Still thwarting Sloth's mind control... Circulation: 124,395,024 Issue: 250 | 28th day of Swimming, Y8
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To Read or Not To Read

by feliscata


"You don't understand, Cat! You never do!"

      "I understand as much as I need to. Mel, your room is a mess!"

      "But I can clean it when I get back!" I pleaded.

      Cat sighed. "Mel, you always say that. It has not been cleaned for two weeks! No, you may not go to the Library until you get in there and clean it."


      "No more, Mel."

      "You don't understand," I muttered as I trudged to her room. "I'm never going to win the reading contest if I can't get more books."

      Luckily, Cat did not hear me. If she did, she would have made me sit through a lecture on respect and obedience and all of that good stuff.

      Really, though, Cat was overreacting! My room was not that messy... all right, so maybe it was. Still, it's not like other pets come over just to gawk at it. I mean, nobody but me usually even looks in.

      I wish she could know how I feel. Maybe read my mind or something.

      "That's it!" I exclaimed a little too loud.

      Cat heard me. "Mel, I know you are in your room cleaning right now," she said in a voice that meant she'd better be correct.

      I opened the door to my room and groaned. I was going to have a fun time cleaning today. It looked like the Library would have to wait.


      "Now, what's a pretty green Aisha like you doing here so late in the afternoon?"

      I smiled at the motherly Kau. "Hey, Kauvara."

      Kauvara smiled back. "Hello, Melonja. How's that reading contest you told me about coming?"

      "It's all right. But I need your help."

      "Just let me finish this potion, and I will be right with you. Have a seat," she added, motioning to a wooden chair in the corner.

      I sat down and dropped my school bag at my feet, then looked around as I waited for Kauvara to finish. I was the only other pet in her little shop, and it was unusually quiet. The dusty shelves were lined with many different potions of many different colors. She must have practiced her potion making for ages. In almost no time she was finished.

      "There we go. Now, how may I help you?"

      I stood up and walked over to the counter. I had already decided on what I was going to do - now simply to go through with it. "I need something to help me read other people's minds."

      Kauvara was taken aback. "Why ever would you want that?"

      I thought for a moment, then decided to tell her the truth. What harm could it do? "Because my family is falling apart. We are not getting along. It's not just with me, either. Tori is mad at Sto for something I still have not figured out, and Z will barely come out of her room."

      "Mmhmm..." Kauvara looked thoughtful for a minute. "One moment, please."

      I nodded and sat back down, this time looking over her shoulder as she mixed together a few ingredients. Within a few minutes she turned around to me.

      "Are you sure this is what you want, dearie?"

      "I'm sure," I answered confidently.

      "Well, then, if you're certain..." she said doubtfully. When I nodded, she handed me a vial about the size of my fist filled with a silvery liquid.

      "Are you sure there is enough in there?" I asked.

      "Yes, child," Kauvara replied. "It will never run out." Then she turned back to her work.

      I walked out the door, still staring at the odd liquid inside of the container. Kauvara said it would never run out. There would be no harm in trying it out, would there? Thinking this, I uncorked the bottle and took a sip.

      Immediately, I regretted doing so. It was as cold as ice, but it seared my throat as much as if I had swallowed a torch. The taste was like polluted pond water. I corked the bottle, then looked at it again. Kauvara was right. There was just as much as when I had bought it.

      But I did not feel any different. Maybe Kauvara did something wrong? I shrugged and slid the vial into my school bag. I would just have to wait and see.


      "I already did, Cat." I was on the couch, reading my favorite book.

      Cat looked up from her copy of the Neopian Times, then asked, "What do you mean?"

      "You just asked me to wash the dishes, and I already did."

      "I did not."

      "Yes, you did."

      "I honestly did not."

      "Yes, you... oh, no." I closed my book and picked up my school bag. Reaching into one of the pockets, I pulled out a small vial filled with a strange liquid. "Oh, yes. I forgot."

      "Forgot what?" Cat stood up and walked over to me.

      "Forgot this." I handed her the potion, and she looked at it strangely. "Why do you need to know?"

      Cat looked back at me. "Why do I need to know what?"

      "You just asked me what it was."

      Cat looked like she was becoming more confused by the minute. "No, I didn't."

      "But you thought it."

      Cat turned back to the vial. "Will you kindly explain what is going on here?"

      "I keep forgetting that you haven't had any yet. I got it from Kauvara. A sip lets me read your mind."

      "Lets you read my mind?" she repeated in alarm.

      "Yes, and it never runs out."

      "Never runs out?"

      "Did you know that you repeat what people say?"

      Cat looked even more confused. "I repeat what people say?"

      "Yes, it is very irritating. But don't you see? If everyone in our family knew how each other felt, then we could get along wonderfully!"

      "I don't know..."

      "Oh, come on, Cat! Please just try it!"

      Cat turned the bottle around in her hands. "I suppose it would not hurt just to try it..." She uncorked the vial and took a sip, and immediately an all-too-familiar look of disgust was on her face.


      "What do you mean, you do all the work around here?"

      I hesitated as I was about to open the door to our house. It was the first day since Cat agreed to try the potion on the rest of the family, and I was not sure how it would go. Even now, I did not need to open the door to recognize Tori's indignant voice. Gulping, I turned the knob and walked in the door.

      Sure enough, there was Tori, standing in the middle of the room with a basket of junk. Sitting on the couch, looking as if he had no care in the world, was Sto, and it seemed as if he were the target of the white Wocky's anger.

      "That's what I thought, wasn't it?" he calmly replied.

      "You do not do all the work!"

      The ghost Gelert stood up. "You're right! I don't do all the work! That's because Cat, Z, and Mel help me!"

      Tori threw down the basket she was carrying. "Ugh! Go back to Jelly World with all the other screwballs!"

      "Jelly World doesn't even exist, Moron!" Sto replied as he walked down the hall to his room.

      "My point exactly!" Tori called after him. Sto replied by slamming the door.

      That's when I caught a sense of something. It was not words, but it was more like a sensation. But I knew exactly what it meant. "You think this is all my fault?"

      Tori turned on me. "You're the one who brought back that stupid potion that Cat made us all drink, aren't you?"

      "I'll have you know that-" I stopped as Tori stalked out of the room.

      I groaned and collapsed on the couch. A moment later, Z walked in.

      "She's wrong, you know," the Darigan Moehog said. "It couldn't be entirely your fault."

      "Thanks. I..." Then I caught that same sensation again. "You... you think she's right!"

      Z looked alarmed. "I didn't say that!"

      "But you thought it!"

      "But I-"

      "Just go away! You're not helping!"

      Z nodded, then left the room.

      What had I done? I had wanted to make our family more peaceful, but if things continued like this, we could be looking at a remake of the Meridellian Wars. I felt terrible. Was there any way to reverse the effects of the potion? Or was it permanent? There was only one thing left to do. I had to go see Kauvara again.


      "Hello again, Missy."

      I was back in Kauvara's shop. Again, it was empty except for Kauvara, me, and the dusty potions that lined the shelves.

      "Hey, Kauvara."

      Kauvara wiped her forehead with a small towel before asking, "Is there something I can do for you today? Unfortunately, I'm a little tired today." She smiled apologetically.

      I tried to smile back, but I was too upset for it to come out right. "Kauvara, I need to know if there is a remedy for that potion you made for me the other day."

      Kauvara smiled again, bigger this time. "Ah, yes, the mind reading potion. How did that work out?"

      "Terrible," I confessed.

      Kauvara raised an eye brow. "Well?" she prodded.

      "Tori and Sto are fighting even worse than before. Then Tori turned on me. Even Z is upset."


      I took a deep shuddery breath. "Is there a cure?" What if Kauvara said no? Would my family fall apart?

      Kauvara smiled. "The potion's effects are temporary. It will be all over by tomorrow, the next day at the latest."

      It was my turn to smile back. "Thank you! Thank you so much!" I turned and ran out of her shop.

      But I had a nagging feeling that it was not over yet. I reached into my school bag and pulled the vial out.

      "Should I really do it?" I murmured to no one in particular. Then I threw the bottle as far as I could.


      The next day we were all sitting at the dinner table. Each pet seemed to be sitting as far away from each other as possible. Nobody spoke.

      That is, nobody except for Tori. "Mel, where do you keep that potion? I think mine is wearing off, and I want to know what insults that Gelert over there-"

      "Sto?" Cat asked.

      "I don't know who you are talking about." Sto threw a look at her. "But I want to know what insults that Gelert over there is thinking about me."

      "Yeah," Sto said. "I want to know what that pet you call my sister is thinking about me."

      It felt like a thousand petpetpets were fluttering around in my stomach. "I... uh... I got rid of it."

      Everyone turned to look at me. Even Cat was openmouthed. It was unnaturally quiet. "Uh... are you mad?" I asked her.

      Cat sighed. "No..." She ran her fingers through her hair and closed her eyes. It looked as if she were trying to figure out how to say something. "No, Mel, I'm not mad. In fact, that could have been one of the best things you've ever done for us."

      I smiled. Cat wasn't mad, and maybe now we could get back to being a normal family.

      Suddenly, Cat's eyes opened. "Wait a minute, I could have sold that!"

      Then again, I guess we never were normal to start with.

The End

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