I am Aqua: Part Two
Dolphinoras suddenly coughed, she turned to me weakly. “I’ve got a case of Ugga-Ugga... But Rose got a small potion that lessens the effects... I just cough a lot.” The Flotsam sneezed. “And I sneeze.”
I quickly dropped the necklace remnants into my bag. The Flotsam grabbed my hoof and dragged me outside. The hall was filled with a couple pets walking up and down and a couple humans meeting some new people. Dolphinoras dragged me down the hall. We rounded a corner, then she pushed open the glass doors. We dragged ourselves inside.
The air was moist and humid and I saw a large pool stretching out in front of me about as big as three neohomes. There was a large sign that read: Aquatic, Maraquan, and Sea Neopets only. Dolphinoras showed me to the side where a few chairs lined the edge. Suddenly she pushed me in and I splashed into the water, my tail slapping the surface.
As I resurfaced, Dolphinoras landed beside me with a slightly smaller splash. Her horn appeared, but she kept the rest of her underwater, smiling at me through the blue. Then she sprang out at me, giggling as I fell back and plunged my head. My hoofs kicked her jokingly, and then I used my tail to swim deep down. It was pretty deep.
I kept an eye on Dolphinoras's shape. I watched it move around, searching for me. Then it began to move closer; she had decided to look for me deeper. The bottom had a few nooks and caves, to make it easier for us water creatures. The room next to this one, Dolphinoras told me, had a smaller pool that was heated and was much shallower for pets that couldn’t breathe underwater.
When Dolphinoras came close, I shot at her from underneath an overhang rock. The Flotsam flashed her tail at my face and lightly hit my nose. I slapped her back and soon we were slapping each other with our tails. Giggling, we finally surfaced and went back to our room.
“Wasn’t that fun? The Pound isn’t so bad once you look deeper.” She coughed. “Anyway, dinner is going to be served soon. Come on, let's go wait in the cafeteria.”
She led me to the cafeteria, which was pretty big. There were lunch tables and on two walls was a buffet. The trays were empty, though, and five lunch ladies were starting to stack the plates at the side and fill up the utensil trays. Dolphinoras brought me to a small table next to the window. It gave me a view of the plaza.
Dolphinoras smiled. She gazed at a passing blue Kacheek with his mother. “I wish I had a family. I’ve been here for a while- so now I’m even yearning for a fosterer.” The Flotsam winked. “Maybe you’ll be luckier than me; I’m sure good fortune lies ahead. You’re the color of a four leaf clover, for Pete’s sake.”
“We both have an equal chance; I mean my name is unlikely to get me picked. I mean seriously, Aqua with a bunch of numbers? I doubt it.” I slid off my chair and headed towards the food line as they called our row for food.
I scooped up a plate then retrieved some spaghetti with meatballs and a cupcake and then the lady at the counter handed me a Neocola with a smile. Smiling, I thanked her and then sat down at the table to wait for Dolphinoras. The blue Flotsam finally came, her plate piled with salad with a small cup of bleu cheese dressing and an orange soda.
I hesitated to eat it- most stories showed the Pound as low status.
Dolphinoras saw my glance. “Don’t worry; stories in the Neopian Times are fiction 70% of the time. The Pound isn’t the best, but it isn’t the worst either. The food’s fine.” She scooped up a bit of lettuce with her fork then plunged it into the dish of dressing.
“Well, if you say so.” Then I held my breath and picked up my fork which I had twirled spaghetti around.
I gingerly placed it into my mouth. I was surprised how good it was. Sure, it wasn’t the best, but it wasn’t that bad. It reminded me of Ellen’s homemade spaghetti. Thinking about Ellen brought a tear to my eyes. Dolphinoras opened her mouth to ask what was wrong, but one tiny hint of emotion in my eyes gave my reason away.
Dolphinoras closed her mouth and silently ate her salad.
After lunch I went back to my room. Dolphinoras offered me if I wanted to come with her outside for a game of tag, but I turned her down and she sent me a worried look before walking outside. I missed Ellen. For a little bit, Dolphinoras made the hole in my heart completely gone, but when I remembered Ellen, that hole opened up again. I opened my mouth and quietly sang to myself.
“Hush, my baby,
Things will turn out ok,
Things will turn around.
Oh baby, just listen to me,
Listen to my sound,
I love you and you love me,
Together is what we were meant to be...
I won’t walk away,
No matter what will happen,
I love you that are what I’d say,
When you look at me,
When I look at you,
The love is what I see,
and just between you and me,
I know the secrets of the world,
I know how it goes all ‘round,
And I know things will turn out ok,
And things will turn around.
Hush, my baby,
Hush, my baby...”
I was holding myself, rocking and quietly singing my mother’s song. She had made it just for me; she sang it to me when I cried, and she sang it to me when I was worried. But now Ellen was gone and I had to sing it to myself. It gave me a little comfort, but not as much as it would usually give me if it was Ellen’s voice lulling me to comfort instead of my own.
Sighing, I pulled my bag out which had a couple of my belongings the insurance company had given to me. Everything else stayed in the house awaiting Ellen’s maybe-never return. I wanted to cry. I tried to take out a book to read, but instead I pulled out a photo album instead with a large blown up picture of me and Ellen on the front. The tears came this time, flowing out of me as if I was a hose turned on full blast.
Dolphinoras walked in the moment. One look at my eyes and the album clutched tightly to my chest gave her enough. She dragged herself to me and held me close, letting me lean on her shoulder as I let out all the sorrow I had kept locked up for a while. It was a long time before I finally ran out of tears and converted to lying on the bed, shaking and sniffling. Dolphinoras could only do so much, but nothing could have helped me.
My cries rebounded across the room, sending out the pangs of sadness and heartbreak that was locked up inside my broken heart.
One early morning a few weeks after I arrived at the Pound, I awoke to the sound of Dolphinoras bustling around. She beamed at me, her eyes shining with tears and a small blue bag on her shoulders. Her eyes saddened for a moment, then brightened again. Putting a hand on my shoulder, she looked into my eyes and my heart dropped.
”I’m getting adopted,” she whispered, her voice showing evident excitement. “I wish you could come, but...”
“They don’t have enough room,” I said bluntly. I was happy for her, but surges of envy went through me. “You’ll have a good life, won’t you?” I faced the wall and stared at a speck of dust.
Dolphinoras hugged me. “I won’t ever forget you, Aqua. I’m sure you’ll find a home soon enough; after all, don’t kind people have happy endings?”
“Not all of them,” I muttered, but I said louder, “Yes, I suppose you're right.”
Dolphinoras walked out the door after saying farewell, and she took with her a part of my heart. The hole my mother had made within me ever since she became ill reopened and I wished to cry again. But I held back tears. I rubbed my eyes; maybe I would get another roommate. I dragged myself outside with a heavy heart. Then I saw a blue blur race past me; it was Dolphinoras.
She was crying.
Salty tears flooded down her face and she was hiccupping uncontrollably. Her fins were clutched tightly into balls and her eyes were squeezed shut. She still wore a backpack. I thought she was happy she had gotten a new home- but now here she was, crying. I held her, murmuring words of comfort as she had to me. Slowly I brought her into our dorm room and seated her onto a single sofa seat. I sat in the opposite.
“Dolphinoras, what’s wrong?” I asked her softly, one hoof on her fin.
Her body shook with sobs and her voice was hoarse, but I could clearly understand her. “The boy who was going to adopt me... he was about to fill out the forms... then... a painted pet... a faerie Eyrie... she walked by and... and... the boy... he left me... and the Eyrie... she got adopted... instead of me... and... and...” The blue Flotsam burst into a fresh wave of tears.
My heart dropped.
“Dolphinoras...” I tried to comfort her, but I could do nothing as my friend suffered a loss worse than falling off a cliff.
The next day Dolphinoras had stopped crying, but she had settled into a depressed mood. Sometimes she refused to eat, only to simmer in her misery. I had to even force her to eat sometimes, just to keep her from starvation. She improved slightly after a little and she no longer resisted meals and water. But her soul was so fragile now- the hyper-active and bouncy young Flotsam I had known before was gone, replaced by a quiet, inactive and sensitive child.
Dolphinoras just wasn’t Dolphinoras.
To be continued...