To Defeat a Secret
She looked into the pool of shimmering silvery water and
saw her reflection staring up at her. Her eyes were blue, just like the sky on
a beautiful sunny day, but beneath that vibrant colour lay the colour of sorrow;
grey but overwhelming, seeming to suffocate the tranquil calm tones of her eyes,
the colours in which her eyes used to look before this day.
She felt weak; empty. Her heart felt like a ton,
weighed down by the sorrow that had grasped it. A shiny tear fell down her cheek
and hit the water with a shrill plop, startling her. The ripples distorted her
reflection and for a moment it had seemed like her mouth had turned upward into
a smile. It was an illusion caused by the ripples. She had never smiled and
she knew that she would never smile again, not after this day; not for the rest
of her life.
She had removed the blue bows from her head and
tail and held them in her paws, watching them dance in the cold wind. They didn't
belong on her anymore. Nothing belonged to her anymore. She was just a lonely
Usul, locked from the warmness of others and left out in the cold by her false
She was false, Cherin knew that. The love her
owner had given her was nothing but a lie. It was just a mirage of happiness
and now it had gone forever. When Cherin was normal she believed her owner liked
her but not as her Neopet. Yes, she liked her because she did the chores, liked
her because she was clever and gave her a good image, but now Cherin's secret
was out and so her owner abandoned her.
She let go of her bows and watched them as the
wind carried them far away. They were still dancing, twisting this way and that
way as the wind caught them. A heavy gust got under them, blew them high up
into the air and then they were gone; a part of her had gone for good and she
looked at her reflection again. She swirled one finger in the water, distorting
her reflection again, hoping to see a smile, but there was no smile, not this
time. Instead the distorted reflection no longer looked like Cherin but of someone
else; someone nestled deep in her heart and in her thoughts.
She continued to weep as she got colder and colder.
It was winter and the gusts of wind were chilling to the bone. She curled up
into a ball, wrapping her tail around herself like a protective cocoon. She
couldn't stay here by this pool forever, but she was warm beneath her tail now
and she felt safe. She would stay here until she could figure out her next move.
Night was drawing closer and Cherin knew that
the temperature at night was apt to plummet considerably. She couldn't stay
here any longer. She would have to find shelter somewhere... but who would let
an Usul from the street into their Neohome? It wouldn't happen and she knew
it; she didn't want to, but she knew. And if, just by one small chance, that
she did get shelter, who could be sure that they wouldn't be able to find out
about her little secret, the one she has hidden all her life until now?
Mulling over her thoughts, Cherin stayed in her
little spot by the pool, secluded from everyone, and fell asleep beneath her
tail. She shivered as she slept and her dreams were nothing but fragmented nightmares
drifting in and out of her mind. She awoke a few times, frightened by her dreams,
but she drifted off again almost immediately and continued to shudder with the
cold of the night air.
Footsteps were approaching, unheard by the Usul.
A woman coughed and then gasped as she saw the little Usul lying on the floor,
covered by a bushy tail. She knelt down besides the Usul and tapped it once.
No movement, not even a sound.
"Hello?" she called out. "Hello?"
The Usul stirred and the woman called out again.
The Usul unwrapped herself, exposing herself to the cold wind and her teeth
"What are you doing out here all on your own?"
the woman asked. "You're freezing. Here, have my coat."
"No, I'm alright, honest," the Usul replied.
"You can keep it on."
There was a silence and then the woman spoke
"So what are you doing out here on your own?"
she asked for the second time.
The Usul felt something grasp at her heart and
tug it, and suddenly it felt as if her heart was beating ten thousand times
a second. What was it she was feeling? Guilt? Guilt for telling this woman,
this stranger, that her owner had abandoned her? Or was it worry? Was she worried
that this woman would reject her just like her owner did?
"Are you alright?" the woman asked, shaking the
Usul from her thoughts.
"M-My owner…She-she abandoned me."
The woman's face looked shocked, but in that
shock came an expression of concern and worry for the little Usul. She spread
her arms and embraced her, warming her immediately.
"I'm so sorry to hear about that," she said.
"Why did she abandon you?"
And then that feeling of tightness grasped at
her heart again but diminished almost immediately as she replied: "Because she
didn't love me."
She was lying already and she hated that. Why
did secrets hurt so much? Why did we have to have secrets in the first place?
Why couldn't people just be straight with each other? The last one answered
itself; because people will hate, people will hurt, people will cause upset
and owners will abandon their Neopets just because of one little secret.
She wept into the woman's arms and she cradled
"You can stay with me for as long as you like.
I don't have any Neopets of my own, you see, and I could do with the company."
"You really mean that?"
"Of course. So then, what's your name?"
"Cherin. That's a sweet name. Come on then, Cherin,
it's time to take you to your new Neohome where it's lovely and warm. You must
be hungry too. How about a lovely tin of hot soup when we get back?"
"That would be lovely, thanks," and the two of
them walked back, bracing the cold wind together.
The owner, who Cherin found out was named Gracie,
had a beautiful traditional Neohome with wooden beams across the ceiling and
tiles on the floor. The walls were painted creams and yellows, neutral but warming
and relaxing. They were in the kitchen and a wooden table was in the centre.
A dish had been placed upon it and the smell coming from the stove was mouth
She ate her soup without speaking at all, and
the only sounds she made were slurps of pure enjoyment and the spoon clanking
against the dish.
"That was delicious," she stated, dropping her
spoon into the empty dish.
"I'm glad you liked it," Gracie said with a smile.
A couple of hours had passed and the two of them
got to know each other. They seemed to instantly click and Cherin loved her
like she had been her owner right from the very start. They had been living
together for a week now and Cherin couldn't be happier. She realised that nothing
could break the friendship they had with each other, not even her secret.
But she knew she was lying to herself, for every
time the secret came into her mind her heart would tremble with worry and she
would feel sick to the stomach. Gracie was lovely, a really caring young person,
but she thought that her previous owner at least had a bit of likeness for her
before she told her the dreaded secret and look what had happened. Abandoned.
"Cherin, would you like some cookies?" Gracie
asked one morning.
"Yes please!" It was then that Cherin realised
that Gracie didn't just like her, but loved her. She would not abandon her and
whatever nasty feelings Cherin had in her heart, she had to be brave and face
Munching on a cookie as Gracie sat besides her
reading the Neopian Times, Cherin said the words she had been meaning to say
for quite some time.
"There's something I need to tell you."
Gracie looked up from the newspaper and her eyes
were now firmly on Cherin's.
"What is it?"
"I'm…" She looked down at her paws. "It doesn't
"No, tell me please. I can tell that it's worrying
you. Tell me. What ever it is I promise I won't get angry. Okay?"
"Okay then," Cherin said. "I'm…I'm related to
the Shadow Usul."
Cherin realised that she had made the biggest
mistake of her life immediately, and what she saw in front of her eyes confirmed
that. Gracie shot from her seat and moved away from the little Usul as if afraid
"You're related to a monster!" she gasped, immediately.
"When you told me about your previous owner you didn't tell me WHY. No wonder
she abandoned you! Get out of my house!"
"But Gracie! Gracie, I'm not a monster! I've
not seen my…my sister for years, I'm not like her! Please let me stay! Please!"
"I won't have a monster in my house," she snarled
and opened the front door. "Get out."
"But I thought you loved me!"
"I did love you, Cherin, I really did. But you've
kept a secret from me, an important one, and now I feel that I don't know you
at all. You are a monster. You always have been and you always will be."
"I'M NOT!" she screamed. "I'm not a monster!
I'm just a normal Usul!" she charged at her owner, wanting to hug her, let her
owner know that she wasn't a monster like her sister, that she was a normal
Usul capable of loving and caring. Gracie didn't see it like that though and
she moved quickly away from Cherin, the tiny Usul.
"See what I mean? You were going to attack me!
Monster! Get out! Get out of my house right now!"
"Gracie, I wasn't!"
But her owner would have none of it. This time,
instead of keeping her distance from Cherin, she grabbed the bowless Usul by
the scruff of her neck, threw her outside and slammed the door behind her. Cherin
didn't even look back for she knew it wouldn't matter if she did anyway; Gracie
wouldn't be changing her mind.
She wept silently, hot tears flooding down her
cheeks, and walked into the cold, brisk wind, not knowing where to go or what
to do. Her sister, the Shadow Usul; what could she be doing now? Sleeping probably
for it was not dark yet. Or perhaps she was getting ready to plan an attack
on any by passer that crossed her path. Either way, it was her, that retched
Usul that had gotten Cherin into this mess in the first place. Why did she have
to be a monster? Why did she have to hurt and terrorise so many innocent Neopets?
Why did she make others hate her?
Cherin realised that she wanted to see her sister,
the Shadow Usul, for it was the only place she had left to go. Nobody would
want her but her sister might. If she did not, Cherin would not know where to
go or what to do. She had seen it before though; abandoned pets roamed for a
while before being picked up and placed into the Pound where they stayed for
all eternity. Cherin would be one of those. Of course, she could keep her secret
but it was hard. Constantly knowing the truth, hiding it from people she cared
about; it was a strong burden on her heart and an emotional strain for her and
after a while her mind couldn't take it and she blurted the secret out. It was
a vicious circle.
She waited until nightfall before visiting Neopia
Central, for that was where her sister lived…and preyed. It was a chilly night
and Cherin could see her breath rise as steam in front of her. She had been
crying and her cheeks were sodden with tears before, but now they felt stiff,
hard and cold as the tears froze to almost ice.
"Amelia, where are you?" she called out. "Amelia?"
That was her name, but Cherin had figured that
the Shadow Usul no longer had that name anymore. She was known simply as the
Shadow Usul to everybody. She had even wondered if her sister had forgotten
what her real name was. Probably, Cherin thought and fought back another wave
"Amelia?" Nothing. Not a sound, nor a movement.
"Shadow Usul, where are you?" Still nothing.
Cherin continued to search. She looked in every
nook and cranny, every dark shadowed corner and then, in the distance, she saw
them; two leering yellow eyes in the far corner. They didn't look frightening
however, no, they looked calm, peaceful, safe. Her sister wasn't as bad as everybody
made her out to be. She was misunderstood, that was all.
"Amelia!" she cried, running up to those eyes.
"Amelia, it's me, Cherin, your sister!"
The eyes turned into black ones suddenly and
the shape of a Kyrii formed in the darkness.
"What are you doing?" the Kyrii asked. "I'm not
your sister. For one thing, I'm a BOY. I think you have me mistaken for someone
"Oh," Cherin replied, taken back. "I-I'm sorry,
I thought you were my…sister."
Those eyes, she thought. They were
yellow just like my sister's eyes.
She glanced up at the moon and realised why.
The light of the moon had reflected into the young Kyrii's eyes and made them
seem yellow, that was all. She sighed.
"Something the matter?" he asked.
"I need to find my…" she was abruptly cut off
by the Kyrii, who let out a piercing scream.
A black shadow appeared behind him, seeming to
engulf him. Those yellow eyes were penetrating into Cherin's skin and into her
mind and she clasped her tiny hands to her head to shield it. She had found
her sister but she didn't expect it to be like this. The Kyrii was cowering
beneath the Shadow Usul and she snarled, bearing white fangs as sharp as knives.
She was going to hurt the Kyrii, maybe even…
She didn't want to think about that. She would
have to act but what would she do? The choice she had to make was unbearable.
Should she save the Kyrii from her sister, or just leave until her sister had
done what she had devoted her life to doing?
Acting on instinct, Cherin pulled a flashlight
out of one her pockets, flicked on the switch and instantly doused her sister
in a pool of bright light. The Shadow Usul screamed this time and it sounded
like the screams of a thousand Usul's. She was hurting; the light was hurting
her, and badly.
The scream dissipated slowly, but that wasn't
the only thing. The Shadow Usul was also disappearing. Into the light it seemed.
Yes, the light was overpowering the darkness of the Shadow Usul. Light was winning.
The Kyrii was lay at the bottom of the pool of light as the Shadow Usul, Cherin's
sister, was becoming less and less.
"I'll get…you, little…sister," the Shadow Usul
uttered, and Cherin's heart dropped into the pit of her stomach. She knew and
had done all along and what must it have felt like to watch your own sister
defeating you? She couldn't even begin to imagine that and didn't want to. But
deep in her heart she knew that she already had known what it felt like. The
Shadow Usul had been defeating her time after time, each time that her owners
abandoned her, each time she felt her heart, as heavy as a lead weight.
But now it was over as the Shadow Usul became
no more. She flicked the switch off, and darkness once again enveloped her surroundings.
The Kyrii was rubbing his head and looking up at Cherin.
"What happened?" he asked.
"I just defeated one of the demons that had been
haunting me all of my life. I can start afresh now. I hold no secrets anymore."