Difficulties: Part One
“We’re going out to get a snack, Lela. Wanna come with us?” my older sister Kate asked. Our younger sister, Annabelle, stood next to her, waiting. “It’s a really nice day today. Just like yesterday. The sun is shining, and it’s so warm outside...”
Kate is a rainbow Kougra, and Annabelle’s a desert Aisha. They both love the heat of the Lost Desert sun – especially Annabelle, since she was born in it. Me? I’m just a plain old red Wocky, and I’d do anything to get away from the desert. My owner always says she’s saving to buy me a paint brush, but she always finds something else to spend the money on. “Sorry, Lela, Kate and I went shopping yesterday and I spent all my spare money on her new clothes.” “Sorry, Lela, I just couldn’t resist getting Annabelle that adorable little Faellie! It was expensive, and now I’m out of neopoints.”
I had been lying on the couch, relaxing peacefully. Sighing, I closed the book I was reading – Legends of Maraqua. I didn’t care about being a different color. I wanted to be a graceful Flotsam living in the underwater world of Maraqua. “I guess so,” I answered, setting my book on the coffee table.
“Great. Let’s go.” Kate grabbed her flower purse off the couch then announced, “No need to worry about neopoints today, guys. I’m paying.” She grinned. “Jessica paid me this morning for helping in the shop last week. I got a whole half of the profits, and if I do say so myself, I’m an excellent shopkeeper.” Jessica, our owner, had a small shop connected to our tiny house. She mostly just sold cheesy little trinkets for tourists visiting the Lost Desert. Occasionally Annabelle would make a bead bracelet (the beads were constructed from sand and “homemade” mud, of course), and Jessica would throw it onto a shelf. I didn’t understand why they always sold.
We walked to the food stall, which was only a few minutes away from our home. I shook myself, trying not to sweat. The sun was beating down on my thick fur, and I could hardly stand it. I was relieved when we stepped into the shady tent.
“I’ll take a pyrapple and some grilled ummagine chips,” Kate told the Grarrl who owned the stall. “Annie? Lela? What do you guys want? Remember, it’s my treat. You can have anything you want, no matter what the price is.” Kate loved to “treat” people, because it proved she had more neopoints than anyone else. It annoyed me, but I didn’t say anything. She was easily angered and could go for days without speaking to the person who made her upset. And she always remembered everything. I replayed our last argument. ‘Remember the time you called me a mean name just because I said I was richer than you?’ Kate had said...
“I want four scarab cookies,” Annabelle requested, cutting through my relapse. “And some Cheops juice.”
When it was my turn, I smiled at the yellow Grarrl. “Hi, Mason. I’ll have some grilled ummagine chips as well, and a tchea fruit, please.”
“Here you go,” Mason said, handing each of us our food. He announced the total, which made Kate frown. She paid the exact amount silently, not bothering to try and haggle (she claims it makes her look “cheap”, although I find it fun and useful), and we followed her out.
Since we didn’t have anything else to do, we began walking around Sakhmet. We looked through the petpet stall, which was just behind the food stall. I fell in love with an adorable Nuk that was sleeping cozily next to a curled-up Anubis. No, I reminded myself. I can’t have a petpet that walks on land or even breathes air, because then it won’t be able to live in Maraqua. I don’t want to buy a petpet then have to give it up.
Kate gave in to her own temptations and bought herself a Djuti, spending the last of the neopoints she’d earned. “This is so awesome! I can’t believe I had just enough money. What should I name him, you guys? He’s so cute. What’d the lady say he was, again? A Djuti? Hey, I’ve got it! DJ! I like that. Don’t you think it fits? Oh, I’m going to teach him such amazing tricks! Let’s take him home and show Jessica. I know she’ll just love him!”
I wanted to visit Osiri’s pottery stall, which was my favorite shop in the whole Lost Desert, but Kate was set on bringing DJ home to meet our owner. She was so ecstatic, in fact, she took off running, leaving Annabelle and I behind to fend off the dust storm she created.
* * *
Jessica loved DJ. Right away, she and Kate started trying to teach the petpet “simple” commands, like fly and come and tweet. DJ’s “tweet” was more like a SQWUAAAK!, but Kate liked the word tweet better, and she refused to call the trick “speak”.
Annabelle, feeling left out, decided to try and teach her Faellie, Gracie, how to fly and come on command, too. However, the Faellie had been spoiled her whole life and ignored Annabelle’s attempts. I rolled my eyes at all of them. I was only a tiny bit jealous that both my sisters had petpets and I didn’t. How come it always seemed like they were the favorites, and I was the leftover?
I went to my room, sighing. I flopped on my bed, which was as hard as stone (naturally, my sisters have comfortable mattresses), and opened my newest book. I figured if I was going to live in Maraqua, I’d need to know how to swim. Flotsam Swimming Lessons would teach me that. I started reading, nibbling on a flavorless grilled ummagine chip.
During the night, long after I’d gone to bed, someone tapped on my bedroom door. I opened my eyes, squinting in the dark. “Who is it?” I called, my voice all groggy. I sat up, trying to ignore the pain in my neck from the uncomfortable bed.
“Lela, dear, it’s me, Jessica,” my owner’s voice called quietly. Her voice sounded sweet, like when she talked to Annabelle or Kate. Where was that sticky edge she always used when talking to me? “Can I come in? I need to talk to you about something.”
So that’s it! I thought, rubbing my eyes. She wants something from me. Either that or it’s another excuse to why she really isn’t saving for my paint brush. “Sure, I guess so.”
The door creaked open, and my owner stepped in, closing the door behind her. She flicked on the light, momentarily blinding me, walked over and sat on the edge of the bed, furthest away from me. “Lela,” she said hoarsely, pausing, “dear. There’s something I need to tell you.”
I rubbed the top of my head, making sure I didn’t have bed fur. I stared at her face, wondering what in the world she could possibly be talking about. This can’t be about a paint brush. Jessica’s never talked to me like this before.
“Alright.” Jessica seemed to be coaching herself. “I can do this. Just come right out and say it... Listen, Lela. I’ve realized that having three pets is just too much for me. I thought about it all night and I’ve decided that the best thing to do to relieve my stress is... well, to... give you up.”
I was shocked. I’d lived with Jessica my whole life. I was never her favorite, but now she wanted to abandon me? This couldn’t be happening! Give me up? To relieve your stress? Jessica! You really don’t love me. “T-to the pound?” I asked, my voice high and squeaky due to shock.
“Yes, to the pound.” Jessica seemed to be gaining confidence in her words, and she plunged on. “I asked all my friends if they were interested in adopting you, but none of them were. All my friends have expensively-painted pets, and they didn’t want you because you’re too plain. The pound is the only option left.”
The only option left? I thought, horrified. What about just keeping me? “Did – did you tell Annie and Kate?” I asked, taking in a deep breath.
“Not yet. I’ll tell them after it’s over.”
My eyes grew wide. “I won’t get to say goodbye?” I breathed. Even though my sisters could be annoying at times, I still loved them.
“Well, no.” Jessica readjusted her position. “It would be much too hard on the poor dears, don’t you think? Besides, they’re sleeping right now. They need their beauty rest.” I glanced at the clock. It was close to one in the morning. “Perhaps you could leave them a goodbye note. I’ll explain everything to them when they wake up.”
I swallowed hard. Jessica was really, truly going to give me away. A tear slipped down my cheek, and I got out of bed. Jessica left the room. In my best handwriting, I wrote my sisters a note.
Dear Kate and Annabelle,
Jessica has decided that it’s best to “give me up” to relieve her stress. By the time you’re reading this, I’ll be sitting in the pound, abandoned. She said it’s too much for her to take care of three pets, so she wants just two. Jessica said she’d explain everything to you later, after I’m gone.
Jessica woke me up after midnight to leave for the pound. I wanted to say goodbye to you both in person, but she wouldn’t let me. She said it’d be too hard on you guys, the “poor dears”, and that you needed your “beauty rest”.
I just wanted to tell you that I love you guys a lot, and you’ll always be my sisters, no matter what. In case I never see you again, I hope you both have great, happy lives. I’ll miss you more than you could ever imagine!
In the future, if you manage to find my name, look for me in Maraqua, as a Flotsam. It’s my dream, and I plan on accomplishing it. Maybe I’ll do it on my own, if I find a way out of the pound, or maybe I’ll get a new owner who will help me. Either way, I’ll always remember you two. I’ll try to write you as soon as possible, if I ever get adopted...
I hope to see you again. Love,
To be continued...