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Neopia's Fill in the Blank News Source | 14th day of Swimming, Yr 26
The Neopian Times Week 141 > Short Stories > The Secret

The Secret

by dani_1210

“Good afternoon, Elijah,” smiled the friendly Health Frog from behind the counter. “Broccoli, three Apples, and a Purpple as usual?”

      “Yes, please,” Elijah smiled back shyly. The young shadow Lupe watched as the Quiggle put his groceries in a bag for him and wrapped them up. Handing over his Neopoints and politely waiting to get out of the shop amidst the crowd, he tried not to notice that there were hardly any Neopets in the shop, and the ones that were, were with their owners. Humans everywhere, holding up their cherished pets to the shelves so they could select their favourite things, humans being led by eager pets, humans and pets, humans and pets.

      And Elijah, alone.

      Elijah walked down the busy street back to his Neohome, carrying the bag of food in his mouth. Nobody noticed the dark Lupe as he slunk next to the buildings, out of the way of the brightly coloured pets with their brightly coloured attitudes and brightly clothed owners. Near the end of the street he popped into the pharmacy and emerged carrying something in a well-wrapped little package.

      Elijah turned off down a dusty road, and continued walking. Alone.

      Jay was sitting in the darkened front room of his Neohome, waiting for Elijah to turn up. He was a very small blue Pteri, but today he was something else. He was a very small hungry blue Pteri. When he finally caught sight of his shadowy Lupe brother padding up the driveway, he dashed to open the door ready for him.

      “Elijah!” he breathed in an excited whisper. “What did you get? I’m so hungr-”

      But Elijah cut him off, snapping his beak shut with his paw.

      “Shh, Jay,” he said, with a stern look at his little brother. “You know it needs to be kept quiet. And dark. Did you leave all the lights off?”

      “Yes,” came Jay’s somewhat muffled reply from underneath Elijah’s paw. “I checked on her about an hour ago – she was still sleeping.”

      “Good. Thank you, little blue-jay.” Elijah said, and hugged his little brother. It was his most affectionate name for his only friend and helper.

      After Jay and Elijah made a meal out of the vegetables and had eaten their share, they waited until the last portion cooled until it was lukewarm. Jay painstakingly diced every last morsel until it was very fine and easy to swallow. Finally, it was ready, and the two brothers crept up the pitch-black stairs, Jay riding on Elijah’s shoulder, as candles were dangerous and they did not own a torch.

      Elijah gently put his soot coloured paw on a door and pushed it gingerly. The door swung open surprisingly easily and without a sound. A strong smell of medicinal soap wafted out of the room.

      There, lying in a snowy-white bed with all covers freshly laundered, was a teenage girl. Her brown hair lay all over the pillow and her face looked deathly pale. Elijah and Jay made their way silently to the bed and by the girl’s side. This was their owner – a wonderful person they loved more than the world. The only problem was that she was very ill and could not get out of bed. She had been very worried about caring for her pets, but she needn’t have been, as her two pets cared for her with undying love and devotion.

      “Cara,” whispered Elijah, gently stroking her cool, clammy forehead. “It’s time for tea.”

      The girl opened her eyes, which were a startling shade of green, and smiled at the Lupe with the Pteri on his shoulder. Their hearts instantly melted – her smile transformed her whole face, even though she was very ill.

      “Elijah, did you get this? Thank you so much, my darling Eli,” she said and reached for him. Elijah gave her a comforting lick and gave her a spoonful of the vegetables. Cara closed her eyes and savoured the taste.

      “Mmm… delicious,” she said and looked at Jay. “And that’s my little blue-jay’s cooking,” she smiled, and he fluttered down to nuzzle against her cheek as she continued eating. When she had eaten half, Cara shook her head at Elijah trying to give her some more. “I couldn’t eat another bite. I can’t thank you two enough – you take such good care of me.” The two Neopets and the human embraced tightly for a long time.

      The next day, Elijah was sitting in class when his teacher made an announcement. “Tomorrow, as you know, is sports day,” said Mrs. Owen. “Every pet will participate, and bring your owners, to watch, or take part, or both! I will put the list up on the wall for you to sign up your name against your chosen event. Good luck!” Elijah felt a sinking in his stomach and sank back into his chair. He couldn’t bring his owner. Filing out after the others, he couldn’t help but overhear snatches of conversation.

      “My owner, he’s so good at Gormball, I bet he’d beat your owner any day!”

      “…She’s really nice, you’ll love her, Mandy, you really will, she makes the best smoothies…”

      “I’m getting my owner to bring my pet Meowclops along, too!”

      “…We train together every Sunday, we’re really good at running now…”

      Elijah’s black ears visibly drooped. He caught sight of the sports day list out of the corner of his eye, and skimmed over the events. He signed up for running, as he’d never been much good at anything else, but was used to running up and down to the pharmacy for medicinal soap for his owner’s bed bath.

      All night Elijah said nothing about the sports day, although he would have dearly loved his owner to come, even though he knew she was too weak and needed bed rest. Jay and Cara sensed something was wrong, but didn’t say anything either. Elijah dabbled a paw in the jam absent-mindedly and thought about his secret. He had never told any of the other pets about his owner before. He doubted anybody knew. He wanted her to be safe, as if someone broke into the house, she would be powerless to stop them.

      However, unbeknownst to Elijah, both Cara and Jay had a secret, too.

      Elijah was sitting behind the other pets, who were all pointing out their owners to each other. It was a fine day for a sports day, not at all hot and not too cold. A lot of Neopets had gone over to their owners, chatting animatedly, and the owners had begun to mingle with some of the Neopets ready to start their events. Elijah watched despondently for a while. He didn’t have any friends at Neoschool, so nobody asked him where his owner was. He just wasn’t a very sociable Lupe.

      Finally, after what seemed like hours, Mrs. Owen called out “Runners! Runners over here, please!”

      Elijah filed over with the rest of the Neopets, most of them looking eager and excited about the race. Elijah dropped to his knees, concentrating on putting his paws in the proper position for starting off, but not really caring whether he ran well or not.

      “ELIJAH! ELIJAH! OVER HERE!”

      Elijah’s head snapped upwards immediately. He knew that chirpy voice…

      Then he saw what had caused all the commotion. The crowd of owners were suddenly smiling kindly at him and parting to let someone through…

      Like in a dream, two humans came pushing what looked like a chair on wheels, and the girl sitting in it had a Pteri on her shoulder. Everybody was grinning at Elijah now. The shadow Lupe’s jaw had dropped.

      “Cara!” he gasped, for Cara it was, looking much better for the fresh air.

      “Eli!” she breathed happily, and held out her arms for him. The race all forgotten, he bounded into her arms and hugged her gently.

      “What are you doing out? You should rest-” he started worriedly, before she waved a hand at him to stop him.

      “Darling Eli, don’t worry about all of that. You have taken such good care of me…but a couple of Jay’s friends got together and got me this wheelchair! Now I can go outside, I feel like a million Neopoints. Soon, I’d say I’d be able to walk again.” She smiled at him with those dazzling green eyes.

      Elijah’s eyes were brimming with tears of joy. He never dreamed someone else would help…he turned round to try and thank the smiling owners all around him, but Jay had fluttered down from Cara’s shoulder and was gently nudging him.

      “Elijah, the race!” Jay said urgently.

      “Oh, right!” Elijah remembered, and bounded off to the starting line again. He was feeling tingly warm, all the way from his nose to the tip of his tail. He hadn’t felt so good for a long time. He dimly saw Mrs Owen counting down the runners to go, but in his mind’s eye he saw Cara, sitting bravely in her wheelchair, watching him.

      Suddenly, he was off, and he could see Cara cheering him on along with a lot of people he had never known before. His heart swelled so much it threatened to burst, and he suddenly decided he would make her proud of him. He put on a sudden spurt of speed and could see the finish line, and before he knew it, he was over it, and a huge cheer erupted all around the field. Some other pet’s owners were pushing Cara towards him as quickly as they could, but that was unnecessary. Elijah took a flying leap into her arms and Jay joined in the melee as they all squeezed each other tight.

      “Eli!” exclaimed Cara. “I’m so proud of you… well done, and thank you and Jay both for looking after me so well, for so long.”

      Elijah didn’t need to hear any more praise than that. He was happier than he’d ever been before.

The End

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