The Family Reunion: Part Three
I turned and sprinted down the dock, pulling out my envelope from my backpack.
“3306 Bluchard Lane,” I repeated to myself. “3306 Bluchard Lane. Bluchard Lane...”
I stopped the first pet I saw, an elderly-looking Aisha dressed traditionally in red.
“Hello,” I said quickly. “Can you direct me to Bluchard Lane?”
“Yes,” she replied. “Follow this bridge, then take the winding path southwest. It’s the first neighborhood you’ll see.”
I thanked the Aisha and followed her instructions – across the bridge, down the path, and into a gorgeous neighborhood. All the houses were grand, with three cherry trees in each yard.
“3301,” I read the numbers on one of the porch posts. “3302, 3303, 3304, 3305...”
I stopped. Skye’s house was the most grand of them all. It was huge. Did only just Skye live in that house that was double the size of ours on Kadoatie Lane? I didn’t care. I dropped the envelope and ran, almost crying for joy, across the yard and up the steps of the front porch of 3306 Bluchard Lane. I knocked on the door one, two, three, four, five times loudly. I tapped my foot rapidly to try in vain to drain some of my nervous, excited energy. Would Skye even want me back? It really didn’t matter to me anymore. I was here. She had to want me back.
Instead of my owner answering the door, another pet did, to my shock. She was a tall Xweetok with rich purple fur. She wore a red and dark-turquoise dress and a gorgeous crown accented with jewels. She looked at me with lively brown eyes. We were the same height and probably the same age, though she stood straighter and more dignified than I did.
“The Meet Skye Tyler event isn’t until Thursday, I’m afraid,” she said instead of a ‘hello’. “However, until then...”
The Xweetok took a thick, stapled-together set of papers from a stack on a table beside the door and handed it to me. “An autographed copy for you.”
I studied the cover and saw my owner’s hasty signature. The title of the paper was, “The Ultimate Restocking Guide – Rags to Riches by Skye Tyler”. HUH? What was this all about? When did my owner give out autographed copies of her writings? When did my owner even WRITE? And what was restocking? How was she so good at it?
“I, uh, didn’t come to get her autograph or anything,” I tried awkwardly to explain.
The Xweetok sighed. “She doesn’t have any additional tips on restocking,” she recited automatically. “And no, you cannot borrow her Queen Fyora doll and she does not have an MSPP for lend. She does not want to lend you any Neopoints, either.”
“W-What...?” My happy tears converted into sad ones and I almost let them spill. “I didn’t come here because she’s famous... I didn’t even know she was famous, really! I just want to...” My voice became raspy.
“Look, miss,” the Xweetok looked exasperated. “My mom doesn’t want to be troubled by fans, okay? I’m glad you liked her guides so much, but... really. We’d like some privacy.”
“M-MOM?” I repeated, shouting, sobbing, unbelieving. How could she? Why, Skye? You had me and Parker! This couldn’t be real – this couldn’t be Skye’s pet! We were her pets! I felt all the blood leave my head and everything turned blurry. I felt myself stagger, and I felt myself fall, too.
“Miss!” I could barely hear the Xweetok anymore. She seemed remote. Shenkuu seemed far, far away. I woke up seconds later, but it seemed like hours. The Xweetok, Skye’s Xweetok, was looking at me with big, frightened eyes.
“Are you okay?!” she cried. “You fainted! Let me get my mom!”
The words almost made me faint again, but I managed to yell, “No! She’s my mom, and I don’t want to talk to her... not anymore!”
The Xweetok’s eyes grew even larger, if that was possible from that point. She stood, straightened, and looked at me in wonder.
“You’re one of them,” she murmured in awe. “I don’t believe that you’ve come... ! W-Who are you?”
“Who are you?” I countered, trying to struggle to my feet. “And what do you mean ‘one of them’? I’m not a zombie or a pest or some mutated alien life form that’s taken over your best friend!”
The Xweetok helped me the rest of the way up and said, “You still look so pale. Sit down, please, and let me get the list!”
She offered a fancy chair from an elegant outdoor table that sat on their porch and I sat down. I closed my eyes and took a few deep breaths, setting my pack down on the painted-red wood floor of the porch boards. My back hurt from landing on it when I fell; it was just my luck that I’d fallen right on top of the two hardcover novels I’d packed from my room.
The Xweetok reentered her house through the still-open door and I could hear her shuffling through papers. After a minute of searching for the paper she wanted, she exclaimed, “Ah! Here we are.” She came back onto the porch and glanced worriedly at me.
“You’re still shocked, I see,” she observed gently and laughed. “So am I! Listen, when I read the name of you or your siblings, could you say something?”
“Huh?” I said dizzily. “What’s that list of?”
“My owner – er, our owner, – Skye, has had a lot of accounts, I discovered,” the Xweetok explained. “I recently found a list of usernames and passwords and made her fess up to what they were for. When I looked up all of the accounts on the list, they hadn’t been used in ‘a long, long time’. I can’t believe she did that!”
“...Me neither,” I said in a hushed and sad tone. So it wasn’t just me and Parker she’d abandoned. (Why didn’t I feel guilty or wrong using that word, ‘abandoned’, anymore?) She’d done it to others, too, maybe dozens! What if all of them were feeling right then how I had been feeling for the past three years?
The Xweetok began reading the list of names after clearing her throat. “The Skye Tylers,” she began. “Millie Tyler, Jenna Tyler, Charles Tyler, CC Tyler, Jay Tyler, Ty Tyler, Timothy Tyler, Susan Tyler, Ali Tyler, Melissa Tyler, Jim Tyler, Marcus Tyler...” She read a very, very long list of Tylers out loud to me, eighteen in all before she called the names of me and my brother. “...and finally, Parker Tyler and Dolceannia Tyler.”
“That’s me!” I interjected. “Dolceannia Tyler is me, and Parker’s my brother.”
“No way!” the Xweetok gasped. “You’re from the first account?! You’re her first pet?”
“No,” I admitted. “Parker was.”
“How did you get here?” the Xweetok asked excitedly. “Was it...no, no, just tell me!”
“Well,” I said slowly. The world was growing a little clearer now. “Two days ago, I got a letter in the mail. It was a Valentine’s note from Skye, and I followed the return address here.”
“Yes!” The Xweetok pulled a victory fist. “The letter! I knew it! It just had to be.”
“What?” I cocked my head to one side. “How do you know about the notes?”
The Xweetok laughed. “I told her to write them in the first place! Once Skye confessed to having made seven accounts and abandoning them one at a time, I got really angry and started ranting at her, saying how I might be next and that I was offended that she even had the guts to create me knowing she’d left so many others. She asked me what she could do to make it up, and I told her she had to write a Valentine letter to every single account she’d ever made – and you followed the address here! That wasn’t my intention in the beginning; I’d never thought about it, but I hope more pets think of your idea!”
“Thank you,” I said softly. “Thank you for telling her to write those letters. It’s been so long since she left, and...” I choked a little. “...and I can’t decide if I want to see her again or not, now that I know what all she’s done.”
“She’s at the shop,” the Xweetok nodded. “Always restocking.” She snorted. “There’s no fun in it at all, if you ask me. It’s boring. But as Skye says, ‘It pays for the mansion’. Oh! I’m Delilah, by the way!”
“You already know who I am,” I smiled somewhat as I shook Delilah’s hand. I didn’t feel angry at her or jealous, for some reason. She was living with a changed Skye, a secretive Skye, a mean Skye – not my Skye. “But you can call me Dolce.”
“It’s an honor to meet you, Dolce!” Delilah grinned broadly. “I can’t help but ask... where’s your brother, Parker? Didn’t he come?”
My eyes automatically shot down to my feet like magnets so the tears wouldn’t be obvious. But my voice gave my crying away as I reached down and pulled out a photo album from my backpack. It was the last photo album. I flipped to the very last page, and handed it over to Delilah.
“He was mad at her.” I found my voice to be a near whisper. It was all I could say. I couldn’t watch Delilah’s face as she read Parker’s letter thoroughly. I felt weak. I felt deflated. I felt defeated, like my journey was suddenly in vain without my brother with me. I felt a sense of longing and of sorrow.
I could tell Delilah had gotten to the end because her eyes shone with the beginnings of tears and I could see in her face what she was thinking – “Skye did this.”
“Oh, Dolce,” she whimpered. “I’m so sorry. Do you have any idea where he went?”
I shook my head. “None whatsoever. I worry about him day after day.”
“Let’s end that, then,” said Delilah suddenly.
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“Let’s go find Parker!” Delilah exclaimed. “Think of three places he would be most likely to go to, and we’ll search them all and bring Parker back here! And then you and him will live here with us, and I’ll make Skye go around to each of her accounts every day to play with the pets.”
“As nice as that sounds, Delilah,” I said uneasily, “we’ll need Skye’s permission for that. And I can almost guarantee she’s not going to let you run around Neopia with one of the old pets she left on an abandoned account.”
“...Unless,” Delilah began, “she thinks I’m out camping.”
“We can’t lie!” I gasped.
“She lied to me.” Delilah shrugged.
“But two wrongs--”
“Dolce,” Delilah interrupted. “We’re gonna find your brother, alright?”
I swallowed. “Alright. F-for Parker.”
To be continued...