Lila and the Pillow Problem
A pink Kacheek sprinted into the living room
where her owner, Darlene, was sitting on a Blue Bean Bag Chair, a book held
in her hands.
"It's happened again," the Kacheek said, positioning
herself on her owner's lap, head bowed.
"What's happened again? Atlanta -- you don't
Atlanta howled, "Yes, Dar, yes!"
Darlene leapt off of the Bean Bag Chair, her
Kacheek toppling off her lap and landing in a crumpled heap on the floor. Darlene
shot up the stairs to the room of her other pet, a red Grarrl named Lila, and
her Kacheek straightened and followed suit.
"You could have helped me up!" Atlanta grumbled
as they reached the threshold of Lila's room. The door was a dull pink, with
flowers painted in pastel colors by the room's owner herself. Darlene grasped
the brass doorknob, opened the door, and walked in.
"LILA! NOT AGAIN!" roared Darlene as she entered
the room. Lila was standing in the middle of her room, bits of cotton plastered
to her mouth. Darlene rushed to her pet's side and wrenched open Lila's jaws.
She examined Lila, and saw that she had fluff, feathers, and cotton sticking
to her mouth.
"Go rinse your mouth," sighed Darlene. Lila obeyed
without question, looking quite happy to depart the scene. Darlene turned to
"What are we going to do about her?" she asked
her pet, a hint of plea in her voice.
"Well," Atlanta said, considering the matter,
"She eats pillows, right? Maybe just... take away the pillows?"
Darlene blinked, surprised by this abrupt sense
of logic. "Atlanta, you are a genius!" Darlene rushed to Lila's bed, snatched
up three of her Pretty Pink Pillows, and rushed out of the room.
Let's see Lila eat her pillows now, she
thought, grinning, as she tossed the pillows in the garbage.
- - -
"So Li," Darlene asked Lila during dinner, while
Lila was wolfing down her Wocky Spaghetti Ball. "Did you notice anything --
er -- different, about your room?" Atlanta looked up from her spaghetti, which
she was swirling daintily onto her fork, looking curiously from Lila to Darlene.
"Different? Different how?" Lila inquired, staring
at her owner.
Darlene twirled her short blonde hair absentmindedly
in her fingers, looking apprehensive.
"Didn't you notice? I removed the pillows."
Lila stared at her for a minute, then cleared
her throat and said, "Why?"
"Because you keep eating them, Li!" said Darlene
"I know, but --" Lila's voice trailed off. She
couldn't think of any reason for her to have her pillows back; not when she
kept devouring them.
"I sleep better with my pillows," was Lila's
lame excuse. Atlanta snorted, but managed to disguise it as a sneeze.
"You'll survive, Li," Darlene said indifferently,
slurping a noodle.
"Dar, that's impolite," Atlanta chastised, as
she picked up a meatball and popped it into her mouth, chewing noisily with
her mouth open.
- - -
"Ready for bed, guys?"
"Olmush," Atlanta said, through a mouthful of
water. She gargled and spat the water into the sink; water splattered onto the
mirror, which was directly above the sink, and a bit got onto Lila's toothbrush.
"EW! Atlanta! Don't do that!" Lila wailed, disgusted.
Darlene scolded her Kacheek and lectured her about personal hygiene, and then
ushered her into bed. Lila waited in the bathroom, speculating about what it
would be like without sleeping on a soft, comfortable pillow.
"Come into bed, Li," Darlene said, her voice
sounding a bit distant, and Lila figured she was already in her room. She hopped
out of the bathroom, walked into the room, and curled up in a ball on her bed.
Darlene tucked Lila in, clicked off the light, and left the room, chiding before
she left, "No pillows to devour tonight!"
Lila rolled over and sighed. She felt uncomfortable
without the presence of her warm, cushy pillow. She stared at the wall opposite
her, which was lined with moonlight escaping from the window above, trying to
sleep. She closed her eyes and thought of leaping Babaas. But that was no good,
because somehow her mind thought of Disco Babaas, and she imagined a roomful
of Babaas doing the disco Mallard, lights from the disco ball flashing onto
the walls. That, of course, only made her wide awake, and somehow her thoughts
fell again on pillows, and she remembered a few happy moments when she had digested
the plush and cottony interior within the pillow.
The door was ajar, and only a few yards away
was the garbage where Darlene had disposed of her pillows. Oh, poor things;
all alone in the trashcan, never to find solace in her stomach again, with all
the digested remnants of their siblings, parents, and friends -- all, of course,
pillows Lila had owned previously.
And anyway, how horrible would it be for Lila
to just have a taste? She couldn't see the harm in that; after all, Grarrls
consumed all sorts of things all the time, and it's not like it did them any
harm! And besides, they were just going to go to waste anyway; they were just
going to go to the Rubbish Dump.
Her stomach rumbled loudly; she was starving.
Pillows popped into her mind again, and before she knew what she was doing,
she had her claw gripping the doorknob and was scurrying down the stairs...
- - -
"Good morning, Atlanta," said Darlene cheerfully
the next morning at breakfast, sitting down onto a chair, accompanied by her
pets. She straightened a copy of this week's Neopian Times, placed it in front
of her, and smoothed it out. Lila served them breakfast and washed the breakfast
dishes, something she never ever did. In fact, Darlene couldn't remember the
last time Lila had done this, and felt a bit suspicious that Lila was doing
all these acts without being asked to.
"What's the catch?" Atlanta said with a suspicious
glint in her eyes. Darlene was relieved her pet had worded her thoughts for
"Catch?" questioned Lila, "What d'you mean, 'catch'?"
"You know very well what I mean."
Lila turned her guilty face from Atlanta to Darlene,
averting her eyes from either of them, and then muttered something incomprehensible.
"What?" said Atlanta, rather rudely. "What didja
"I said," said Lila, louder this time, "I ate
my pillows again last night. I didn't -- I didn't mean to, but... I couldn't
help it." Lila looked away, her eyes brimming with unshed tears.
Darlene felt a surge of sympathy for her pet;
but Atlanta, on the other hand, gasped and cried, "AGAIN? Oh, my gosh! Can't
you control yourself for one night, Li?"
"N-no!" Lila choked, tears pouring from her eyes.
"I d-don't want to eat pillows, but I can't help myself! I'm just so hungry,
and pillows taste so good!"
Crinkling up her nose at the thought of munching
on fabric, Darlene said quickly, "Honey, it's alright, we understand." She shot
a reproachful look at Atlanta, who said hastily, "Yeah, yeah, of course we do.
I'm sure we'll think of something." Atlanta smiled encouragingly at her sister,
"Well... alright. But what can we do about it?"
Lila asked the room at large. There were a few moments of silence, broken by
Atlanta snapping her fingers and exclaiming, "I got it! Lila, you eat pillows
when you're hungry, right? Well," she beckoned Lila and Darlene closer, pausing
for dramatic effect, "how about we just give her a bedtime snack?"
Lila and Darlene stared at her, Darlene once
again befuddled by Atlanta's abrupt logic.
"Atlanta," Darlene said, rather slowly, "Once
again, you have displayed your ingenuity."
Atlanta nodded and said, "I know. Um, but what
does that mean?" she added, looking puzzled.
"Never mind," Darlene said quickly; this was
not a time to explain. "Now, what should we feed Lila?"
"Well, that's easy," laughed Atlanta. "Just ask
The other two looked expectantly at Lila. Lila
fiddled with her fingers for a while, looking thoughtful. Atlanta got impatient
and was tapping her paw on the table, looking annoyed. Just then, Lila's face
brightened. She grinned and announced, "I like to eat cardboard."
"Cardboard?" the others cried in unison.
"Yes," Lila said matter-of-factly. "Cardboard
is the second best thing to eat. Next to pillows, of course," she added. Her
face suddenly looked reminiscent, as though she was once again reliving in her
mind moments with her pillows.
"Right," said Darlene, almost laughing. Atlanta
suddenly leapt up from her chair while the others stared at her.
"I know what to do!" Atlanta ran to the closet,
disentangled her jacket from the clutter within, than skipped out the door without
another word. Darlene and Lila looked at each other, bewildered.
Atlanta ran across the street like a blur of
pink, pushing away innocent bystanders and acting oblivious to their cries of
indignation. As she reached a white, quaint-looking Neohome on the end of their
cul-de-sac, she ran to the threshold and rang their doorbell, panting and gasping.
"Coming, coming, coming!" a voice said. A moment
later, Atlanta saw a silhouette of a Gelert through the blinds on their door.
A figure emerged as the door was opened, and Atlanta saw Minnie, her best friend
"Atlanta, what are you doing here?" the yellow
Gelert yawned. Her eyelids were drooping, and she lifted her paw and stifled
another yawn. She was wearing a magenta bathrobe with matching slippers.
"Oops, sorry, Min. Did I wake you up?" queried
Atlanta, looking sheepish.
"Yeah, but that's alright," Minnie replied. "So
what brings you here, Atlanta?"
"Well," Atlanta burst out, "I need all your empty
cardboard boxes, Minnie. It's important. Please can I have 'em?" She looked
endearingly at her friend, who smiled kindly and said, "Sure."
Minnie came back a minute later, carrying at
least ten huge cardboard boxes. She put the boxes down next to Atlanta, who
"Here you go. Our dad orders a lot of food, especially
from the Heath Food store. Here are our empty Toffee Brussel Sprout boxes,"
she explained. When Atlanta looked at her quizzically, she added under her breath,
"If you don't ask why I need the boxes in the
"I won't," assured Minnie, giggling.
"Thanks a lot, Min," grunted Atlanta as she picked
up the boxes, which were at least half her size. "Well, goodbye!"
"See you, Atlanta," murmured Minnie, yawning
and closing the door, her bathrobe swooshing as she departed.
Atlanta hoisted up the boxes, staggering slightly
under their weight. They were quite heavy for a Kacheek her size and it took
her a little while to trek down the sidewalk and back to her Neohome.
"There you are, Atlanta!" said Darlene as she
spotted her beloved Kacheek. Atlanta put the boxes down on the porch momentarily,
wiping beads of sweat off her forehead.
The three clambered inside their Neohome. Darlene
placed the boxes on the kitchen table, and they all sat down. Darlene crossed
her fingers behind her back for good luck as Lila flexed her powerful fingers
and tore off a piece of cardboard. She considered it for a moment, staring at
it with mixed curiosity and apprehension, then screwed up her face and took
a bite. Atlanta and Darlene watched as Lila chewed.
"Hmm," she said, through a mouthful, "This is..."
Her voice tailed away as she swallowed, and the others stared at her eagerly.
"Yes?" pressed the impatient Atlanta.
- - -
At 9:00 P.M. that night, Darlene was sitting
on the Blue Bean Bag Chair she was so fond of, reading a book titled 'The Old
Mynci and the Sea'. As she was just getting to the exciting climax, Atlanta
burst in the living room, spotted Darlene in the corner, and bounded over to
"We're ready for our snack, Darlene!" she chided,
snatching the book from her owner's hands and throwing it out the window.
"Oops," she said sheepishly, as Darlene glared
daggers at her pet. "I was aiming for the sofa."
Darlene gave Atlanta a brief but heated lecture,
then ordered her to fetch the book.
"Oi," Darlene muttered as she collapsed onto
the sofa, rubbing her temples.
When Atlanta returned with the book clutched
in her paws, Darlene told her to get Lila and tell her to come down. Atlanta
obliged, and Darlene went into the basement to collect the boxes, where she
had decided to store them. It was too much of a hassle to maneuver around them
in the kitchen, not to mention it turned off dinner guests.
She walked up the wooden staircase with the boxes
in her hands and found Lila and Atlanta in the kitchen, where they were sitting
at the table and wearing napkins tied around their necks.
"Here you go," Darlene said, putting the box
in front of Lila, who took a large bite and devoured it in a microsecond.
"Hungry, aren't you?" Atlanta commented, bemused,
as Lila asked for seconds.
- - -
"Alright, Li, ready for bed?"
"Yes indeed," Lila answered, already huddled
in her blankets.
"Good," said Darlene. She had a Yellow Faellie
Pillow in her hands, and she dipped the pillow into Lila's arms while saying
seriously, "You're not hungry, right?" She cocked a brow at the red Grarrl,
who nodded, giving the pillow an affectionate hug.
"Not at all," Lila replied. It was true; she
usually went to bed starting to feel slightly ravenous, but not this time!
"Good," Darlene repeated, smiling coyly at Lila.
"I sure hope this works." She padded to the door, clicked off the lights, and
looked back at her Neopet. Lila's head was lying on the pillow, and she was
gazing glassy-eyed at it with complete adoration. Darlene smiled and left, leaving
Lila's eyelids drooped. She was very tired, and
she felt warm and sleepy curled up on her mattress, covered with her comforter.
The presence of her pillow was most noticeable after she had been deprived of
it for so long. If she could recall correctly, it been five sleepless nights
she'd been without them. It seemed like five years.
Pleasant thoughts drifted in her mind, and they
coaxed her to sleep, where she dwelled on pillows, blankets, and various soft,
cuddly things in her dreams.
In no time at all -- or so it seemed to her --
Lila was waking up, blinking back the sunlight that shone through her eyelids.
She lifted one of her claws and sat up while shielding her eyes from the rays
of sun attempting to blind her.
Suddenly, Lila felt a sharp pain at the back
of her head, and she heard a voice chime, "Lila?" Lila blinked. She saw a familiar
pink blob, and when she blinked again she saw Atlanta, who was poking her with
a twig. Lila gave a start and leapt up, bouncing on her mattress, which sprang
to life as Lila hobbled on it.
"Don't do that!" howled Lila. Atlanta giggled
and started jumping on Lila's bed, asking between great bounces, "So -- did
-- you -- eat -- your -- pil-l-l -- ow?"
"Nope," said Lila proudly, holding her head up
Atlanta now leapt into the air and did a backward
pirouette. Lila snatched the twig off the floor and brandished it at her. Atlanta
emitted a piercing shriek and started running around the room, flailing her
arms as Lila chased her. The ruckus attracted their owner, and Darlene came
running into the room. She took a look at the scene and began to shout at her
two pets, and they both cringed as Darlene shouted, "You could have poked an
eye out! What were you thinking?!"
After many accusations and recriminations, Darlene
went down into the kitchen and made herself a cup of coffee, with Lila and Atlanta
shuffling nervously behind her. After they all situated themselves onto their
chairs, Darlene asked Lila if she slept well.
"Yeah, I slept great!" Lila exclaimed. "And I
didn't eat my pillows."
"I'm so glad, Li," Darlene said, grinning as
she buttered her toast. Lila nodded happily, then as an afterthought added,
"Well, I slept good until this Slorghead came into my room and started poking
me with a stick!" She shot an angry glance at Atlanta, who kicked Lila in the
shin. Lila retaliated by using her spoon as a slingshot and shooting jam onto
her sister's forehead, which was a cue for them all that breakfast was over.
- - -
A few days later, Darlene looked up from 'The
Old Mynci and the Sea', and gave a start when she saw Atlanta shooting into
the living room, looking frantic.
"What is it, Atlanta? What happened?" Darlene
said urgently, crouching down next to her pet and looking her straight in the
"Lila ate her bedsprings!"