Extreme Difficulty: Part Four
The next few moments are a blur, but there are two words to describe them: Utter Chaos. Ari comes into the room. She's hysterical. The door's broken and a ton of furniture is shattered into pieces. But most of all, she's worried about me. Hysterically. She tears me off of Jenna as I wail and cry and sits me down on the floor. As I sob, Kim cradles me in her arms like she always does to comfort me, and I don't have the strength to pull away, no matter how much I want to. Then Ari turns to Jenna.
She demands to know what happened. Jenna's eyes are still in that vacant state. Full of nothingness. The Kacheek tells Ari everything; her voice is lifeless, each word sounding like a dropping stone. She looks at Ari as she speaks, but Jenna doesn't look like she can see her.
Key stands silently in the doorway, his arms crossed. Sometimes I wonder why he's painted grey instead of Darigan, or shadow; those colors would suit him much more. As Jenna tells what happened, each detail causing Ari's eyes to widen more and more, Kim drags me back to the den.
Key follows. I stop sobbing and crying, but the tears won't stop. They keep coming at an insane rate as Kim lays me back down onto the sofa I had been sleeping on earlier. I hear Kim and Key whispering, their voices soft and hushed. I face away from them, my body heaving with each breath I take. A blanket is thrown over my head, and I'm wrapped in darkness. I like this darkness. It's warm, soft. Safe.
Great Fyora, I'm finally safe.
"Violet, wake up."
The voice is gentle, beautiful, calm. Perfect. Is that Queen Fyora, speaking? What's she doing in my house? Or maybe it's Illusen. But Kim is always the one who does Illusen's Quests.
"C'mon, Vi, wake up."
Vi? Queen Fyora wouldn't call me Vi, would she? Uggh... I'm exhausted... but who does call me Vi? Kim does. Key does. Ari doesn't. Oh, and Jenna doesn't, either. Jenna. Last night was a nightmare.
"Vi, WAKE UP!"
The blanket is torn away from me. I shiver as claws fixate on my shoulders and pull me into a sitting position. I'm terrified. Is it Jenna? Is she back? No. She doesn't have claws. It's Kim.
"Gosh, Vi, calm down," she says with a roll of her eyes. "I have the greatest news of all time!"
The greatest news of all time would be being told I could go back to sleep.
"What?" I ask drowsily.
"Well." Kim smiles. A smile on a grey pet's face is always so strange and out-of-place, but, in a way, heartlifting. "Jenna's gone! For good!" My eyes widen. I'm not sleepy anymore. In fact, I'm hopping off the sofa. Key and Drac aren't in the room; none of the petpets are.
Disoriented and drowsy, I rush down the hallway with Kim calling my name from the den. She probably expected a celebration. But I'm not happy. I bolt through the doorless entry into Jenna's room. The floor's clean of broken glass and disgusting liquid. The shelves are empty. There's no splintered, broken wood on the ground; the room is empty, except for a few untouched pieces of furniture and the shelf. A shiver goes down my spine. It is so empty, just like her eyes.
I turn around. Kim is waiting for me.
"Where is she?" I ask, softly.
"Come on," she replies, no longer smiling. "Ari will tell you."
I'm taken downstairs into the living room, where Key, Ari, and the petpets are waiting for me. Kim hands me a pack of Neocrackers (I find out it is already two o'clock in the afternoon and I have missed breakfast and lunch) and a can of Neocola. I sit timidly on the sofa. Ari's looking clean and neat, as usual, and Key's messing with Drac. Everything seems so... normal.
"Violet," Ari says, taking in a deep breath, "Jenna's gone home."
"I went to the Neoboards, sweetheart, and asked about Jenna. I found out that Jenna belonged to this sweet little girl who was Pound transferring her, but I snatched her up before her should-be owner could get her. Since the should-be owner has left Neopia since then, I safely transferred Jenna back to her owner. And... you know... that girl has only one other pet. She's very kind and polite... and she... she's a mutant gnorbu..." Ari pauses. Her gaze falls from me to her lap. "Anyway... Jenna's happy now."
My body turns numb. Happy. Jenna, happy. The two words seem so strange, put together like that. I stiffen in my seat besides Kim. It's sad. I never had the chance to make amends with the Kacheek. I couldn't show her that I could leave behind my cowardice, become strong. Yet in a way, Jenna, too, was a coward. After all, she tried to get rid of me in order to achieve happiness.
True happiness can't be achieved that way. Right?
Great Fyora, there are tears budding in my eyes. I'm going to cry again. The tears are dripping down my scales now, and Key, Kim, and Ari are gazing at me as if I were crazy.
"You should paint me baby, Mom," I say, forcing a grin. But then I'm sobbing. Again. Kim cradles me in her arms, but when I look up into her eyes through my tears, she looks weary.
"The girl... her name is Windy. She's very sweet," Ari says. "I have her address. You can send her a neomail, if you want." What she's really saying is "Don't send her a neomail. Don't don't don't don't."
"What's her address?" I ask with a sniffle.
Ari hands me a strip of white paper. "Here's my address. 88 Main Street, Neopia Central. Luv, Windy and Jen." Jen. She sounded like a totally different person from Jenna. Luv. Haha. I actually laugh. I slowly turn to Kim, thoughts of "Jen" reading a neomail from me drifting through my mind.
"I'm going upstairs to the den to write a neomail," I tell her. "Can you come with me? Please?" The tears are gone now. I feel like the address has given me strength.
"Sure." Kim smiles.
I stand up and Kim does, too. Then I turn to Ari and Key.
"Thanks," I say. They just nod. They seem numb, disbelieving. They are probably thinking that, after everything that Jenna has put me through, why am I neomailing her now? They are probably expecting it to be hate mail. But it won't be. It's going to be an apology.
We go into the den and Kim hands me a piece of stationery and my favorite pen, a Water Faerie Pen that writes in the prettiest aqua blue ink. I sit down at the Rainbow Table in the center of the room and bite the tail fin attached to the pen. Kim sits beside me. My mind is blank of what to write. I can't even write "Dear Jenna," because I don't want to write "dear." I think that if Jenna read the word "Dear", she'd toss the neomail straight into the trash can.
"To Jen," I write.
But I can't write anything else. I think of what had happened yesterday. Yesterday, that night when I gazed into Jenna - Jen's - vacant eyes, is probably the last time I'll ever see her. She has always come across as a bitter, hateful person.
But she isn't.
In a way, she was insecure. She just wouldn't show it. She was going to be Pound transferred by the mom she loved, and was "saved" by Ari. So, naturally, she loved Ari. And she hated me. She was afraid that Ari having amazing, unconverted neopets was a threat to her, her ticket back to the Pound. So she tried to get rid of me. So in a way, she had never felt safe in our house. Jen could never walk here without feeling threatened.
Then there was her sister, a mutant Gnorbu whose name I didn't even know. Why had Jen wanted to turn me into a mutant Gnorbu? My name still made me valuable to traders. Maybe Jen missed her sister. Her "loving," "polite," "kind," sister. Maybe she missed her sister so much, she wanted to be her.
Suddenly I realize that I'm not just a coward - I'm insensitive. But I can change that.
I sigh and drop the pen onto the table.
"I can't do this," I say. "Not yet."
There are a few solemn moments of silence, then Kim's mouth cracks into a grin.
"Hey," she says, her grin expanding into a smile as her claw reaches out and squeezes mine, "I told you so." I look at her, a confused expression on my face.
She smiles. "Trading Level. Basic - Easy. Striped/Rainbow Etc. - Medium. Well-Named Unconverted Faerie Draik - Extreme Difficulty."
I smile. I like how she's altered that joke. She's realized that, even if you're basic colored or striped or whatever, it doesn't mean that you're life is easy. Sure, if you're basic and badly named, you're not going to have lots of traders after you. But life can still be hard on you, like a heavy stone.
She repeats the joke and this time, I laugh. It's nice to end a story with laughter.