Taking Care of Us: Part One
It was pouring Gelerts and Aishas. I could tell it was when the kitchen door opened briefly and slammed against the unforgiving wind. I was half asleep when I heard my ‘adopted sister,’ for I’m not sure what else to call her. She was yelling at the top of her lungs and turning every light in the house on. If I didn’t know any better, she just wanted attention for herself.
“Ubuuroi!” she yelled up the stairs at me and turned on the hallway light. It immediately spilled into my room—I forgot to shut the door. Great. “Ubuuroi, get your butt down here. I need your help, come on!” Emsohl was an obnoxious little thing: a pint-sized brown Lupe with absolutely no respect for personal space and a voice box that could easily beat out the loudspeakers in the Virtupets Space Station. Her ears and eyes aren’t quite proportionate to her body, legs and tail. Whenever she isn’t mistaken for a Baby Lupe, she’s mistaken for a petpet, which I personally find outrageously hilarious.
“Quoxwood!” My ears trembled as Emsohl yelled for our houseguest, an old friend of mine. He was a victim of the lab ray. Now she’s just about as cute and fluffy as Emsohl. Trust me, I try to suppress my feelings of nausea as best I can when I look at her.
“Emsohl, stop shouting, we can all hear you,” I heard Quoxwood at the bottom of the stairs. She must have been in the living room, reading, as usual. What a nerdy bookworm.
“Yeah, shut up before I go deaf,” I added, slipping out of bed and lumbering through the door. I was incredibly reluctant to go down to the kitchen and see what the fuss was all about, but I knew if I didn’t oblige I would certainly pay the price later in annoyance.
Before you jump on my back about being a grouch, let me get something straight here: I’m a ghost, I’m not supposed to be friendly. So I’m not. And on top of that, I’m a Lupe, a very big one at that (I am not fat, just husky) so I can be very territorial! And I have to share a house with this little monster... Sweet Thyassa, save me now.
I passed the usual basket of laundry put out for me to sort through—bed sheets, some socks I got on Valentine’s Day (Emsohl had overheard Quoxwood accusing me of having cold feet about something... and took the expression rather literally), and a couple of towels. “Ubuuroi!” Now it was Quoxwood yelling at me from the kitchen.
“What?” I moaned and leaned my heavy head on the banister. My eye twitched slightly and I could feel a headache ready to sink in. All I wanted to do was sleep for the night. Is that so much to ask? Sleep? At night?
“When you come downstairs, could you bring a towel from the laundry? Hurry.”
Oh, perfect. Emsohl had been inside for two minutes and already the house was starting to flood. The kid’s a miracle worker.
Trundling into the kitchen and dragging a towel in my teeth, I took pause to notice the two girls huddled together with their backs to the door. They were about the same size even though Quoxwood walked on her hind legs, despite being a Cybunny. She never hopped, and for that I am eternally grateful. One little leap and I might ‘accidentally’ mistake her for the Easter Cybunny... and that would not turn out so pretty.
“Shhh!” Emsohl spat over her shoulder at me. I rolled my sunken eyes under my heavy brow. The gesture went completely unnoticed. “Look, Ubu,” the little Lupe whispered and turned to face me. Cupped in her paws was the ugliest Mallard I had ever seen.
“You collect Mallards now?” I snorted a quick snicker, dodging Quoxwood’s seeking glare.
“It’s not a Mallard!” Emsohl brought it close to her defensively and protected its ears from my slander. Heaven forbid it should understand English and know the difference between its own species and its equally-ugly cousin!
“Ubu, don’t you know what this is?” Quoxwood asked, surfacing from a drowning spell of complete awe. From the tone of her voice it sounded like Emsohl had just unearthed Maraqua. ...before anyone else had.
I didn’t bother to respond.
“He’s a Weewoo,” Emsohl interjected, looking down at the rare creature once more. Her eyes glazed over in wonder like a little kid’s might in the Chocolate Shop, reflecting all manner of teeth-rotting and fattening sweets.
The bird was small, most likely just a hatchling. Its brown feathers were slick from the rain and oil, and mud caked its slender yellow beak and webbed toes. It shook from the cold. “That thing, whatever it is, is not staying in this house. It stinks, it’s covered in mud and it’s probably the ugliest thing I’ve ever seen.”
“Oh come on, Ubu! It was all alone! I couldn’t just let it drown in the rain like this!” Emsohl grabbed the towel I brought from the laundry and started to clean off the Weewoo. Her brow furrowed with concern and a newfound desire to care for something smaller than herself. Quoxwood and I exchanged looks. From the grimace she gave me, I could tell the same thought was running through her mind. Emsohl was the most incompetent Lupe I knew. She couldn’t even take care of her petpet and we ended up replacing it with a plushie. She still carries it around and tries to feed it like it’s the real thing, so I suppose that keeps her happy. Nonetheless, Emsohl was forgetful and fed it irregularly. So of course Quoxwood and I couldn’t let her have the real deal! No way would Emsohl be able to take care of a real petpet.
“Emsohl, I think Ubuuroi is right.” Quoxwood put a gentle paw on Emsohl’s shoulder and lowered her ears. “Weewoos belong in the wild. Its mother probably would come back for it at dawn.”
“But the rain,” Emsohl whimpered in protest.
“Weewoos can swim, dummy,” I chortled, but Quoxwood threw me a nasty look that immediately sealed my lips.
“Emsohl I know it’s difficult, but sometimes Nature just needs to take its course. You should put it back where you found it,” the Cybunny suggested as kindly as she could. I could tell Quoxwood felt bad about leaving a baby petpet out in the rain. I almost felt a guilty heart string chime along with the girls’ before I noticed a Moach jump from the Weewoo’s feathered tail to the table. I promptly squished it with a single finger.
“Emsohl, this thing is covered in Moaches and Cooties; take it outside before we all get infested,” I growled and bared my teeth with disgust. Emsohl seemed to get the message; she shrank back and looked down at the Weewoo, turning it over for a Moach inspection. She wrinkled her nose in slight surprise and disgust but held tight to the little creature. “Go on, put it back,” I flatly urged her. Turning my back, I slunk out of the kitchen and waited behind the wall in front of the staircase for Quoxwood. I could hear her consoling Emsohl a little bit before the kitchen door finally opened and shut once more.
In the kitchen, Quoxwood heaved a heavy sigh. Her gentle footsteps pattered across the linoleum, closer and closer to the door. Ready to take her by surprise, I straightened up against the wall, but before I could lunge or even get out a little growl, she stuck out a paw to stop me and said, “You know she’s going to come back with it.”
I slumped over the stairs sleepily and moaned, “She needs to learn how to grow up; she can’t even take care of herself!”
“Ubu, she is grown up. She just needs a little help sometimes. Her heart’s in the right place, but she doesn’t really have the know-how to everything. Be nice to her, alright?” She crossed her little arms and glared up at me. My tail swished back and forth over the stairs a few times before I finally responded.
“Okay, fine, I’ll wait up for her and try to talk her out of it...” Quoxwood gave me an approving smile, you know, the kind you can only roll your eyes at. “But if that thing dies from the cold or something, it’s Emsohl’s responsibility,” I added as Quoxwood jumped over me to go up to bed.
“Just do the right thing, Ubuuroi.” She didn’t even look at me; she just disappeared up the stairs—as if I needed to learn how to do the right thing. Yeah, right. Slipping off the stairs, I went back into the kitchen and waited at the table for Emsohl to come back into the house, sneaking in with the Weewoo hidden under her stubby, little arm or in a box or something ridiculous.
To be continued...