A Pound Story: Part Two
The week had passed before she knew it, and so Ihae found herself on the way to the Neopian Pound, ready to get back to work this weekend.
So far, she still hadn’t come up with some way to cheer up the many pets who were stuck there. Everything she could think of either just wasn’t good enough, or might even make matters worse. A Talent Show, for instance, might just further discourage those among the abandoned pets who had no talents to show off, making them think they were worthless and might never be adopted. Ihae was stumped.
She entered the Pound, and was surprised to find no one in the waiting room, yet again. This time, though, it looked like she really was completely alone. Rose knew when Ihae would arrive, but she was apparently off tending to some other matter – there was a lot to do at the Pound, as Ihae had found out the previous weekend. She sighed and took a seat, having decided to wait for a few minutes before going to look for someone. The boxes wouldn’t move themselves until she started, something she found somewhat unfortunate.
Just as Ihae was going to get up and look for someone, Rose came into the room, with Yvonne into tow. The young Tuskaninny was glaring at the ground now, begrudgingly following.
"Sorry for being late!" Rose exclaimed, "I had to round up Yvonne. She’s going to be helping you today."
Ihae raised an eyebrow questioningly. Not only did it not seem like the Tuskaninny wanted to get along well with her, something she imagined might make the job even worse for both of them, she also didn’t look like she was used to – or capable of – heavy lifting. It was something she just imagined someone with fins wouldn’t be great at. Then again, Ihae supposed she didn’t look like someone who did a lot of manual work, either.
"I know you got off to a bad start yesterday," Rose started, seeming to realize Ihae was hesitant – mind-reading did seem like a helpful skill for someone managing a Pound, she thought, "But there’s work to be done, and hopefully you can settle your differences doing it. Besides, Ihae, you’re here to learn something – and Yvonne might as well while she’s here, too." This Rose said firmly, as if to let the both of them know that was her final word, and they would have to work together, like it or not.
Like the weekend before, Ihae had been assigned to the storeroom, this time with Yvonne to help. After Rose had left, however, the silence had set in, as they avoided talking to each other. Luckily, this was easy enough, as they were rarely in the room together: Ihae had been assigned to deliver supplies to the kitchen for now, while Yvonne was to bring in a new shipment of supplies.
Surprisingly, Yvonne seemed to be a hard worker. She didn’t seem to mind the heavy lifting as much as Ihae had thought she would. In fact, she seemed quite comfortable doing the work, and Ihae had even caught her humming a tune to herself when she had come back from the kitchen. Of course, Yvonne had left the room as soon as she noticed Ihae, somewhat flustered to have been caught.
Ihae checked the list she had been given, and saw that she was on the final item for the kitchen, a bag of flour. She headed to the back of the storeroom, where she knew the food was kept, and stepped up on the stool to reach for the flour. Even though she was tall for a Usul, the bag of flour was just out of her reach. Even standing on her toes, she could only just reach a corner of the sack, which she grabbed onto and tugged, hoping to slide the flour out enough to be able to pick up the bag. The bag seemed to be stuck, however, and no matter how much she tried, she couldn’t get the bag to move.
She was just about to give up when suddenly, the bag started sliding forward, along with the bags underneath it. Before she could do anything to stop them, the sacks of flour had fallen off the shelf, knocking her over in the process. Ihae was now buried up to her neck under a mountain of them.
The Usul struggled to free herself, but to no avail. She couldn’t move her arms to try and push the bags away, nor could she simply wiggle out. She was stuck.
Luckily for her, it didn’t take long for Yvonne to return. When she saw the Usul, she immediately dropped the crates she had brought in and rushed to her aid. Soon, Ihae was finally able to escape. She got up and dusted herself off. To her surprise, the bags of flour hadn’t ripped when they fell – it seemed she had cushioned their fall enough to avoid that – but she was still covered in a fine dust.
"What happened?" Yvonne asked, audibly concerned. "Are you hurt anywhere? Gosh, how long were you stuck there, even?"
"Oh, I can be a bit of a klutz sometimes," Ihae giggled, "It’s no big deal. At least the bags are fine. And I am, too, for that matter – thanks to you, Yvonne." She smiled kindly at the Tuskaninny, who looked flustered, but still somewhat calmer.
"Fine, but let me put back the flour. You can put away the last of the new supplies," she pointed to the crates she had left by the door when she had seen Ihae needed help, "and I guess you’ll manage to get the one bag of flour to the kitchen."
Ihae decided it was best to follow Yvonne’s new instructions. While the crate’s weren’t exactly light, at least none of them needed to go on the higher shelves, making it a much easier job than getting the flour had been. Yvonne didn’t seem to have as hard of a time with the flour as Ihae had, either, and by the time Ihae had finished putting away the new items, Yvonne was already on her way out to eat lunch.
After Ihae had brought the flour to the Pound’s kitchen, she decided to go to the cafeteria, which was right next door. Up until now, she had always eaten lunch in the Pound’s garden, and while it was quite nice to do so, after what had happened, she thought she might have a better chance at getting Yvonne to warm up to her.
It didn’t take her long to find the Tuskaninny, who was the only pet in the cafeteria besides Ihae. The other pets at the Pound wouldn’t have lunch until later, and whatever the Pound’s chef was cooking, its fragrance filled the cafeteria. Ihae sat down on the bench next to Yvonne, who only looked at her briefly before turning back to her lunch.
"Thank you for earlier, Yvonne," Ihae started, unsure of what else to say. Yvonne simply nodded. "I know we got off to a bad start," the Usul continued, "but I do want you to know I’m sorry. And I want to get to know you. Can we start over?" Yvonne looked at Ihae, and sighed. She took the Usul’s outstretched hand and shook it.
After they had finished the rest of their work for the day, Yvonne and Ihae sat out in the garden to watch some of the younger pets. Rose had asked them to do so, since she had something to tend to. "I’m sorry, I know you just finished," she had said, "but something’s come up, and there’s no one else I can ask right now."
Luckily, the children were pretty well-behaved, and so Ihae and Yvonne could sit on the sidelines and chat while keeping an eye out, in case anything happened. It turned out they had quite a bit in common, and while they weren’t best friends yet, they had become comfortable in each other’s company.
"...and so she got banned from the mall, but you know what? I asked her, and she thinks it was totally worth it!" Ihae exclaimed, grinning, while Yvonne giggled. She leaned back in the soft grass, and they sat in silence for a few moments.
"Yvonne… I’m sorry you have to be here," Ihae started, but Yvonne interrupted her.
"It’s not your fault, and there’s nothing anyone can really do about it," Yvonne huffed. "Don’t take this the wrong way, but I don’t need your pity on top of everything. It’s bad enough as is."
"But there must be some way to do something!" Ihae continued, "Nobody takes notice of the Pound, but if we could get them to..." She stopped, staring at the children. Yvonne followed her gaze to see what was wrong, but the children were just playing models. They were posing for the "photographer", a young Scorchio who was holding up a toy camera and making clicking noises as he pretended to snap pictures of them.
"Yvonne, I think I might’ve finally come up with something, and I need your help," she started, grinning, "You’re going to love it!"
To be continued...