"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
* * * * *
"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
* * * * *
"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
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
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
"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…"
"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.