Shadows: Part Six
Sixteen-year-old Mae was sitting in her bedroom, trying to remember something. Her forgetfulness had grown incredibly over the years, and even Tim was taking notice.
The brown Ixi had grown, physically, mentally, and emotionally. At fourteen years old, he was already taller than his sister by at least a head and was quite handsome. His emerald eyes were bigger, wider, and clearer; they glimmered whenever he spoke and sparkled whenever he smiled. Although he had indeed matured, the shadows still tormented him in his nightmares, even though he had learned to deal with them and not allow them to affect him outside of his nightmares. He had grown considerably more independent and often spent his days studying the flowers in the Haunted Woods - the ones that Mae had once loved so much.
Mae gave up on trying to remember. She listened to the sound of the front door opening and closing, and the soft tap of Tim's footsteps as he walked down the hallway. However, he did not pass her door and continue on to his own room, like she had expected. Instead, his footsteps stopped right in front of the door, and Mae's eyes widened at the twist of the doorknob and her younger brother standing in the doorway. During those days, the two rarely spoke besides at meals; Tim's maturity had been a little staggering to Mae, and without having to comfort and care for him all of the time, there was little that could be done to further their relationship.
"Mae," Tim said wearily.
"Tim? What is it?" the Gelert asked confusedly. Tim's eyes narrowed and he stepped into the room, whilst gingerly closing the door behind him. Mae caught a gleam of anger in his dark green eyes.
"You promised that you'd go pick flowers with me today, like we used to, around the time we met Olivia." His eyes narrowed again. Only a year ago had Tim asked if Olivia was never coming back, and Mae had quietly responded with a "no" that had seemed both angry and sad. Tim's eyes seemed like gleaming daggers, ready to accuse and pierce.
"Oh," Mae replied quietly. So that's what she had forgotten.
"Mae," Tim sighed, "Don't you get it? This was really important to me. We hardly talk anymore. We used to be such close siblings. And you keep forgetting things. Like my favorite color, and my favorite food, and even my birthday!" He suddenly seemed hurt, and so much younger than he actually was. "I miss hanging out with, you Mae! You keep forgetting things... and staying alone... why?..."
Mae flinched and gazed at her lap. The pink Gelert didn't reply. She just couldn't.
Tim sighed and left the room, leaving an air of loneliness in his wake.
That was the last time the two spoke.
The next day Tim was gone. He had not left abruptly and without notice, as Olivia had. There was a stony air of silence when Mae had entered Tim's room to apologize for the day before, but he only gave her a weary, tired glance and held up a picture of Altador's insignia. Mae had frozen in her tracks at the sight of the golden sun and its triangular, orange rays; by then, Tim had already packed his bags. He left with two suitcases that Mae hadn't remembered him every having. He left without a word.
And Mae was, once again, left behind.
Mae whimpered from where she sat on her window seat. Why was remembering so painful? Why did the past haunt her, just like Tim's shadows had? Why did the world seem like a dark, sad place? Why, at the age of eighteen, had she lost everything and gained nothing?
The pink Gelert wiped the tears from her eyes, just as there was a knock on the front door. Still gripping the worn brown blanket wrapped around her neck as if it were a shawl, she stumbled out of the room and down the hallway, into the kitchen and to the front door. When she opened it, she was dully surprised to find a yellow Skeith at the doorstep. He wore a grey suit and reminded Mae of the green Skeith who ran the bank; she had never really seen him, since the Bank of Neopia was located in Neopia Central, but she had heard of him.
"Hello," Mae said, "And Happy Halloween. May I help you?"
"Actually, you can," the Skeith responded quickly, "I just wanted to warn you that this house is due for demolition tomorrow."
Mae's eyes widened. "What are you talking about? This is an outrage! This was my mother and father's house and, since I am of age, it is my house!" she cried, a hint of insanity in her eyes and voice.
"Actually, Miss Mae, it never was." Mae staggered as the complete stranger spoke her name. "This house was lent to your parents by a close friend. That close friend's son, then, owns this house. He has decided to destroy the house and sell the property, in order to place more neopoints into his fund for a Pirate Paint Brush." The Skeith spoke in a monotonous, emotionless voice that Mae found disgusting.
"What about me? Where will I go? What will I do?" she cried, tears bursting from her eyes once again. The Skeith remained unfazed.
"You've been taken care of, Miss. The owner of this property has contacted your brother in Altador. He is here, actually."
Mae stopped crying.
"What?" she croaked. "Stop lying!"
"He's not lying, Mae."
The pink Gelert's moonlit eyes widened in disbelief as, from the shadows, stepped a handsome, young, brown Ixi. He seemed incredibly shy and forced a tiny smile. He was taller than his sister by at least two heads and was dressed in a silken black suit with a burgundy tie. He had changed so much - yet so little. His emerald eyes were still that stunning dark green, full of emotion, and he still had that playful expression and innocent disposition. Mae was too stunned to speak; all she could manage to do was stare.
"Hi, sis," Tim murmured.
As the feeling rushed back into Mae's numb limbs, she ran.
And ran, and ran, and ran, deep into the Woods, as her brown blanket fell onto the ground.
She thought she heard Tim's voice crying out her name, but she gave it no heed.
She just kept running.
Mae remembered everything, from her memories of her mother to her memories of Olivia, and every memory of Tim and his shadows. All of those memories broke her heart and made a rush of pain fill her entire body. What was the last time she had left the house? Two years ago, before Tim left. Crystalline tears streaking down her cheeks, she found herself collapsing from weariness among a huge tree. It was only after a few moments of deep breathing did she recognize the huge roots that jutted out of the ground; it was the same tree where she and Tim had found and befriended Olivia.
And in the distance she could see black daisies and purple roses.
Everything seemed like a shadow, from her memories to the flowers to the trees, all taunting her. She had lost everything and gained nothing. She had run away from her brother. She had thrown away her last chance. Mae didn't bother to wipe away the tears or stop her shaking sobs; she was too tired.
And then, from the shadows, stepped a light.
A tired light with emerald green eyes.
"Tim," Mae whispered between sobs. The Ixi looked at her with sad eyes. Then he outstretched his hoof so that it was within her reach, and he didn't speak a word.
Mae gazed at it for a second. Then she slowly lifted her paw and found herself taking the hoof and holding it tightly. All of the shadows melted away. Mae gazed into the vibrant light of Tim's emerald green eyes, remembering, and smiled.
Caleb was noticeably determined as he stepped inside the Round Room. The mage looked very peaceful as she sat on her throne, a genuinely happy smile on her face as her sea green eyes twinkled like stars. Just as the Cybunny stepped into the room, the light and colors that floated inside the crystal ball, forming hazy images, dissolved and vanished into nothingness. However, the mage continued to smile. She tilted her head to the side and gazed at the Cybunny.
"Oh, Caleb. Good evening. It is evening, is it not?"
"Yes, it is, Madame - Halloween night, actually. Madame, the entire castle is worrying over you! You've been staying in the Round Room for too long!"
"Have I?" the Xweetok asked calmly, frowning.
"Yes! Madame, please, stop being so calm about everything! You have an entire castle of servants and apprentices to worry about!" Caleb cried angrily. The Xweetok sighed and gazed to the side, seemingly staring at something that Caleb couldn't see. The Cybunny calmed down and soon regretted his outburst.
"Madame Olivia?..." he asked softly.
The Xweetok smiled at the mention of her name and, glancing briefly at the crystal ball, turned to her faithful apprentice with an air of noticeable happiness.