It started on the day that my sister was pounded.
The sadness just sort of ate away at me inside, making me feel hollow. Some days I felt so much like a shell that I could barely haul myself out of bed without bursting into tears. I missed Lisa so much that it literally hurt me inside.
Where are you now, Lisa? I’d think. Where are you? Are you ok?
I couldn’t understand why my owner had pounded her; Lisa was just a little... misguided. Sometimes she made mistakes and did things the wrong way. Yes, she was a tad bit clumsy and loud, but she was young! She would have grown out of it, I was sure. By no means was she ‘unfixable’ or in any way was she ‘set in stone’. And she loved our owner with all of her confused, bumbling heart.
I still hear Lisa’s voice in my ear, any time the grey color of my fur gets me really blue. “Don’t think about it that way, Jennie. Look for the bright side. Always.”
I try, Lisa. I really do.
I couldn’t figure it out; how could Pam have just let her go? She never used to be the way that she is now; so focused on her stocks and little homerun shop that isn’t quite so little anymore. She used to be more of a family-oriented mom. Now I barely see her, and when I do, it’s all acting.
“How are you today?” she asks me again and again, the same infliction on every word. Emotionless and unfeeling.
“Fine,” I say, minimizing my response. Even I sound like a robot now; I, who used to be so spontaneous and outgoing, now sound like a machine programmed to give one response to any question.
In truth, I’m anything but fine. I miss my sister more than anything else in the world, and I would do just about anything to have her back. My heart longs for her laughter, her smile. Schoolwork is piling up; I’m absolutely overwhelmed with the amount of papers and projects I have to finish. Teachers are starting to pry into my life, and I don’t want them in. I don’t want anyone in but Lisa.
So ‘fine’ just about sums it all up.
I strain to remember details about Lisa, the little orange Pteri that changed my life. I remember that she hated peanut butter, that she never wore turquoise eye shadow and that she cried when she had nightmares. I remember that she used to chastise me for being ‘down’, telling me to search for the beauty in everything. She was an artist, you see; it was always Lisa and her paintbrushes, capturing the world.
I used to chase her around the house and she would scream with delight, ducking under her easel and flinging paint at me. Pam might not have always liked the red and green splattered up the walls, but she used to deal with it. That is, before she used to go and do ridiculous things.
Like putting my baby sister up for adoption.
I can’t seem to forget that rash, thoughtless decision. I still can recall the day that I got out of school and walked down Neopia Central, kicking some grass patches and smiling at the shopkeepers. They were always so friendly to me and my sister, and I know why now; it was all because of Lisa. She was so charismatic and effervescent, you couldn’t help but love her.
I had an extra hundred neopoints in my pocket from doing chores around the house, and I felt generous that afternoon; I’d gotten an A on my math test, one of my friends told me my outfit was ‘adorable’ and the sun was shining. So, listening to the wondrously nice feeling tugging at my heart, I skipped right into the Chocolate Factory and purchased a big bag of Chocolate Neodrops. They were Lisa’s favorite candy, and I would eat anything sugary.
I felt the sticky chocolate crinkling in my pocket as I left the store, sniffing the ground chocolate dust smeared on my fingers. I loved the smooth, buttery smell of cocoa and vanilla. The orange Kiko must have known this, because he smiled at my expression and pressed an extra Toffee Apple into my hand. I stammered my thanks, but he simply held the door for me with a wink.
The day was lovely outside; it was one of those crisp fall afternoons where the leaves were billowing down the town streets and clumping by the shop stoops. I closed my eyes and inhaled; the icy tinge of fresh air, sweet aroma of caramel and the overwhelming scent of the street vendor’s selection of fresh fruits. I practically floated all the way to our front door.
When I opened the thick oak front door, I crept inside with the neodrops hidden behind my back. Feeling silly and sly, I stifled an excited laugh; I couldn’t wait to see the overjoyed expression on Lisa’s face when she saw the sagging bag of chocolate. “Lisa!” I called, slowly whispering her name over and over, tantalizingly. “Lisa... where are you? Lisa?”
I grew more and more confused as I searched the whole house, up the stairs and down into the basement. I even looked out into the backyard; I saw her easel, set up with paints on the palette, but no bubbly Pteri. A huge blue-green smear dripped down the canvas, making a little blob of turquoise on the grass stubs below.
I frowned, my nose crimping at the top. I knew that voice, but it wasn’t who I was hoping to hear. “Pam? Is that you? Where’s Lisa?”
Pam came around the corner, leaning against the doorframe. She had a look on her face that I had rarely seen before; it seemed almost guilty, the way that she hid her eyes from mine as she sighed. “Lisa isn’t here, Jennie.”
I was even more confused now. What could she mean, Lisa isn’t here? She always got home from school before me. “Huh? What do you mea-”
“Jennie, I put her up for adoption,” Pam said quickly, rubbing her mouth with her hand as she grimaced.
The bag of neodrops slowly came out from behind my back, dropping to the floor from my shocked fingers. Little driblets of smashed candy scattered out across the living room, sounding like millions of marbles on stone. Their clattering was the only sound that you could hear in the silence following her statement.
I felt my heart pounding in my chest, the blood rushing in my ears. “What?”
Pam sighed again. “I’m sorry, Jennie, I just couldn’t...” but she didn’t ever finish what she just couldn’t do. I ran out of the room and all the way upstairs, hearing myself sobbing before I realized that I was.
I got into my room, slammed the door and collapsed on my bed. I felt something warm and sticky press against my wrist, and that’s when I remember the Toffee Apple that the shopkeeper had given me. I was still clutching it in my hot little fist, so I pried it from my fingers and chucked it at the wall. It made a little dent where it hit, just a small hole in the plaster.
I cried myself to sleep that night, and I didn’t go to school the next morning.
Pam never tried to explain why she did it; in fact, she never even brought it up after the first time. I never talked about it, either; somehow, it was easier to pretend that it hadn’t happened if we never spoke about it. It created a wall between us, though; an impenetrable feeling that only made it harder for me to let go.
One morning, I opened up my eyes and looked out the window. I watched as the rain cascaded down the streets, making miniature rivers that flowed down into the gutters. Paper was soaked and beaten down into the cracks of the cobblestone streets. The roads were empty and slick with precipitation, with one red and green umbrella bumbling its way down the street.
Somehow, for the first time since I’d lost my Lisa, I saw beauty in that. I saw my sister in that umbrella; special and amazing, blowing down the road and standing out like a sore thumb. It was absolutely a beautiful moment. I actually smiled, my grey fur pulling back from my mouth in an ear-splitting grin.
As I watched the umbrella tumble down the road, I saw the wind scoop it up and pull the billowing fabric into the swollen, grey sky. I watched the red streak until it couldn’t be seen anymore, and somehow I felt my heart warming. There was a comfortable feeling in my grey chest that I hadn’t felt in a long time.
I see it, Lisa! I see the bright side!
I really do.