Breakfast. She stuffed down a sweet, tender muffin, studded with small blueberries, and washed it down a glass of nice, cold Kau milk.
Lunch. She ate her lunch at school, which was a hamburger, the layers of bread, tomato, lettuce, meat, and pickle adding to each other, combining into a blend of mouth-watering unhealthiness. Along with this, she had a scrumptious pile of fried potato slices and a cold, fizzy can of Neocola.
Dinner. She had nothing.
“Where could she be?” worried her mother. The dinner table was set, complete with a large bowl of crunchy salad with an appetizing vinaigrette, a heaping pot of macaroni and cheese that was perfectly al dente, and some delicious, fresh, bread, taken from the oven only moments ago. Father was sitting at table across from Mother, and all of the dishes and silverware were in their appropriate locations. The sun was just about to set, and the beautiful sunset could be seen through the large dining room window. It was as beautiful as a painting, perfect for a nice, family dinner. The only thing that was missing was their child, Laurine.
“I don’t know,” said Father. He was worried as well, though not to the extent of Mother – she got up and checked the door for an imaginary knock.
“Oh, she’s still not here,” said Mother, coming back, her light blue dress fluttering as she came running from the front door.
“What if Sloth kidnapped her and turned her into a mutant Neopet? Oh no, I can just imagine it. My sweet child, my lovely purple Usul, turned into a hideous mutant Usul! And oh, I bet Laurine is so sad right now... she was always concerned about how she looked, and it must be a nightmare right now, being so ugly. And she must be trying to escape from Sloth’s prisons right now, except she can’t, because Sloth is so smart, and so my dear Laurine must be so miserable right now, trying to come home to us, and oh! What a disaster!” Mother was very nervous.
“Don’t worry; I highly doubt Sloth has come back in power. He already tried his turn-his-pets-into-mutants plan, and he failed. Why would he try his failed plan again? And besides, the Space Faerie has just taken care of him,” consoled Father. He was sitting comfortably on one of the dining room’s chairs.
“You’re right. We mustn’t worry. She’ll be coming home soon,” said Mother. She sat down on the chair across from Father, in the dining room full of food. The vinaigrette was beginning to separate. The macaroni was growing cold, as was the bread.
The evening passed in silence.
Suddenly, disturbing the quiet, Mother said, “What if Laurine was captured by Jhudora? Oh, I can just see it now. Her evil Faerie magic could make Laurine her evil minion, and she’ll be doomed to a life of serving the evil Faerie! And then she’ll be arrested for being evil! When she’s not, and she’s just being controlled by evil Faerie magic! Oh, what tragedy!” exclaimed Mother.
“What if our baby... what if she was kidnapped by the thieves’ guild? Then... those thieves will teach our little Laurine how to be a criminal, and she’ll be caught by the Chia police, or even worse, become someone like Masila! I don’t want her to grow up like that! That’s not how we wanted to raise her!” Father had succumbed to his inner worry as well, and he too began to start thinking up all sorts of scenes that were unlikely to happen.
Together, the parents thought up many possibilities as to why Laurine wasn’t home, even though all of their theories were incorrect, and sometimes, impossibly impracticable. As they discussed senselessly, time passed, and they were well into the night. The vinaigrette was as if it hadn’t been mixed, the macaroni was no longer al dente, and the bread was cold. The sun was long gone.
There was a knock at the door. Father gasped, and Mother jumped up, knocking her chair over. “Coming!” she exclaimed giddily.
She ran over to the front door, her skirt flapping behind her, and she opened the door to reveal a very sad purple Usul. Her denim overalls and pink blouse were stained with mud, as if she had dived into the Meridell Rubbish Dump.
“Laurine!” exclaimed Mother. She gave a big, humungous hug, dirtying her clean, soft blue dress with gooey mud.
“I’m so happy you’re back!” Mother was still stifling her daughter in her now grimy dress.
They walked to the dining table, where Father was waiting. “She’s back!” Mother smiled.
“I am very disappointed in you,” said Father. “You made Mother and me worry so, and look at this.” He motioned towards the food still on the table. “It’s all cold! Why didn’t you come home at the regular time?”
“Oh, what Father is trying to say is that he was worried, and he wants to know what happened.”
All three members of the family were now sitting around the dining table.
“Well...” Laurine started. “I thought you didn’t love me anymore. So I ran away.”
“Huh? Whatever would make you think that?” asked Father. Mother leaned in to hear better as well.
“Because you don’t love me,” Laurine said. “Remember the time I wanted a Puppyblew?”
The parents nodded.
“Well, you got me a smoothie. That’s nothing near a Puppyblew. And when I told you that I wanted a Puppyblew, not a smoothie, you just laughed. What kind of parent would give me a smoothie when I told them that I wanted a Puppyblew!?”
“Oh, that’s not what we meant! We told you that you couldn’t have a Puppyblew many times, remember? And we just got you a smoothie to make you feel better, that you couldn’t have a petpet,” said Mother.
“Okay then, what about the time when I accidentally got a cut on my finger, and when I showed you, you didn’t care? What kind of parent wouldn’t care if I got hurt?”
“Honey,” started Father. “That time, I was juicing an orange. If I touched your finger, then it would hurt even more, because oranges are very acidic. And I didn’t not care, I told you to go ask Mother, remember?”
“And a lot of times when I want to show you something, you just don’t care, and you just do something else. I didn’t think you guys wouldn’t care if I was gone,” said Laurine.
Mother and Father looked at each other, knowing how untrue that was. “Of course we would care if you were gone. Of course. We love you more than we love anything else. There’s no question about it.”
“But what about that time when I got an A on the math test and you didn’t care? Or the time I actually scored a goal and you just sighed and turned away? Or the time that I was crying and you just ignored me? Or the time when I got the shot and you didn’t give me a cookie like usual? Or the time that you made fun of me in front of my friends at school? Or–”
“Wait,” interrupted Father. “There are logical explanations to everything that we did. We’re not here to hurt you or to make fun of you; we’re here to help you.” He smiled, but the sincere moment was broken by his stomach growling.
“Err... let’s eat. We can explain everything then,” suggested Mother.
Midnight snack. Laurine had salad with the oil and vinegar separated, macaroni and cheese with the sauce solidified, bread that was cold, and a heaping dessert of love, care, and explanations. It was the best meal in the world.