Selfish? No Way!
The tall red Lutari lounged on the sofa while his ghost Xweetok brother lay upside-down (legs over the back and head hanging off the seat) on the chia print arm chair of their comfortably shabby living room. Kynjuu was reading the newest issue of the Neopian Times. Nuanced was doing nothing at all. Suddenly the doorbell rang, disrupting the lazy stillness of their Sunday afternoon. Neither brother moved. A harried, feminine voice called from the kitchen.
“I’m so sorry to bother you, but would someone PLEASE get the door! I’m in the middle of fixing dinner!”
Kyn barely glanced up from his paper. “Nu, go answer the door.”
“Can’t,” his brother protested, “busy.”
With a sigh and a groan, Kynjuu heaved himself off the sofa and ambled leisurely towards the foyer. Despite his determination to disobey the bigger pet at all costs, Nuanced’s curiosity got the better of him and he scampered after Kyn to see who it was. Kyn opened the door. There was no one there. A small whimper came from the doormat. They looked down and their eyes widened in horror. They did the only sensible thing a fellow could do in their situation: call for help.
A tall angular white Zafara swathed in an enormous apron and coated in flour emerged from the kitchen. “What is it, deary?” She sighed, whipping a tired paw across her flour be-smudged brow.
Kynjuu and Nuanced made way for her and pointed towards the doorstep. On it lay a small basket. Inside the basket lay a small baby Meerca. On the Meerca lay a note.
“Her name is Izlindy.”
Instantly, Mallourie had the infant in her arms, cooing over it ridiculously. “Aw, awen’t woo jus dee cutest lil thing!”
Kynjuu coughed. “What exactly are we expected to do with it?”
His Zafara sister glared at him. “Not ‘it’,” she corrected, “‘she’. I’m sure I don’t know. I suggest we wait until Shy comes home and ask her.” She shrugged off her brother’s question, kissing the top of the tiny baby’s head.
Nuanced fell to his knees, wailing piteously. “We’re DOOOOOMED! You know that as soon as Shy sees the creature, she’ll be set on adopting it! And you know what that means, Kyn.”
Kyn grimaced in distaste. “Crying all night, baby food cluttering up the fridge, diapers, rattles, binkies, bottles...” His litany would have gone on indefinitely if Mallourie hadn’t interrupted him.
“Well, I never! If you two aren’t the sorriest, most selfish, stuck up pair of worthless piles of sludge on the face of Neopia, I don’t know what is! Going on about poor lil Baby like dat,” she continued, reverting to baby talk, “’specially when she’s such a cute lil thing...” She trailed off, carrying Izlindy back into the kitchen with her.
The Lutari and Xweetok stared at each other, dumbfounded. Mali never criticized them. She’d always agreed with Shy in the unspoken understanding that the boys were the most wonderful, important beings in the whole world. Something was terribly, horribly wrong.
“Aw, we wuv our widdle Izi, yes, we do!” the red-headed teenage crooned as she cradled the little Meerca in her arms. Mallourie handed her owner the baby’s newly bought rattle, staring all the while at the young pet’s angelic face with wrapped adoration. Nu stood in the doorway of Izlindy’s new room (formerly his and Kyn’s own personal game room), looking more stunned than ever. Izi shivered almost imperceptibly, and Shy looked up in alarm, her eyes fixing on her stocky ghost Xwee.
“Nu, go get me the quilt from the closet.”
The Xwee gaped at her. “What?”
“You heard me, go get a blanket,” Shy commanded impatiently.
Nu retreated back into the hall. Fetch a blanket! Him? Better do it; Shy never spoke briskly without meaning it. Running towards the linen closet, he ran smack into Kynjuu, who had been sent by the girls to bring Izlindy her bottle from the kitchen. The bottle fell and its lid popped off. Baby formula was everywhere.
“Way to go, bro!” Kyn groaned sarcastically. “Quick, go get some towels before Shy finds out.” Nu scampered off faster than ever, grabbing the first thing he saw on the closet shelves.
Meanwhile, Shy was getting impatient. She turned to face Mallourie. “Mali, honey, go see what’s taking your brothers so long.”
Three seconds later.... “WHAT ARE YOU DOING?! SHY!” she yelled for her owner.
A red head poked itself out into the hall. “What? HOLY FLYING KAUS! What have you two been doing to my good sheets?! Those were a gift from your aunt Mori!” Shy shifted the baby to her hip and readjusted her wire-rimmed glasses. No, she wasn’t seeing things. Nuanced and Kynjuu were kneeling on the floor sopping up milky liquid from the Altador Rug using her BEST SHEETS. “You boys have a lot of explaining to do,” she whispered quietly.
“I can’t believe it. Evicted from our own house.” Kyn stared glumly at the cloudless blue sky overhead, wondering what on earth would happen next. Shy had banned them under pain of starvation not to enter the house again until supper time.
“You’d think she’d at least have let us stay in our own rooms,” Nu complained, thinking longingly of the cool corridors of their large classic neohome. The hot sun on his thick Xweetok fur was not something the spoiled pet was used to.
The red Lutari next to him rolled over onto his stomach and began pulling up tufts of grass with his hard brown claws. “Still,” Kyn admitted, “we haven’t been much help around here lately. And they have been pretty busy with that little runt to take care of.”
Nu snorted. “You’re NEVER any help!”
Kyn picked up an especially large clod of dirt and rubbed it calmly in his brother’s face. “You’re one to talk. You haven’t made your own bed since who knows when.”
“You don’t either,” Nuanced countered, spitting out grass and blinking dirt out of his eyes.
“Hey, at least I straighten the sheets a bit when I get up,” Kyn retorted defensively.
“Which isn’t till long after ten o’clock.” The Xwee raked up a handful of loose loam and dumped it over his taller brother’s head.
Kyn spluttered, “We’d better stop it. If we tear up Mali’s garden, Shy will kick us off the property.”
Nu sobered. “That would NOT be good. Can you imagine living in the pound? Or being a homeless pet on the streets?”
“Or eating at the Soup Kitchen.” Kyn shuddered.
“Ya know, we’re pretty lucky to have Shy for our owner.” Nu pondered this revelation.
“And Mali to cook for us. She’s more important, I’d say. Remember that Day of Giving Shy tried to make waffles?”
“Ugh. Wasn’t it weird the way the whole spatula just melted like that?”
“You bet. Mali swore she’d never let her in the kitchen again.” The two sat for a moment, pleasantly reminiscing over the many happy holidays their family had had together.
“You know, in spite of everything, I can’t help feeling just a little sorry for Izi-what’s-her-name. Her family just abandoned her.”
“Yeah, maybe it’s a good thing Shy’s taken her in like this.”
“We should probably try and be nicer to her; after all, she is just a baby.”
Mallourie stuck her pale oval face out the living room window. “You boys can come in now. Dinner's ready!” she called across the lawn. Kyn and Nu rushed in eagerly. “Oh, and by the way,” the Zafara added, “Shy wants you to take Izi outside after we eat.”
Izlindy let out a shrill gurgle of delight as Kyn threw her high into the air (catching her again, of course). “That’s our little Izi! Upsi-daisy! Way up high!”
Nu lounged on the grass, stacking Izi’s blocks to form an enormous wooden tower for her to knock over. “You have no clue how ridiculous you sound.” He rolled his eyes exaggeratedly, but smiled as the tiny Meerca toddled towards him “Well, hewoooo dere, widdle one!” he crooned hypocritically while Izi enthusiastically knocked over the fruits of his labor.
The tall Lutari collapsed on the ground next to his short Xweetok brother. They both watched Izlindy while she played happily with the blocks in their cool recess of the garden. “You know what, bro?” Kyn queried rhetorically.
“No,” Nu answered noncommittally, turning to face the other pet.
“I think I could get used to having Izi around.”
The big classic neohome was still and silent, Lutari, Xweetok, Zafara, and owner all slept soundly in there beds. But in the converted game room, a small baby Meerca was still awake. She lay peacefully in her crib, waiting. Suddenly there was a gust of wind, and a star appeared right next to Izi’s bed. It began to swell, growing until it became a lovely air faerie, bending over the cradle to lift the baby in her arms.
“All is happy here now; your mission has been fulfilled. I know someone else who needs you, though; are you ready to help another family in need?”
Izlindy nodded, smiling her precious baby smile up into the faerie’s face. The air faerie smiled back. “Well then, let us be on our way.”
“But, Mommy, I don’t want a new sister!” Suzy wailed, hugging her plushies possessively around her small Usul body.
“Suzy, I’ve had quite enough of this sort of selfishness out of you! You are going to share your toys with Izi or I’ll donate them all to the Money Tree!” Suzy’s owner tossed her blond hair to accompany the threat (which she certainly would not have carried out, but was effective nonetheless). With an enormous, lung tearing sigh, Suzy handed the baby Meerca her smallest, least favorite plushie. The baby cooed. It was a start.
Shy was quite a sight early in the morning. She realized this for the millionth-and-something time as she dragged herself out of bed to face her arch nemesis: the mirror. Fuzzy red hair and pale freckled skin, not to mention those neocola-bottle glasses. Before her usual morning litany of self-inflicted self-study could continue, however, a shriek pierced the warm summer air.
“Shy, Izi’s gone!” Mallourie screeched, ruffling her smooth white fur with a frenzied motion of her paw.
Shy stared at her blankly for a moment, then comprehension dawned in her face. “The baby?”
“Who else?! I went in to her room, I mean the game room, to see, to see...” she halted, confused. “Come to think of it I don’t know why I went into the game room. After all, it’s only the boys’ old junk in there. Now let me see, what was I talking about?”
Shy thought hard. She couldn’t remember either. “I, I think it was whether or not I wanted fried neggs for breakfast. Which, by the way, I think would be great so long as the boys don’t mind.”
“Yes, that’s it, Izlindy, I mean fried neggs. I already asked Kyn and Nu; they said they’d eat whatever you wanted.”
“Those two are always so unselfish. Come on, race you to the kitchen!”
Not wanting another incident of melting cooking utensils, Mali put on a burst of speed to ensure that she got there first. The boys had already set the table.
Shy climbed up and stood a chair, adding to her already ridiculous height and looking rather silly. “Attention, please, everyone! I have an important announcement to make! I have decided to create ya’ll a new sibling!” Her pets cheered.
“What’ll it be? C’mon Shy, tell us!”
“A Meerca, and I think I’ll paint her baby.”
A wave of déjà vu washed over Kynjuu. Why was this all so familiar...
Nuanced piped up. “Do you think the name Izlindy’s untaken?”