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Don't Turn Back

by kapriocorn


I stood in the middle of the empty room that had once been called mine. All of the posters and photos of my friends had long since been taken down off the walls and packed away and sent to Neopia Central along with the rest of the furniture and appliances in the house. I couldn't get used to the idea that this was no longer my room... My tail flicked and I growled sadly. I ran my paw along the portion of wall that had once been covered by a poster displaying the members of Chomby and the Fungus Balls. It was my favorite band of all time.

     "Sera, hurry up! The rest of us are waiting on you!"

     "Alright, alright, I'm coming!" I called down the stairs. By "the rest of us," my owner, Karen had meant her and my older brother Zack, a Kyrii and often times a bully. With one last nostalgic glance at my former room, I turned my back and walked out the door, not once looking back at the place I'd once called home.

     Outside, I looked back at the house that I'd lived in for most of my short life. I looked long and hard, implanting the vision in my mind, so I'd never forget what my first house looked like. Bamboo beams, with a thick palm leaf cover, formed a circular structure, modeled after the natives' huts, but on a larger scale. The house was in the middle of a green, fern covered yard. I looked back to prolong the view as we started away, but it was blurred for some odd reason. Annoyed, I brushed away the tears that I realized had been pooling in my eyes before I turned back around and faced forward with a resigned sigh.

     I'd done my best to pretend like it wasn't going to happen, not talking about the move, and trying not to think about it, and now it was all catching up with me. I had only recently accepted the fact that it couldn't be changed. Mom was never too happy about my attitude towards the move. She sometimes asked me if I'm going to try to be friendly, if I'm willing to do it. No, I'm not willing to go, but yes, I will be friendly. I'm just not the kind of pet who can't be friendly, unless I really don't like the person.

     "Sera, are you alright?" Mom asked me as we started down the path that would take us to the Mystery Island Docks.

     "Do I look alright, Mom?" I shot back.

     "Sera, don't take that tone with me," she warned.

     "Is there anything you'd like to ask me?"

     "Just why do we have to move from Mystery Island all the way to Neopia Central!" I retorted loudly.

     "Sera," she warned. "We need to talk about this, honey."

     "I don't want to talk about it! I don't need to! I'm just not like that!"

     "Yes, Sera, you do need to talk about it, right here, right now. With me. Just us."

     "Just leave me alone, okay? I don't want to talk about it! I'm not going to!" I ran ahead of Zack and Karen and walked moodily along towards the ocean.

     Three long days later, I stood in the middle of my new room. Zack, Karen, and I had caught a boat from Mystery Island and then after arriving in Neopia Central, walked to our new home, where our luggage had been sent beforehand. Now, we were finally here.

     I dropped my backpack with a loud thunk on the floor. Tears threatened to stream down my face, and I angrily blinked them away. One of my biggest pet peeves is self-pity. It just makes me feel selfish. Now, we just needed to unpack everything and figure out where it'd all go. When I felt like I wouldn't suddenly burst out in a torrent of tears, I turned and walked out of the room and left the house.

     'Might as well learn the neighborhood,' I thought to myself, walking down the street. I was hardly paying any attention to where I was going at all, I was so absorbed in my own thoughts. In fact, I was so absorbed in myself, that I lost track of time, and when I looked at my watch, I realized that I'd been gone for almost forty-five minutes, and had no idea where I was!

     I groaned loudly. "Kiko snot, I am so screwed," I said to no one in particular. Morosely, I turned and headed home. It was half an hour before I could find my house again. When I entered, I was greeted none to pleasantly by Karen.

     "Sera, where have you been? We've been worried sick about you!" she practically shouted.

     "I was just going for a walk, Mom, and I lost track of time!"

     "Well, don't lose track of time next time, Sera," she said, this time much more calm.

     "I'm sorry," I answered pleadingly.

     "Just go unpack your things. That's all there is left for you to do. Dinner's in half an hour." I sighed, but did what I was told.

     As I walked up the stairs, I met Zack coming down. "Nice one," he said. "Maybe next time you'll lose track of time so badly, you'll never come home!

     "Shut up, Pteri brain!" I said fiercely.

     Up in my room again, I used one of my sharp claws to slice open the largest box. I reached in and pulled out my photo album. Leafing through it, I felt a sharp pang of sadness as I looked carefully at each picture of my friends, my former life. I thought about how each week, all of us would get together and we'd all go to the beach and play Beach Volleyball or explore Techo Mountain, daring each other to go closer each time.

     I became so lost in the photos that I all but forgot about dinner. When I looked at my watch, it had been fifty minutes. I jumped up and ran down the stairs to the kitchen, not having done any unpacking.

     "Glad you could finally join us," Karen said, with just a trace of bitterness in her voice.

     "Why didn't you call me?" I asked, exasperated.

     "I said dinner was in half an hour, Sera."

     "I forgot, okay?"

     "Lost track of time twice in one evening. You're on a roll, Sera!" Zack said, grinning like an idiot. I could tell he was trying to keep from laughing out loud.

     "Shut up, Zack!" I said, and slid my cold pork chops into the oven.

     Two weeks later, despite getting out of the house as much as possible, I still hadn't seen anybody around who looked to be my age. Zack, of course, had made friends almost immediately. I was starting to get just slightly worried. Neoschool was starting in a matter of weeks, and lately certain dates like that have been zooming up on me and taking me completely by surprise. After several dates sneaking up behind me, I had a nasty feeling that school would too. The problem wasn't going to school itself-- I was starting to get bored, and was almost looking forward to having a schedule to go by-- but not knowing anybody when I got there.

     One day, I was riding my bike just outside the neighborhood when I saw a small narrow path leading off into some trees to my right. I stopped, thought for a moment, then turned onto the path. I liked exploring new areas-- I found I get bored staying in the same place for a long time. The path was long and winding. Several times I wondered if I should turn around, but I didn't. Don't turn back, I told myself. Finally, I emerged from the trees into a small clearing. There was a large tree in the center that looked good for climbing, and a brook bubbled and gurgled just out of sight. I checked my watch. It had only taken about five minutes to go down the path, but I'd already been gone from home for a while and thought I should start heading back. I really wanted to climb the tree in the center, and I flexed my claws in anticipation but turned around to save it for another time. I liked to space things out and not get bored with one particular area too quickly.

     The next day, Zack and his friends were going to the Haunted Woods. Karen made them let me tag along. So I was the annoying little sister who just comes along for the ride. Once we got into the place, Zack turned to me and said, "Okay, Sera, you can go off on your own now if you like. We'll find you when we're leaving. You got any money?"

     "Yes, I've got money, Zack. See you all later," I said, and jogged off, happy to be away from them.

     First things first, I thought. Haunted House. It was like a tradition for me. I always do the Haunted House first. Several ghosts and a trap door later, I felt like having something sweet, so I went to the Spooky Foods place and ordered a Spooky Doughnut. After I'd finished eating, I saw an Acara who looked my age. I gathered my nerve and said, "Excuse me, do you know how to find the Brain Tree?"

     "Um, no, sorry I don't. But there's a map over there. I was actually going to go find the Brain Tree myself."

     "Okay, thanks." I started walking toward the map that she'd indicated.

     "Hey, I'm here by myself. Do you want to um... just sort of hang out together?"

     "Sure," I said with a grin. "My name's Sera."

     "I'm Ashley."

     "Well, Ashley, do you want to head over to the Brain Tree now?"

     "Okay, let's go, then!" she said and we headed off into the forest. When we finally got to the Brain Tree, I felt just a little bit intimidated.

     "Are you sure you want to do this, Ashley?" I asked, noticing the tremor on my voice.

     "Yeah, it's not that bad, I've done it tons of times before!"

     Ashley confidently walked up to the twisted and gnarled tree, with its grotesque limbs and throbbing bulk of a brain. I came warily behind her.

     "I have a quest for you, mortal... That is, if you are willing to do it...." Its voice boomed across the treetops and I trembled in front of it. Ashley, however, seemed as calm and self-assured as ever.

     "We accept your quest, O Knowledgeable One."

     "Knowledgeable One?" I asked, puzzled.

     "He seems to give easier quests when you flatter him," she hissed back.

     The Brain Tree spoke again, causing the trees to quake again.

     "Lenny Nimmo died a long time ago, and I need to know where, and when, for my records. You must go and find this information out. Return to me within 0 hours and 50 minutes, and I shall give you a prize."

     "On second thought scratch that," she corrected herself once we were out of earshot of the tree.

     Over the course of the evening, I told Ashley about myself, and she told me about herself. I discovered that she'd been gone for vacation in Faerie Land for the past few weeks and to my delight that we'd both be in the same class in Neoschool. By the end of the night we were talking like we'd known each other for years. We had just come out of the Castle of Eliv Thade when Zack and his friends came up to us.

     "Sorry, could you hold on for a moment, Ashley?" I said as they approached.

     "Hey, Sera, we're ready to get home now."

     "Is it time to go already?" I looked at my watch. Eight 'o clock. "Guess so," I answered my own question.

     "Yeah, meet me at the front gate in ten minutes."

     "Alright, I'll be there," I said dejectedly and turned back to Ashley.

     "Hey, Ashley, I'm sorry, but I've got to go real soon."

     "You do?" Her face was full of disappointment that the fantastic evening was coming to an end.

     "Yeah, unfortunately. Hey, since we'll both be going to Neoschool, maybe we should keep in touch..." I suggested.

     "Yeah!" Ashley's face lit up. "Here's my owner's name and address," she said, writing on a napkin from the Deserted Fairground.

     "Alright, here's mine." I followed suit and pulled another spare napkin from my pocket and borrowed Ashley's pen.

     "Do you want to get together and do something before school starts?" she asked after we'd swapped contact information.

     "Yeah. In fact, I found this place yesterday that I've been dying to explore some more. It's this clearing in the middle of a small forest.

     "I love the woods!" Ashley exclaimed.

     "Yeah, me too! I've lived in them my whole life. You know, I think we have time for one more thing before I have to leave. What do you want to do?"

     "Haunted House?"

     "I love the Haunted House!"

     "Same here!" Ashley said and we both started laughing. Then, we left for one more adventure together, but definitely not our last. And not once after that did I even think about turning back.

The End

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