The Spardel on the Street Corner
I don’t know why I felt the need to do it. I’ve always been fiercely independent, not liking to rely upon anyone else, and not liking anyone else having to rely upon me.
I wasn’t selfish, by any means, but neither was I selfless. I simply, for the most part, earned my own wages, bought my own food, and made my own bed. If I had a good pay check, I’d anonymously donate to the money tree, and if I needed help I’d ask for it, no shame there, but those weren’t things that I liked to dwell on for very long.
Why, then, did I have the tiniest Spardel ever following me like a lost puppy? Why, then, did I invite it to do so, and why could I not find his owner? Why, then, was I not trying to find his owner?
I’d been coming home from the pharmacy, where I work the afternoon shift, and the Spardel had just been sitting at the street corner, watching the pedestrians walk by. Nobody else spared him a glance, except the cyclist who almost ran over him. The cyclist, a blue Acara, shouted “Sorry!” as he sped by. The apology got lost in the wind and I doubted if many other passers-by heard it.
The Spardel had just looked up at the Acara with those big eyes of his. He didn’t look fazed or hopeful or disappointed – just vacant.
And so I had picked him up, put him in my bag, and walked home with a strange Spardel’s head poking around my arm to look at the surroundings.
That was five days ago.
The Spardel was napping, at the moment. I spared him another glance as I ate my dinner, and wondered briefly if he would eat. He hadn’t eaten much since I’d brought him home with me. He hadn’t shown any signs of wanting to leave, either. He mostly just slept in front of the fireplace and drank out of the little water bowl I had set down next to the refrigerator.
As I washed and put away my dishes, I promised myself that I would give him a couple more days to see if he got better before I took him to the hospital to get looked at. Surely petpets weren’t supposed to be so frail and... not-hungry.
I wandered back into my living room. The Spardel was still sleeping, although his breathing was getting shallower. He’d wake up soon. I skipped back into the kitchen and heated up some of the leftover turkey I’d eaten for dinner. I tossed the slivers onto a plate and set the plate down next to the water bowl. I wasn’t sure if he’d eat it, but at least he had the option.
I passed through the living room on my way upstairs. The Spardel was stretching. He yawned before shaking his head and trotting towards the kitchen.
I had to force myself up the rest of the stairs, to not backtrack and see if the turkey was gone. I simply could not trouble myself with him that much.
I was quite the sight, I admitted to myself as I looked in the mirror the next morning. My faerie Draik wings were a little stiff – and it showed. My hair was everywhere, my eyes were heavy, and I was basically a mess.
I was every morning. It’s amazing what a shower can do.
I looked better by the time I was heading downstairs, but I was still tired. I hadn’t slept well and was feeling very grateful towards whoever invented coffee as I stumbled into the kitchen.
My head, of its own accord, turned to the foot of the refrigerator. The turkey was still there, but there was less of it. A good sign; much needed.
I was scrambling eggs when the Spardel walked in. He sat expectantly by my feet. I looked at him, disconcerted – what did he anticipate from me?
He stayed there, rooted to the spot, as I scraped the eggs onto a plate and walked to the little table. His eyes watched my fork as I ate. I carefully scooped a bit of my breakfast onto the fork and lowered it near the floor, waiting for him to sniff it.
He did. It was gone within seconds.
I let him have the rest of what was on my plate, and settled for a waffle and some coffee for myself.
It was on the eighth day that the Spardel showed some signs of recreational interests. His time was no longer filled with simply eating and sleeping: he started sneaking outside with me, hopping around the yard when he thought I wasn’t looking. Only when I had to go to work did I let him know I knew where he was, and promptly shut him inside. I didn’t want to take my chances with leaving him outside alone for several hours.
More days passed, and the Spardel grew more active. He seemed alive now, and had a hearty appetite. I was pleased that I’d turned a jaded little thing into an enthusiastic creature. I was pleased that the Spardel felt good enough under my roof to make the change.
More days passed, and I heard no word about anyone missing their Spardel. More days passed, and the Spardel showed no signs of leaving.
Seventeen days into his little trip at my home, I realised how lonely life had been. I didn’t have any family left, and my co-workers were barely more than acquaintances. Maybe some company would be good for me. For him. For us.
It was that afternoon that I dug some money out of my savings jar and went on a little shopping spree. It was that afternoon that I purchased a tiny paint brush with wings, a collar, and proper dishes for him.
I was going to keep him.
I scooped some turkey and gravy into his new red bowl, some fresh water into his new blue bowl, and set them on the floor. He scampered in within two seconds and began eating his dinner. I watched him carefully, barely sipping at the tea I held.
He finished eating and began to trot back into the living room, but I got on my hands and knees and caught him.
“You’re not going anywhere, little guy,” I said to him quietly. “Just wait here, okay?”
I don’t know that he actually understood what I said, but apparently the message got across. He sat obediently and waited for me to return with the things I’d gotten him in a canvas bag.
“Now,” I told him, “we’re going out.”
The Spardel leapt about excitedly at the word “out”. He allowed me to pick him up and place him in the bag, and we set off for the Rainbow Pool.
It wasn’t a long walk, but it was growing dark by the time we arrived. I contemplated turning around and going home, but the stubborn side of me refused. I was going to see this through to the end.
At least it wouldn’t be a bitter end.
I set him in front of the Petpet Puddle and rummaged through the bag for the tiny brush. The wings on it fluttered lightly in my hands.
“This,” I said to the Spardel, “is going to give you wings.” I placed him in the small fountain and lightly ran the brush over him, watching piece by piece of him turn faerie.
Faerie. It was to match me, I thought subconsciously, for I was a faerie Draik. It wasn’t just for him to have more exploration devices.
The Spardel experimented with his wings, and failed miserably. I smiled and told him it would take some time while I took the blue collar out of the bag. The tag glinted in the moonlight, and I studied the words – not for the first, or the last, time.
Address: 19 Planet Avenue