"MOOOOOOOOOOOOMMMMMM!!! MOOOOOTHERRRRRR! I GOT A BRUSH STUCK IN MY-"
"Calm down, Isabel, I'll get it out!" Emily tugged at my hair, yanking out a few strands of my green Xweetok fur out. I held back a scream; I was the the second oldest of the family and I had to set a good example for my younger sisters, Violet and Queenie, and prove to my older brother, Tack, that I wasn't a self-centered girl who only cared about fashion and makeup.
Which was true.
Emily placed the brush on the counter, smoothing her light brown hair and checking her outfit. I sighed. Emily was introducing us to our newest sister, Ralleighh, today. She had been jumping up and down about it for WEEKS.
I slumped onto my cushy bed, letting my many plushies bury me. I didn't want a new sister. And I REALLY didn't want a sister who had the possibility of outshining me in anything. She couldn't be prettier, she couldn't be smarter, she couldn't be faster, and I prayed for the love of Sloth she wouldn't be painted.
Because I wasn't. I was just plain... green. I had been begging Emily for years to buy me a faerie paint brush or a pirate paint brush, but she would just laugh and go on about 'the budget' and saying 'You're beautiful the way you are, Isabel.'
The doorbell rang, sending Emily into shrieks of joy and me slumping deeper into the sheets. I heard Emily pounding down the stairs, and yelling for Tack, Queenie, and Violet to be on their best behavior. Of course, I thought to myself. Already forgotten.
I pushed myself out of the mass of plushies and pillows and walked slowly to the mirror. So much for my smooth hair. Being buried under toys was not a way to make you pretty.
I heard the door open, and Emily's loud 'Hiiiiii!!!", then silence. There were no footsteps, which immediately brought me to the conclusion that Ralleighh could fly. I wanted to gag on a poisonous jelly right there, knowing already that the new pet could do something I couldn't.
After a couple minutes, Emily must have realized I was still hiding up in my room, and shouted for me to come downstairs to meet Ralleighh. My feet felt like they weighed five hundred pounds. I walked slowly down the stairs, and once I entered the kitchen, where the new pet and my siblings were seated around the kitchen table, snacking on Chokato Toasties, I practically fainted.
Ralleighh WAS beautiful. She was a tiny little Shoyru, with big green eyes and a curved little smile. She had a shining gold tiara on her head. But that wasn't the worst part. She was painted. It wasn't some big expensive color, but her speckled skin seemed to shine. I wanted to hide, but Queenie, the youngest, slid out of her seat, grabbed my paw, and pushed me into a seat right next to Ralleighh. I could feel my face turning red.
"Leigh!" exclaimed the checkered Aisha in her high-pitched little kid voice. "Meet my big sistuh, Isabelly!"
Ralleighh giggled at Queenie, and turned her head to look at me. "Hi... Isabel," she said. Of course. Her voice sounded like bells. I felt my breakfast churning around in my stomach, and grabbed my diet Neocola, hoping to wash away the feeling.
Emily leaned towards each of us at the table, a huge grin on her face. "I have a special surprise for you guys..."
Violet clasped her purple Acara paws together eagerly.
"We're going to have a celebratory vacation at Kiko Lake!!" Emily stood up, arms open, awaiting hugs.
I felt my jaw hang open. Whenever I did something good, like get straight A's on my report card or get a really high score on a game, Emily awarded me with a piece of chocolate or something. But here was the new girl, and her reward? A getaway to Kiko Lake. Sure, the whole family was going, but I bet that she would have the best bed in the hotel suite and the first pick when it came to activities.
Packing was a flurry of my siblings and owner running around, looking for their lost sock or dropping the sunscreen. I packed my beauty essentials and my beachy-clothes, and was downstairs waiting in just a few minutes.
The ride to Kiko Lake was horrible (we rode on a tiny little boat crammed with other pets), even though it was short. Emily sat next to Ralleighh, and I was crammed in between Tack, who was a mutant Gnorbu and drooled everywhere, and Queenie, who got cookie crumbs in my fur. It was a relief to get off the boat and check into the hotel.
Once we had unpacked, Emily gathered us all in the tiny kitchen. "Alright! What do we want to do first?" She had her big sun hat on, and a bright pink swimsuit with a pretty white cover up on over it. I grabbed one of the brochures Emily had gotten from the hotel lobby.
"Glass bottom boat tours? That'd be fun..." I read the description. It would be a perfect chance to forget about Ralleighh for a little while. "Mom, can I have some neopoints, in case I want a souvenir?" Emily nodded and placed a little bag in my hands.
"Why don't I take Tack, Queenie, Violet, and Ralleighh to the beach while you go on the tour? I think you're old enough to go on your own."
Violet crossed her arms. "Tack and I wanted to check out the candy shops! Pleaseeeeeee, Mom? I have some money saved up from games!"
Emily nodded, and Violet grabbed Tack's arm. They left quickly, laughing and swapping stories. Tack and Violet got along the best in our family.
Emily checked the time. "We should start heading down to the beach soon, guys. C'mon, Queenie and Ralleighh." But Ralleighh stopped.
"Ooo, I think a glass bottom boat tour would be fun too! I'll go with Isabel!!"
I couldn't see how my day could get any worse.
The tour guide was a young, smiling Kiko with a big hat placed jauntily on top of his round head. He had an odd Kiko Lake accent that I found myself liking.
I seated myself as far away from Ralleighh as I could, who seemed confused at my behavior. I did my best not to look at her, and instead paid attention to the colorful creatures in the water.
We ended up pretty far from shore, and there were some pretty flowers floating along in the water. I bet one of those would look great in my hair! I thought, leaning over the side of the boat to reach one, careful not to touch the water, because I couldn't swim. And then it happened.
I heard the tour guide shouting about keeping hands in feet inside the boat. I heard the collective gasps from the other tourists. But all I felt was the cold water hit my skin, and my body sinking towards the deep bottom.
It was over. If I actually made it out alive, Emily would ground me for life. I felt ten times worse thinking of having no allowance and no more trips to visit the Grooming Parlor with my best friend Ava. I was just about to give up when I felt strong paws wrap around my body. I was being lifted slowly out of the water!
I broke through the surface, gasping for breath and looking up at my rescuer.
Ralleighh was pounding her wings, holding me up above the water, and smiling down at me.
And instantly I knew I had been wrong about my new sister.
I smiled back up at her.