Author's Note: This is the sequel to my short story, Special
Abilities, so I recommend that you read it first before reading this story.
She reached the last house on the unpaved road.
A two-story cottage stood there, a vast farming field behind it. It was dusk
and the fading light lit the picture before her just right to make it seem surreal.
As she neared the front door, she could hear a lullaby being sung from one of
the open windows above. It was familiar. She lifted her paw and knocked sharply.
A soft voice asked, "Who's there?"
Esperanza woke with a start. She swiped her
paw over her sweaty brow, as if she could wipe away the vision. The visions
had started as soon as she had left the isolated tower she had once called home.
Her abilities had matured with amazing speed. Rhian, her guardian Draik, would
have been proud.
But now, all she wanted was to have a fitful
sleep uninterrupted by the annoying dreams. They haunted her every night. They
would show her birthplace but never the Kougra who lived inside of it. She longed
to see the face that matched the soft, caressing voice of her mother. It had
only been a month since she had left Rhian's tower and set off in search of
her family. A month had whizzed by and it seemed that there was hope in finding
them, her family, soon.
A cool breeze swished past her bare, sweaty
neck. She touched the spot and remembered the village where she had sold her
hair for money and convenience. Her long black hair had just gotten in the way
too many times during the early part of her journey and she was badly in need
of money. So, the first wig maker she found was happy enough to take her hair
for a large sum of neopoints and one chocolate chip muffin. Now, the length
lay just below her chin, still black as night and thick as ever. But she missed
the weight that swung every time she jumped, walked, ran, etc.
She sighed and got out of bed to look at the
half moon that hung in the night sky that night. Ezzie thought she was hopelessly
lost. Lost on her journey, lost in her mind, lost in her heart. In every village
she came upon, nobody seemed to know a Kougra couple named Haley and Mason who
had four teenage sons. It seemed like her expedition was totally fruitless.
She rested her forehead on the glass pane and watched the sun rise.
At dawn, she was off again, in search of those
she loved without their knowing of her existence. Ezzie hummed a happy tune
because if her map and her calculations were correct, she would find her parents'
home within a few days, today if she made good time.
The heat of the day sweltered and rose but Ezzie
trucked on. She gazed intensely at the map, always looking for the right landmarks.
That is until she found the big rock. Yes, that's right, a big rock was what
signalled where Ezzie's home lay. Slowly, she turned down a deserted country
rode and strolled. Glancing at each house she passed, none being the one she
wanted. At the second to last dwelling, she stopped.
This was it. It wasn't just another dream. This
was where she was born, where her family should be. It was just how she had
always seen it; dusk, the light hitting the cottage just right and a lullaby
filling the air. Tears sprang to Ezzie's eyes before she had even entered the
gate. With a deep breath, she strode toward the solid wooden door and knocked
Soft footsteps were heard and a worn green Kougra
in a simple brown dress with an apron on top answered. "Can I help you, miss?"
Ezzie just stared. In the Kougra opposite her,
she saw her mother. A little bit aged, seeing as the picture Rhian had given
her was dated back to the day of her birth.
"Miss, are you alright?" The green Kougra look
concerned and studied the young girl's stunned face. If Ezzie could not find
a word to say, she would look like Neopia's biggest weirdo.
Oh, Fyora. She was Neopia's biggest weirdo.
"Are you Haley?" Ezzie finally asked, her voice
"Yes, I am she," Haley answered, carefully.
"My name is --" Ezzie gulped "-- is Esperanza.
Can you please tell that I have the right house?" Her voice was shaking and
her nose ran a little.
Realization dawned on Haley's face as tears
welled in her own eyes. "I see Rhian took good care of you," she warbled and
grabbed Ezzie in a tight embrace. "I missed you so much."
"I missed you, too -- Mama," Ezzie whispered.
"I thought you wouldn't remember me or that you'd think I was weird or --"
"Never, my darling," Haley assured. They held
on to each other for a long time, which was how the rest of their family found
An older, brown Kougra stood in front of the
four teenage boys, the oldest blue, the middle, orange twins and the youngest
electric trying to see what all the blubbering was about.
"Mason, darling," Haley said between hiccups,
"it's Esperanza." Ezzie now stood in front of her father for an anonymous inspection.
"It's our baby girl. Rhian has sent her back to us," she added.
"Daddy?" Ezzie asked gently. Mason took one
look at the girl with his hair and chin, and swept her into a bear hug. Fresh
tears spilled from her eyes. It was very foolish to cry this much, she thought,
but it was worth it.
"Could somebody please --" the hazel-eyed
"-- Tell us what's going on?" the green-eyed
"Boys," Haley said, wiping leftover tears away,
"meet your sister, Esperanza." Mason held her out in the four boys' view.
"I'm Tanner," the blue Kougra supplied. "I'm
the oldest. I work out in the field with Dad so you won't see much of me during
"I'm Emmett," Hazel-eyes said, shoving Tanner
to the side.
"And I'm Alec," Green-eyes added, shoving Emmett
out of his way. The two had to be the middle children because they were identical:
orange fur, personality and all, except for their eyes. It was the only clue
for anyone to tell them apart.
"Booker's the name," the electric Kougra said
gruffly for a boy so young, holding out his hand.
"Ezzie," Ezzie replied, shaking his paw in return.
"Is that what the old witch called you?" the
"Boys," Mama scolded. "That's no way to speak
of Esperanza -- oh, what do you want us to call you, dear?" she asked.
"Ezzie's fine. When I was learning to talk,
'Esperanza' was too long for my tongue so Rhian took to referring to me as Ezzie."
"Either way-" Mama shot disciplining looks at
Emmett and Alec. "I am grateful that Rhian did send you back to us before one
of your brothers moved out."
"I'm grateful, too," Ezzie confirmed and studied
the front garden.
"Well, let's move back into the house, shall
we?" Mama suggested, and they all marched back in silence. But a filled silence,
nonetheless. "Follow me, Ezzie, I'll show you your room. It's not much but at
least you don't have to share with your brothers."
"Oh, it's beautiful, Mama." The room may have
appeared plain to another. It had soft yellow walls and simple furnishings,
a single bed, a wooden night table and a small wardrobe. "It's perfect." She
flashed her first smile to her mother who glowed instantly.
"Then I'll leave you to unpack your things.
I'll warm a plate of dinner for you, you must be starving," she said and disappeared
down the stairs.
Sure Ezzie was starving but something other
than her stomach was full. She flopped down onto the bed and stared up at the
ceiling. She could smell the lingering odour of the evening's meal and feel
the slightly coarse fabric of the bed sheets. Yes, this definitely was home.