Hidden In the Shadows
I wearily wiped a tear from my cheek, and looked up gloomily at my mother. Her eyes were as clear as day; not a single tear dripping down her sleek, tender skin. Once I saw her blank aspect, I began to feel skeptic about whether she truly loved us. Here she was, just disposing us in the Pound as if we were nothing more than hand-me-down plushies made to use and discard. How could someone so cold-heartedly betray ones' trust like that? I didn't understand it. It was cruel and unjust, and I hated her for it.
She turned and walked away, never once looking back. The tears plummeting down my face quickly decreased to nothing more than the sparkle of a single tear. My sniffles morphed into grunts of pure anger, and my eyes narrowed into a stern, indignant state. I fiercely clenched my scarlet feathers together, like a fist, and stumbled into the frigid darkness of the Neopian Pound.
~~Two Years Later~~
A faint sliver of light pierced my sealed eyelids. I woke almost instinctively to the rare sight. The door of the Neopian Pound had opened. Another captivated pet owner was interested in adopting one of us; it was a cause for excitement among the pounded pets, for one of us would be leaving this awful place with their new owner. It was a chance at a new beginning; a new home; a new life.
I waited impatiently, fidgeting in my standing position as I listened to the brisk, aroused whispers of the many other pets. I, on the other hand, stood in silence; only occasionally gasping as I heard feeble footsteps approaching closer and closer. My heart was pounding wildly; it almost felt like it would burst out of my chest. Could I be adopted? Here and now? Never again having to live in this damp, awful place?
My heart sank to my stomach, and solumn tears streamed down my face as I heard the faint echo of the steps pass my cell. I quickly wiped away my tears, and settled myself on the dusty floor, blaming myself for being over confident. Nobody would want me. I was a red Pteri; A bird; a symbol of hatred, portrayed by the Down-for-Maintenance-Pteri. I was a joke.
Long after the doors were bolted shut, and the new pet owner had left, taking with them what appeared to be a Grarrl of some sort, I could still hear muffled whimpers of broken hearts, torn apart by the rejection that overlooked their cell, and scampered out of their lives’ forever. Unlike them, I wasn’t too affected by this occurrence. I had, many times in the last couple of years, been rejected just like them. I have grown used to the empty, hopeless feeling that lingers behind. But I always look to the light, and in my mind, I am in a far-off place. A place where sadness, and loneliness doesn’t exist, and pets are not abandoned so as to make space for a new, better one. A place where every heart is filled with hope.
~~Three Days Later~~
When you’re in an isolated location, such as the Pound, you are unaware of anything that goes on outside its doors. Such as the time. In the past two years, I have almost completely forgotten what time was. I have had so little need for it, and it seems so endless while locked away in a dirty cell, that I don’t even know when the sun is up, or when it is down. We can’t even tell what time of day it is from the food we eat, because we are always given the same, tasteless meals. We never know if a Holiday has come or past. But it wouldn’t matter anyway, assuming that we would receive nothing more than a plate of food. Holidays are just normal days for us.
I lay back on the dusty cement, and began to daydream about what my life would have been like if I had had a caring owner. I imagined a peaceful fire, in a warm, cozy home. I imagined the room filled with love and compassion, both coming from my owner and my siblings. I heard the faint laughs of my sisters, as they joyfully shared short stories, and jokes, and a sweet-smelling odor drifting in the air. As I sat there, enjoying the lovely sight, I did something unusual, something I hadn’t done in two whole years. I smiled.
This had been the most joyous time in my entire life, sitting by the fire, and listening to my owner and my siblings. I felt love for the first time.
I wearily opened my eyes, unaware that I had only imagined the cozy fire. I was suddenly thrust into darkness once more. My smile decreased to a frown, and before I had time to control my emotions, tears of hopelessness streamed down my face. I gently lowered my head into the support of my wings, and continued to sob into the musty, cold air.
As I cried in my dank cell, I suddenly felt the warmth of a padded hand on my back. It was surprising to me, for nothing this queer had ever happened during my two years here. I quickly lifted my head from my wings, too surprised to cry any longer.
I searched for the source of the paw, at first finding nothing in the darkness. But then, out of the shadows, appeared the face of a green Aisha, her face lit up with joy, and happiness. Could I be dreaming? How can anyone be happy here?
I looked at the Aisha with a confused look, wondering what the deal was with her smile. I began to utter something, but before I could ask her, she spoke first.
“It’s okay,” she whispered. The peace in her voice made me feel cheerful as well. The tears on my cheeks rolled down, but no more came. They slowly disappeared, as if her words were a handkerchief. She patted my back once again, the invisible handkerchief wiping away the last tear that dripped off my beak. Then she looked at me in a way that I had only seen in my dreams. She looked at me as though I were her friend. Her soft, handkerchief-like words broke the silence once more. “You’ll get your chance.”
I pondered her words for a moment, staring at her in disbelief. The cozy fire, and the love that I had imagined went through my thoughts over and over. The more I though about it, the more it seemed real. She was right. Someday, my chance will come. There is someone out there waiting for me; waiting to find me. Someone to care about every scratch I get; someone to get excited over the simplest thing I do right. Someone to love me.
Wholeheartedly, I gazed up into her large, angelic eyes, trying to give her a sign that I understood, and thank her for the thoughtful words. But what I saw in her eyes amazed me, for it was something uncommon in a place like this. I saw hope.
A tear trickled down my cheek. But this was not a tear of sadness, but a tear of love. Maybe someday I would get to go home to that cozy fire, but for now, had her. I had a friend.