Permanence: Part One
"I don't understand," I managed to choke out.
"That's the fifth time you've said that," my owner, Kate, informed me jokingly, throwing a smile over her shoulder.
I simply stared at her as she continued to stuff a faded green duffel bag with my belongings. My clothes, my books, my plushies, and even the candy wrappers lying around in my room. All of them were carelessly tossed inside the bag. As if I were some toy that could be disposed of easily.
"I. Don't. Understand," I repeated vehemently, enunciating each word slowly and carefully.
Kate paused, her hands faltering slightly as she fingered my toothbrush nervously. "I don't see why it's a big deal."
"A big deal?" I screamed, my anger spilling over the top. "You're sending me to the Pound and you act like it's not a big deal!? I don't even see why you feel the need to pack my things; I won't get to keep them anyway!"
Kate sighed and threw a hand over her eyes. "Jenna, you know that's not true. I'm sure Dr. Death will treat you quite kindly. It's not as bad as you think it is."
"Of course. Because a guy named Dr. Death sounds like he spends his days skipping through fields of flowers with giggling Unis by his side," I laughed humorlessly.
Kate zipped up the duffel and tossed it in my direction, the hurt showing plainly on her face. "You won't have to stay there long; you're a plushie Draik with an amazing name. Some trader is bound to snatch you up quickly to trade you off for some other rare pet."
I recoiled as if slapped. Kate knew how much it hurt me to bring up trading. After all, I had been traded around from dozens of different owners in the past and was glad when Kate had told me she was going to be keeping me as a permanent pet.
But her definition of permanent was obviously very different from mine.
"I can't believe you lied to me," I seethed, tears burning at the backs of my eyes.
"I didn't lie. I really meant it when I said you would be a permanent pet. I just don't have enough room for you now," Kate quickly put in.
"Right, because of the brand new plushie Draik you're adopting," I spat, picking up the duffel bag and throwing it over my shoulder.
"I'm sorry," Kate whispered, looking down at her feet.
"I'm sorry too. Sorry that you had to waste your time packing things I won't even get to keep," I retorted, sauntering out of the room with as much dignity as I could muster.
"Welcome to the Pound," a voice whispered into my ear.
I jumped and whirled around, only to come face to face with Dr. Death himself. He smiled mischievously, wringing his hands excitedly.
Kate and I had arrived at the Pound merely moments before. It seemed like she just couldn't wait to get rid of me.
Almost as if echoing my thoughts, she took a step forward and tapped Dr. Death on the shoulder. He begrudgingly tore his gaze away from me like a lupe giving up on its prey.
"I'm here to drop her off," Kate informed him shortly, handing him the 250np fee.
"Excellent." Dr. Death grinned, rubbing his hands together.
Translation: I'm going to have fun making her a prisoner.
Kate smiled before handing him my duffel bag. "These are her belongings."
"Oh, how... excellent," Dr. Death stuttered, his smile faltering.
Translation: No way in Neopia am I going to let her keep those.
"Is there a problem?" Kate inquired, raising an eyebrow.
"No, no problem at all," he responded smoothly, grabbing the bag from Kate's outstretched hand.
Translation: I will be selling these items and keeping the neopoints for myself.
I let out a loud sigh as I watched the two of them converse, knowing that this would be the last time I would see Kate. Though I was angry with her, the thought did make me sad.
"Well, I suppose that's all," Kate finished awkwardly, purposely avoiding eye contact with me.
"Bye," Dr. Death said quickly, grabbing me by my elbow and steering me towards the Pound door.
Out of the corner of my eye, I watched as Kate slowly turned around and headed back to her Neohome, not even bothering to say goodbye. But then again, I never really expected her to.
"This will be your residence," Dr. Death said harshly, showing me to a dark, dank prison cell with two other neopets.
He speedily unlocked the door and shoved me inside, closing the bars shut behind me. With a sneer, he headed back in the direction from which he came, leaving only silence in his wake.
I stared awkwardly at my cellmates, a blue Bruce and a red Ogrin. They looked at me with shocked expressions, as if I were some sort of mutant from Kreludor.
"I'm Jenna," I offered, wanting to break the tension in the room- er, cell.
But that only seemed to make them stare harder.
"Wow, people are gettin' crazier 'n crazier these days. Droppin' off a plushie Draik like you in the Pound. And such a great name too. You just don' belong here," the Ogrin finally said.
"Yeah, well. I'm here," I responded lamely.
"I'm Brucewill211, but you can call me Ruce," the Bruce said in a soft, feminine voice. "I've been in the Pound for years."
"I haven't been 'ere for too long. I was abandoned for bein' too sneaky; I was an expert at runnin' away." The Ogrin grinned. "My name is Colourstory."
"I'm Jenna," I said without thinking.
"Er, yeah, you already told us that," Colourstory said, eyeing me oddly.
"Oh, be nice, Colour! She's probably in shock; she was just dropped off in the Pound!" Ruce chided him.
"What did I say?" he asked, bewildered.
"Don't mind him." Ruce smiled at me. "He's just... blunt."
"Oh, no need," I quickly answered. "It's my fault."
"No," Ruce responded gravely. "It's not your fault you're here."
"I-I suppose not," I stammered. "My owner just wanted a new plush-"
I was interrupted by a high-pitched shriek.
"They came sooner than I thought," Colourstory muttered, placing his paws over his ears.
I stared at him, bewildered. "Who came? What are you-"
But once more, I was interrupted by another shriek. Annoyed, I turned around to the face cell door, where I saw a young girl staring at me excitedly, a pink Uni by her side.
"That'll be 200 neopoints, ma'am," the Uni told her, smiling.
The girl rifled through her pockets and gave the neopoints to the Uni, hands shaking.
"I don't understand," I mumbled, eerily repeating the words I had said to Kate not two hours before.
Ruce smiled at me sadly. "You're being adopted, Jenna."
"I'm... what?" I stared at Ruce blankly. "But... I just got here."
"Like I said, fancy Draiks with fancy names like you don' stay long here." Colourstory sighed, shaking his head.
With a heavy heart, I listened as the Uni unlocked the door, letting the girl through. I stayed perfectly still as she hurtled inside and threw her arms around my neck, whispering in my ear about how I was her dreamie and that I would be with her forever. And I watched as I was dragged out of the cell, not even given a chance to say goodbye to Ruce and Colourstory.
"It's so great to meet you, Jenna!" the girl squealed once we were out of the Pound.
When I failed to respond, she stuck out her hand for me to shake. "I'm Kate."
I froze and swallowed back the bile that rose in my throat, forcing myself to shake her hand. "What a pleasure it is to meet you."
Despite my slightly sarcastic remark, Kate continued to smile giddily, not taking her eyes off of me.
"You're going to be a permanent pet!" she cried.
I was overcome with a strong sense of deja vu as I remembered another girl, another Kate, who had said those exact same words to me. But this time, I wasn't going to believe them.
***Two Weeks Later***
"What did you say?" I asked slowly.
"I said I'm trading you," Kate repeated, not looking the slightest bit remorseful.
My eyes widened in shock. "You are?"
"Yes." Kate nodded. "I've decided you're not what I want."
Despite the fact that I had forced myself not to get attached to her in the weeks I had been her "permanent pet", I felt an unexpected wave of anger. "Whatever happened to being permanent?"
"Nothing lasts forever, Jenna," Kate sighed. "But the good thing is, you're being traded to a good friend of mine. Her name is Katie."
"Just wonderful. Kate, Kate, then Katie," I muttered under my breath.
But Kate plowed on as if I hadn't even spoken. "You're her dreamie though, so you're going to be taken well care of. Katie is very loving towards her pets. In fact, you should be glad- ecstatic, even! You're going to be a permanent pet!"
"Yeah, permanent. I've never heard that one before," I responded dully.
After all, the word 'permanent' no longer held any meaning to me.
To be continued...