Dust and Empty Space
My name is Ava. I am a Yellow Shoyru. My older brother is Leo. He is a Red Lupe. We live in Neopia Central in a house with bright blue walls. It is a good house, with lots of space inside; it's a shame that it's so empty. We don't have much furniture, not even curtains for the windows. Actually all we have is a bed and a sofa and a table and a chair. Then a smaller table and a lamp. They're all red. Leo lets me have the bed. He always sleeps on the sofa. He is a good brother.
* * *
Leo says we used to have an owner. I don't remember her.
"No," he says, "you wouldn't. She created you a day before she left."
"Why?" I asked. "Was I bad?"
"You were perfect, Avy," he says. "She wasn't. She told us she was leaving. Cerra asked her why. She said she was bored of us. Then she left."
"Nobody," Leo says quickly. "It doesn't matter. Eat your omelette."
* * *
These are the things I own:
A Faerie Bori Plushie named Elliette.
A Golden Moon Comb which I don't use because Shoyrus don't need combs, but I keep it on the small table next to my bed because it stands up on its own and it's pretty.
A Bag of Decorative Seashells. Elliette and I play with these a lot.
Finally a Blue Moon Petpet Bed. It's Elliette's. It's next to my bed and she sleeps in it when I sleep.
The rest of our things are gone. Leo says they were taken away. "By who?" I asked him once. He didn't answer.
* * *
Leo wants to be an explorer.
"Ever heard of Mystery Island?" he asks me.
"The beach island," I say.
"All the island have beaches," he says, "but yeah, Mystery Island is a beach island, I guess. But anyway, there's a lost city there!"
I don't really care but Leo does, so I say, "Wow!"
"Too bad I've forgotten its name," he says. "Gerrepiku? Gerapaku? Geronimo? Wait, no, it can't be that. But they say you can find treasure there, whatever it's called."
He stops for a while like he's thinking about something. Then he looks at me. "Hey, Avy, you want to go to Mystery Island?" he says. "I bet if we save our money very carefully, we can! Then we'll find treasure and be rich forever. How about it?"
"I want to stay here," I say, hugging Elliette. "I like it here. It's home."
"You sure about it? Think about it - beaches, mysterious tombs, chests of Neopoints..."
"I want to stay home," I say.
"Fine," he says. He sounds like he wants to sleep for a long time.
* * *
There is also a Green Eyrie Plushie, but it is not mine. Not Leo's either. Someone else's who doesn't live in this house, I guess.
"I don't know why she left it behind," Leo says. He's talking about that someone else.
"Maybe it's a he," I suggest.
"She," he says. He is staring at the plushie like it is a very confusing thing.
"Boys can play with plushies too," I say.
"I know they can," he says. "I had a plushie once."
"A Red Lupe Plushie," he says, "but it's gone... but this one isn't. Why?"
I don't understand what he's saying anymore. Actually I never did. I look at Elliette to see if she knows. She doesn't, either.
* * *
Leo is reading a book
Actually it is not a book. It is a folded piece of paper.
"Here," he says, "why don't you come over and take a look too, before the brochure goes poof."
It is called the Mystery Island Travel Brochure. I have just finished reading this title when the brochure goes poof.
"Oh," I say. "I guess two people can't read the same book."
He seems a little bit mad. "Where am I going to find another one?"
"Where'd you get that one?"
"The Money Tree, and it took me so long to find it. The Tree's branches are filled mostly with seaweed and rotten omelettes. I'm going to have to wait a long time to get another one. Go to bed, Avy."
"Already? It's still kind of light outside." The sky is dark blue, not black.
"Bed," he says, in a way that sort of hurts my feelings.
"Fine," I say, and I go to bed. I am hugging Elliette, trying to fall asleep, when I hear the front door open and close.
Leo is going to the Money Tree.
* * *
I see him staring at the Green Eyrie Plushie sometimes. Once he said something to it. I didn't hear it, though.
* * *
Leo looks tired. Not sleep-tired, but a different kind of tired. It's hard to describe.
He used to run places. Sometimes we raced each other. He always won. But now he walks everywhere, and kind of slowly.
I am worried about my brother. Maybe a little bit scared, too, of something that I can't explain in words. I try giving him Elliette to cheer him up.
"What am I supposed to do with this?" he asks.
"Sorry," I say, taking Elliette back. I go to bed early, and not because he tells me to.
* * *
Finally one day he says, "Ava?"
"Yes?" I asked.
"Let's talk about things," he says, which is a weird request because aren't we talking about things? We go outside to the front yard and sit underneath a tree. It is sunset and the shadows are long.
"We had a sister," he says.
"No, we don't," I say.
"We don't now, but we did, back then," he says. "We had a sister like we had an owner. Her name was Cerra. She was a Green Eyrie. Our owner got her a Green Eyrie Plushie just like she got me a Red Lupe Plushie."
"You don't have a Red Lupe Plushie," I say.
"Cerra took it with her," he says, "when she left."
It is very quiet for a little while.
"Why did she leave?" I ask.
"I don't know," he says. "But I think I'm beginning to. Cerra was the oldest. She took care of both of us. Because she had to. But then she realized... she didn't have to."
This doesn't make sense to me. "Where did she go?" I say.
"I'm going to find out," he says.
* * *
Leo is leaving. He is going away to look for our sister, Cerra.
He is packing some things in a bag. One pillow. Some Neopoints. Not much else.
I hold out Elliette.
"What?" he asks, looking at my plushie.
"Take her with you," I say. "You're going to be lonely."
"Oh," he says. "No."
I pick up my bag of seashells. "What about these?"
Finally I hold out my moon comb. He shakes his head.
"What about this?" I ask, pointing to the Green Eyrie Plushie.
He looks at it for a second, then two seconds; then he stuffs it into his bag.
"Goodbye, Ava," he says.
"Bye, Leo," I say. "I hope you find her soon."
"Yeah," he says, "sure. Well... anyway. It's been nice."
"When do you think you're coming back?" I ask.
He doesn't answer. He goes to the front door, holding his bag, and then he is out. Out of the house. For the first time in months I see him running. He is running away. He sprints down the path and is gone. It is late afternoon and the sunlight is slanted. My brother Leo does not look back at me.
* * *
Leo is going to come home someday, and he's going to bring my sister Cerra with him. Then it will be the three of us: Green Eyrie, Red Lupe, Yellow Shoyru. A family together in this bright blue house.
Until then I will wait.
It can't be that bad. I have Elliette, after all, and we are best friends. I have my bag of seashells too, and my pretty moon comb. And I have the dust that has settled now on the floorboards of our mostly-empty house, dust thick enough to make tally marks in, one mark for every day that Leo is not here.
I am running out of floorspace. But that's alright. He'll be home soon...