The Yellow Gelert: Part Three
Pixie's arms were crossed over her chest in a defensive stance. “I don't care to answer.”
“We have to know, Pix. Tell us. Now.” Chezzanne could be really firm when she wanted to be.
“Okay, so I had a red Kacheek a long time ago.” Pixie bit her lip hard.
“And I abandoned her.”
“That's better,” said Chezzanne slowly. “Now, why?”
Dellayn's face was buried in the couch and she refused to look at her owner.
“I was young, silly and had a small capacity to love. I'm different now.”
“Why didn't you tell us?”
“What is this, the third degree?” Pixie tried to laugh. “I didn't tell you because I figured you wouldn't understand and that it didn't have any bearing on the present.”
“Well, we don't understand. But it does matter.” Chezzanne's eyes watered. She didn't like the interrogation any more than Dellayn, but she was a little more of a do-what-must-be-done type.
Pixie sighed, looking weary and regretful. “I'm sorry for what I did to Ahnee and I'm sorry that you don't agree with my way of handling it.”
Dellayn whimpered slightly and tunneled deeper into the cushions.
“I forgive you,” Chezzanne said simply. “We both do. Right, Dell? Dellayn?”
Dellayn didn't say anything.
Dellayn woke up early the next morning and went to the dock alone. Lately she and Chezzanne had been getting along better, so they'd walked together, but she didn't want to talk to anyone, let alone her perceptive sister.
Chezzanne was an odd Uni. Following the trend of most Unis, she liked makeup, pink and fashion, but unlike most Unis, she loved to study, too. Dellayn was helping her stop the makeup part that turned out to be too expensive for Chezzanne's bi-weekly paycheck from the beauty parlor.
All the same, Chezzanne was a great sister to Dellayn. But Dellayn was not ready for conversation.
“Good morning,” she said, trying to sound cheery. “Here's the recipe list. I had to memorize them so that I would be able to work faster, but I wouldn't impose that on you.”
Ahnee smiled slightly and took the list. “Thanks. I'm horrible at memorizing.”
Dellayn almost started crying. They were very similar.
It was hard to get through the days of her boss's vacation with Ahnee, who was the long lost sister she'd imagined she had, but she managed. As it turned out, she chose to relinquish her job to Ahnee and look elsewhere for work. After all, she didn't need a job like Ahnee did.
She was not speaking to Pixie, but she had decided that Chezzanne was alright to talk to, just so long as she didn't try to make her talk about how she felt or anything. So it was the blue Uni who she told about the job she was hoping to get, and not Pixie.
“A petpetsitter?” Chezzanne looked doubtful. “It's hard, believe me.”
But stubborn little Dellayn arrived at Mr. Title's house at six o'clock sharp and was greeted by the sight of three wailing Babaas and an Angelpuss.
“Just give them all baths, feed them, and have them in bed by nine,” Mr. Title had said. As if it would be that simple!
“Bambi, Benny, Bernie and Regina! Go sit on the couch–immediately!” Dellayn was hoping that once they were all sitting down and in once place, she would be able to concentrate.
“We don't wanna,” whined Bambi, the oldest petpet.
“Yeah,” Bernie and Regina chorused.
“Right now!” Dellayn felt a headache coming on. She looked at each petpet sternly. “Stay on the couch.”
She left to find four puzzles, and returned to see all of her naughty charges except Benny bouncing... on the couch.
“You didn't say we had to stay sitting down,” pointed out Regina, the smug Angelpuss.
“That is true,” Dellayn said weakly, grabbing a hold on her temper. “Now,” she said, setting the puzzles down, “time for a contest! See who can put their puzzle together the fastest.”
“I want that one,” Regina and Bambi said at the same time, pointing to the brightly colored picture of a Chomby juggling Illusen's Cream Cookies.
“I said so first,” Regina said quickly.
Benny nervously wriggled on the couch, and Bernie sighed impatiently.
To cut off the argument, Dellayn gave Bernie the Chomby puzzle, and stopped the sighs with a threat of no dessert. To Bambi, she gave a puzzle of a Royalgirl Tuskaninny, and Regina got an Earth Faerie puzzle. The only one left was a landscape of Tyrannia which she gave to Benny.
“Now, these are all one-hundred pieces. I'm going to make dinner, so you all work quietly and tell me who finishes first.” Dellayn went into the kitchen to begin preparing the meal of jelly, Vegan Cheese and the special soup that Shei had taught her to make. As the bubbling soup warmed, she went into the other room to check on the pets, and was surprised to see that Benny was finished.
“Good job, Benny,” she said, wondering why he hadn't said anything.
He looked up and down quickly, but did not speak.
Bernie finished next, then the two Babaas went to help Dellayn set the table. She smelled the soup strongly, and went to turn off the stove.
“Come to the table, Regina, Bambi.” Neither had finished their puzzles. “When you finish your soup and cheese, you can have jelly.”
“Is there a prize for second place?” Bernie asked as she shoveled in the hot soup.
“Yes. You all get a prize.” Dellayn scrambled to think of prizes, but she couldn't. “You'll find out at bedtime.”
The rest of the meal was eaten in relative silence, and then all four were sent to clean their rooms while Dellayn put the dishes in the sink to soak.
“Regina, you must take your bath first.”
“Awwww, do I hafta?” whined the Angelpuss, who, it seemed, was far from angelic.
“Yes. You Babaas can listen to music while you wait your turn.” Dellayn got Regina into the warm water with some difficulty, shampooed her fur, then finally got her bundled into a towel.
Dellayn carried the wriggling terry cloth bundle into the bedroom and quickly tucked her into bed. She repeated the process with the Babaas, then sat in the middle of the petpets' room contemplatively.
“Who wants to hear a bedtime story as a prize for doing so well on the puzzles?”
Bernie and Regina gave the affirmative 'yeah!' and Dellayn made herself comfortable as she began to speak.
“There was a young Cirrus who loved to count Babaas in bed. It helped him fall asleep. As he was counting, as usual, he drifted off and had a dream...
“As the fiftieth Babaa jumped over the fence, she suddenly got tired of jumping over and over in the minds of all petpets and ran through the field as fast as her legs could carry her. She wriggled through the bush and popped through the other side.
“It was Faerieland. She–Pogo, was her name–Pogo explored Faerieland and...” The petpets were already asleep. Good thing, too. Dellayn didn't know what to say next.
Dellayn went to wash the dishes, dry up the bathroom and pick up the puzzle pieces. As she worked, she hummed, hoping that the sound would keep the petpets asleep. She didn't know how she would deal with it if one of them woke up.
Soon the doorbell rang, and Mr. Title came in and paid Dellayn two-thousand Neopoints.
“House looks great,” he said, smiling. “I know a lady who has a petpet that needs sat for a week. Here's her neomail.” He handed her a scrap of paper and thanked her.
Since it wasn't far to walk, Dellayn didn't need an escort and walked home alone. She went up to her room, which Chezzanne had moved out of, and put the Neopoints in her stash that grew so slowly. Not only were the expenses of the ferry, but she had recently bought Chezzanne a Pea Comb, which was the start of a renewed friendship.
It wasn't enough. Not nearly.
There was a month left before Dellayn would start her schooling again. With the monstrous reading list that Pixie required them to complete, there was no way she would be able to continue a job, not even part time.
And if she didn't get a grey paintbrush, she'd never be beautiful enough to earn Pixie's love.
What if Pixie abandoned her, too?
“Hello, Mrs. Fennel.” Dellayn hoisted the backpack she was carrying a little higher as she stepped into the lady's immaculate home.
“My Puppyblew is napping right now, but she'll be up soon. I'm off to Roo Island for a while, but you can contact me at this number.” She handed Dellayn a small, perfectly square slip of black paper with a number written in sparkling gel ink.
Mrs. Fennel picked up the two small suitcases sitting by the door and hurried out with her yellow Kougra in tow. “Bye! Good luck!”
“Good luck?” murmured Dellayn. “I wonder what she means...”
Dellayn set down her backpack, which contained all the things she needed for a week's stay at the lady's house. She went into the kitchen and opened the refrigerator. It was packed with perfectly cubic containers of food.
“Wow.” Dellayn pulled out a few containers and made some Creamy Carrot Soup. From experience, she knew that as soon as the petpet was awake, she would have no time for cooking.
She sliced a loaf of bread and spread it generously with butter, when she heard a whimper from the back room and she washed her hands before hurrying to meet the Puppyblew.
She stared at the messy room. Compared to the rest of the house, it was a Grundo-sty. “H-hello.”
The Puppyblew smiled widely. “Hi! I'm Reginald, but you can call me Reggie. Or Reg. I don't care. My Neopet... Yenna, she's a yellow Kougra...she is so picky about being called Yen. She said it's a currency, and not a name. So I called her Enna, and she said that it was ugly! Is that silly or what?”
“Yeah, yeah, real silly,” Dellayn said, trying to process all that Reg had said. “Hungry, Reg?”
“Yep. Can I have Jelly Cereal? Please? Pretty please with a cherry and hot fudge sauce and chopped nuts and whipped cream and another cherry on top?”
“Sure.” Dellayn rooted through the refrigerator for the Jelly Cereal and found the cold, red slime after a long search. “Sit down at the table, okay?”
Reginald sat down and started jabbering about Brightvale and Meridell, where Mrs. Fennel and Yenna were. He talked about the petpet shop where he was from. He talked about his favorite things and his least favorite things. He even talked while he ate the soup and cereal.
“Reg,” Dellayn managed finally, “don't talk with your mouth full.”
“Okay.” Reginald finished his food and started talking again.
The rest of the week was about the same as the first day. Reginald was always talking–talking or eating. He was ridiculous, but cute.
“Yenna's at the door,” Dellayn told the Puppyblew nervously. Nervous because Yenna was carrying a Spyven, and she knew that Reginald would not do well with half the attention.
Reginald ran next to her as she walked back with him, picking up her things as she went. Reginald stopped short when he saw the Spyven. “No-o-o-o-o-o!” he squeaked, and ran to his room.
Dellayn didn't say anything. Mrs. Fennel paid her and bid her good-day, but Dellayn wondered if it really was their last encounter.
To be continued...