18th of Gathering
Why must we live in the Haunted Woods? Every day, I stay locked up in my house, forbidden to leave without one of my siblings. The sad thing is I’m not afraid of the woods. I’ve lived here all my life; I know every corner of the woods. I love hanging out with the gypsies at their camp, exploring Neovia, and even answering questions for the Brain Tree. Things here would be great, if only...
I need to go. Bedtime.
23rd of Gathering
It happened again. You think I would have learned by now to never go out by myself. But, this afternoon, Mom took the twins out shopping. My sister Esmi and brother Dirk had left earlier in the day to explore the Deserted Fairgrounds, the one place in the woods I hate visiting. (I’ve never liked clowns.) I chose to stay home, in order to work on a painting of the woods up on my roof. I was out there for hours, just painting and dreaming. Finally, I got bored. I decided that it wouldn’t hurt to go for a quick walk, so I put away my things and headed out. No more than five minutes had passed when they found me.
They are a group of five pets. Their chief hobby is harassing anyone smaller than them. My family has stood up to them many times, which is why they singled me out. As a small blue Kacheek, I am the weakest member of my family and the easiest target.
“Where you goin’?” their leader, a Halloween Jetsam, asked.
“None of your business,” I muttered.
His second in command, a Halloween Eyrie, came up alongside him. “He asked you a question.”
“Yeah, a question,” a mutant Bruce echoed.
“I told you, it’s none of your business.”
“Now, that’s not very nice,” a ghost Techo hissed.
“Since when did you care about nice?” I said defiantly. I turned around, intending to run home if necessary. What I ended up doing was bumping into the last member of the group, a huge Darigan Skeith. I fell on the ground, twisting my ankle. I bit my lip, trying to hold back my tears.
“Aww, is the baby gonna cry?” the Jetsam asked. “Well, why don’t we give her a real reason to?”
“Do that and I’ll take your head off,” a voice growled.
I looked up to see my older sister Esmi standing there. She’s an expert Battledomer and is as scary as the Nightsteed that she resembles. Flames danced from her hoofs as she stared down the Jetsam.
The other members backed off, fearful of Esmi. The Jetsam, though, only became defiant. “You and what army?” he sneered.
“This army,” my brother, Dirk, answered. Few would dare stand up to Esmi, but even fewer would stand up to the Mutant Gelert. What he lacked in skills he made up for in sheer size. “So, what’s it going to be?”
The Jetsam looked at them, then back to me. “Next time,” he muttered as he and his crew left.
Esmi shook her head then turned to me. “You okay?”
“Fine,” I answered, as I tried to stand. As soon as I did, however, my ankle gave out, sending me to the ground.
“Looks like a sprain,” Esmi muttered as she helped me onto Dirk’s back. “You got her?”
“No, Esmi, I think I’ll drop her, just because,” he answered. I couldn’t help but laugh. Dirk has a way of making me feel better, no matter what.
“Laugh now,” Esmi said. “You won’t be when Mom sees you.”
Oops, have to go. Mom just got home. I don’t even want to think about what she’s going to say.
24th of Gathering
Mom was furious. When she got home, she found me on the couch with a bag of ice on my leg while Esmi and Dirk were watching over me. Dirk helped the twins carry the things they had bought into the kitchen while Esmi told Mom what happened.
“Why on Neopia would you go out without one of us?” she asked.
“I just wanted to go for a walk,” I said.
“And did you stop to think what would happen if they found you?” Mom was madder than I had ever seen her.
“I... I... I’m sorry!” I cried, tears falling down my cheeks.
Mom sat down next to me. “Aqua,” she muttered, “you can’t go off by yourself. They hate us. I don’t even want to think about what would have happened if Esmi and Dirk hadn’t...” Mom paused for a second, and then said, “Promise me that you’ll never go off without Esmi, Dirk or me.”
25st of Collecting
I have kept my promise to Mom. While I hate being locked up so much, it’s better than the alternative. As much as love it here, I don’t fit in. I am a “sensitive soul,” as Mom puts it. She won’t even paint me a spooky color so that I can fit in. “You need to be yourself,” Mom says. “You can’t hide behind a paint job.”
Maybe if I did, I wouldn’t be in this position.
31st of Collecting
For the past week I have kept myself occupied with preparations for Halloween. This is my entire family’s favorite holiday, even if it isn’t my cup of borovan. The best part for them was the costumes. Esmi and I are going to be Jazan and Nightsteed (guess who will be who), while Dirk is going as Bruno. Mom is going as a dark faerie (she goes as a different faerie each year). As of this morning, Tor and Taz, the twins, were still looking for costumes.
“Hey, Aqua?” Tor, the more outspoken of the two, came up to me earlier.
“What?” I answered, looking at the Darigan Lupe.
“Do you think Mom will get me a Halloween paint brush so that I can look like Taz, and a Darigan paintbrush for him to look like me?”
“No way,” I said. I could imagine the havoc that the two Lupes would cause switching colors. “It would be too expensive.”
Despite that setback, Tor and Taz found a way to look like each other without the cost, and my entire family is heading out to a party tonight. I really don’t want to go, but my family would be disappointed if I didn’t. There are days where I really wonder if I am a good fit for the woods...
1st of Storing
Last night was the worst night of my life. My entire family had gone to that party. After a couple of hours, I got tired of the whole thing. I told Esmi that I wanted to go home.
“But I need my Jazan!” she responded.
“Okay, I’ll take you.”
“Esmi, I don’t want to ruin your time.”
“It’s fine. I’ll take you home, then grab Mimo and dress her up as Jazan.” Mimo is Esmi’s Halloween Huggy.
“I’m sure she’d love that,” I said sarcastically. Mimo loved her owner, but hated being dressed up. I wasn’t sure which would win out in the end.
After telling Mom, Esmi and I headed home. Halfway there, we heard someone cry out for help. Esmi looked at me. We had to help. We just had to.
“Stay here,” Esmi said. “I’ll look into it.”
I nodded. Esmi headed towards the source of the cry.
She wasn’t gone for more than a minute when they grabbed me, dragged me off the path, and started to hit me. Over and over they hit me, until I started crying my eyes out.
Why was I such a fool? Why...
2nd of Storing
I couldn’t finish writing yesterday.
Esmi realized it was a trap. She ran back to where she had left me. It didn’t take her long to find them beating me up. She ran them off, and then took me straight home.
I was a mess. She helped me wash up; all the while I was crying my eyes out. Right around the time she finished, Mom and my brothers arrived home from the party. When Mom found out, she immediately called the Defenders of Neopia to see if they could do anything about it. They said that they would look out for the group, but they couldn’t do much more than that. Mom thanked them.
Once they had left, Mom turned to me. “Aqua...”
“Never again,” I said. “Never again will I let that happen to me.”
30th of Celebrating
For the past two months I haven’t left the house. I won’t even climb up on the roof, which used to be my favorite place in the whole of Neopia. I don’t write or draw anymore. I don’t do much of anything, really.
My family has tried everything that they can think of. Nothing has helped. They don’t know what to do anymore.
I don’t either.
31st of Celebrating
She... she said... Mom... she.... she’s taking me to...
I can’t finish this now. I just can’t.
1st of Sleeping
Yesterday, Mom told me that she was taking me to the pound.
“Why?” I cried, clinging to my pillow. We were sitting in my room when she told me her plan. “What did I do?”
“Nothing,” she answered. “But I have been thinking about this ever since you were...” She shook her head then looked me in the eyes. “You’ll never be happy here. You weren’t meant to live here. You need to live somewhere where you can be yourself, where you can walk down the streets without fear, where you don’t have to have an escort just to leave your own home.” When she finished, she had tears running down her cheeks.
“Mom, don’t you love me?” I asked, tears falling from my own eyes.
“Of course I do. That’s why I’m doing this.”
Mom and I turned around. Esmi and my brothers were standing in the doorway.
“Mom, you can’t! You can’t!” Esmi cried. My brothers were in tears too.
“I am,” she answered them. “For her sake.”
If it’s for my sake, Mom, then why do I feel so sad?
7th of Sleeping
Today is the day- the day that I go to the pound. I cried all last night. I don’t want to go. Mommy, please don’t make me go. Please.
8th of Sleeping
When I went to leave yesterday, there wasn’t a dry eye in the house. The twins hugged me tight, then Dirk. Esmi was last.
“Always sisters,” she whispered as she hugged me.
“Forever and ever,” I promised.
Mom and I left the house. We walked in silence. I still believed that she wouldn’t be able to go through with it, that she’d change her mind last minute and take me home.
We walked into the pound, then through the door marked “Abandoned.” Inside was the infamous Dr. Death.
“Mom, no! Don’t do this!” I begged her upon seeing the Techo.
“Aqua,” she said, coming down to my eye level. “This is what is best for you. You’ll be fine. I promise.” She gave me one last hug then turned me over to Dr. Death.
When she walked out, my entire life went with her.
9th of Running
Two months. Two whole months of living here. I just want to go home.
10th of Eating
The strangest thing happened today. I was sitting in my “room” (for lack of a better word) when a young gold Ixi walked up to the door.
“Hiya!” she said, sounding way too perky for a pet that had just been pounded. “I’m Ixinea, but everyone calls me Ix. What’s your name?”
“Aqua,” I muttered, not bothering with the random numbers and letters attached to my name. Didn’t matter. Even if she was going to be my roommate, with her nice name and color, she wouldn’t be here long.
“Nice to meet ya,” Ix continued.
Just then, a brown Xweetok came up behind her. “Ix, we’re leaving.”
“ ‘Kay, Brownie.” She turned back to me. “I’ll see you again soon!” With that, she left with her brother.
I still don’t know what to make of it all.
12th of Eating
The gold Ixi came back today. She came with her mom and older brother- the brown Xweetok from before. Apparently, her owner helps out around the pound on occasion. She and her brother aren’t in school yet, so they tag along.
We talked for a few minutes before her brother came to get her. It was surreal, talking to someone else. The whole time I’ve been here, I haven’t said more than two words to anyone. What is it about this young gold Ixi?
24th of Eating
Ix has come by every day to talk with me. We tell each other stories about our lives. She has told me all about her family. Besides her brother, she has ten other siblings, ranging from a mad scientist to a Faerie fanatic to a conspiracy theorist who actually believes in the existence of Jelly World, which of course isn’t real. (Ix told me her family was a little crazy.) Listening to her talk about her family makes me realize how much I miss mine. Will I ever have a family again?
26th of Eating
Today, Ix asked me what my mom’s full name was. I blanked then broke down crying. To me, she was Mom. I can’t remember those random strings of letters or numbers attached to her name, or my siblings. I have no way to reach my past. And, as far as I’m concerned, I have no future.
27th of Eating
Ix didn’t come today. I wonder what happened to her.
1st of Hunting
Still no Ix. She did seem a little upset at my outburst the other day. Could that have driven her away?
2nd of Hunting
Ix came back today. She said she was sorry for disappearing. Her brother had been sick, so her mom had stayed home with him instead of coming to the pound. He’s better, now.
“I missed you,” Ix said as she ended her story.
“Me too. I’m just glad that you weren’t put off by my behavior last time.”
“Nope,” Ix said. She then got really quiet for a moment.
“What is it?” I asked.
“It’s just... it’s sad how you lost your original family, how you can’t remember their full names. It reminded me how I don’t know anything about my original family...”
“You mean, you were adopted?”
“Yeah. I was lucky, especially with my name.”
“I thought it was Ixinea?”
“It’s actually a bunch of numbers and letters. Mommy calls me Ixinea because she said I deserve a real name, even if it can’t be my official one.” She paused. “Every keeps telling me how lucky I was, ‘specially ‘cause I was only red then too,” she finished.
Looking at her, I realized that if a small, red, poorly named Ixi could get a real home, I could too.
3rd of Hunting
Today Ix’s mom stopped by my cage. We talked for quite a while. I really like her, and I think she likes me.
Dare I get my hopes up?
9th of Hunting
Ix’s mom has been talking to me every day since we met. She reminds me so much of my mom. She’s a kind person, but you can tell that she’ll do anything to protect the ones she cares for. She loves to laugh. She embraces all sorts of creativity and encourages her pets to shoot for Kreludor. She’s the kind of owner that my original mom would have wanted for me. She’s... the perfect new Mom for me. Plus, today, I overheard the pink Uni that oversees adoptions say that she was coming back tomorrow to adopt some pets. I think that my time has come. Tomorrow I will have a new family.
I can’t wait.
10th of Hunting
My hope is gone. She adopted three other pets yesterday: a blue Peophin, a green Bori and a green Ruki.
I was foolish to think I could be happy again.
11th of Hunting
I will never find my home. I’m doomed to stay here, in the pound, forever.
12th of Hunting
I still can’t believe it. She came back. She came right over to me, the pink Uni at her side. As soon as the door to my room was opened, she scooped me up in her arms.
“I’m so sorry, Aqua,” she said. “I was told that you had someone who was trying to adopt you. It turns out that they got you mixed up with another pet. If I had known, I would have taken you out of here days ago.”
“It’s ok,” I said, not believing that this was actually happening.
She put me down on the ground and looked straight into my eyes. “Are you ready to come home?”
I smiled. “Yes.”
18th of Gathering
I found this old diary this morning. Looking back, I realize that I wouldn’t change a thing. Even though there are twenty of us now, Mom still treats us as if each of us were her only pet in all of Neopia. She even got me a sketch paintbrush and a Snuffly of my very own! And my siblings are the greatest- except when we’re fighting, perhaps. I see now that, as much as I love my original mom, Esmi, Dirk and the twins, I wouldn’t give up my current family- my real family- for the world.
I am home.