The Sound of Love: Part Two
“OKAY, FAMILY MEETING! EVERYONE IN THE LIVING ROOM! NOW!”
Dan jumped as Meg’s voice echoed up the stairs. Apparently, Thunder had jumped too, because he exclaimed,
“OI! I was just about to get the high score on Snowmuncher!” He punched the video game controller in his paw, muttering something about “always messing me up.”
Inanna grinned. “Come on, Thunder. You’ll never beat my high score on that game anyway.... Hey!” She dodged the video controller that Thunder had thrown at her and stuck out her tongue. “You missed.”
“Shut up, Anna.” Thunder bumped against his sister on his way to the door, knocking her into the wall, but he was grinning. Inanna chased him out of the room, and Dan heard a little crash in the hallway a few seconds later. Shaking his head, Dan followed his siblings into the sitting room.
Meg was already sitting on the sofa, frowning at some papers in her lap. She looked up as the trio entered.
“Oh, good. Well, sit down, then.”
They did so, Dan gazing suspiciously at the papers Meg was holding. After another minute or so, Meg said, “Okay then, so I was thinking....”
Dan caught his brother’s eye and looked quickly away, grinning.
“I was thinking that it’s about time we made one final addition to our family.”
Inanna stopped picking at a loose thread on an armchair with her claw and looked up eagerly. “Cool. I’ve been hoping for a sister.”
Dan nodded. Thunder copied him, adding, “Sure. How’re we getting them? The Pound again?”
“Actually,” Meg said, riffling through the papers on her lap, “I’ve found this adoption agency, and I think I’ve found the perfect pet to apply for.” She passed one of the papers to Inanna. The Kougra took it and starting reading.
“You’re going to apply for an Island Lupess?” asked Inanna, looking up from the paper.
Meg smiled. “Yes, if it’s all right with you guys.”
Inanna passed the paper to Thunder, who read it and passed it to Dan. On the paper was a picture of a gorgeous Island Lupess named Princess_Sankura that was up for adoption. Beneath the picture was the Lupess’s statistics, along with the application requirements.
“So what do you think?” Meg asked the room at large.
Inanna spoke first. “I think it’d be awesome. Go for it.”
Meg smiled. “Dan? Thunder?”
Thunder grinned. “I think it would be good to have another Lupe in the house.”
“Yeah, and Inanna needs a sister,” inserted Dan.
“Well, it’s settled, then! I’ll write out an application and neomail it to the owner. We should have an answer within a month. I’ll see if I can arrange a meeting with the Lupess, too....” And with that, she picked up a pen and started scribbling on some stationery.
Thunder and Inanna left to finish their game of Snowmuncher, but Dan stayed behind. He approached the couch slowly. “Mama?”
Meg looked up, startled. “Oh hello, baby,” she said. Meg rarely called him that anymore. She patted the couch cushion next to her, inviting the Baby Gelert to sit with her. He did so, and they sat in silence for a few moments. Dan watched Meg’s pen flow across the paper, pausing every so often as she thought of what to say next.
Meg looked up, smiling. He rarely ever called her “mama” anymore either. “Yes, baby?”
“Do you think the Island Lupess has ever heard love?”
Meg gazed at him for a moment, apparently taken aback. “I don’t know,” she finally whispered. “I should think so, since her owner is taking the time to read through applications and find the right owner. Why do you ask?”
“Because,” Dan said elusively.
Meg arched a brow. “Because why?”
“Because I think everyone should be able to hear the sound of love sometime, Mama. I can’t imagine what it would be like if I couldn’t hear love.”
Meg draped an arm around Dan’s shoulders. “You’re right, baby,” she said. “Everyone should hear it sometime. You’re exactly right.”
“Mama ...” Dan hesitated a fraction of a second before plowing on, “You remember when you yelled at me yesterday? For forgetting to wash the dishes?”
Meg nodded. Dan had looked up at his owner with his charming brown eyes. Meg saw forgiveness inside them, not accusation and she was grateful. She had lost her temper yesterday, and she was regretting it more than ever right now. “Yes, I remember,” she said softly.
Dan gave her a small smile. “Well, I heard the love this time, Mama. It was trying to hide under what you were saying, but I heard it.”
Meg felt a burning sensation in her eyes and quickly blinked a few times. “I’m glad you did, baby.” And she meant it.
Dan’s smile widened and he winked. He gave her a quick hug before jumping off the couch and quietly leaving the room, no doubt to go play with his siblings. As Meg watched him go, she felt that she had just witnessed the downfall of the saying, “wisdom comes with age.” Obviously, whoever had said that had never met her baby.
The next day was as hot as a late spring day on Mystery Island could get. The morning and early afternoon dragged by slowly for Dan. It was hard enough to concentrate in Neoschool without the heat. Today, for all he learned, he might as well have stayed home.
Geography, Dan’s last class, seemed to be going extraordinarily slow. The Baby Gelert watched the clock’s hands tick sluggishly by, his head held up by one paw and his mouth slightly open. Mr. Atlas, their teacher, had a very flat, boring voice and spoke in a monotone, which did not help the situation. Wow, Dan’s muddled brain actually formed a complete thought. If boredom were a fatal disease, I’d be long dead by now....
When the bell finally rang, Dan got his books together as fast as he could, before hurrying to his unusually short locker.
“I do believe that’s the fastest I’ve seen you move all day.”
The familiar voice of his sister made Dan drop two of his books that he had been trying to cram into the top shelf of his locker. The heavy books immediately collided with the top of his head before falling to the floor.
“Ouch! Anna, did you have to sneak up on me?” Dan grumbled as he tried to pick up his books with one paw and rub his forehead with the other.
“Sorry!” Inanna flushed but continued, “I followed you out of class. I thought you knew. I mean, I only walk with you out of geography every day.” Her voice grew light and amused as she spoke the last sentence.
Dan mumbled something indistinct, giving his books one last shove and slamming the locker door before they could make contact with his head once more. Thunder found them then, and the siblings walked together out of the school, beginning the long, hot trek back home.
Dan only half-listened to his siblings argue in the blistering heat on their long walk home from school. All he could think about was the air conditioning in their neohome that Meg was sure to have had on all day. A soft groan of longing escaped his lips at the very thought.
“What’s up, Dan?” Thunder playfully cuffed his brother on the shoulder. “Thinking of the smoothies Meg’s bound to make us?”
“Oh stop, would you?” Inanna groaned. “Seriously, I’m gonna die before we get there.”
Thunder rolled his eyes. “You are such a drama queen! And aren’t Kougra’s supposed to be native to Mystery Island? You should be used to this kind of weather!”
“How can you handle the heat? Didn’t you come from like, Terror Mountain or something before you came here?”
“Actually, it was Meridell, but that wasn’t far off, Ann. I’m sure Mr. Atlas would be proud.”
“Oh, right, like you’re any good at geography...”
Thunder and Inanna kept up a steady stream of arguments until the sight of their small neohome on the edge of the forest greeted them. Dan let out a sigh of relief and contentment as he walked through the front door into the kitchen. The small house felt wonderfully cool.
Next to him, Inanna gave a little moan of longing. A spilt second later, Meg walked into the kitchen.
“Hey, guys!” She tossed her hair back, grinning as she sat down at the kitchen table.
“Well, aren’t we dying to share something,” Thunder smirked. “What’s up?”
Meg ignored him. “How was school?”
“Hot,” the siblings answered in unison.
“Yeah, I haven’t gone outside much today,” Meg agreed.
“Lucky you,” Dan heard Thunder mutter under his breath beside him.
Inanna arched a brow as she watched Meg almost twitch with excitement. “Seriously, Meg,” she said, “What is it?”
Meg’s grin grew, if possible, wider. “Well, I heard back from the owner of that Island Lupess this afternoon....”
Inanna gasped. “And?”
Meg’s grin relaxed into a small smile. “And she said she’s considering my application. The deadline is at the end of this month, so we should know for sure by then.”
“Yes!” Thunder punched the air with his paw.
“But it isn’t official, though,” Dan pointed out.
Thunder turned to stare at him with wide eyes. “Who cares, man? We’re halfway in! Right, Meg?”
Meg moistened her lips with her tongue. “She’s considering three other applications besides ours. But there’s still a good chance. My app was three neomails long, so....”
“Yeah, yeah.” Thunder rolled his eyes. “We all know that you can talk a lot Meg. No need to remind us.”
Meg’s eyes narrowed. “Ha, ha, very funny. Now,” she continued, standing up and walking purposefully toward the freezer, “who wants a smoothie?”
The next couple of weeks passed by slowly for Dan, as they always did when you were ending the Neoschool year. Time seemed to be going in slow motion, and yet he could not remember much of what happened the day before. It was a long two weeks that passed by in a blurred procession; nothing was very clear.
Then Meg received some news that jarred Dan out of his hazy focus.
Dan was following Inanna and Thunder into the house after the tiring walk home from school. They were bickering, of course, and he was trying to tune them out. Not that it was very hard; he had been tuning out many things lately. Like his teachers’ voices for instance....
Before Dan could close the door behind him, Meg came dashing into the room. She grabbed Thunder, who was closest, picked him up, and gave him a big hug.
“Ouch! Geroffme, Meg! Can’t—breathe—!”
“Sorry!” Meg loosened her hold on the Lupe, who dropped back to all fours shaking his head back and forth as if trying to get rid of a fly.
“Ow! Do you have to do that, Meg?”
“Sorry,” she breathed.
“’S okay, I’m fine,” Thunder rubbed his ribs with his paw and winced. “So, uh... what’s so exciting that you had to try to break me in half?”
Meg’s smile returned. “I got a neomail from Princess Sankura’s owner. You know, the Island Lupess.”
Inanna frowned. “Um, you’ve been getting a lot of mail from her. Haven’t you, like, been chatting for the past two weeks?”
“Well, yeah,” Meg looked like she was restraining from rolling her eyes with difficulty. “That is sort of a big plus for your chances of being picked if you make friends with the owner of the pet you’re applying for. She is fun to talk to. But anyway, she just mailed me and asked when I wanted to come get Princess Sankura! Just out of the blue! And then I said—”
Thunder cleared his throat and Meg blushed scarlet.
“So we can go pick her up?” Dan asked to break the awkward silence.
“Yes,” Meg said almost breathlessly, glad that someone had spoken. “I’d have done it sooner, but I wanted you guys to know...”
“Cool!” Inanna piped up. “I’m going to have a sister! I’d better go fix up my room...!” She left her sentence hanging and dashed out of the kitchen.
By now, Meg’s eyes were sparkling. “You two don’t mind staying here while I go get her, do you?”
“No, I’m fine,” Thunder mumbled.
“Sure, go ahead,” Dan said, smiling.
Meg grinned, gave them both a quick, non-violent hug, and disappeared out the front door.
As he watched her go, Dan couldn’t help grinning. Soon, their family would be complete, and an Island Lupess would hear a different kind of love than she had ever heard before.
Not three hours later, Dan heard his sister’s voice calling up the stairs.
“Dan! Get down here, they’re back!”
Dan ran to the nearest window and looked out at the front lawn eagerly. He saw Meg talking animatedly to a beautiful Island Lupess, who was listening with an interested, and yet timid expression on her face. Dan laughed joyously, and bounded down the stairs and into the kitchen where Thunder and Inanna were already waiting.
Meg walked in a few seconds later, closely followed by Princess Sankura. His owner beamed at them all.
“Well, here we are, Princess! Let’s see, this is Thunder, Inanna, and Dan.” She pointed to the Shadow Lupe, the Spotted Kougra, and the Baby Gelert in turn.
“And this is Princess Sankura, guys! She says we can call her Princess or Kura. Either one. Anna, why don’t you show Kura to your room? You two will have to share like Dan and Thunder, at least for now.”
As Inanna led Sankura to their room (with Thunder trailing along behind), Dan searched Meg’s expression. In his owner’s face there was pure joy; her eyes were alight with satisfaction as she watched them go. Then, as though he had called her name, Meg turned her head to look at him. Their eyes locked. She smiled at the Baby Gelert, and he returned her smile, nodding his head once. She beamed and darted across the remaining space between them, lifting Dan into the air and squeezing him tightly. She said nothing, but Dan did not need to hear her speak to hear the love. He heard it in the silence, and it was more than enough.
This series is a sort of introduction, and I plan to write more in the future. Thanks for reading! Advice is appreciated.