed open the heavy door, and in the center of the cluttered circular room sat the young Baby Lupe. Her face fell as she caught sight of me. "Aw, you found me."

      "Kayla! We weren't playing a game of Kacheek Seek! I told you not to run off and you almost gave me a heart attack!" I shouted angrily.

      "I know, I know." She scuffed the floor with her paw, a deep pink settling on her face. "I just wanted to get you this Volcanic Rock for your collection." She held out the small, maroon-colored rock.

      My heart softened and my mouth fell open. Slowly I reached out and took it. "Thank you," I said gently. "And I'm sorry." I draped my wing around Kayla and we walked out onto the moist, soggy soil. Up in the sky, the sun was shining from above the clouds, matching the grin on Kayla's face.

The End

Author's Note: Comments appreciated!

 
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