Voice of the Neopian Pound Circulation: 132,843,258 Issue: 270 | 15th day of Celebrating, Y8
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Into the Sea: Part Three


by sytra

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Sasha couldn't tell if people liked her or not. She didn't know what they meant when they spoke to her. At school, a pet could say, "I like your shoes," and Sasha could take it the completely wrong way. What if they were just saying that to be funny? What if they really thought her shoes were ugly?

    All of the pets at school hated her. She was sure of it. They all discriminated against her, made fun of her, laughed at her... Sasha felt like a bug whenever she went to school. She felt like a big bug. She wished she could just disappear. Maybe someone would step on her one day and she could go away.

    Was there a better place out there in the world? Where nobody made fun of you just because you were different? Just because you had a problem?

    Maybe...

    But for now...

    She had to stay here. In Mystery Island. With Katrina. And she had to go to the dumb school she hated.

    The only good thing about school was that Amelia was there. Amelia always cheered Sasha up when she was feeling down. She always talked to her. Even though she never really did anything specifically nice, she gave Sasha someone to be with. Maybe friend wasn't the best word to describe Amelia. Maybe acquaintance was better.

    The other day, Amelia told Sasha that she needed more money. So naturally, Sasha went into Katrina's closet and found where she had hidden her Neopoints after Sasha had taken them before. This time she wouldn't empty the whole bag, though. She'd just take enough so it wouldn't be noticeable that any had been taken out of the sack. Besides, Katrina put her daily earnings in the sack every day, so if Sasha took a little bit of money every day, soon she would have a lot to give to Amelia.

    Even though it felt wrong to steal from Katrina, Sasha wanted to help Amelia. She couldn't just not do anything and watch Amelia and her owner struggle more with their financial problems. It was the right thing to do.

    Wasn't it?

    -

    Katrina glared angrily at the sack of Neopoints she kept in her closet. She had just put Sasha to bed, and was emptying her daily earnings into the bag. But she noticed that it was looking unusually empty. Was Sasha taking the money again?

    Now, Sasha wasn't stupid, but Katrina certainly wasn't either. The blond teenager started to chuckle madly. Her eyes felt like they were on fire. She grasped the sack of Neopoints, and the golden coins inside rubbed together, making a clinking noise. Katrina started to shake. She felt like she was insane. She was so mad she was laughing. Her eyes were wide, and she grinned, looking down at the bag of money.

    How could Sasha do this... again?

    Sure, it had been a couple of weeks since Sasha had last stolen Katrina's hard-earned Neopoints, but she thought it was a one-time thing. After they had spoken to Doctor Velt about it, Katrina was sure her pet would never steal from her again.

    Katrina's face finally relaxed, and she released her firm grip on the brown bag. A single tear fell from her eye, and she sat down on the floor in her closet, curling up into a ball.

    So... disappointed.

    -

    Sasha was sitting at a table in the cafeteria at school, alone. She looked around as she nibbled on her sandwich that she didn't find too appetizing. Katrina had made her lunch, as she did every day. But lately Katrina's lunches weren't that good. The sandwiches were sloppy, and she never put any good food inside Sasha's lunchbox anymore. What happened to the Chomby Chips and Chokato Pudding? All that was in her lunches anymore were bananas... and Achyfi. Gross.

    Sasha hadn't seen Amelia all day at school. She must have been sick or something. Why else wouldn't she come to school? Sasha hoped she was all right. What if they had to move out because her owner was still poor? Sasha felt a pain in her chest. What if she had failed Amelia?

    The red Flotsam suddenly forgot all about Amelia when she remembered there was a math assignment she hadn't done last night. She didn't really know how to do it, and Katrina couldn't help her either, so she had just shrugged it off. But her grade would go down if she didn't do it! Sasha looked around the cafeteria for someone who was in her math class. Maybe if she asked nicely, they would help her? She spotted Lily, the pink Xweetok, sitting at a table with her friends. There was an empty chair right next to her. Sasha stood up and made her way over to the table. She just stayed a few feet away at first, wondering if she should sit down. Finally, she went over to Lily and poked her on the shoulder.

    The pink Xweetok turned around, shocked that someone was poking her. She looked down at Sasha, and her eyes grew wide. She glanced back at her friends, and they all exchanged weird looks. Sasha just smiled.

    "Um... hi...?" Lily said, not quite sure why Sasha was standing next to her.

    "Hi, I was wondering if you could--"

    "--No," a yellow Cybunny, who was sitting next to Lily interrupted, smirking at Sasha. She batted her eyelashes at the red Flotsam.

    Sasha frowned. "I hadn't even said anything yet!"

    The whole table erupted in giggles, and Sasha stormed off, headed straight to the bathroom. She couldn't even ask someone a question without being picked on.

    It was too much.

    She wanted to get away from it all. Far away.

    -

    Sasha and Katrina were sitting on the beach, admiring the sunset. The oranges and pinks and purples in the sky were smearing together beautifully. It was one of the prettiest sunsets Sasha had ever seen. The red Flotsam stared longingly at the sea, as the waves crashed ashore, being absorbed into the wet sand as they retreated again. She sighed, leaning against her owner's shoulder.

    "Excited for your big race tomorrow?" Katrina asked Sasha. She had signed her up for a race in the Mystery Island swimming meet the other day. Tomorrow morning they would get up early, make some pancakes, and go to the big pool where they held all of the races. It had large stands where people could sit and watch the swimmers, and there were souvenirs and hotdog stands all around. It was a big event.

    Sasha nodded slightly. "I guess. I'm kind of nervous, though. What if I lose?"

    Katrina stuck out her tongue. "You? Lose? Nah. You're really fast, Sasha. I think you'll do real good."

    It was silent for a few moments, and the two of them just sat there together, admiring their surroundings. "Katrina... what do you think it would be like to live in the ocean?" Sasha questioned, staring at the deep blue ocean water. They were one of the only ones on the beach that night.

    The blond girl shrugged, digging her bare feet into the soft sand. She lifted her leg and the sand fell from her foot slowly. "I don't know... it wouldn't be very nice for me, though. I mean, since I can't breathe underwater and all. But of course, for people that can, it would probably be wonderful."

    Sasha nodded. "I can..."

    "...I know," Katrina whispered back.

    "So why won't you let me swim in there?!"

    "...It's too dangerous, Sasha," Katrina told her, sitting up a bit. She looked down at her pet, who was frowning disappointedly.

    "No it's not. I was born to swim in that ocean, Katrina. Why won't you just let me take a little dip?!" she whined, tugging on her owner's arm.

    "Well, if you act like that, I'm never going to let you swim in the ocean."

    "Pleeeease?"

    Katrina sighed tiredly. "No, Sasha."

    "But why? Why won't you let me?!" Sasha stood up, kicking Katrina in the leg. "I hate you! You don't let me do anything! You always get your way! What about me?! Why don't you care about ANYTHING I want?! It isn't fair! I... HATE YOU!"

    Katrina just stared blankly ahead of her. Sasha really did hate her, didn't she...? Her voice... was so angry and real. Katrina fought back the tears that were forming in her eyes. She swallowed the huge lump in her throat down, blinking rapidly. "I just..." she whispered, not daring to look up at Sasha, who was glaring at her. "I don't want you to get hurt. I don't want anything bad to happen to you."

    Sasha ignored her, and started to make her way up the hill away from the beach and towards their Neohome. Katrina just sat there in the sand, still trying not to let herself cry.

    "I don't know what I would do if you got lost, or attacked, or... worse. You're my baby. And nothing can change that," the girl said.

    Katrina didn't care that Sasha was walking away. But she raised her voice, so maybe, if Sasha was still close enough, she would be able to hear her.

    "No matter how much you yell, scream, hit me, and tell me that you hate me... you can never make me stop loving you."

    Sasha froze as Katrina said these words. She chose to pretend like she hadn't heard them, however, and continued on her way to the house, tears streaming from her eyes.

    -

    Water.

    I feel like one with the water.

    Like nobody can harm me.

    I feel like I am the best. I feel like a million Neopoints when I'm swimming.

    It's sort of an escape; I guess you could call it.

    Swimming. It's the one thing I love to do.

    If only... I could swim in the ocean.

    I wonder what that's like. I bet the seawater is so much colder and fresher and feels so much better than pool water.

    Katrina...

    Does Katrina love me?

    Or... is she just disappointed in me, as she always seems to be?

    Why can't I tell?

    Sasha stared in front of her determinedly, focusing on her goal. Her surroundings meant nothing at the moment. She had one thing on her mind, and one thing only: the finish line.

    All she had to do was swim as fast as she could to the other end. Maybe she would win. Maybe she would be the fastest. Maybe she would make Katrina proud. The red Flotsam looked through the crowd of people standing on the side of the large pool, and grinned at Katrina, who gave her a thumbs-up sign in return.

    "You can do it," Katrina told her. It was so loud, Sasha hadn't heard her owner, but she knew what she had said.

    There were tons of people at the swimming meet that day. The stands were overflowing with people and pets, so lots of them were just standing to the side of them. It was a hot day outside, too. Perfect for swimming. Sasha was feeling pumped. She was eager for the race to start. While the other pets around her were stretching and waving their arms around, readying themselves, Sasha just floated there in the water, looking at all of the people around her.

    Normally, Sasha would be deathly afraid of doing something in front of this many people. For example, when she gave speeches at school. She was always nervous during those. She didn't like being in front of a crowd. What if they thought she was weird? But this was different.

    This was swimming. This was something she loved. And something she was good at.

    Sasha looked beside her, and she gasped. There was a yellow Flotsam in the lane right next to her, lane eight. And it wasn't just any yellow Flotsam. It was Amelia! But why would Amelia be there?!

    "Hi!" Sasha said. The yellow Flotsam turned around and smiled at her.

    "Hello, Sasha. Fancy meeting you here! Good luck to you!"

    "Thanks. You too, Amelia," Sasha replied.

    They just grinned at each other for a few moments, but then Amelia suddenly said, "You're so slow. You'll never win. Ha, ha, ha."

    Sasha shook her head, screwing her eyes shut. Was this happening? Why was Amelia acting like this? Amelia was supposed to be her friend! She wasn't supposed to say things like that! She wasn't supposed to bring her down!

    It seems... that whenever I feel lonely...

    Amelia shows up.

    It feels like...

    Whenever I need someone there for me...

    Amelia is there.

    While Sasha was zoning out, the race was about to start. All of the pets were getting ready, and Katrina was shouting at Sasha to get ready, too.

    "On your marks...

    "Get set..."

    Sasha squirmed around frantically. She didn't know they were starting the race! She dove underwater and rested her tailfin on the wall. The race was going to start any second...

    "GO!"

    Sasha pushed herself off of the wall, streaming through the water so fast she felt like she was flying. She laughed to herself as she glided through the cold pool. There was no one ahead of her. She was winning! Suddenly, though, she saw Amelia start to gain on her. The yellow Flotsam swam a few inches ahead of Sasha. Sasha growled angrily, pushing herself to go faster. She wasn't going to let Amelia beat her. Sasha used all of the strength she had, and with a final burst of energy, sped ahead at the last second. She slapped her hand against the wall of the pool and came up to the surface, grinning madly. She had done it. She had won!

    Sasha looked around for Katrina as the people in the crowd cheered loudly. They were cheering for her! When she met eyes with her owner, she felt happier than she had ever felt in her life. Katrina's blue eyes looked so happy, so glad. Sasha beamed. Had she really made Katrina proud? Was Katrina actually proud of her?

    Sasha hoisted herself out of the pool and collected her blue ribbon from the officials. She had really done it. She had won. She flopped over to Katrina as fast as she could, and the girl bent down and hugged her pet so hard Sasha couldn't breathe.

    "Sasha... great job. I knew you could do it." Katrina let go of Sasha, smiling down at her appreciatively.

    Since Sasha was only signed up for one race, they left the pool and began walking through the hot streets of Mystery Island toward their Neohome. Sasha admired her shiny blue ribbon all the way home. It even said "First Place." The red Flotsam felt so great. She had done something to be proud of. She could brag to everyone about it! Well... she didn't really know anyone she could brag about it to. But she could brag about it to Doctor Velt! Surely the Doctor would be happy for her! She hugged the ribbon as she and Katrina walked down the sweltering streets.

    Finally, she had found something she was good at.

    "You know Amelia?" Sasha asked Katrina, looking up at her. "My friend?"

    Katrina nodded, pulling her long curly blond hair into a ponytail. "What about her?"

    "She was at the races!"

    "Really? I wish you would have introduced her to me," Katrina told her, sounding a little sad.

    "Oh... well..." Sasha trailed off. She didn't want to tell Katrina that Amelia had been mean to her. "Actually, she was in the lane right next to me in my race. You saw her, didn't you? In lane eight?"

    Katrina was silent for a few moments. She finally said, "Lane eight? You sure? Wasn't it lane six?"

    "...No. It was lane eight. Why?"

    "Sasha..." Katrina started in a quiet, serious voice. "That lane... lane eight... it was empty."

To be continued...

 
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Other Episodes


» Into the Sea: Part One
» Into the Sea: Part Two
» Into the Sea: Part Four
» Into the Sea: Part Five



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