For an easier life Circulation: 117,249,079 Issue: 235 | 14th day of Eating, Y8
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Plushie Eaters: Part Two

by literalluau


"Penelope, have you seen my--" Pearl's voice trailed off when she walked into the kitchen and saw Pearl's back half sticking out of a cupboard. "What are you doing?"

      "Looking for a plastic bag," Penelope mumbled from inside the cupboard.

      "Why? Was Miss Pink Poogle sick again?"

      "Ah-hah!" Penelope backed out of the cupboard, being careful not to hit her head. "They were hidden, but I've got them now." She held up a box of plastic bags. "Actually, I'm making something. Miss Pink Poogle is feeling much better."

      "Is that my tape?" Pearl could clearly see the bright pink tape dispenser hanging out of the pocket of Penelope's yellow overalls.

      "I only need it for a little bit. I'll bring it right back down." Grabbing the tape from her pocket, Penelope scurried to her bedroom.

      I've heard that before. Pearl flopped down on the couch to finish her book.

      The doorbell rang at exactly six o'clock. Penelope heard her sister answer the door and waited nervously for Pearl to call her downstairs. No way was she going willingly.

      A few moments later, she heard Pearl's footsteps coming up the stairs. From a few feet away she could hear Pearl saying, "Now, Penelope, don't be rude. We have a gue--" But she stopped abruptly when she opened Penelope's door. "What are you doing?!" she cried.

      Very nervously, Penelope tried to answer. "It's for… protection. I have one for you, too." The last part was hopeful as she tried to hand Pearl a salad bowl with goggles and a plastic bag taped to it.

      "Take that off right now," Pearl responded in disgust. "And don't keep our guest waiting. I expect you downstairs in five minutes." She slammed the door behind her.

      Sitting down on her bed, Penelope tried not to cry. She caught a look of herself in her mirror across the room. She looked like some kind of monster from the mouth up with her home-made mask on. She took a few deep breaths to make the bag around her mouth go in and out before taking the salad bowl and its accoutrements off her head. Slipping something from her bedside table into the pocket of her overalls, she slowly headed downstairs.

      The table was set like it always was for company. The best dishes were out, cloth napkins were placed at each seat, and what Pearl called "mood music" drifted through the air. Penelope's mouth watered when she smelled the Flotato-Stuffed Turkey, fresh from the oven. She was still standing by the table, sniffing at the turkey, when Pearl and Alex came into the room.

      "Why, look who decided to join us." Pearl's voice was very sweet now. Decided? More like forced into certain doom. Nonetheless, Penelope took her usual seat.

      "Hello Miss Penelope," Alex said in a deep voice that made Penelope shiver unpleasantly.

      "Hi," she managed.

      "Pearl tells me that you collect plushies? Is that so?"

      Penelope shuddered when he smiled, his teeth glistening and razor sharp. But before Penelope could tell him to leave her plushies alone or else, Pearl jumped in.

      "Alex was just telling me about his duties in the most recent Lost Desert war," she gushed. She loved having company. "It's all very interesting. Penelope and I haven't done much in the way of fighting for Neopia, I'm afraid."

      "That's not true, Pearl," Penelope piped up. "What about the tons of furniture we moved in the--" She was cut off by a nasty look from Pearl.

      "Go on, Alex. It's just fascinating," Pearl assured him while passing him the turkey.

      So Penelope sat through two hours of what she thought were boring war stories. Then again, she had never been interested in current affairs or history. Especially not when there was a dangerous Grarrl in the house. She sat quietly, munching on her turkey and watching Alex's every move. To her surprise, he never even tried to eat either of them. He must be buttering us up so we don't expect anything. She was sure he couldn't be full after just some slices of turkey.

      Penelope's nerves were finally set to ease when Alex bid his farewells. Pearl asked him back for dinner any time, which Penelope wasn't happy to hear, but at least he was gone for the time being. As the door shut behind Alex, Pearl whispered to Penelope, "Wasn't that just fascinating?"

      "Oh, yes, very," Penelope muttered, heading up to her room.

      "Oh, and Penelope." Penelope turned around to look at her sister. "Bring that tape back to me please."

      When Penelope returned back downstairs with the tape, Pearl smiled. "And see? We didn't get eaten, did we?"

      She only hesitated for a second. "No…because I had my lucky Techo claw in my pocket." She fished it out and held it toward Pearl.

      Pearl's face fell in disappointment. "Oh, Penelope."

      All Penelope could do was look at her feet.

      She suddenly felt the Techo claw being snatched from her hand. "And this is food. Not a good luck charm or a toy." Pearl headed toward the kitchen, muttering to herself under her breath.

      Penelope went to sleep with a heavy mind that night. But she was alright with Pearl being angry with her. As long as they both were safe.

      Friday morning lit up the sky with clouds of red and orange. Pearl always told Penelope that meant a storm was coming, but Penelope thought the morning sky was just beautiful. She hummed to herself as she made her bed and ate breakfast. She could hardly wait until her birthday the next day.

      Penelope tiptoed around Pearl for most of the morning, trying to gauge just how angry she was. She decided that her sister still seemed mildly upset, but she also seemed preoccupied. When she was sure that Pearl wasn't absolutely furious with her, Penelope locked herself in her room and began to work on another project to ensure their safety.

      Pearl pushed between a Red Pteri and a Striped Skeith to get in the bakery. The shop was crowded that morning and it took forever to order Penelope's birthday cake. This is the last time I ever go to the bakery on a Friday morning.

      When it was finally Pearl's turn in line, she asked for a strawberry-flavored cake covered with yellow frosting and "Happy Birthday, Penelope" written across the top in blue frosting. Penelope's favorite colors all combined into one cake. She then asked for it to be sent to the location of Penelope's party the next day.

      She ran through the plans for Penelope's birthday in her head as she hurried home.

      When she turned the corner and saw her house, however, all thoughts but one flew out of her mind. "Penelope!" she screamed at the top of her lungs. She stared in horror at the signs posted all over the yard.

      Penelope came out of the house sheepishly. Red and black paint covered her paws and face.

      "What is the meaning of this?" demanded Pearl. She read the signs aloud. "Stay out Grarrls. Grarrls smell bad. No plushies reside at this household." She turned back to Penelope. "This is terrible. What do you have to say for yourself?"

      Tears were forming in Penelope's eyes. "I just want us to be safe!" She knew she was whining, but she couldn't help it.

      "That's the last straw. Get these signs out of the yard and put them in the trash. Then go wash your hands and head straight up to your room."

      Pearl's voice was scaring Penelope. She wasn't screaming, her voice was quiet and hard and serious. Though she was crying now, slow silent tears that welled in the corners of her eyes and rolled down her cheeks, Penelope did as she was told. "I'm sorry," she tried before she went into the house, but Pearl hushed her with a wave of the hand and pointed upstairs toward Penelope's room.

      Just after dark, Pearl came into Penelope's room with a tray of food. Penelope had smelled it long before she heard Pearl's footsteps coming up the stairs and down the hall.

      "I'm sorry I made you cry, Penelope. It certainly wasn't my intention."

      Penelope turned her head away. She had been in her bedroom all day, turning ideas over and over in her mind. Not only was she angry with Pearl, but she had a headache and was nervous since she hadn't had another idea. The food smelled good, though. She hadn't come down for lunch when Pearl had called up the stairs that afternoon.

      Pearl sat down next Penelope on her bed. "Penelope, you really are going to hurt someone's feelings if you put signs up like that. I realize you think we're in danger from the Grarrls, but we're not. Grarrls have feelings just like ours and you're going to hurt them."

      Penelope made no answer. "Well," Pearl sighed, "I can see you're upset. Just think about what I said. I'll leave the food tray with you. You must be starving. Good night."

      As soon as Pearl shut the door behind herself, Penelope stretched out on her bed. She was emotionally drained. She missed her plushies. She and her sister were still in danger and she couldn't even try to protect them because Pearl couldn't see the jeopardy they were in. She was upset with Pearl for being angry with her when it was the Grarrls Pearl should be mad at. Penelope began biting her nails. At least my birthday is tomorrow.

To be continued...

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» Plushie Eaters: Part One
» Plushie Eaters: Part Three

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