Difficulties: Part Five
I trudged home from school by myself. It was the third week of Neoschool, and I still didn’t like it. Kasey had skipped along beside me for quite a while before turning up her street. The whole time we walked, she had talked about how wonderful school was and how glad she was that summer was over. Kasey seemed truly happy that she was able to get out of the house for six hours a day, and she even claimed that the food at school was wonderful. How could that be? My stomach lurched at the thought of the cold cheese sandwiches we had been given. I really disliked cheese, unless it was melted on pizza. Groaning, I pushed open the front door of my house.
As soon as I stepped inside, my owner came bursting out of the kitchen. “Oh, Lela, you’re home! You won’t believe the news I have for you!” I looked up at her, unable to form even a little smile. A dull look was pasted on my face.
Instantly she calmed. “What’s wrong, Lela? Did you have another bad day at school? I’m sorry, sweetie, I’m sure it’ll get better – oh! You’ll never guess!” Elisabeth couldn’t hold back her grin.
She rushed to the coffee table and picked up a bottle filled with green liquid so hastily that she almost knocked over a vase of flowers. She clutched it tightly before saying slowly, “This is a Green Flotsam Morphing Potion.”
Immediately, my jaw dropped and all thoughts of school flooded out of my head. I was so shocked that I couldn’t speak.
Elisa didn’t seem to notice my silence; she just kept right on talking. “I just bought it today. And guess what else! I saved up a bunch of extra neopoints so we could get you a paint brush. I wanted to make you feel special once you arrived in your new home, so now you can pick a color to be. I’ve actually had the money for the potion for almost a week, but I thought it would be nice if we morphed you and painted you on the same day.”
“Oh, Elisa!” I suddenly burst out once I found my voice. “You are the best owner in the whole entire world! Thank you, thank you, thank you, THANK YOU!!” I ran over to her and wrapped my arms around her in a huge hug. I squeezed her so hard that I was afraid she might not be able to breathe.
Elisa beamed, clearly proud of herself as she hugged me back. “So, what are you waiting for?” she asked teasingly. “Let’s go pick out a paint brush!”
* * *
We ran all the way to the Rainbow Pool, laughing and having a good time. We raced, and I found out that Elisa is a very fast runner – much faster than me! I’d be glad to trade in these short legs for a long, strong tail.
At the Trading Post on Mystery Island (we took what Elisa calls a “quick trip”, because we went straight to the TP and didn’t get to see any of the sights), I finally decided on a camouflage paint brush, because it would look like I was shimmering under water. Elisa and I stared at pictures of differently painted Flotsams for over an hour and a half, and I have to admit, I couldn’t tear my eyes away from the lovely royal girl picture. Would I ever get to look that beautiful?
Elisa made me go home, where we put the morphing potion and the paint brush in her safety deposit box (she says you can never trust the Pant Devil – whoever that is). I begged her to morph and paint me tonight, but she said we’d do it first thing in the morning and take the ferry back to Mystery Island. Goodbye forever, Neoschool!
The next morning I woke up with the sun. From my bedroom window, I could see the rays just beginning to show themselves over Terror Mountain’s snowy top. I grinned as I squinted at the rising sun and raced out my room.
“Elisa! Elisa! Today’s the day!” I ran down the hall, nearly running into her closed bedroom door. I threw it open and jumped onto her bed. “Elisa! Wake up!” I yelled, bouncing up and down.
But what I thought was her was really only a lump of pillows underneath a quilt. I hopped off the bed, ran down the stairs (I almost tripped and landed on my nose!), and found Elisabeth in the kitchen. She was making strawberry Wocky pancakes, since this would be the last day of my life spent as a Wocky. It almost made me sad to think about it. Almost.
She looked up through her bangs and saw me. “Are you ready?” she squealed. “We’ll go right after breakfast. I sent a Neomail to Kasey’s owner last night, after you went to bed. He said she can skip the first part of class to come watch you get morphed and painted, as long as she goes to school right after.” She smiled, pleased with herself.
“Oh, good!” I broke out in a smile of relief. I had wondered how I was going to tell Kasey... even though I’d only known her for a few weeks, she was already a close friend. Perhaps she’d be able to visit me on Mystery Island?
“Hurry up and eat these pancakes while they’re hot,” Elisabeth said, pointing to a plate on the table. “There’s extra strawberry syrup in the cupboard if you want more, but don’t put on too much. I don’t want you getting seasick on the ferry because you have too much sugar in your body.”
I wolfed down my breakfast, even though I didn’t feel the least bit hungry. Kasey showed up at the door, Elisabeth grabbed the items from her safety deposit box, and we hurried into town.
* * *
“Well, here goes nothing,” I murmured to myself, letting out a deep breath. I lifted the vial of stinking potion to my lips and swallowed it in one big gulp. Immediately, my limbs began to tingle. It was the oddest sensation. For a few seconds, I went numb, and I could no longer feel myself. Then, slowly, my body seemed to come back to me.
But it wasn’t my body. Well, it was, but it was completely different. I stared down at myself, surprised. Bright green, slippery skin stared back at me. I’m a Flotsam! I realized in wonder. It really worked. I’m a Flotsam!
I looked up and saw Elisabeth and Kasey’s shocked faces. They were so shocked, in fact, that in a wavering voice, Elisa whispered, “Lela? Is that you?”
I grinned and nodded. “It’s me! I’m what I’ve always wanted to be.” Elisa handed me my paint brush, and I gracefully dove into the water of the Rainbow Pool. The colorful water felt good up against my smooth skin, but this time, I didn’t have any strange sensations. I pulled myself out of the pool and looked at my fins.
“Oh, Lela, you look lovely!” Elisa gasped. “You’re so... so... shimmery. Just like water.”
I felt iridescent. Oh, if only I had a mirror! I looked up at my owner and my friend again, feeling giddy. My smile faded slightly when I saw Kasey’s expression, though. She looked sad – almost upset. That’s when I remembered how I met her. She was on her way to the Soup Faerie’s.
“Come on!” Elisa shouted, interrupting my thoughts. “We have to leave now if we’re going to catch the next ferry to Mystery Island!”
I tried to wobble after them, but Elisa ended up having to pick me up and carry me as she and Kasey ran to the dock. Elisa paid for our two tickets, and I watched as Kasey paid for hers with all the coins she had in her pocket, which wasn’t many. It made me melancholy.
* * *
I stared over the edge of the ferry, longing to jump into the water. If I did, would I be able to catch up with the boat, or was it going too fast for a Flotsam? Elisabeth and Kasey sat silently on either side of me, none of us saying a word.
* * *
“You’ll come visit me all the time, right?” I asked Elisa after she had given me a hug. We were standing in the sand of Mystery Island, with the cool water lapping up and splashing us.
“Of course!” Elisa replied. “I’ll try to come once or twice a week. Maybe I can stay in the hotel on the weekends.”
My face fell. Only once or twice a week? “That’s all?” I asked. I had been hoping she’d say, “Oh yes, of course! In fact, why don’t I just move to Mystery Island, where we can be together every day?”
“I’m sorry, Lela. But I...” She cleared her throat. “Well, since you’re going to be living here now, I thought it might be time for me to get another pet. I’d like to rescue one from the pound.” She smiled. “Last time I did that, I found the perfect one.”
Tears bubbled up in my eyes, but I kept them hidden. “I guess you’re right. I wouldn’t want you to be lonely. But you’ll come as soon as you can, and introduce me to my new brother or sister, right?” Elisa said she would as soon as the new pet was settled.
It was a painful goodbye, and I watched Elisabeth and Kasey leave for the dock before I finally dove into the water.
To be continued...