To Read or Not To Read
"You don't understand, Cat! You never do!"
"I understand as much as I need to. Mel, your
room is a mess!"
"But I can clean it when I get back!" I pleaded.
Cat sighed. "Mel, you always say that. It has
not been cleaned for two weeks! No, you may not go to the Library until you
get in there and clean it."
"No more, Mel."
"You don't understand," I muttered as I trudged
to her room. "I'm never going to win the reading contest if I can't get more
Luckily, Cat did not hear me. If she did, she
would have made me sit through a lecture on respect and obedience and all of
that good stuff.
Really, though, Cat was overreacting! My room
was not that messy... all right, so maybe it was. Still, it's not like other
pets come over just to gawk at it. I mean, nobody but me usually even looks
I wish she could know how I feel. Maybe read
my mind or something.
"That's it!" I exclaimed a little too loud.
Cat heard me. "Mel, I know you are in your room
cleaning right now," she said in a voice that meant she'd better be correct.
I opened the door to my room and groaned. I
was going to have a fun time cleaning today. It looked like the Library would
have to wait.
"Now, what's a pretty green Aisha like you doing
here so late in the afternoon?"
I smiled at the motherly Kau. "Hey, Kauvara."
Kauvara smiled back. "Hello, Melonja. How's
that reading contest you told me about coming?"
"It's all right. But I need your help."
"Just let me finish this potion, and I will
be right with you. Have a seat," she added, motioning to a wooden chair in the
I sat down and dropped my school bag at my feet,
then looked around as I waited for Kauvara to finish. I was the only other pet
in her little shop, and it was unusually quiet. The dusty shelves were lined
with many different potions of many different colors. She must have practiced
her potion making for ages. In almost no time she was finished.
"There we go. Now, how may I help you?"
I stood up and walked over to the counter. I
had already decided on what I was going to do - now simply to go through with
it. "I need something to help me read other people's minds."
Kauvara was taken aback. "Why ever would you
I thought for a moment, then decided to tell
her the truth. What harm could it do? "Because my family is falling apart. We
are not getting along. It's not just with me, either. Tori is mad at Sto for
something I still have not figured out, and Z will barely come out of her room."
"Mmhmm..." Kauvara looked thoughtful for a
minute. "One moment, please."
I nodded and sat back down, this time looking
over her shoulder as she mixed together a few ingredients. Within a few minutes
she turned around to me.
"Are you sure this is what you want, dearie?"
"I'm sure," I answered confidently.
"Well, then, if you're certain..." she said
doubtfully. When I nodded, she handed me a vial about the size of my fist filled
with a silvery liquid.
"Are you sure there is enough in there?" I asked.
"Yes, child," Kauvara replied. "It will never
run out." Then she turned back to her work.
I walked out the door, still staring at the
odd liquid inside of the container. Kauvara said it would never run out. There
would be no harm in trying it out, would there? Thinking this, I uncorked the
bottle and took a sip.
Immediately, I regretted doing so. It was as
cold as ice, but it seared my throat as much as if I had swallowed a torch.
The taste was like polluted pond water. I corked the bottle, then looked at
it again. Kauvara was right. There was just as much as when I had bought it.
But I did not feel any different. Maybe Kauvara
did something wrong? I shrugged and slid the vial into my school bag. I would
just have to wait and see.
"I already did, Cat." I was on the couch, reading
my favorite book.
Cat looked up from her copy of the Neopian Times,
then asked, "What do you mean?"
"You just asked me to wash the dishes, and I
"I did not."
"Yes, you did."
"I honestly did not."
"Yes, you... oh, no." I closed my book and picked
up my school bag. Reaching into one of the pockets, I pulled out a small vial
filled with a strange liquid. "Oh, yes. I forgot."
"Forgot what?" Cat stood up and walked over
"Forgot this." I handed her the potion, and
she looked at it strangely. "Why do you need to know?"
Cat looked back at me. "Why do I need to know
"You just asked me what it was."
Cat looked like she was becoming more confused
by the minute. "No, I didn't."
"But you thought it."
Cat turned back to the vial. "Will you kindly
explain what is going on here?"
"I keep forgetting that you haven't had any
yet. I got it from Kauvara. A sip lets me read your mind."
"Lets you read my mind?" she repeated in alarm.
"Yes, and it never runs out."
"Never runs out?"
"Did you know that you repeat what people say?"
Cat looked even more confused. "I repeat what
"Yes, it is very irritating. But don't you see?
If everyone in our family knew how each other felt, then we could get along
"I don't know..."
"Oh, come on, Cat! Please just try it!"
Cat turned the bottle around in her hands. "I
suppose it would not hurt just to try it..." She uncorked the vial and took
a sip, and immediately an all-too-familiar look of disgust was on her face.
"What do you mean, you do all the work around
I hesitated as I was about to open the door
to our house. It was the first day since Cat agreed to try the potion on the
rest of the family, and I was not sure how it would go. Even now, I did not
need to open the door to recognize Tori's indignant voice. Gulping, I turned
the knob and walked in the door.
Sure enough, there was Tori, standing in the
middle of the room with a basket of junk. Sitting on the couch, looking as if
he had no care in the world, was Sto, and it seemed as if he were the target
of the white Wocky's anger.
"That's what I thought, wasn't it?" he calmly
"You do not do all the work!"
The ghost Gelert stood up. "You're right! I
don't do all the work! That's because Cat, Z, and Mel help me!"
Tori threw down the basket she was carrying.
"Ugh! Go back to Jelly World with all the other screwballs!"
"Jelly World doesn't even exist, Moron!" Sto
replied as he walked down the hall to his room.
"My point exactly!" Tori called after him. Sto
replied by slamming the door.
That's when I caught a sense of something. It
was not words, but it was more like a sensation. But I knew exactly what it
meant. "You think this is all my fault?"
Tori turned on me. "You're the one who brought
back that stupid potion that Cat made us all drink, aren't you?"
"I'll have you know that-" I stopped as Tori
stalked out of the room.
I groaned and collapsed on the couch. A moment
later, Z walked in.
"She's wrong, you know," the Darigan Moehog
said. "It couldn't be entirely your fault."
"Thanks. I..." Then I caught that same sensation
again. "You... you think she's right!"
Z looked alarmed. "I didn't say that!"
"But you thought it!"
"Just go away! You're not helping!"
Z nodded, then left the room.
What had I done? I had wanted to make our family
more peaceful, but if things continued like this, we could be looking at a remake
of the Meridellian Wars. I felt terrible. Was there any way to reverse the effects
of the potion? Or was it permanent? There was only one thing left to do. I had
to go see Kauvara again.
"Hello again, Missy."
I was back in Kauvara's shop. Again, it was
empty except for Kauvara, me, and the dusty potions that lined the shelves.
Kauvara wiped her forehead with a small towel
before asking, "Is there something I can do for you today? Unfortunately, I'm
a little tired today." She smiled apologetically.
I tried to smile back, but I was too upset for
it to come out right. "Kauvara, I need to know if there is a remedy for that
potion you made for me the other day."
Kauvara smiled again, bigger this time. "Ah,
yes, the mind reading potion. How did that work out?"
"Terrible," I confessed.
Kauvara raised an eye brow. "Well?" she prodded.
"Tori and Sto are fighting even worse than before.
Then Tori turned on me. Even Z is upset."
I took a deep shuddery breath. "Is there a cure?"
What if Kauvara said no? Would my family fall apart?
Kauvara smiled. "The potion's effects are temporary.
It will be all over by tomorrow, the next day at the latest."
It was my turn to smile back. "Thank you! Thank
you so much!" I turned and ran out of her shop.
But I had a nagging feeling that it was not
over yet. I reached into my school bag and pulled the vial out.
"Should I really do it?" I murmured to no one
in particular. Then I threw the bottle as far as I could.
The next day we were all sitting at the dinner
table. Each pet seemed to be sitting as far away from each other as possible.
That is, nobody except for Tori. "Mel, where
do you keep that potion? I think mine is wearing off, and I want to know what
insults that Gelert over there-"
"Sto?" Cat asked.
"I don't know who you are talking about." Sto
threw a look at her. "But I want to know what insults that Gelert over there
is thinking about me."
"Yeah," Sto said. "I want to know what that
pet you call my sister is thinking about me."
It felt like a thousand petpetpets were fluttering
around in my stomach. "I... uh... I got rid of it."
Everyone turned to look at me. Even Cat was
openmouthed. It was unnaturally quiet. "Uh... are you mad?" I asked her.
Cat sighed. "No..." She ran her fingers through
her hair and closed her eyes. It looked as if she were trying to figure out
how to say something. "No, Mel, I'm not mad. In fact, that could have been one
of the best things you've ever done for us."
I smiled. Cat wasn't mad, and maybe now we could
get back to being a normal family.
Suddenly, Cat's eyes opened. "Wait a minute,
I could have sold that!"
Then again, I guess we never were normal to