Home is Where the Loved Ones Are
It's been a while. So long now that I don't even remember what the first one looked like. So many names and faces pass my way, and I can't even remember what the first human I knew looked like. The one who granted me my name. That girl made me happy, but I can't even remember what she looked like. I think she was blonde, and possibly had green eyes. I hate blondes, and I hate the color green. I try not to think about green too much, and luckily I don't see it that often. Outside my little cage I hardly see anything other than the silver of the empty cages around mine, or the blue fur covering my body.
There are voices coming down the hall. I hear the sounds of those who run the pound, and others too. Human sounds. Ugh, I think to myself. I crawl and push myself as far into the back of my cage as I can, praying that nobody will notice me. The other pets in the cages surrounding me go crazy with excitement. I roll my eyes. Sure, they're happy now, but how happy will they be when the humans leave without one of them? When you've been in here as long as I have, you start to lose the excitement that used to come every time a human walked down the hall. I close my eyes and pretend to sleep, just waiting for the voices to grow distant, but they grow louder. I open one eye as I hear the door to my cage open. Great.
They lead me out with a green Kougra, whose name is Sophie something that I can't remember, and a red Ogrin whose name I gave up a long time ago in trying to pronounce. Sophie Something is bouncing up and down with joy, and the red Ogrin is staring at her paws in nervousness. I sigh and take a look at the human. Ugh, she's blonde. Her eyes are blue, thank goodness, for Sophie Something is about all the green I can handle right now. The blonde human takes a look at each of us individually, returning her gaze to Sophie Something eventually with a smile.
"She's the one!" she says, pointing at Sophie Something. "Green is my favorite color!" Sophie cries out and jumps into the blonde human's arm. Good, I think, at least that's one less green thing for me to look at. I begin walking back to my cage, but a voice stops me.
"Wait!" the voice calls. I turn and glance skeptically. It's a tall human girl with short brown hair and dark brown eyes. She points at me, pushing back the sleeve of her oversized green sweatshirt.
"I want her!" she says. "The blue Lupe!" My heart stops. I am in complete shock as they lead me out of the pound and to the reception area, where everything is finalized. Is this possible? Someone actually wants me? The brown haired human asks me my name, but I cannot answer. I cannot seem to find the words, or any words for that matter.
"Here name is Tari Nolatari," someone answers for me.
"I'm Lady," the brown haired girl says. I don't say anything to her. I look away and to the ground as she guides me out of the pound and through Neopia. I cannot help but gape. It has been so long since I have seen Neopia, and I had forgotten how beautiful the outside world is. Other pets walk around with their owners, laughing and playing with each other, traveling in and out of shops. The bookshop catches my eye. It's been so long since I could read.... Perhaps Lady will have books in her home. Or perhaps her home could be even worse than the pound.
"Do you like to read, Tari?" Lady asks me. The sound of my name grates against my ears. I do not reply. I glance at the bottom of her torn blue jeans as they scrape behind her on the ground.
"I like to read," Lady says. "I like to read a lot. I have a few books at home. We could read them together! Would you like that, Tari?" That horrible sound again. I can almost hear the sound of the first human's voice. Her sticky sweet voice, saying my name. Everything will be ok, Tari, she says. I love you, Tari. I was stupid enough then to believe her.
"Are you all right, Tari?" Lady asks, stopping in her tracks and looking at me. I glare up at her.
"What's wrong, Tari?" she asks. I growl at her.
"Don't say that!" I say.
"Don't say what?" she asks.
"That name!" I yell. "I hate that name! She used to call me that, and I hate her!" My face flushes as I realize how much I have said. Lady has a strange look in her eye. Is that pity? I don't want your pity, Lady!
"I'm sorry," she says.
"I don't want your apologies," I snap. I sit on the ground and look away, determined to avoid her pitying eye.
"You know what's really fun?" Lady asks as she sits next to me. "Psychics! Psychics are a lot of fun! They can see into your future and stuff, and it's totally cool! I think I have the psychic gift!" I give her a skeptical look.
"You think you're a psychic?" I demand, raising my eyebrow. She smiles and nods, then squints her eyes and puts her index fingers to her temples.
"I can see that in your future, you will find joy in baking pink pies that are used as Frisbees in the great game of Wakatonkin, which you will someday invent," she says. I give her a skeptical laugh.
"You can 'see' all that?" I demand. Lady opens her eyes and smiles at me.
"No," she replies. "I can't see any of that. I'm not really a psychic, but I don't have to be one to see that you're smiling." I immediately drop my smile and glare in the opposite direction.
"I wasn't smiling," I say. "It was just a trick of the light."
"Well then that was quite the trick,"
"Why do you care, anyway?" I ask. She shrugs.
"Because you're my pet," she says simply. "I care about you, and I love you." Why I wonder. Why do you care, and she didn't?
"When I saw you in the pound, you looked like you needed the same thing that I need," Lady continued.
"And what's that?" I ask her, looking at her once more.
"A friend," she says as she stands up. "Come on, Nola! We're almost home!" She continues walking, beckoning me to follow her. As she calls me new nickname, I feel the hatred of Tari fading away. I glance up at Lady who's smile is warm and inviting, and I feel Nola beginning to hope. I stand up and I follow after her in the direction of what is to be my new life. Maybe a friend is what I wanted. Maybe a real home is what I've wanted. Maybe her home is just the home I need.