Thyla's Tale: Part Three
I blinked and rubbed my eyes. I opened them again. My owner, Arula, was still there. She was wearing a smile like the smile she used to wear, long, long ago when she said goodnight to me and tucked me in. Then, almost right after she adopted Iyka, she'd gotten sour and mean and she'd gotten angry and sullen and thrown us in the pound. Then she left. I stared at her. She stared at me.
"It's—it's you," I murmured. "Arula. What—why—what are you doing here?"
She just smiled. I looked around me. I was in the hospital. The Gelert doctor hurried over when he saw I was awake.
"You’re awake," he said.
"I can see that," I mumbled.
"Listen, you are very sick," he said. "You need rest and relaxation. I took you away from the pound—you might have met your end if you'd stayed there. So I took you here. You've been here for a while. Sometimes you wake up, but you haven't really been able to talk before. I think this is your first conscious waking."
"Yeah," I said absentmindedly. "What's my old owner doing here?"
The Gelert looked worried.
"Your old owner isn't here," he said.
"Yeah, she is, she's at the foot of my bed," I said, pointing.
He looked where I pointed without seeing my owner, who was still smiling.
"This is bad, Thyla, very bad," he said. "You're hallucinating. It means you need a lot more rest."
He tipped a potion into my mouth. I immediately fell asleep again.
I woke up several times during the next two weeks or so, but each time I was hot and so tired I could barely open my eyes. I'd see weird things: Iyka dancing a jig in front of me with her new red-haired owner, who after the jig was completed threw an ice cube at me, Troi falling down into a whirlpool of darkness and calling out to me, my owner standing at my bed again, her face getting redder and redder by the second, and five Noils breaking the glass of our old collection jar for the restaurant fund and stealing the money away, among other things. And then a doctor or a nurse would walk over and put an ice cold cloth on my head, pour some medicine and water into my mouth, and I'd fall asleep again, turning back to my empty dreams.
The first time I woke up without hallucinations, I was confused. I felt much better, though. I was lying on a bed just as comfortable as the one at the hospital, but it was lower to the ground, and the ground was rough wooden boards. It seemed like I was in some kind of farm house. I scrambled up and looked around. My bed was on the top floor, by a window which looked out on a farm. The farm had beautiful fields and a large petpet barn. I stared. I must be in Meridell. I turned to the rest of the room I was in. It was long, and it contained several empty beds like mine. The beds faced a wall with a door in it. Another door was in the side, which must have led out into a hall. I scrambled up out of bed. My head wasn't foggy anymore and I felt clean. I looked down and noticed that I was wearing a fresh cotton nightgown, not a hospital gown. I opened the door on the side, which did indeed lead out into a hall. The hall had wooden floors as well, and was very short. I descended a wooden staircase into a kitchen/sitting room. A door led to outside. A tall, rather plump girl with pretty, soft brown hair was bustling around in the kitchen.
"Oh, you're awake, dear!" she said brightly when she saw me. "I'm Mrs. Maddell, and this is our farm. We let sick girls who are recovering from illnesses come here. The fresh air does them good, and they get plenty of exercise here. You've been here a few days already, and you were at the doctor's for a full month. Looks like you had quite an illness. It's nearly lunchtime, and the other girls are out on a hayride. So are my girls, Calliopa and Kalli. They'll be back soon, though, and you can meet them. Will you give me a hand with lunch, dear?"
I nodded. As I helped her make sandwiches and potato salad, she asked me questions about everything, and I found myself telling her everything. Soon she knew my whole life story.
"You poor dear," she said to me sadly as we set the table. "You'll get your restaurant yet, just you wait."
Six girls walked in then. A rainbow Kau quickly walked forward from the group.
"I'm Kalli," she said, shaking my paw. "And this is my sister, Calliopa. You must be Thyla."
Calliopa shook my hand with a large, capable hoof, and gave me a warm smile. A camouflage Grundo stepped forward from the group of girls rather shyly.
"I'm Nira," she said, smiling at me. "I've been here longest. I can help you get used to it here."
I smiled at her. Suddenly, a white Hissi slithered forward from the group, too. She had an arrogant, commanding air about her.
"I'm Trika," she said rather loudly. "You must be Thyla, that new pet from the pound. Well, I'll let you know that I have an owner, and she visits every Tuesday and Saturday."
I could immediately tell that this girl was spoiled.
"Nice to meet you," I said quietly.
The two other girls were Amelaia, a yellow Nimmo, and Cherki, a red Pteri. We sat down to lunch, and in spite of Trika's comments that she had gourmet food every day for lunch, I enjoyed it. Maybe this place would be nice to stay at.
Two weeks after my arrival there, I felt like a different neopet. The Maddells were extremely kind and generous, and provided square meals three times a day, and snacks in between. You have no idea how much tall glasses of milk and delicious, healthy meals can do for a pet. We also got lots of exercise (not to mention fun) on their farm. We helped out with all sorts of farm chores. My favorite was grooming the petpets in the petpet barn. The exercise, coupled with our excellent meals, made us very healthy and happy. I found friendship in all the girls except Trika, though Calliopa could be a know-it-all. It was Trika who was my one problem at Maddell Farm. When the other girls decided they liked me a lot, she got jealous. She was constantly trying to make me jealous of her, especially when her owner, a rich, conceited girl, visited on Tuesdays and Saturdays. But it didn't work, and that infuriated her even more. So she started playing pranks on me. She booby-trapped the stall of the Noil I liked best to groom, so that when I walked in, a bucket of ice-cold water fell on my head. She mixed syrup with my shampoo, so the next time I took a shower I ended up with sticky fur that took hours to rinse out. She once even tried to push me off from the hayloft we were in. She constantly made snide remarks to and about me, and I was sick of her behavior. I hated her. But other than Trika, the farm was perfect, and I was going to see if they'd let me stay there and be a farmhand after my treatment was over. But one day, I got back at Trika by putting an ugly mustard-colored dye in her shampoo. So she devised a plan that sent me packing. It was a hot day, and I'd been at Maddell Farm for two months. I was lying in the hayloft with the other girls, taking a well-deserved break from work. I didn't notice that Trika wasn't there. But I did when she came to the barn behind Mrs. Maddell. Mrs. Maddell smiled sweetly at me.
"Thyla, could you come here?" she asked.
I nodded, wondering what this was all about. She took me apart from the girls and Trika, and she smiled.
"An excellent opportunity has arisen for you, dear," she said. "Trika's owner would like to adopt you."
I felt like screaming. Instead, I took a deep breath and told her:
"I don't want to leave here and be Trika's sister."
"But sweetie, your treatment is nearly over, and it's important for you to gather new life experiences," she said. "I've made my decision. You're going with Trika's owner on Saturday."
I was furious. I had no idea why Trika was doing this, but she had to have a devious reason.
I stared at Trika's owner as we walked through Neopia Central with her. Trika was practically bouncing with anticipation. Clearly something bad was about to happen to me. But what could be worse than leaving the farm, my first real home in many years? And then I realized. We were approaching the pound. I immediately knew I wouldn't stay there. I'd escape again, and become a homeless pet. Dr. Death greeted us at the door.
"Welcome," he said in his greasy voice. "Adopt or abandon?"
"Abandon," chirped Trika quickly.
Her owner nodded. And, quick as a wink, I was sitting in a stall in the pound again. But this isn't a pound story, it's my story, so don't worry, we won't be here long. In fact, I was only there for a few hours. I escaped that night, as soon as Dr. Death and the Uni left. I used a safety pin somebody had left in my cage to pick the lock of my cage. It took about an hour to pick the lock, but eventually the lock gave way. I crept out of the hall of abandoned pets and into the lobby. I could have escaped there and then, but I wanted something first. I opened a drawer in the Uni's desk. Sure enough, there was our jar of restaurant funds. It felt like so long ago now that I'd been putting money into that. But it really wasn't. I'd spent a day at the pound, three weeks at the hospital, and a month at the farm. That's not even two months. But it felt like two years. I grabbed the jar. But suddenly, I heard a voice from behind me.
"Taking other people's stuff isn't very nice," it said.
To be continued...