Red Thread: Part Four
What exactly am I doing here? Terry thinks to himself. He stares up at the puffy, white clouds drifting along in a blue sky. Looking for his twin. Following his thread. How come I'd much rather hang out with Jake or Keith or Owen? Terry continues to ponder his adventure as he feels the wind rush around him, nipping at his cheeks until he felt like he had turned into a popsicle. The moments pass by slowly, stretching translucent like clear bubble gum. He breathes out and watches his breath puff out like cotton candy, then curl against the biting air.
So Terry realizes that he's a little bit reckless, a little bit childish in this Quest of his. It's funny, really. How he came to Brightvale to find just one Neopet. Terry didn't expect to find three friendships that he thinks may just last forever.
"I don't know what I'm doing," Terry deadpans, bringing a mug of hot chocolate to his lips. He pulls back quickly when the liquid burns his tongue. "Ow, hot!"
Jake looks up from beside him. "Wow, you're giving up already?"
"Maybe," he says. He sticks his tongue out in attempt to cool off the burn from the hot chocolate. It doesn't work. "Kind of. School is going to start soon, anyway."
"Haven't you been following your thread?"
"There's your problem."
Terry sets off the next day, and he only waves at Owen (who looks back at him in puzzlement) as he walks past the ceramics stand. He keeps his eyes on his thread, trying to ignore the other people bustling around. He follows it all the way to the banks of the river, where he's thankful that it doesn't stretch across the water. Instead, it runs along the pathway that lines it.
Hello, my name is Terry, and I'm your twin, he rehearses in his mind, and he instantly feels silly. Jake and Owen think that by forcing yourself to find your twin, it's not right, and for a second Terry almost agrees with them. Keith believes in twins, though, doesn't he?
The air is cool and calm all around him, and Terry listens to gentle lapping of the water against the banks of the river. He puts each foot right in front of the other, holding his arms out for balance, and he stares along the length of his thread, until it disappears out of his sight. Briefly, he wonders if his twin is searching for him, like he is.
"I think --" Terry pauses, collecting his thoughts. He carefully stacks three perfectly made cerulean teacups on top of each other, and Owen gives him an inquiring look. "I think that I thought that finding my twin — would change my life, you know?"
"Why don't you anymore?" Owen arches an eyebrow.
"I don't know," Terry sighs. "I thought that it would give me something to work toward, the big mission of my life that'll lead to something."
"Life doesn't really work like that, no," Owen agrees.
"I thought this would be easier," Terry says quietly.
Owen pats him gently on the back. "Nothing's easy, kid."
"Why are you all mister pessimistic now?" Keith demands, rapping his knuckles hard on Terry's head.
Terry rubs at his hair. "I am not."
"Look, when you came here, you were all about looking for your twin. You believed in finding your twin, you wanted to find him. What happened?"
"Keith," Terry says wearily. "Maybe just the lucky ones find each other and accept each other as twins. Like you and Jake."
"Jake, that idiot --" Keith says impatiently. "You haven't been listening to him, have you? You'll find your twin, and you'll both be happy and become best friends. I thought you believed in that, too."
"I do!" Terry protests. "But maybe I should just wait for it, instead of going out looking for it. Owen says that it's more natural that way. So did Jake.
"Jake is dumb, and this Owen fellow sounds like he is, too," Keith says. "Hey, do what feels right, okay? Don't listen to everybody else."
Terry walks all the way to the river before he sits down on a bench, resolutely turning his back away from the direction his thread is trying to urge him toward. It's slightly chilly, fall is coming early this year — and Terry shivers a bit in his thin sweater, pieces of his green hair flying around his face in the wind.
He'll call Ally again tonight, he thinks tiredly to himself. He wonders how Kim is doing, if she read the two books he checked out for her yet. He wonders if she misses her older brother. He feels tired, bone tired, having gotten himself lost out here all alone, and Terry thinks this is what failure feels like. Something feels like it's tugging on his left foot, and he only briefly looks down before he sighs, jiggling his foot up and down until the thread settles, hovering just above the pavement.
He starts walking back when the sun is only a glow on the horizon, kicking his feet against the sidewalk resolutely as he walks away from his thread. Owen's stand is empty, cleared out for the night, and it's only when Terry's halfway through the plaza before he spots him, carrying a box down the road.
"Hey, Owen!" he calls out, and as Owen turns to look at him, he misses the the sharp incline of a pothole, and Terry watches as Owen's feet get tangled up and he goes down, sprawling out over the ground, the box skidding a few feet away. "Owen!"
But before Terry can take a step, a shadow is already moving over to Owen, gently pulling him up to his feet.
"Are you okay?" Terry hears the shadow say. "You took a pretty hard fall."
"Oh, yeah — I'm f-fine," Owen stutters, brushing off his jeans. "Thanks, though."
"You helped me the other day," the other person says shyly, and Terry can hear the smile in their voice. "We're very similar, aren't we?"
"We are," and Terry can see the broad grin on Owen's face.
Terry laughs softly to himself, and he himself walks into the shadows, leaving Owen and Sarah to themselves.
It's the crack of dawn when Terry wakes up, and he rubs at his eyes as he pulls his jeans and a jacket on, leaving a note on the counter. One last walk wouldn't hurt, so he sets off on his usual path. It's still chilly from the night, and his breath puffs out little clouds of vapor, and he amuses himself with it, blowing out little steams of air as he stuffs his hands deep in his pockets.
Well, he took a chance, didn't he? Maybe he wouldn't have had this opportunity otherwise. He met Owen, Keith, Jake — and he smiles to himself: this entire trip wasn't a complete letdown, he supposed. Terry thinks that he'll neomail them— he'll send letters from time to time.
Maybe he'll write to Owen, asking him how he and Sarah are doing, if they're finally going to realize they're twins. Maybe Jake and Keith will last forever, but maybe they'll fight and things will go wrong but Terry knows that without a doubt, they really will be best friends. Forever, just like twins should be.
Terry is pretty optimistic. Maybe he'll come back to the Brightvale, and maybe next time he'll stay with Owen. Maybe next time he'll be a little bit more fortunate, have a little more than just his own two hooves and a head full of dreams.
Suddenly, someone taps on his shoulder and Terry whips around, flinching automatically.
"Whoa, sorry, I didn't mean to startle you," the stranger says, and he is a Brown Ixi with a mess of dark brown locks all the way to his shoulders, and his eyes are bright and excited. Terry glances automatically at his feet.
"I'm Thomas," he says, grinning. "I've been looking for you."
"I've been looking for you," Terry breathes. "How did you find me?"
"I followed my thread," Thomas grins, and as they smile at each other, Terry thinks after all he's seen and learned and done here it's finally paid off.
Terry learns that Thomas had been living in Mystery Island with another family that adopted him. He spent his days playing beach volleyball with local Myncies and helping out at the tiki tack shop. When he saw his thread appear, his family finally told him the truth, and he took a ship across the ocean to look for his twin. "I guess we're both alike," Terry said, smiling as they both ate pizza at a local pizza store, "We're both adventurous! But you travelled farther than I did."
Thomas wolfed down his pepperoni pizza, and they took one look at each other before giving a huge burp, then tilted their heads back and gave loud, hearty laughs.