Wings and Water
My sisters were triplets.
All three of them were adorable Blue Xweetoks, and our owner was saving up to get three identical Faerie Paint Brushes for them. All of them wanted to be Faerie.
I was a Blue Bori and lost in the shadows.
Listen, I wasn't neglected or anything like that. I had food and toys and some books to read. I overlooked the fact that I ate Plain Omelettes and Smelly Jelly while my sisters dined on Light Faerie Cupcakes and Strawberry Faerie Sundaes and Faerie Bonbons. And I didn't care that much that I had to play with my Kassegat Jigsaw Puzzle while my sisters went out on their daily trip to the Plushie Palace to get whatever they wanted. And I didn't mind, really, that I had to decipher a Waterlogged Book, the ink streaming out of it, when they were reading the Grimoire of Prosperity, a copy for each of them. I didn't mind... I didn't mind... I didn't mind. I told myself it was all the same to me. The Kassegat Jigsaw Puzzle was fun, anyway, and once I figured out the Waterlogged Book there was a really interesting story in it.
I was a basic-colored Bori, after all. Life was better than it had been in the Pound. I'd been lucky to get adopted at all. I should be happy.
At least that's what I told myself.
"Mara, Sara, Lara!"
"Yes, Mommy!" they chorused.
"It's almost time to go! Get ready!"
They were going on a trip to Faerieland. My sisters raced over to the front door, dressed in identical glittering gowns and fluttering wings from the NC Mall.
I looked down at my scuffed Blue Shoes.
"Gia," said my owner.
"Yes?" I said.
"You're fine staying here. Right?"
"Yes," I said. There wasn't any other answer.
"Good," said my owner, and patted me on the head.
She was in a good mood. Maybe this was my chance. I took a deep breath. "CanIhaveamorphingpotion."
"Can I have... canIhaveamorphingpotion?"
"You'll need to speak more slowly, Gia."
"Can I have a morphing potion?" I said. "A Green Uni Morphing Potion—I've heard they're cheap—"
"But whatever for?" she said.
"I... I want wings."
"Oh, Gia," my owner sighed. "I really would like to get you one, but I've been saving for the Faerie Paint Brushes... you know how it is."
Numbly, I nodded. I knew how it was. I knew perfectly well.
"Twenty thousand neopoints might not seem like much... but it's a lot when you think about it. Do you understand, Gia?"
"Yes," I said.
"I'm glad. We have to go now, so be good."
"Yes," I said.
Five minutes later, I was out the door, heading for the games room. Kass Basher and Meerca Chase the entire afternoon, I decided. Then I'd be thirty percent of the way to my Morphing Potion. Then I'd be a Green Uni. Then I could fly.
It wasn't flying I loved so much as swimming. I'd swam in Kiko Lake with my previous owner before she'd had to leave me in the Pound. We never got to visit Maraqua like she'd promised me. I told myself then that as soon as I got out of the Pound, I'd go to Maraqua. But I couldn't get there on foot.
Wings would take me to water.
Six thousand neopoints later, I was back at home. I stuffed the coins under my Simple Blue Bed. Then, with nothing else to do but stare at a Kassegat Jigsaw Puzzle, I climbed under the striped blue-and-white covers and took a nap.
It was dark outside when Mara, Sara, Lara, and my owner returned.
I woke at the sound of the front door slamming.
"Gia," my owner shouted.
I sat up, my voice blurred with sleep. "...yes?"
"Did you play games when we were out?"
"Yes," I admitted.
"We were going to play a nice game of Kass Basher, but our scores had been sent already," said my owner. She was fuming.
"Where are the neopoints?"
"Neopoints, Gia," she snapped. "Did you even reach three thousand? Or did you send your score when it was 496, or something like that?"
"No—" I said. "No—I got full score."
"Where are the neopoints?"
I reached under my bed and pulled out three bags of one thousand NP.
"So they were under your bed, huh?" My owner leaned down to look. "There are more coins here—where'd you get those?"
She took them as well. "I'm disappointed in you, Gia. You know we need the money, but you decided to hide it from us. I really expected more gratitude."
Then she left the room, the triplets following her. One of them—Lara, I think—turned around and stuck her tongue out at me. Her NC Mall wings sparkled.
Yes, I thought bitterly. You need the money. One of your meals costs more than what I asked for. I've been playing with a 1 NP toy for my whole time here.
Lara's glittering wingtip vanished through my bedroom door.
My sisters had plenty of wings, three of each kind.
And they were asleep, tired after the days' events, full with Faerie Food, snug under the covers of their Sparkling Faerieland Beds.
And I was wide awake.
I snuck into their shared room. I prayed I was silent. I opened up a door of their Babaa Wardrobe. Wings, glittering wings, shining sparkling wings. All I had to do was put on a set and I'd be free.
And then I realized that the light from the wings was spilling from the wardrobe into the bedroom.
The triplets stirred. Quickly, quietly, I closed the door; I held my breath. They went back to sleep.
I opened the wardrobe again, just a crack. I needed wings, but if I took out a single bright pair, they'd wake up. I'd be doomed.
And then I saw the Wings of Darkness.
I pulled them out. The entire room went pitch black, lit not even by Kreludor's glow, which shone from the bedroom window. I put them on. They began to flutter. My breath let out.
I closed the wardrobe.
But the sudden darkness had awoken them. "Mommy!" they screamed. And my owner, who was in the other room, raced in immediately—or tried to. She tripped on something, probably one of the toys they had on the floor.
"What's happening?" she shouted. "What's going on? Sara, Lara, Mara!"
I left the bedroom with the Wings of Darkness. Light was restored to my sisters' room. They hadn't seen me; I'd been cloaked in shadow. I thought, then, that I was safe.
"Gia!" my owner screamed. "Get in here! GIA!"
I raced for the front door. My sisters jumped out of bed, but their wings were off. I was out of the front door and flying into the night sky.
"Breathing helmets," said the Blue Flotsam at Maraqua's whirlpool entrance. "Come get 'em. Breeeeeeaaaaathing helmets. Last forever. Five hundred points. C'mon, buy one."
"Hi," I said, breathless.
The Flotsam frowned. "You'll want to take those things off," he said, pointing at my wings.
"Yeah," I said.
"I've got waterproof bags, too. Your owner anywhere?"
"No. I'm running an errand. Can I have a helmet and a bag?"
"One thousand points."
"C'mon, hurry up, hurry up."
"Listen," I said. "I don't have the money, but maybe you'd like these wings."
"No deal." The Flotsam turned away and called to the next possible customer: "Breeeeaaaathing helmets."
"I'd like those wings," said somebody.
I turned. A Yellow Flotsam was floating behind me.
"I'll pay for the helmet and the bag," said the Flotsam.
"That'd be nice," I said.
She paid for the breathing helmet and waterproof bag and gave it to me. I put on the helmet and took off the wings; then I fell into Maraqua with a splash.
Coral, seaweed, shells and sand. They'd never follow me here. They wouldn't want their fur to get wet. I took a breath; even with the helmet on, I tasted salt.
I began swimming.