Anna's Home

In the pound there is a room, an old room, with a broken ceiling and musty air. It is a sad room, a hopeless room. A room without crying, without talking. The only noise is the coughing, the sneezing, the moaning. It is the room where the sick pets go.

They didn't want us to infect the others, but it happened anyways. If it weren't for the fact that having two sicknesses was nearly impossible we would've had our own rooms. That room was cold, always cold, and then burning. Burning hot as the fever flared up again. Bunks lined the walls. The sheets were old and wrinkled, but clean. The pink Uni made sure they were clean for us. We never talked, we never argued; there was no talk about the old days. We all wanted to die. To die and leave this place.

The pink Uni hardly ever brought owners back here, unless they asked. We were alone. My mind throbbed with a headache, had it always been like this? The misery? It seemed unending. I had had Neomonia when I got here, that was why I was here. My owner didn't want to spring for the ten thousand points to heal me. After weeks of getting only potions and hp from the Healing Springs, something snapped. I had woken up here one morning. There was no goodbye, no explanation, but maybe an explanation would have made me hate her more. I curled my tail around my body, trying to keep in some of the heat the short burst of fever allowed me. I fingered the thin blanket, wishing I could sleep.

~

That morning I woke up to blackness. I expected it was the middle of the night but no, I could hear the voices of owners in the pound. I couldn't see anything, not even the strip of light under the door. I waved my paw in front of my hand. Nothing but the slight whoosh of wind told me that it was there. I stumbled off my bunk and made my way towards the door. My fingers brushed the cold steel and I got down on my knees, searching for the slit, the light. My hands found the gap between the floor and the door and froze. I panicked, placing my face down by the slit, trying in vain to see something that I would never see again. I screamed, my voice breaking, and sent myself into a bought of coughs. The pink Uni came running, I could hear her hooves. The door swung open and I felt the warmth of the dim light. But I couldn't see it.

They tried their best to comfort me, but it was no use. My owner had stolen my love, and now she had taken my sight. The pink Uni even brought in the green Gelert Doctor from the hospital, but nothing worked. In the end they settled me back down in my bunk and left me. I was blind.

~

I slowly adjusted to the new lifestyle. My big Xweetok ears actually came in handy. At first I couldn't only tell voices, maybe the occasional noise of a door being opened, but I got good at it. Soon I could tell the difference between the pink Uni's steps and the other Unis in the pound. I could tell the difference between the twin yellow Kacheeks' coughs. My world may have been dark, but it was never empty. For two years the noises of the pound were my world, my ears had become-and would always be-my eyes. I didn't expect a life, but the faeries have a way of surprising you.

It was near closing time that next day. The Uni was taking a head count of the newly abandoned pets and trying to find open bunks for all of them. Owners still trickled in slowly, like they always did, but these were the owners we all wanted. The ones who avoided the rush and tried to find the basic pets. They never took two home if they knew they could only care for one. They were the ones who brought their pets back to the pound only to let them chat with old friends. We all wanted to be adopted by them, to be given a home, but we knew the chances were slim. They looked for the younger pets, the ones who would get along best with their pets. I sat quietly on my bunk, combing my fur slowly with a lunar comb one of the pets had found for me. I didn't know why I was doing it, I almost never tried to tidy up for the owners. Maybe it was nostalgia. She used to brush me every night, combing my hair back from my face and laughing at the faces I'd make at her... There was a sharp thud and the metal door swung open. All the pets, no matter how sick, turned to face the beam of light that shot through. All but me. The pink Uni almost never brought owners back here, but I didn't care about the light. I turned my ear towards the door. Snatches of conversation echoed from the two.

-these are our sick pets, Ma'am," the pink Uni was saying. The owner didn't reply for a long time. I could hear her footsteps walking around the room. Sometimes she would pause at the pets, other times she would make a point to stop and mutter something to the pet, an apology of sorts for why she couldn't take them home. I could hear her getting closer and closer to my row. Part of me wanted her to stop at my bunk, to take me home, but another part of me wanted to run and hide, to avoid this owner. She came around and stopped at me.

Hello," she said, her voice quiet and cool. I turned my ear towards her. "Not too happy to see me then?" She laughed a little.

I can't see you," I muttered coolly. "I'm blind." The owner fell silent and I knew, I knew I'd missed my chance. She walked away, but she didn't stop at any other bunks. I could hear the pink Uni's voice clearly.

You sure you want Anna?" My heart jumped. The owner came back over and scooped me up in her arms. The sudden movement made me dizzy.

It's okay, Anna," she said as we walked out of the back room of the pound, past the rows of doorways leading to the other rooms, to the front of the pound. "I will never pound you again."

~

I woke up that morning in a clean bed. It was warm, the blankets were thick and downy. The room smelled like roses and honeydew melon. I stretched, trying to figure where I was. That's when it hit me: my fever was gone. I sat up, taking a deep breath of the air. For the first time in two years I didn't cough. I was healed. I nearly jumped for joy. That was when I realized that my world was still black. I guess for years I had assumed that when I was healed the colors would all come back. I leaned back, tears slipping down my face.

I tried my best."

I turned my ear towards my new owner and scowled, tossing my pillow at her.

Apparently your best isn't enough," I snapped, pulling the blanket around my shoulders. I could hear her footsteps across the wooden planked floor. She sat down next to me, running her hand through my fur.

I never told you my name," she said, and I tried hard to keep up my annoyed facade.

I don't care."

I am the Librarian."

I struggled to keep my face from breaking into a smile. I failed miserably.

What kind of name is that?" I laughed a little, and she chuckled.

Not as nice a name as Anna."

But that's not my real name," I said quietly.

No, I guess not. But this is a new home, Anna." I turned to face her. "And you can be whoever you want."

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Interdum et malesuada fames ac ante ipsum primis in faucibus. Vivamus posuere ornare fermentum. Quisque quis dui venenatis, aliquam metus non, rhoncus neque. Morbi id ornare arcu. Integer blandit mi sed neque aliquet vehicula. Mauris placerat dui vel ligula mattis, pulvinar cursus magna dignissim. Vivamus efficitur, massa eget molestie cursus, nulla lorem imperdiet neque, vel finibus lacus est ut est. Ut consectetur auctor enim, at faucibus turpis sed. Vivamus hendrerit id quam rhoncus malesuada. Phasellus rhoncus, lectus non eleifend tincidunt, massa velit laoreet enim, quis semper lectus diam non justo. Aenean ultricies vulputate metus, et varius ex rutrum vitae.

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Aenean condimentum lectus eget tristique tempor. Nulla aliquet ante eu nunc venenatis, ut tincidunt libero faucibus. Cras ac ullamcorper ligula. Phasellus vitae eleifend lectus. Duis ut bibendum est, a rutrum est. Donec sapien ipsum, laoreet eget laoreet ac, elementum ut enim. Vivamus varius nunc eget placerat faucibus. Aenean sit amet risus vehicula, placerat orci et, ultricies ipsum. Suspendisse et nunc nec dui pharetra tristique. Aenean imperdiet sapien sed purus tempor commodo. Nullam lacinia faucibus erat, vitae tincidunt neque fringilla in. Nam lectus tellus, hendrerit id ultricies ac, sollicitudin vel tortor. Aliquam at viverra ligula. Donec sagittis gravida dolor, sit amet vestibulum lorem posuere eu.

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Orange and Yellow

Honestly, I find most faerie quests a waste of time. Unless you're Fyora or that weird lady who runs that multicolored wonderland pool, I could care less what book you want for your spell. Go bug a newbie, or better yet have the water faerie pop up all over those annoying complainers who say they've been around for some-odd years and haven't gotten a fountain faerie quest.

I'm not usually that skeptical. But I had bad experiences with the faerie who runs the healing springs, and her sisters aren't exactly my friends. Mortal enemies would be too strong a word, more like creatures I'm perpetually out to annoy. So when this Questing event comes up, guess what happens? Librarian decides to keep me active and make me run around serving guess who? The faeries. Ergh, I could just scream. We got a Crafting Faerie quest. To be honest, at that point Librarian and I were thinking the same thing. Tell the pixie-cut purple haired caffeinated faerie to find another helper.

But Librarian got this weird gleam in her eye. Fyora, I hate it when she does that! She took the quest and dragged me all the way to the NeoCash Mall from Faerieland (quite the walk, though it helps that you don't have to fly down now) just to pick up some patchwork squares and some trimming. After we actually got the stuff and were on our way back, I sorta cooled down a bit.

~~~~~~~~~~~

I rubbed the edge of one of the silky squares with my thumb. This was a moment when I regretted being blind. I missed seeing things, taking it all in. "Librarian?" I muttered, and she looked at me. I could tell she had her eyebrows raised.

Hmm, Anna?" she asked. I could hear her footsteps slow down. I held out one of the patches.

What color is this?" I questioned, holding it towards the sound of her voice.

Orange and yellow with little stars on it," Librarian said finally, her feet swishing through the tall grass of Brightvale fields. They were unploughed, real natural grass that had never been farmed. I let the sweet smell and the warm sun fill my soul. Maybe this quest wasn't so bad after all...

Librarian?" I said after a moment.

Hmm, Anna?"

What does orange and yellow with little stars feel like?" She stopped walking and sat down in the grass. I froze where I was. Librarian never did that. Sure, some owners would randomly sit down and take in nature, Librarian was never that owner. She took my hand and sat me down next to her, laying back in the grass.

Orange and yellow with little stars is the smell of sun warmed dirt and dandelions," she said finally, and I giggled. She turned to me and ran her hand through my fur. "What sound is green?" I didn't even have to think about it.

Green is the sound of a butterfly's wing when it accidentally brushes against a leaf."

What smell is purple?"

Lavender."

Oh, come on, that's too easy!" Librarian laughed and I sighed.

If you must be difficult like that, purple is the smell of freshly baked cookies straight from the oven."

Ooh, that's a good one."

My turn to ask now..."

I don't know how long we sat like this, just listening to the wind and discussing colors and smells and memories. Not the old rusted memories that old people talk about that have no color; these were new memories. Like the time Cantilon set fire to King Skarl's castle, or the time Seans ate a whole Titanic Giant Squid in one bite and was sick for a week. We weren't in a hurry; the crafting faerie wasn't going anywhere. We were just living. Living in a field that smelled like orange and yellow with little stars.

~~~~~~~~~~~

When we finally stood up and brushed the dust off our pants, the sun was setting under the hills. It was a warm night, and we were in no hurry. The crickets chirped loudly, as if resenting our presence in the big field. We talked, not a rushed talk and not a long talk, a smooth talk like caramel on ice cream. By the time we came to the boarder of Faerie land I was no longer mad at having to go on a quest. I wasn't even thinking about the quest.

~~~~~~~~~~~

Librarian took my paw as we entered the busy streets of Faerieland. The place was usually crowded, and now with the huge influx of visitors for the quests you could barely make it two inches down the road without being stuck in line. It was a big jumble of words and sounds that edged in on my good mood and started fraying my happiness around the edges. So much to take in, so little time. I turned my head here and there at the sound until I thought I was going to go crazy. Librarian seemed stressed as well. I closed my eyes, trying to block out the chatter, the talking, the laughing. I gripped Librarian's hand tightly and she looked down at me. There was a slight halting in her voice, but I knew her eyes were sparkling again.

Anna," she said, and her voice anchored me in the chaos.

Hmm, Librarian?" I said, shouting over the commotion.

What does pink smell like?" The crowds started to quiet a little bit. Maybe it was just chance that they heard this absurd question, or maybe the faerie's really did have a reason for their quests.

Pink smells like the warm scent of clothes fresh from the dryer, all warm and static-y!" I shouted, and a few voices broke out in agreement.

And what does black feel like?"

Black feels like a warm blanket that you snuggle under with your favorite book to read when you don't think your mom is looking." A few laughs rang out from the crowd.

Well?" Librarian shouted to the crowd, and they started shouting out their own colors. Some of them I'd never heard of, others were ones I'd thought I knew until someone shouted out a smell for it. Before we knew it everyone was laughing and talking, their quests all but forgotten. We made our way through the noise towards the quest station. It was a good noise, a happy noise. A noise of friendships being woven and memories being sewn of orange and yellow with little stars.

~~~~~~~~~~~

We gave the Crafting Faerie her supplies, and she didn't seem to mind that it took us all day. She asked us to sit down and wait while she fixed up our reward. Librarian turned to go sit down and I heard the faerie start to move away. My mind blanked. I grabbed her arm and she turned to look at me. She relaxed a bit and got down to my level.

What is it, hun?" she asked. She sounded tired. Maybe her caffeine-pep wore off.

I was wondering if--what I was trying to say is--" I stammered, and then sighed. "Can you make the orange one with yellow and stars on the front of what you're making. I like that one a lot." She was quiet for a moment, and I thought I'd made her angry. Then she laughed a little bit, a kind laugh, almost like a little bell.

Of course, gifted one," she said, patting me on the head and turning towards the door.

Wait, gifted?" I shouted as she walked away, I heard her turn slightly.

Sure, gifted with no sight." She said quickly, walking into the other room for a moment. I stood there, stunned. Blindness a gift? What did she mean? Maybe she was still caffeinated and had had one too many lattes. I stood there trying to process what she meant. When she came back, she was carrying a beautiful patchwork dress. I took it happily, and held it up to Librarian.

Did she put the orange and yellow with stars on the front?" I asked, and Librarian laughed.

Of course she did, Anna. You asked her to." I smiled at the faerie.

Thank you!" I waved as I left.

Just as we were about to go, I happened to hear two faeries talking at the door.

Is that the one?" one of them said. By the tone of her voice I guessed she was an air faerie.

Yup, the one that Delina said is blessed!" the other one said, she sounded like a fire faerie. I turned to them for a moment and walked over.

What makes me blessed?" I asked, and they looked at me.

Don't you know?" the fire faerie said, and I shook my head.

No! Please someone tell me!" I shouted, and a hand rested on my shoulder. I turned a little and sniffed the air. She smelled like purple.

What makes you blessed, little one," Fyora said, her voice rich like honey, "is not that you cannot see, it is that your mind lets you see so much more than anyone else."

What do you mean?" I asked quietly, and she got down to my level.

Delina only gives quests to those who have need them," she said simply. I turned to ask her another question to find her gone. I moved over to where I had ran from Librarian. She hadn't moved an inch.

What do they mean?" I asked as we walked away. Librarian was quiet for a moment. Then she turned to me and handed me the dress.

Anna, what does orange with yellow and little stars smell like?" she said. But she wasn't looking for an answer. That's when it sank in.

What made me blessed was not the fact that I was blind, it was what I saw. People who could see would never know what green sounded like, or experience the wonder of orange with yellow and little stars.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Phasellus vitae ornare leo. Curabitur ac dictum elit. Suspendisse consequat nisl sit amet erat volutpat consequat. Nullam elementum vehicula ipsum. Suspendisse elementum auctor felis, quis porttitor massa. Nullam nec lorem a enim venenatis imperdiet. Duis in tellus ligula. Sed feugiat sollicitudin quam id volutpat. Maecenas commodo urna tortor. Mauris et enim facilisis, auctor lacus maximus, aliquet sem. Maecenas gravida aliquam sem. Sed commodo consequat est, eget auctor arcu in. Maecenas quis lorem sed magna ultricies ornare. Nunc non pretium ipsum. In hendrerit justo quis ullamcorper ullamcorper. Vestibulum dictum, mi id finibus sodales, nisi nisl congue erat, at volutpat enim nisl consectetur leo.

Interdum et malesuada fames ac ante ipsum primis in faucibus. Vivamus posuere ornare fermentum. Quisque quis dui venenatis, aliquam metus non, rhoncus neque. Morbi id ornare arcu. Integer blandit mi sed neque aliquet vehicula. Mauris placerat dui vel ligula mattis, pulvinar cursus magna dignissim. Vivamus efficitur, massa eget molestie cursus, nulla lorem imperdiet neque, vel finibus lacus est ut est. Ut consectetur auctor enim, at faucibus turpis sed. Vivamus hendrerit id quam rhoncus malesuada. Phasellus rhoncus, lectus non eleifend tincidunt, massa velit laoreet enim, quis semper lectus diam non justo. Aenean ultricies vulputate metus, et varius ex rutrum vitae.

Sed eu consequat purus, a hendrerit libero. Ut sapien non condimentum elementum. Aliquam congue, velit sed ultricies interdum, velit nibh sagittis purus, ac pharetra quam ex eu tellus. Praesent ut magna hendrerit, viverra nunc sit amet, consequat ante. Curabitur rhoncus erat lectus. Fusce condimentum turpis turpis, at hendrerit lacus tempor quis. Praesent convallis, turpis id efficitur malesuada, sapien mauris tempus turpis, in consequat mauris leo faucibus augue. Vestibulum ante ipsum primis in faucibus orci luctus et ultrices posuere cubilia Curae; Proin malesuada non tortor id ultrices.

Aenean condimentum lectus eget tristique tempor. Nulla aliquet ante eu nunc venenatis, ut tincidunt libero faucibus. Cras ac ullamcorper ligula. Phasellus vitae eleifend lectus. Duis ut bibendum est, a rutrum est. Donec sapien ipsum, laoreet eget laoreet ac, elementum ut enim. Vivamus varius nunc eget placerat faucibus. Aenean sit amet risus vehicula, placerat orci et, ultricies ipsum. Suspendisse et nunc nec dui pharetra tristique. Aenean imperdiet sapien sed purus tempor commodo. Nullam lacinia faucibus erat, vitae tincidunt neque fringilla in. Nam lectus tellus, hendrerit id ultricies ac, sollicitudin vel tortor. Aliquam at viverra ligula. Donec sagittis gravida dolor, sit amet vestibulum lorem posuere eu.

Nunc viverra est at tortor finibus, ac laoreet tellus sodales. Vivamus eleifend tortor quis arcu dictum, eget ultricies odio semper. Ut molestie at nunc a. Quisque porttitor finibus ex. Quisque suscipit eros erat, sit amet dapibus erat tincidunt vel. Etiam at rhoncus odio, et vulputate nisl. Aliquam ullamcorper erat augue, eu tincidunt sem mattis sit amet. Curabitur in ante rutrum, gravida arcu vitae, tincidunt eros. Aliquam erat volutpat. Maecenas imperdiet vehicula felis, tincidunt mollis nunc. Suspendisse ipsum tortor, molestie a ligula sed, posuere viverra massa.

Just Left

My mom just left us.

I stared outside the window, my eyes seeing nothing, my ears catching every sound. The rain was coming down hard, but it always rained here. I had never bothered to figure out where here was, I had always expected her to come back. But she didn't. Maybe one day I would have to go outside, but part of me seemed to hold on to that hope that she would return. I readjusted my paw on the windowsill and flicked away a dust feepit.

She never said goodbye.

I sighed and rubbed the back of my neck. I was past crying, the crying had happened when I realized she wasn't coming back this time. I stood up, nearly tripping over the coffee table. I had been here for months and still couldn't find my way around. Last time it wasn't this hard, but last time I had Mom helping me.

How could she do this to us?

Seans was sprawled out on the couch, reading an old issue of the Neopian Times under his breath to himself. I could hear his paws tapping on the edge of the paper and the sproing of the couch springs when he moved.

Mom made front page, Anna," he said, jumping up and down and grinning. He did this every Saturday.

Seans," I said softly, taking the paper from his hands. We hadn't gotten a new paper since Mom had been there. "That paper is months old." He sniffled.

N-no it's not! It's yesterday's paper!" he shouted, his lip quivering and his breath shaking. I gently sat down next to him and patted his shoulder.

Seans, she's not-"

Don't!" he shouted, pushing me away. "Don't treat me like a little kid! I'm not a little kid! She's going to come back, she wouldn't leave us. She always come back. She-" He broke down crying, his sobs echoing in the empty house. If Mom were here she would have come running to comfort him, but if Mom were here he wouldn't be crying. I sat by him quietly for a long time. I didn't know what to do, I never knew what to do. I was on the verge of tears myself. How could I comfort Seans when I wanted to do exactly what he was doing?

She didn't care about us.

I wrapped my arm around Seans in a side hug and sat there in silence for a while before handing him back his newspaper.

The story on page six is good," I said, and Seans sniffed.

How d-do you know? You can't read it." Seans was always fascinated when I told him things he never expected me to know.

Because I'm magic," I answered, and he laughed.

Lemme read to prove you're wrong!" he said, clapping his hands once and grabbing the paper. I turned my ear towards him.

Read it out loud?" I asked, and he set a paw on my arm. I had never asked him to read to me before. I wasn't sure what he was doing until he took my hand and ran it over the paper. I turned my ear towards him. "What are you doing, Seans?" I asked, and he stopped moving my hand.

I saw an old Techo do this before; he said it was how he could read even though his eyes had stopped reading for him. I thought it may work for you, sorry. It's only for magic Techos then, I guess." I blinked. I'd never heard of anyone like me being able to read before. I shook my head and rolled my eyes, probably one of Seans's silly imaginary inventions, like overlord meepits.

Well, are you going to read?" I asked after a pause, and Seans started like I had woken him up from a dream.

Hmm? Oh, right, newspaper story. Okay, I'll read it," he said, clearing his throat and settling into the couch. "Orange and Yellow with Little Stars, by-" He stopped, sniffed, and set the paper down. I reached for his hand.

What's wrong, bud?" I asked, and he pushed me away.

You said it would be a good story!" He protested.

You didn't even start it, how can you know it's bad?"

Mom wrote it!" He shouted, standing up and running out of the room. I heard his footsteps in the kitchen.

Seans!" I shouted after him. That's when I heard it. Three precise knocks on the front door. And a voice, a voice I hadn't heard in months.

Guys, it's me."

She had come back.

Seans dashed from the kitchen and opened the door, only to slam it in Mom's face, lock it, and run into the living room. He dived into the curtains and tried his best to be silent. He was far from silent. I swallowed as I heard the doorknob being turned.

Guys, can you unlock the door? Come on!" Another rattling of the doorknob. A digging for keys. A key being fit into the lock and the door unlocking. She opened it and stepped into the hall way. Instantly I was aware of everything about the house: the layer of dirt that covered the house, I had been breathing it in for weeks. The dust on the kitchen counter, I had run my fingers through it a thousand times. The empty fridge, my empty stomach. It was all her fault. She left us. She abandoned us, never to come back. And here she was, in my house. My house. She walked over towards me, the floor boards creaking.

What are you doing here?" I asked, my voice breaking a little. She shuffled her feet.

I'm here to bring you home, Anna, you and Seans," she said quietly, as if she knew I would be upset.

You left us," I said angrily.

I know, I'm sorry, I won't do it again, I was wrong."

You never said goodbye."

I'm sorry, Anna-"

You dropped us off on your side account with no warning."

Anna-"

There was only enough food for a week." I could hear her breathing change.

I'm so-"

Sorry?" I quipped, and she fell silent. "I didn't know where I was. I still don't know where I am! Seans didn't stop crying for a month!"

I-" she began, and I turned away. She took a deep breath. "Come on." I turned towards her.

What?"

I'm bringing you guys home."

How do I know you aren't taking us to the pound?" I shouted, and she froze steps away from me.

I made you a promise, Anna."

So? You also promised that you would never leave us, and you broke that one easy enough!" Mom regarded me for a moment before walking across the room and moving aside the curtain, Seans came out at stood in front of her.

Come on, Seans," she said quietly, kneeling next to him so they were eye to eye. He blinked and his lower lip trembled. He held out his arms to her and she scooped him up into a hug. He started crying, she started crying, it was a big crying blubbery mess. I started clapping sarcastically.

Bravo," I said. Seans' lip trembled and his breathing started to go weird like it did when he was upset. I crossed my arms. Mom sighed.

I'll send food over every day, if I remember to," she said, walking towards the door with Seans. I looked towards her in panic. "And visit maybe once a month. If you can stand me."

So you're just going to leave me? Alone?" I asked, standing up. Mom sighed.

You don't trust me to take you home, why trust living with me? You seem comfortable here. I don't want to make your life miserable by taking you home with me." I just stared at her for a long time, tears were welling up in my throat.

Don't leave me," I whispered, the tears falling from my face. Before I knew what was happening I was scooped up in Mom's arms and whisked out the door.

My Mom came back. And she's never going to leave me again.

Returning

Seans?" I asked, pushing the door open quietly. I stepped inside, wrapping my sweater around my shoulders to keep out the cold that crept into the old house behind me. Almedha had given it to me for the trip back, saying that I was always welcome back to her house whenever I wanted.

She had forgotten to tell me what color the sweater was. What with all the paperwork needed to do a last minute pet transfer, especially this early in the morning, I didn't blame her. But, with the sweater, I wanted to know what it looked like, it helped me imagine myself better.

I should probably mention, before I get too far along, that I am blind, have been for a long time now, ever since I was sick in the pound. I'm used to a lack of colors now, it doesn't bug me as much as it used to, plus I'd gotten used to imagining the looks of things. Sometimes, it made it more fun.

I decided on imagining the sweater as purple as I closed the door behind me. Almedha had painted me striped a while before, describing the color as best she could while she was painting me. I could easily imagine a light blue and pink color to my fur now, although it had taken some getting used to. My hair was black, it had always been black regardless of color changes. That, at least, was constant.

I took off my sneakers, hanging my bags on the pegs by the wall. They had always been there, ever since I had first come to the old house. Librarian hadn't moved them, but then again how would she? They were stuck in the wall. But she always had her ways, her really odd ways. I wouldn't have been surprised if somehow the door had moved from one side of the house to the other in one of her fits of boredom. I would have to get used to her again, if I was going to be living in the old house.

I rested my paw on the wall, feeling the wood grain of the trim contrasted against the peeling wallpaper. It had taken me months to learn the layout when I first got to the house. When I had been in the pound, things were small, I didn't move around much, I didn't need to know the layout of things. Sure, I knew the pets around me by their breathing and their sneezing, but the rest of the pound had been dark for me. Compared to that, the house had been huge, a labyrinth of twists and turns that left me dizzy. I got the hang of it with Librarian's help. We had worked together.

I considered, for a moment, if we could ever work together like that again.

Saying I had abandonment problems was an understatement. First the pound, then the sudden disappearances, then she just left, leaving me in the pound until Almedha could grab me for her. When Almedha had asked if I wanted to go back, I was as surprised as her when I said yes.

I shuffle into the house, my hands out in front of me. I expected there to be boxes, bins, chests, anything to show that people were living there. Instead, the house was clean, organized, the exact opposite of the Librarian I had known.

But maybe that was a good thing.

Seans?" I asked again, my voice echoing off the walls. I heard a noise on the second floor, followed by a scampering of footfalls. My eyes watered. I would recognize those paws anywhere. I could hear the pounding of paws on the staircase, followed by the swish that an xweetok tail makes when its graces the landing of a staircase. Then, the footsteps stopped. I could imagine him there, hesitating at the end of the hall, wondering if he was dreaming. I wondered if he still dreamed like he used to, or he had grown out of it.

No, I decided, Seans would not grow out of dreams. Seans was too much like, well, Seans, to grow out of dreams.

Seans, it's me, I'm home." I said, my voice choking up. I rubbed my ear in impatience, waiting for any response from the hallway. Footsteps started sprinting down the hall in my direction. I turned, my arms out wide. Seans dove at me, wrapping me in a tight hug. He was younger than me, and skinnier, but taller, so his arms circled around my shoulders. He started to laugh, that almost-but-not-quite-insane laugh that I had missed.

It had been so long. Two years was too long.

Anna!" He shouted, rubbing my head with his hand and laughing. I could imagine his eyes sparkling at me. He told me they were green, but he could have been lying to me. Seans was known to fib every so often, just for fun, not on any big details or anything, just the small things. "Anna you're back! You're back! You're back! I missed you so much!" Seans said, laughing again and jumping up and down. I could feel the floorboards creek with his excitement. "I got a squid, his name is Hector, and he's my friend and I missed you, want me to describe things again? Like colors, I can try and describe Hector to you, oh, and tea, we have tea, I missed you Anna!" Seans said again, hugging me tightly. I laughed, wiping my eyes on my arm and sighing.

I missed you too, Seans." I said, turning my head towards the other half of the house. "Where is…she?" Seans hesitated, I could almost hear him trying to think through who I was talking about. He jumped up and down a little when he finally got it, the floor creaking beneath his feet.

Oh, Mom, yeah, she's on the other side of the house, in her office or something, I think she might have fallen asleep, or something, I dunno." Seans said. I could feel the shift in weight on the floor as he shrugged. "Want me to get her?"

No, I can get to the den myself." I said quietly, turning towards the living room. The last thing I wanted to do right then was talk to Librarian. I had had my share of her leaving us places, separating us, vanishing on a whim. I had gotten past the hating her, the hate was gone after the first time she left.

She was fickle.

She was annoying.

She couldn't cook.

But for some reason, I came back.

I walked down the hallway towards the den, the sound of slow, steady, sleepy breathing echoing off the walls as I got closer to the den. I placed my hand on the doorway, waiting to see if she woke up. The breathing remained the same, barely changing as the door creaked as I pushed it to the side.

I stood just inside the door, trying to picture Librarian in my mind. She would be asleep on her desk, with a book or a pad of paper next to her hands, her hair dyed some crazy color that never turned out right. She had told me time and time again about her failures with hair color, although I could never quite see them in my mind. She was probably in an oversized sweater, probably had tea somewhere on her desk, although how new it was depended entirely on how busy she had been.

I breathed in. The air smelled the same way it did when she got back from a long trip, sort of musty and warm and a bit like snow. I braced myself on the door, steading myself. For a split second I wanted to shout at her, to scream at her, to let all the hatred and anger I thought I had gotten rid of two years ago out of my system and into her face.

I listened to her snoring for a few more seconds before slowly closing the door and walking back into the living room, wiping my eyes on the back of my hand and sighing, letting a small smile creep onto my face.

I was past being angry.

The steady creaking of the couch springs told me that Seans was sitting on the couch. I sat down next to him, folding my hands over my lap and sighing.

Well? Is she getting up? Was she happy? Did you cry? You guys cry a lot. I don't cry. Well, I do when I stub my toe. Did she cry, Anna?"

I stared unseeingly at the wall across from the couch, a small smile flitting across my face.

I had missed her.

I let Mom sleep." I said, the name tasting stale in my mouth. It had been years since I had called anyone that.

We'll have all the time in the world to talk when she wakes up." And for the first time in a long time, I felt home again.

Css; Satellite



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