Finding Kayla: Part Two
“Why Kayla?” I asked Helen as she was preparing to leave the house.
Helen groaned, “Oh, Karina, not again, I already told you that you’ll get your chance on the merry-go-round, it was Kayla’s turn that time-”
“Not that Kayla.” My voice was a barely audible whisper, but if Helen had heard me, she chose to remain silent.
“Why Kayla?” I asked again, more pleading this time. “Why not me? Was it because you loved me more?” I hated that twinge of hope in my voice.
“I loved Kayla,” was Helen’s reply. Her mouth moved as if to say something else, but her next words were stillborn: (I loved Kayla... more than you.)
Helen locked her gaze on mine. “Because you were older. So I thought that was fair, and I couldn’t give up Len after spending so much on that potion for him... and besides... oh, never mind.”
“Besides... what?” I was determined to know.
This time she looked away, “I knew that you would never survive in the pound. Not in the way Kayla could.”
I bit my lip to stop myself from crying. It had always been about Kayla, and it still was. My life revolved around her: how I looked, where I went and where I didn’t go. I knew everyone had hoped that my quietness and dullness was just a phase I was going through, and that someday I would grow to be like my younger sister Kayla. In my world, there is no ‘me’, there is only Kayla.
“It was for your good, Karina,” were Helen’s parting words to me.
Dinner that night was typical. The Y.O. continued to crack jokes at my expense and Lycan dared to laugh at them. Len, as usual, was missing from the table, as he had done so ever since Kayla left.
“Awww... I really wished I could have met the other Uni that lived here... I’m sure she would have been better company than the pet rock here,” the Y.O. was saying. “I’ll bet she was cooler, and nicer, and prettier.”
“Actually,” Helen interjected, “Karina looks exactly like her. People always said that.”
The Y.O. scowled. “Then I take that back about wanting to meet her. I don’t want another Karina.”
I leapt up from my seat, eyes blazing, fury pounding in my ears, “Don’t talk about her like that,” I whispered harshly. “You never knew her.”
I rushed from my place in the dining table and ran up the stairs into what I presumed was my room. However, upon noticing the unfamiliar décor, I realized that, in my distress, I had ended up in Len E’s room.
Len was curled up on his bed, asleep. He was mumbling something under his breath and I was about to tiptoe out of the room, because Len wasn’t exactly Mr. Happiness and Sunshine when he was woken up, but quite suddenly, he turned his head and faced me directly.
I took a step back, embarrassed, “Sorry... I was just leaving...”
Unexpectedly, he smiled at me through half-lidded eyes, “You’re back, Kayla,” he drawled at me sleepily.
Kayla. Kayla. Kayla. I admired her, loved her, detested her, feared her, envied her and missed her. What was she doing now, in that cold lonely Pound?
“You would never survive there,” Helen’s words resounded in my head, ringing clearly as though she was there herself.
I remembered that time when I was twenty days old and Kayla fifteen. We wanted to take our first swim on the shores of Mystery Island.
“Karina! Wait for me!” Kayla had called out to me; we both were submerged in water that went up to our necks.
Laughing, I had swum faster away from shore, ignoring her piteous cries that we were already too far out. Only suddenly, the cries stopped and everything was silent. Horrified, I had turned around to see a mane of red disappearing rapidly beneath the turquoise waters. I hadn’t realized that the water was already so deep.
“Kayla!” I called, and foolishly dived in after her.
I heard the rushing of waves, the incessant barking of Lycan on shore and Helen’s distressed cries. I felt water envelop me and my last fleeting thought had been (what if Kayla died?).
Eventually, Lycan rescued us both and we were both severely reprimanded. I took the scolding lightly, as I was happy that Kayla and I were alive. Kayla, however, was quiet.
“Thanks for rescuing me,” was the first thing she said after our experience.
I had looked at her strangely. “It was Lycan that saved us.”
“No, if you hadn’t pulled me out of the water, I would have drowned. You definitely saved me,” she told me defiantly, “but you will never have to do that again.”
And she was right; Kayla always was.
That night, I ran to the place that no pet would ever want to set foot in. I packed my little bag and ran as fast as I could. To the place Kayla was. The Pound.
I needed her. I needed to find her again. Without her, I was broken. I had to find the missing pieces of myself. I had to find Kayla.
The sinister character at the Pound didn’t take my sudden appearance kindly. The cranky Techo was absolutely livid at being woken up at some “ungodly hour”. But his anger turned to surprise when he heard my request.
“You want to... Pound yourself?”
“No, I don’t,” I told him. “I’m looking for someone, and if I have to Pound myself to do so, then I will.”
He sighed. “Listen, kid, every pet is upset when one of their siblings leave, but when the owner officially signs the Pound form, that’s it. Their no longer the sibling you once knew. They’re finished with you. Kaput.”
I covered my ears because I couldn’t bear his words. “I just want to see her,” I whispered. “Please.”
The Techo rolled his eyes. “Fine, whatever. But remember, I’m only doing this cause I’m sleepy and I want you out of my hair.” At this, he proudly petted the white mop on his head.
He opened a drawer in his desk, extracted a form and roughly stamped it. “Here’s your form. Go through that door and sleep wherever you like. Normally I would guide you, but not at 3 a.m in the morning.”
Saying so, he dragged his feet into a room marked ‘Doctor Death’s bedroom. Enter at the risk of your life’.
I gingerly took the piece of paper from the desk and clutched it to my chest. It was like a ticket to Kayla. Making my way to the door, I noticed a pink Uni staring at me sympathetically and shaking her head.
“I’m not being abandoned,” I pointed out to her but only got a small sigh as a response.
The room past the door was furnished with a bare couch and desk. My sleeping quarters for the night. I settled on the uncomfortable sofa and sighed contentedly.
I would be seeing Kayla soon.
I was roughly woken up three hours later by that cranky Techo.
“Rise and shine!” he had practically bellowed in my ear.
I suspected that he hadn’t forgotten the whole waking-him-up-at-some-ungodly-hour-incident. Reluctant at first, I dragged myself out of the couch when I remembered that I would be seeing Kayla. My mood lightened and I hastened to follow him.
He led me into the deeper recesses of the Pound, past adjacent swinging doors, and I suddenly found myself surrounded by pets.
“This,” he proudly told me, “is the beautiful dining hall. If you excuse the weird green slime oozing out of the walls and the mysterious black stuff on the floor, I’m sure you’ll find it a very enjoyable place.”
He waited for my response but when he got none, he went on with a slightly put-out tone, “All the pets are having their breakfast now. So I guess you’ll just go join them...”
He pushed past me and left through the grey swinging doors. I was left alone. Frantically, I scanned around for Kayla. There were hundreds, maybe thousands of pets. Once, I thought I had spotted her, but that was only my reflection in a shining tray.
Desperate, I raised my voice to an unnatural volume and called out, “Kayla! Has anyone seen my sister Kayla?”
No one replied and I was about to give up hope when a group of pets approached me through the throng.
“Hey, there!” a yellow Acara called out to me. “You new here?”
Meekly, I nodded, and the whole group broke into sniggers. I couldn’t see what was so funny, but I forced a chuckle so as not to be left out.
“You looking for someone around here?” a red Grarrl asked, grinning like a Cheshire cat.
“Yes, please!” I cried happily, glad for some help. “I’m looking for my sister Kayla; she looks exactly like me.”
The Grarrl scrutinized my features. “Say, I think I know who you’re talking about. That red Uni, isn’t it?”
“Yes!” I almost cried with happiness. “How did you know?”
The group exploded with laughter again. I heard comments like ‘not exactly Brightvale material, is she’ but chose to ignore them.
“I’ve seen her.” The Grarrl addressed me again. “Just go out the doors, make the first left turn you see and go through that orange door.”
“Thanks!” With a grateful wave of my hoof, I ran off in the mentioned direction. The Pound is not so bad, I found myself thinking. I can survive here.
That orange door loomed before me and I excitedly burst through.
However, the figure that greeted me was not Kayla.
“What in the name of marrow are you doing in my BATHROOM?!!!” That angry voice sounded familiar.
To my horror, I discovered that it was not the beautiful Kayla I was looking at, but the scrawny Doctor Death clad only in a towel and brandishing a purple cybunny brush like a Battledome weapon.
“This bathroom is OFF LIMITS.” His voice quivered with anger. “Can’t you read?” He furiously pointed at the door, which read, ‘Doctor Death’s bathroom. Also, enter at the risk of your life.’
“So-sorry, some pets told me Kayla would be here...”
“Get out now,” he hissed, “before I think of something really creative that involves this brush and your head.”
I didn’t need telling twice and dashed out, only to see that pink Uni again. She shook her head sympathetically once more, and this time, I agreed with her.
To be continued...