Forest and the boat
Forest looked at her reflection in the mirror. She pulled on her straight blue hair trying to cover her one pink eye. With the other paw, she held her wiggling antenna in a vain effort to keep them still. Of course, no amount of holding or pulling would hide the fact that she was a mutant.
If her eye and antenna did not give it away, her teal-coloured skin, the pink spikes that ran down her spine to the end of her tail, or large teeth would give it away. She knew being a mutant shouldn’t bother her so much. None of her family or friends seemed to care. Her older brother Tenz was one, but mutant Hissi were much more popular. Still, some people looked at her like she was a monster, and they hadn’t always.
When she was younger she had had snow-white fur and long curly blond hair. She would brush her hair till it shined and dress up in beautiful gowns and dresses. Her owner would dote on her, and give her everything she asked for. There was never before a more spoiled Aisha.
Then one day that all changed with one sip of the turquoise blue liquid in the strange bottle. Her whole body vibrated and warmed, her vision faded and then returned. It happened so fast she didn’t even realize what had happened to her. Till she felt her antenna move on their own and heard the hissing from their bright pink mouths.
She had been lucky though, her time in the pound was short. Forest hadn’t blamed her former owner for leaving her there. The potion had never been meant for her, Sloth had given it to her owner who had meant to sell it. They’d foolishly left it on the table where Forest had mistaken it for a glass of tchea fruit juice.
Her new owner adored her though, and every odd feature. Of course, she’d offered to paint Forest once she saw how unhappy she was being a mutant, but it would take some time to save up the Neopoints to get the brush to change her. Forest had wanted to be a faerie with large butterfly wings and ice blue fur.
Her new siblings did not treat her like she was any different either. They accepted her like they did everyone before her and everyone after her. The only one who seemed to understand her was Dred.
She thought she would never get used to the squirming, hat ripping, uncontrollable antenna that seemed to have minds of their own. Only Dred could understand how she felt about her, oddness. Dred, a Maraquan Eyrie, was the only one of her siblings who felt as uncomfortable in his own skin as she did.
His scales had always made him different from the other eyrie. He had wings and fins, making him both a creature of air and water and a creature of neither at the same time. No matter where he was, he felt out of place.
“Come on Forest,” a knock on the door brought Forest out of her thoughts and reminded her how long she’s been standing in front of the bathroom mirror. She could hear her brother Bandy hopping from foot to foot as he waited impatiently for the bathroom. “I need it!”
“Forest you’ve been in there all morning!” her sister Jungle chimed in. The young Meerca could be heard bouncing in the hall as well.
“I’m just finishing up,” She called back. She sometimes forgot how busy the bathrooms in the house could be, especially in the morning. There were nine of them in all, and mom could only afford one bathroom so far, though she planned to build more.
“Wanna go to the beach?” Dred greeted her as she came down the stairs. He had a towel over one shoulder and wearing his swim trunks. She could tell he already taken one of the many showers he would take that day. His skin would get uncomfortably dry if he didn’t take at least ten showers a day.
“Alright,” Forest could smell the omelettes their mother had prepared for breakfast. They ate jelly or omelettes for most meals. The whole family had agreed to this so that their mom could save as many Neopoints as possible toward Forest’s paintbrush.
“Mom, Dred and I are going to go to the beach. Don’t worry about breakfast. We’ll find something to eat on the way. Love you!” They were already out the door before their mom could respond.
“Come on Forest, the water is great!” Dred called, trying to splash her. He flopped and frolicked in the water.
Forest preferred to sit on their little private beach alone. Only locals really knew about this beach, but most stayed away. It was beyond the abandoned city of Geraptiku, a place many of the islanders thought was haunted but Forest and Dred had never had any trouble there aside from a few of the overzealous Petpets that lived there and scampered about.
That day though, something else had Forest’s attention. There was a boat that had washed ashore. It was in pretty bad shape from what she could tell from where she sat on her towel. A few wild Petpets squabbled over a piece of fruit on its hull, next to a rather large hole. The wood was bleached from the sun and broken in many places.
“Hey, Dred,” She called back but she wasn’t looking at him. “Check out that boat.”
“What about it? It’s probably another shipwreck from those Krawk Island pirates,” Dred replied. She heard the splashing stop and the sloshing sound of his walking out of the water toward her.
She got up, not waiting for her brother, and walked over to the boat. The hair in her eye obscured her view of the damaged vessel so she brushed it out of her face as she approached it. Above her, her antenna squabbled ceaselessly, but she paid them no mind. For the first time in a long time, she’d forgotten for a moment about being a mutant, and only had eyes for the boat in front of her.
“Your hair looks nice like that,” Forest jumped when she heard her mom’s voice. She hadn’t seen her mom standing in the doorway of the living room wiping her hands clean with a dishtowel.
“Yeah, I, uh, wanted to get it out of my face,” Forest answered self consciously playing with the headband she was wearing to keep her hair in place. “Sorry, I wasn’t trying to sneak out or anything, but Dred is uh, already at the beach the bathroom has been busy today, and I, uh, wanted to-”
“Work on the boat?” She asked, one eyebrow raised. “I kind of pried it out of your brother, this morning.”
“We’re just fixing it up, don’t worry we aren’t spending any Neopoints or anything,” Forest hurried to explain. “We’re using tools we found in the safety deposit box, and materials we find on the beach.”
“Forest, sweety, I’m not mad,” She laughed brushing a stay hair out of Forest’s face. “I just wanted to know what you’ve been up to. I hardly see you anymore. I know its been-busy here, but-”
“Oh, mom,” Forest sighed. “There aren’t too many pets here if that’s what you’re worried about. I love you and I love all my siblings. Sure we get into squabbles and we are always in each other’s business. This just gives me something, that’s all mine. Well, mine and Dred’s but it’s just ours so if you could-”
“Keep it a secret?”
“Tell her,” Steel pushed her toward the kitchen, where her mother was getting dinner set up for them all. Forest looked from her mother to the Darigan Poogle.
“Can’t you?” Forest begged. Dred and Forest had told Steel their plans first. Steel was the oldest and they all went to him whenever they had a problem, even Tenz, who Steel usually went to with his problems.
“No,” Steel said. “Mom will want to hear it from you first, and then Dred if he really intends to go with you. I’m not saying don’t go, but I am saying you can’t leave without telling her.”
“Mo-om,” Forest said, slowly. “I have something to tell you.”
“It feels weird being back,” Forest adjusted her bandana and pushed her antenna away from it. They wouldn’t let her wear a captain’s hat but the bandana was a good compromise.
“I think it feels nice,” Dred replied with a smile as he moved to stand next to his sister. “What do you think mom will say when you tell her the news.”
“Which news? That we’re pirates now, but the good kind or that we brought her a boatload of Neopoints, and I don’t want to be a faerie anymore?”
“I think she’ll say, don’t forget to wear a sweater and come home sooner next time.”