Hatred Because Of Love: Deyna's Story - Part Three
When the long-awaited Friday arrived, Shadowtail’s sister, Jenara, invited Raventail to stay for the weekend. Of course, Raventail, being best friends with her, happily obliged. Without the Christmas Kougra at home, it was just Brightmask, Seamus, the kid and me.
It was 8:00 PM as I was heading downstairs to grab a sandwich. From the kitchen, I could hear the kid’s voice chatting away.
“So do we have any neopet relatives?” I grimaced at her voice. It was hard to believe that it was so pleasant sounding; it was almost musical.
“Nope. But Mom has a close friend who she hangs out with a lot, and we’ve kind of grown up hanging out with her pets,” I heard Seamus reply as I neared the kitchen doorway. I could smell something like baking muffins. “Brightmask’s friend’s name is Swiftriver and she’s got four neopets. Two Xweetoks, a Kougra, and a Lupe. Funny how that’s the same as us, isn’t it?” I thought, us? He’s including that kid? I stopped behind the doorway, listening to their conversation. “Oh, and could you bring that jar of cinnamon over there? It’s great on oatmeal muffins and I want to sprinkle some on the ones we just pulled out.”
I heard the scamper of light paws as the kid went over to get the cinnamon. “Here it is,” I heard the kid say cheerfully. “What are they like? Swiftriver’s neopets, I mean,” I heard her ask curiously.
“Sunray and Aila, the Xweetoks, are both girls. Aila’s three years older than you, but she really acts younger than most girls at thirteen. You know, I bet the two of you would get along.”
I bet, I thought wryly to myself. Aila, like her, was born after Xena disappeared, so she wouldn’t think of the kid’s arrival as strange. I peeked around the doorway, looking into the kitchen with its pale, sunny walls and off-white tile floor. I stepped inside to see Seamus sprinkling cinnamon over a fresh batch of muffins on the counter. The blue Xweetok girl was standing next to him, holding up the jar of cinnamon for him.
“What about—” she started, but shut her mouth and lowered her face when she caught sight of me. She stood tip-paw and quietly put down the jar of cinnamon on the counter next to the oven.
“Yeah, Xena?” Seamus stood up and wiped his flour-covered paws on his blue fur. Then the Lupe looked up and saw me. Seeing my hard stare, he turned and said to the kid, “Why don’t you watch the second batch in the oven for a while? Call me when they start to get kind of brown.” The blue Xweetok nodded to him and sat down in front of the oven, propping her chin on her paw as she gazed through the thick glass.
Seamus walked over to me and looked up at me; I was still a head taller than he was. “Something you wanted, Deyna?”
I said, “Can I talk to you?” Seamus cast a glance at the kid, who was still watching the muffins, and nodded to me. The two of us padded out into the entrance room of our neohome and stopped next to the staircase. Seamus stood next to me and folded his arms stiffly.
“How can you—?” I started, but Seamus cut me off.
“Look, she’s not that bad, you know. Personally, I haven’t got a problem with her. And neither does Raven,” he said.
“Yeah, but how can you like her? Especially after Xe—”
“Oh, stop it,” growled my brother. “I miss her too, but there’s obviously nothing we can do about it.”
“Does the kid know?”
“No,” said Seamus, “None of us have told her. I figure it would just make her feel upset if Mom, Raven, or I told her. She shouldn’t feel any guilt at all. She would have to hear it from the one person who’s got something against her. And I’ve got a feeling that she should know once she’s been forgiven for doing nothing wrong.”
“Sure sounds complicated the way you say it,” I said, aggravated.
“It’s complicated because you make it that way,” he stated. “By the way, every time she’s in the same room as you, could you quit giving her the look of death? Listen, I respect Mom’s decision to create Xena. And I don’t see a good, solid reason to be nasty to her.”
“I can’t believe you can actually call the kid that,” I snarled back, “You should know as well as I do that that neopet does NOT belong in this family! She’s an outsider. She isn’t supposed to be a part of the family.”
“You know what, Deyna? I don’t think our older sister would’ve wanted us to become this way. Or rather become the way YOU are.”
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“I mean that she wouldn’t have wanted us to change in such a bad way. She’d want us to keep ourselves together and grow by pulling through what happened. She wouldn’t want us to forget her, and of course, we never could do that. But Xena would want us to be happy, and she’d want us to welcome and love this neopet. She would’ve especially expected YOU to be a great brother to the poor kid. You used to be a funny, friendly, awesome big brother. You were someone I looked up to, and everything I wanted to be. Now it’s like you’re a totally different person! You call Xena_Alinae an outsider, but if anyone isn’t a part of this family, it’s you!” Taken aback, I kept my silence. Seamus and I stood like that for a moment, glaring at each other.
“Um, Seamus?” called the kid from the kitchen, “I think they’re beginning to turn dark...”
“I’ll be there in a minute,” replied Seamus, still keeping eye contact with me. Finally, he turned away and strode back to the kitchen.
I sat down at my black desk, switching on the lamp as I did so. I banged my fist on the table, I felt even more furious after this argument with my little brother. Why did he have to be so smart and knowing? It was the same kind of thinking Xena had...
I glanced at the clock sitting next to it; 8:30 PM. Darn, I had another three hours and a half before I could meet up with my best friend. ‘Everything has a price,’ chided a voice in my head, ‘If you want to talk in private, you need to wait a while. If you want to talk sooner, you take the chance of being overheard.’
I drummed my claws on the surface of my desk and looked at one of the framed photos, which was taken a little more recently. In it were two Xweetok boys; the starry one was me, and the blue one was Shadowtail. I dropped my head on the desktop, irritably remembering Raventail’s accusation relating to blue Xweetoks. I lifted up my head and silently stared at another photo, seated in the middle of the few framed ones I had on my desk. It was a photo of Xena and me a few years ago. She’d just turned twelve, while I was still eleven (Therefore, I was still painted green as I wasn’t painted starry ‘til I was almost fourteen). That was when I was starting to grow bigger than my sister, and when she started to say, “Soon, people are going to take you for my older brother!” I smiled, remembering when Brightmask snapped the picture. Xena had leapt on my back and was playfully hugging me around my neck, causing me to grin while I loosened her paw hold.
I put the photo back in its place and set the alarm on my clock for 11:20 PM. I might as well catch a few hours of sleep if I’m going to sneak out late, I thought to myself as I switched off the light and crawled under my blanket.
A beeping tugged me out of sleep, and I blinked my eyes open drowsily and threw my blanket off. I went over to switch off the alarm clock, and stood still to observe the silence. I carefully opened my door a crack, and listened to the sound of my neohome at night. I could faintly hear steady breathing through the closed doors of my family. I listened for a few more moments. All was quiet. Good, now all I needed to do was lock my bedroom door and slip out the window.
After making sure my door was locked, I sprinted over to my bed and opened the window. A cool breeze caressed the fur on my face in greeting, and I smiled. It carried the scent of the forest, a place I loved. I was about to climb up on the windowsill when a small whimper sounded behind me. I flicked my head back to see my anubis looking at me curiously from his spot on the floor. “Don’t you let out one bark while I’m gone, got that, Jabor?” The anubis yawned squeakily and padded back to his petpet bed. I took that as a yes.
I crouched on the windowsill, and leapt off the edge. I landed lightly on all four of my paws on the grass with a muffled thump. When I was around twelve, I realized that the second story of my house wasn’t too high up for me to jump from, so I practiced it at night when everyone was asleep. My solid body build helped me to handle physical impacts like hitting the ground and such while my Xweetok form helped with doing it all lightly as well. With that combination, things like jumping, running, and climbing weren’t a problem for me.
I stood up and breathed in the night air, allowing it to refresh me, and I set off at swift run towards Shadowtail’s neohome.
To be continued...