One Big Happy Family: Part One
In a small house on Wishing Well Drive, the afternoon sun shone cheerfully through the stained-glass window, dappling the red fur of a young Lupe with a rainbow of colors. She really wasn't looking at her fur, though. Rather, Robasia was concentrating on the stray pieces of a puzzle before her.
"If that's her hair, then maybe this green piece goes here," the Lupe murmured. Experimentally, Robasia tried placing two pieces side by side, but was dismayed to find that they were totally uneven.
"Bother it all!" she cried in anger, swiping the conundrum aside with her paw as she did so. "Who invented these puzzles anyway? I'm no good with puzzles! I just can't do a 500-piece puzzle of the Negg Faerie!"
Sighing, the Lupe looked around her room from her perch on the bed in an attempt to distract herself from the frustrating situation. There wasn't an amazing amount to see. A lamp, a stone side table, a rocking chair, a ladder (don't ask what that was doing there), and a shelf with only a snow angel sculpture to decorate it. Robasia frowned as her mind wandered further from the puzzle and she thought of the luxurious houses she saw every day as she walked down her street. The miniscule two-room house she and her owner shared seemed like a shed compared to those other ones. And yet, Robasia could never imagine living anywhere else. It wasn't amazingly fancy, but it was home.
Suddenly, a delightfully familiar voice emanated from the only other room in the house, breaking through Robasia's gloomy thoughts like a sunbeam.
"Robasia! I'm home! I brought some breakfast!"
"Yeah!" Robasia cried happily. Without further ado she hopped off the bed, letting the pieces of the puzzle that had only a few minutes ago been infuriating her be forgotten. Galloping into the next room, the young Neopet's eyes lit up at the sight of Kayla, her owner.
"Hey, Robasia." Kayla grinned. "Hungry?"
"What do you think?" the red Lupe asked, hungrily eying the bacon omelette in Kayla's hand.
"Here." Kayla handed her hungry Neopet the breakfast. "I went cheapo today at the Plateau." Robasia shrugged and dug into the omelette, enjoying the eggy bacon flavor. As Robasia ate, Kayla looked around the empty room in thought.
"Do you want some?" her Lupe suddenly asked, holding out the half eaten omelette in her paws.
"Huh? Oh, no thanks." The owner paused for a second. "Hey, Robasia," she began slowly. "How would you feel about a brother or sister?"
"What?" The Lupe looked up sharply from her breakfast. "What do you mean a brother or sister?"
"Well," Kayla continued, "see, I was coming home from the Plateau when I passed by the Pound. I thought I'd just go in real quick." Kayla looked at Robasia sadly. "Robasia, those poor Neopets are heartbreaking. They've all got this look, like they've never been loved, fed, or been happy. I wished I could have taken them all home."
Robasia waited patiently for her owner to continue, though she was wondering where in the world this was going.
"So, I was thinking that I've got a lot of neopoints in the bank. We're doing pretty well financially." Kayla looked around the room again. "I could convert this room to a bedroom and maybe add a few other rooms."
"What are you talking about?" Robasia asked, bewildered. Kayla looked at Robasia with shining eyes.
"I think we should adopt a Neopet from the Pound."
Robasia blinked. Another Neopet? Why would Kayla want another Neopet? The Lupe's heart thudded as she asked shakily, "Aren't I family enough for you?"
"Oh, Robasia!" Kayla cried, throwing her arms around her. "Of course you are! I could never, ever replace you!"
"Well, then how come you want another Neopet?" the Lupe asked with hurt still in her voice. "Why don't you spend the neopoints on that petpet you promised?"
"I will keep my promise. But there are Neopets out there that need our love," Kayla countered. Robasia frowned in thought and looked at her owner. Kayla could see Robasia was hesitant.
"Just think if you were abandoned by someone. Wouldn't you love a place to call home? Would you want to live at that Pound your whole life?" Kayla pressed.
The Lupe looked down at the floor. She had never truly given much thought to the Pound. She had been luckily born to an owner who would never abandon her. Robasia looked up again at Kayla.
"Well," she said eventually, though with obvious hesitation, "maybe a sibling would be okay."
"Thanks Robasia." Kayla grinned. "You're really going to make someone happy."
The red Lupe sighed. It was selfish of her, but she wasn't sure if she wanted to share Kayla with 'someone'.
A few days later, Robasia was playing with her Taelia Plushie when Kayla's head appeared in the doorway. "Hey, Robasia!" she cried happily. "Today's the day!"
"What?" The Lupe looked at Kayla.
"I'm going to the Pound today. You'll have a new sibling by tonight!"
Robasia frowned at her plushie. She had known it would come any day now. Ever since that talk at breakfast, things had been frightfully busy. The enthusiasm emanating from Kayla, the stock of food and toys, and the bedroom next to hers being built, all meant a new member of the family. And yet Robasia had hoped that Kayla would somehow forget her plans. It would be hard to change from being an only Neopet to having a sibling to share things with.
"Do you want to come with me?" Kayla asked, tugging Robasia out of her thoughts.
"Err, no thanks," the Lupe said. Somehow she had no wish to see the Pound, or the Neopet that would become her brother or sister.
"Are you sure?" Kayla asked softly. "I really think you should be there."
Robasia shook her head vigorously.
"No, I'd really rather not go."
Kayla was silent for a second before nodding her head. "Okay. Whatever makes you comfortable."
Robasia didn't answer, but continued to play determinedly with the Taelia Plushie. She didn't look up until the door snapped shut. Then, she tossed her toy on the floor and stood up angrily.
"She's got no right to replace me!" she announced irritably to the air. When the walls offered no solution to her problems, Robasia stalked to the other end of her room and stared out the window. She caught a glimpse of Kayla disappearing down the road, her dark brown hair fluttering in the wind. Robasia knew that her owner would be back soon, some stranger in tow. The anger that the Lupe had felt began to subside, replaced with a deep sadness instead. Why am I being so selfish? she wondered miserably. The walls couldn't answer that one either.
Sighing, Robasia threw herself on her bed. Lying on the covers, she drew in the smell of fresh bamboo that her bed was made of. It was the smell of home. The warm sunlight softly caressed Robasia's fur. Vaguely, Robasia wondered when Kayla would be back. She wondered why Kayla had to be so stubbornly insistent about adopting someone. She wondered... however, she never got to finish her thoughts, as Robasia drifted off into a dreamless sleep.
"Today's the day!" Mauro said cheerfully as he plopped his bowl of watery soup on the table next to Rfawn's. "Today is the day we get adopted."
Rfawn glanced up at the purple spotted Grundo.
"That's what you say every day," he commented with some amusement.
Mauro shrugged. "You've got to keep a positive attitude in this place."
Sighing, the blue Eyrie known as Rfawn looked around the crowded cafeteria of the Pound, knowing only too well how right his friend was. Every day, many Neopets poured into the Pound, and many fewer left by way of kind owners. The moldy cots to sleep on, peeling paint, and broken toys for the younger Neopets didn't help brighten the atmosphere either.
"And I heard from Keno that Sari, that red Uni that came in yesterday, is adopted already."
The Eyrie suddenly realized Mauro was saying something. Rfawn dragged himself out of his musings to listen to what the Grundo was talking about.
"Can you believe that?" Mauro complained as he stared at the unappetizing breakfast. "Here we've been here since we were born and that Uni gets a home as soon as she arrives."
Rfawn could only shrug. "Unis are just more popular than Eyries or Grundos," he said.
"You can say that again," Mauro grumbled. The Grundo might have continued with his laments, but the all-too familiar bell rang, loud and shrill.
"Alright! We need you all out. The next group needs their breakfast!" a voice called out. Mauro and Rfawn instantly stood up and followed the line out the door and made their way to their dormitory. As the two friends passed the front desk, Rfawn caught sight of three owners in the lobby, all with Neopets to abandon.
"Do you remember your old owner?" Rfawn asked suddenly. The Grundo looked up, an eyebrow raised.
"Heck no," he scoffed. "Besides, I don't even want to know the person that abandoned me. Why do you ask?"
"I don't know." Rfawn shrugged. "I just have to wonder why my original owner wanted to leave me here."
"That's easy," Mauro said. "Because it was a heartless human."
"But what if they were really poor?" Rfawn argued. "Maybe they never wanted to abandon me. Maybe they had to."
Mauro looked at the blue Eyrie with pity. "Rfawn," he said softly, "it's all in the past. You're here no matter what. You can't go back to change anything. Stop trying to figure out why. It just is."
Rfawn's great wings drooped. "I know," he sighed, "I just can't help but ask. And wonder."
"C'mon," Mauro said in a suddenly bright tone of voice, "I think you need chocolate. I've still got some stashed away."
Rfawn's ears pricked up in interest. "Ok, let's go," he agreed. And the Eyrie and Grundo hurried down the dark halls to their dormitory.
Barely a minute had passed since they left the lobby that the door opened and in stepped a human. A girl, with long dark hair.
"Hello," the Pink Uni cried cheerfully. "Would you like to adopt a Neopet?"
Kayla smiled. "As a matter of fact, I would."
To be continued...
Author's Note: Any constructive criticism is welcome!