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Left Behind


by erileen

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"Tashi, you are volunteering at the Neopian Pound," an old green Techo proclaimed, shuffling papers around. "And you are dismissed."

      The Ixi groaned and threw the door opened and slammed it shut, hoisting a heavy backpack to my shoulder. In black letters on the door, the words VICE PRINCIPAL were spelt out. She read them, and wrinkled her nose. "More like life destroyer," she murmured. Sighing, she plopped down in a chair in the office and waited for her owner, Catherine, to arrive. She would put on a sweet face for the principal, but once she got home, then Tashi would get it for sure.

      Catherine arrived in no time. She was in shape these days, because the walk from the simple one-story home to the school was five blocks. Her hair was red, and worn in two loose pigtails. Her clothes were splattered with paint…she had been painting again. Her innocent face was complex with emotion; an odd mix of distaste and disarray. She threw Tashi a look of pity in the spitefulness of herself...sympathy, perhaps? No, there was anger in her green eyes… there was trouble a brew.

      She went into the little office silently, and came out the same way. "Time to go home, Tashi," she said, her eyes filled with pained tears as she walked, wiping her running nose. She always cried after she had to go into the office and hear of the misdoings. Tashi sighed and scraped at her hoof, remembering to try to do better next time.

      Catherine didn't yell until the two were in the house, with the door safely closed. Then she let me have it, tears of rage boiling into her eyes. "Tashi, I thought we understood each other!" she screamed angrily. "You promised you'd never disobey me again!" She thrashed her arms wildly, blinded by rage. "I'm almost ready to give up on you!" Tashi tried not to show too much emotion…it wasn't like she hadn't ever been screamed at before. Angrily, Catherine thrush the Shadow Ixi into a small room. "Sleep well," she murmured. "You'll have to be up bright and early tomorrow to volunteer at the Pound."

     * * * * *

      "Well, that's the basic rundown…you ready to work?" a smiling pink Uni asked. Bleary eyed, Tashi nodded, and muttered something unintelligible. "Good," the Uni said, handing her various clipboards. "Off to work for you!"

      "I could be doing great things rather than spending time with some no-good un-owneds," Tashi said. The group she was in called the pets in the pound "Un-owneds" and scorned at them with great distaste. She smiled as she thought of her group…the prank they had pulled that had gotten her this lousy punishment…working with the un-"

      "Who you callin' un-owned?" a voice quipped. Tashi turned around…who'd said that? An intelligible-looking blue Kougra raised her paws in mock battle stance. "Take somma dis!"

      Tashi smirked. "Yeah, whatever," she said. She checked her clipboards and groaned…sure enough this mindless bug was on her list. She sighed as she opened the door to the cage where the Kougra sat. The bars were rusty, the entire cell was unkempt. Three cots sat in a corner, unmade. The cement walls had marks on them, counting the days of life in this madhouse. There was some food and water, but little of either. "You are…Letha?"

      "Correct!" Letha said energetically. "You gonna to take me out to the park, aren't you?"

      "Unfortunately," Tashi murmured, glancing at her charge, and then a clock on the wall. 9:27…four hours to go! "C'mon…let's go."

     * * * * *

      "It's so beautiful here!" the Kougra said as she breathed in the fresh scent of the morning sun. "Oh, I wish I could stay here forever!"

      Tashi thought about that remark for a moment. "But…no one would take care of you. You'd have no one to call your own." The two proceeded down the narrow walkway as the Kougra contemplated that.

      "Yes," she said. "But wouldn't you rather be out here unloved than stuck in a cement dungeon unloved?"

      "It can't be that bad," Tashi said, although she could already tell it must be terrible. "Besides, you won't be there for so long."

      Letha laughed, looking at the sun. She picked a flower, and then pulled off the petals slowly. "If this here flower had an infinite number o' petals, and I kept picking them all off, I couldn't keep up with all the days I've been in there."

      Tashi tried to keep her composure. "It must be terrible."

      "That's an understatement," Letha winced in spite of herself. "You're so lucky."

      Tashi smirked. "Life isn't all picking rowzes and dancing with Buzzer. It's…tough, Letha. I have a lot of trouble in my life, and a lot of it helped me get here today. Catherine isn't any help either…"

      "Catherine?"

      "My owner."

      "At least you have an owner," Letha said, bitter. Tashi laughed hollowly.

      "She's not exactly motherly."

      Letha only made a "tsk" sound.

      "Do you remember having an owner, Letha?"

      Letha thought for a moment, staring into the clouds. A breeze picked up her fur and swathed her in glory. "At…one point, I presume I did. I only remember small, fragmented images…like puzzle pieces I can't put together."

      She quickened her stride.

      "I…I remember the log cabin, with a woman and many, many other Kougra cubs. She had found as all one way or another, and pretty soon she took us all in." Letha's face softened as she remembered details. "She was…pretty in every way imaginable, with curly blond hair and amber colored eyes. She would feed me and play with me…she called me her own." Letha blushed. "She…she also liked to call me Star Eyes, because she said I had the most beautiful eyes. Of course, that isn't my name anymore…all of that changed when the Uni came. She spoke with my owner for a long time before finally she scooped all of us up and…and…" she breathed softly for a minute. The crescendo she had formed in her plot had brought emotion to herself…she hasn't meant that. She continued; calm. "She took us here, and gave us all named. All of the other Kougra cubs were adopted…but I was left behind." She reached out and took Tashi's paws. "We are both left behind, here, in this endless plain of sadness. But Tashi," she said, tightening her grip on the Ixi's hooves, "we can turn around our sadness and mourning, and we can make everything better…for all the others, for our families…for ourselves. Please Tashi," Letha looked deeply into Tashi's eyes. "Leave your friends…they only cause you to get into trouble, Tashi. Be a loner…be a believer. Be yourself."

      Tashi bowed her head. They had arrived at the park, but she couldn't utter any words of comfort to her companion. She simply shook her head and hugged the Kougra. Letha looked at Tashi, tearful.

      "Take me back to the Pound, please, Tashi…I've had enough for the day."

     * * * * *

      "Hey, Tashi," a voice said. Tashi spun around as she closely locked one of the last pens. Her time was up; her sentence complete. She could go home now. She turned to see three other Ixi standing there; her friends, her allies…her companions in mischief making. "We're going to go stir some things up downtown…wanna come?"

      Tashi was about to reply, but then she turned to look at Letha, who sat in her cell, expectant. Tashi lowered her gaze for a moment before she looked up, grabbed the hooves of the speaker and said,

      "Yeah, sure…be right there." She handed the Uni the clipboards, and left…she walked out, never to return.

The End

 
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