Abandoned: Part Four
Taite slammed her cafeteria tray down next to Dior’s and slipped into the chair before her. She shook her head grumpily and glanced at her friend. The Shoyru was already sitting down, poking at the Semolina arranged unceremoniously on her plate. “If there’s one thing I’ll miss about here, it won’t be the food,” Taite muttered as she eyed her own Sutek Muffin and Plain Omelette.
Dior flipped some of the Semolina over with her fork before asking quietly, “So... Today’s the day, huh?”
They both fell silent, as if they didn’t feel awkward enough as it was.
Taite forked a bit of her omelette into her mouth before breaking off a piece of the Sutek Muffin. She inspected it, then popped that into her mouth as well. Still, the silence echoed on.
Just as Dior opened her mouth to say something, three pink Unis strolled up to the table and sat down around them. Taite attempted to smile at Asha, Cardea, and Kiran, but she couldn’t bring herself to show any real emotion. Not today.
It didn’t matter though, because the three girls just stared back at her.
“Hello, hello,” Kiran said casually. She glanced at Dior and Taite’s trays and shook her head sadly. “Thank goodness I eat every morning before I come here. I’d never be able to stomach that.”
Asha rolled her eyes as Kiran grimaced away from the food. She waited until her friend was done putting on a production, then spoke up. “So, Tasha just got me NeoFashion and I’m going out on the quad to read it. Plus, Kiran snuck in her Faellie, Buttermilk, and we’re going to teach her some tricks. Might you ladies be interested in joining us?”
Taite stiffened. “I can’t.”
Kiran’s jaw dropped slightly. Then, she pressed her lips together and glared at Taite. “Why not?”
‘Someone’s not used to being told no,’ Taite thought. She said nothing, though, not wanting to discuss her reasons for not being able to go with them.
Cardea nudged her friend and said to her quietly, “Because... She’s going to her new home today, remember?”
“Oh, please! Is that what you’re all worked up about?” Kiran scoffed slightly.
Asha laughed. “It’s not like you were going to be here forever! Besides, I have reason to believe this adoption isn’t going to...”
A glare from Kiran shut her up. Still, Cardea, Taite, and Dior all stared at the two as if they were crazy.
Before anyone could say anything, Taite let out a sigh and rose to her feet. She grabbed her purse, glanced at her uneaten breakfast, and swiftly exited the cafeteria. Her eyes blazed with anger as she walked down the hall, toward her room. Who did they think they were? Asha and Kiran were supposed to be her friends! Shouldn’t they care that she was leaving to go live with a woman who could probably rival Terror Mountain on the temperature scale?
Taite stormed through the maze of corridors to her room in a blaze of fury. Kiran and Asha’s indifference had hit her hard, and she was hurt to think that she had ever considered them her friends. Taite wiped a tear away from her eye as she came to a halt in front of the wooden door that marked her bedroom. She slipped her key into the lock and was about to enter the passage to her room when a voice stopped her.
“Ah, Miss Taite! I’m glad I found you!” A stocky Uni, painted pink of course, cantered toward her, obviously in a rush. He was out of breath and appeared a bit disheveled. As he approached her, he slowed down, but only slightly. Taite stepped aside to allow him room as he skidded to a stop. “A ‘Desdemona McTavish’ is here to pick you up from the Adoption Unit, and she demands your appearance promptly!” He shot her an apologetic look, but nodded toward the ajar door. “Get your stuff, please, and follow me. You will not be returning to this room.”
Taite sighed gloomily. A young girl of about six had a firm grip on her arm. The girl’s nanny held an appreciable stack of luggage in her arms, and the child’s mother clipped down the hallway in stilettos, a sour look planted on her face.
“Monday, hurry up!” the blonde woman called to her daughter impatiently. After power walking a few more steps, she turned to the nanny and ordered snippily, “You, it’s your job to take care of Monday! Now if I ask her to hurry up, I expect that you see to it that she does! I have an appointment at a spa in Faerieland an hour and a half from now and I will not be late!”
Taite shook her head, suppressing a groan. ‘Ladies and gentlemen, Desdemona McTavish...’
As Taite reclined on a cheap-looking sofa in a one-story house, she thought back on her life and wondered where she had gone wrong. What could she have possibly done that her karma was this bad? Sure, she had been a bit materialistic and somewhat snobby, but Belinda had raised her that way! Surely that wasn’t her fault!
Her eyes fell towards the floor, where Monday was setting up a large number of Usukis. The little girl had made quite an elaborate scene so far. Prom Queen Usuki sat in the passenger seat of the Usuki Dream Car driven by Prom Date Usuki. The car was parked outside of the Usuki Dream Castle, whose backyard contained an Usuki Dream Pool. Next to the pool, an Usuki Toy Hoop lay on the ground to make a pretend riding ring for Equestrian Usuki and her plushie Uni. Monday sat back, apparently finished, and called to her new pet, “Taitey, I need you to open a few things for me!”
Taite rolled her eyes, but held out her paw. “Hand them here.”
The dark-haired girl placed an Usuki Pretty Pearls Set, Usuki Perfect Nails Set, and Usuki Bathing Beauty Set in the outstretched paw. “I got these for my birthday yesterday! Then, Mommy took me to get you! She told me I could have an Usul, too, since now I own almost every Usuki!” She narrowed her eyes at the pet. “So you’d better do what I say. Now come play with me! I can explain everything that’s going on and you’ll be all caught up! Now, this one just got back from the prom...”
As Monday continued her story, Taite pushed herself up from the sofa and numbly sat down next to her... owner. She tried to be positive, really, but that was a hard thing to do. At least she hadn’t tried to dress Taite up like an Usuki. Yet.
Desdemona and her daughter were sitting at the plastic dining table when Taite walked in. At her arrival, they both stopped eating their salads and glanced at the Usul, annoyed. Desdemona cleared her throat and beckoned Taite closer. When the pet was fairly close to her, she exploded. “What time is it, you? What TIME is it?”
Taite opened her mouth, but found no words to answer, although she knew good and well that it was about 7:35.
When her response never came, the blonde continued raving. “It is exactly,” she paused to look at the wall clock, “thirty three minutes past seven! In this house, you are not permitted- I repeat, NOT permitted- to interrupt any of our meals so rudely!” As she kept speaking, her words grew more and more sour and continuously choppier. “In case whatever dump you came from did not follow standard eating times, you are NOT allowed in the kitchen between eight A.M. and nine A.M. for breakfast, noon and one P.M. for lunch, and seven P.M. and eight P.M. for dinner! Am. I. Clear?”
Taite nodded ever so slightly.
“Wonderful. Now GET OUT!”
Taite backed shakily toward the door, tears stinging her eyes. On her way out, she glanced at Monday. The little girl paused from playing with Gondolier and Ladybird Usuki long enough to murmur in a singsong voice, “Bye-bye, Taitey.”
Taite collapsed on the floor in Monday’s room, where a pile of blankets and a pillow marked her sleeping spot. The fur beneath her eyes was matted with tears, but the crying had stopped now. Taite held her head with her hands and let out a pitiful sob. She couldn’t stand those two stuck-up Neopians! Where did they get off thinking they were better than everyone else? They lived in a small, shabby house with small, shabby furniture. Apparently, they had sacrificed living in a great mansion so Monday could have her stupid Usuki collection.
Goodness, why did Taite have to be an Usul of all things! If she had been a Chomby or a Kougra, she could have possibly avoided this terrible family. She would rather go back to Belinda than stay here!
And with that thought, the tears started welling again.
A light tapping brought Taite back to the real world. She looked up and glanced around the room. Nothing. The taps came again and Taite listened to see where they were coming from-the other side of the room, if she was correct.
The Usul grabbed a pin from the Official Usuki Bowling Set in Monday’s closet and tentatively made her way across the room. When no one jumped out at her, she lowered the pin slightly.
Tap. Tap. Tap.
Taite let out a frustrated scream. Where was that incessant noise coming from? There was nothing in the room that could conceal a living thing. Except... Wait!
Her heart beating like crazy, Taite raised the bowling pin once more and turned toward the large window. Slowly, she moved the curtains aside. As she did, her fear disappeared. The creature that stood behind the door wasn’t a robber or some insane friend of Monday. In fact, Taite almost laughed as she saw the pink fur and wings pressed into the glass and the rose-colored hoof raised to tap on the window.
Taite didn’t laugh, but she did sigh in relief and open the window to let her friend in.
Once inside, Cardea collapsed on the bed. After panting heavily for a few minutes, she spoke. “Dear me, child! I’ve been hovering at that window all afternoon! Couldn’t you have come a bit earlier?”
Taite rolled her eyes. “Sorry. Her Majesty and her daughter required me to do various tasks around the house all day. ‘Comb my hair!’ ‘Feed the petpets!’ ‘Bring in the neomail!’ ‘Play Usukis with me!’ Orders, orders... All day long!”
Cardea sighed. “Poor you!”
The two girls sat in silence as time ticked away. Finally, Taite spoke up. “Umm, Cardea, don’t take this the wrong way, but... What are you doing here?”
The Uni laughed. “Oh, right! Sorry! Actually, I have a very good reason for being here! Kiran had a feeling that you’d be miserable here, so... She wanted me to tell you that she has a plan. You won’t be here for long.”
Taite raised an eyebrow, and she felt a glimmer of hope. “A plan! Really? What is it?”
Cardea shrugged. “Please, do you think Kiran and Asha tell me a thing? They don’t let me in on half the stuff they talk about.”
Okay. This was news to Taite. “Why not? Aren’t they your friends?”
“Oh, don’t get me wrong! They’re my best friends! It’s just that Kiran and Asha are part of a big clique of pets- most of whom don’t work at the pound. And, while I’m part of that group, I’m not exactly the center of it. Asha and Kiran, however, are.”
Taite thought back to the night when everyone had partied in Dior’s room at the Neopian Pound. She remembered how Kiran had pressured Cardea into talking about her past, even though Cardea had clearly been uncomfortable revealing that part of her life. At the time, it had puzzled Taite that Cardea would let her friend do that to her. Now, it sort of made sense. Taite had been part of clique when she lived with Belinda. It was all about hierarchy and exclusion. Taite had a feeling it was things like that that had led her to this terrible point in her life.
As the white Usul thought some more, she let her glance slide around the room. Finally, it landed on the alarm clock next to Monday’s bed. The bright red letters glowed 8:03.
“Shoot! Cardea, it’s after eight o’clock! Monday’s going to be up here any minute! You’ve got to go!”
Cardea acted quickly, getting up on all fours and rushing to the window. With an elegant flap of her wings, she was out of the room and sailing in the air, most likely headed to the pound.
As Taite closed the window and fixed the drapes, she stared after her friend. Her head was spinning, but a new hope had formed in her heart. Kiran had a plan... Kiran would take care of everything... If only, after everything she knew, she could trust Kiran...
To be continued...