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Star in a Lantern: Part Two


by iris220_ll

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4th Day of the Month of Running

Today, Rose, the kindly pink Uni who works in the Pound, came up to me. "Somebody's interested in adopting you," she said, smiling in a way that was both sad and happy. I felt numb as the words began to sink in, like poison seeping into my pores, through my fur and into the bones. I credit my adoption to my name - although Tramikaa, due to its extra A, isn't a particularly coveted name, I suppose it gives me a higher rate of adoption than a name like Sadie's (her full name is Sadie3923843). I'd only been in the Pound for about a week or so, and I had grown accustomed to the daily routine - wake up, go to the cafeteria for breakfast. Come back to my room and write a little in my notebook. Get sent out into the yard for exercise, which isn't a very favorable activity since the yard is surrounded by a tall chain link fence and any pet that can fly has their wings tied together with this special rope that makes it impossible to untie. I hate that chain link fence - it made me feel more trapped than I already was, the way it stood so ominously and intimidatingly, as if mocking me for my inability to escape my cage.

      Anyway, Rose told me that my new owner's name is Icy, and that she's a girl with four pets. When I questioned her about the ability to have more than four pets on one account, Rose simply laughed and said, "No, you're not going to all be on one account. I believe you're going on a side account." Side account. For some reason, I didn't like the sound of that. Did that mean I was just going to be an extra, a pet that was just there because I could be? I want to be loved just like the pets on the main account, to be cared for in the same way. When I asked Rose if I'd be living in the same house as the other pets, Rose said no, and that I was probably going to be living in a house far away from that one. Now that scared me; obviously this "Icy" was going to want to stay with her main account pets. Did that mean - did that mean that she was just going to leave me on my own, to live alone in some strange, unfamiliar place?

      It's late at night now. Sadie won't talk to me, because tomorrow I'll be leaving her behind. I don't want to go! I like my life in the Pound, and Sadie's my best friend, and I don't care about whatever I'd written earlier, the Pound is my home! Rose, Dr. Death, and all of the other pets in the Pound are my big, happy family! The Pound is my home and I don't care if it's the Month of Running, I'd rather never run for the rest of my life than lose my home again!

      ~***~

      5th Day of the Month of Running

      Luckily for me, Icy doesn't look like Sherry at all. Unlike Sherry, she's a short girl, being precisely five feet tall. Her hair is long, dark, and silky, tied into a uni tail with the tip brushing against her shoulder blades. Her eyes are wide and a deep, deep brown, ringed by long, dark lashes. Icy's lips are a bright, scarlet red that startlingly remind me of blood, while her skin is tanned. She's pretty, I guess, but not nearly as pretty as Sherry was. Seeing her, being taken away from Sadie and Rose and Dr. Death and the Pound by her - it hurts. I'm sitting in a marble room right now, my room, writing in my journal at a wooden desk. Icy came early in the morning to pick me up, before Sadie or any of the other pets in the Pound were awake. I didn't want to wake Sadie up, so I just tore a piece of paper out of my journal, wrote "Bye" on it, and left it next to her. I feel like I should've written something else, something that meant more, but I - I just didn't know what to write. I was only in the Pound for about a week, but basically being a homeless, family-less, lonely individual will turn one friend into a treasure you never want to lose. And that's the way all friends should be treated like, right?

      Anyway, Icy and her main account pets live in a modest house in Neopia Central - at least, that's what she said. That girl - she's so energetic and random that I almost wanted to throw up - took me straight to the city of Sakhmet in the Lost Desert, where her side account Neohome is. I almost suffocated from the heat and sandy air of the Desert; the mild humidity of Meridell that made crops flourish was nothing compared to the barren heat of the Lost Desert. Nothing, I was convinced, could grow in the Lost Desert. I stood corrected, however, when I saw a Tchea Berry Bush growing in the backyard of the marble Neohome that Icy had built for her future side account pets to live in. After showing me around the small house and giving me 10,000 NP to live off of until she comes to visit me next week, she promptly left, leaving me feeling rather dumb and betrayed in my new, lonesome home. I suddenly felt a terrible pang in my stomach - I badly, badly, badly wanted to go back to the Pound, to lie down in my bed, to smell the bamboo in the air and to talk to Sadie while half-asleep. There's nothing for me, here in Sakhmet. There's only sand and strangers, sand and strangers and heat and solitude!

      Somebody, please, save me!

      ~***~

      20th Day of Running

      Tomorrow, I'm running. It's been two weeks since I arrived in Sakhmet, and during that time I've been toiling way in my room, lying down in my horribly comfortable bed and waiting for Icy to come. I like Icy. She's nice, and sort of funny, too. And plus, she's my mom now. No matter how much I resent her for taking me away from the Pound, I can't deny the fact that she's my new mother. Even though I allowed myself to like Icy, accept her and trust her, I can't help but be angry now. She said that she'd visit me weekly, but it's been two weeks since she spoke those words and she hasn't dropped by! My 10,000 NP have dwindled to only one thousand, and even though I don't mind eating Tchea Berries and Scarab Cookies, I still can't believe Icy broke her word. She had seemed like a reliable, kind person - but no, she said one thing and did something completely different! She told me that she'd visit me every week so that I wouldn't feel like less than her main account pets, and so that I wouldn't be living inadequately due to a lack of reasonable neopoints, but that's exactly what's happening! So, today, I made decision: I'm going to leave my house and run away. But I know that I can't just run into the Desert like a crazie - I have to have a plan. So, dear diary, dear journal, dear my only remaining friend on this planet: Here is my plan.

      Q - NC - KL - M

      Yes, that seemingly random scramble of letters and dashes is my plan. I don't feel comfortable writing out my plan until it's been executed, so, dear diary, you will simply have to live with that vague description for now. Although I've deprived you of the most important details, I will tell you one thing: I am going to run into the Desert like a crazie. I'm using my remaining neopoints to buy water and tchea berries - but mostly water. Tomorrow, I'm going to run and never stop until I get to my next location, then I'm going to eat the berries and drink the water and find a nice place to lodge for free for the night, and if I can't find a place I'll just sleep out in the warm sand. Then I'm going to go to my next location, and my next, and my next, where I'm going to settle down and live the life I want to live. I'm going to make friends and have a family and be happy, because that's what I deserve. That is what everybody deserves - to be happy, to live the life they want to live, to have wings that aren't bound by chains or rope and a heart that can soar as high as it wants.

      ~***~

      30th Day of Running

      Okay, so I will say one thing before truly starting with this entry: Plans have a chance of going awry. All of them. The poorly made ones, the stunningly fashioned ones; none of them have a one hundred percent chance of perfect execution. Perhaps my plan wasn't brilliant, but it was solid, and it certainly didn't go the way I had planned for it to.

      First, let me tell you what my plan was. The first leg of my plan - Q - was "Qasala." I was going to run into the Desert and run and run and run until I saw the city in the distance, and then I would keep running. The point of going to Qasala would be that, if Icy came to Sakhmet the following day, she wouldn't find me. I was so upset and disappointed in her that I didn't even bother leaving her note; Serves her right, I thought, She doesn't deserve a word of good-bye. After earning some money doing odd jobs in Qasala, I would travel to Neopia Central, where I would break Sadie out of the Pound and we'd run away together to Kiko Lake. I wasn't really sure why I decided to incorporate Kiko Lake into my plan, but I suppose it's because Sadie had always lamented the loss of her dear home and the candy store, and if I was taking Sadie away somewhere, I at least wanted her to make peace with the shattered fragments of her past. Anyway, after staying in Kiko Lake for maybe a night or two, we'd go to Meridell - my first home, the home that I missed the most and loved the most. Sadie and I would live in two cottages, side-by-side, and we'd both adopt little sisters and make tons of friends and be happy, just as we deserved.

      But, like I said, plans have a chance of going awry.

      But... you know what? I'm too happy to tell you what happened. I believe that some events are to be kept in the heart, in the mind, in the soul - to be stored as memories that you can relive again and again, so one day you can look back at that happy moment and smile.

      ~***~

      It was late at night; the gleaming white stars above flickered in a celestial dance as the light of the moon waned and became full again. The Lost Desert, and the bustling city of Sakhmet, had both quieted and cooled down for the night; the markets and streets were devoid of the Sakhmetians, who had retreated to the warmth of their homes. However, a sole figure slipped from her home in the dead of night, looking up to the cloudless skies with wide, curious eyes. She remembered a friend she had once, her first friend, who had dreamt of being freed from her chains. That friend - she was a wise-cracking red Eyrie, with an obnoxiously loud laugh and a fiery, defiant personality - had dreamt of flying higher than any other creature, to fly so high that nobody could follow her. Then, in that sea of stars called the sky, she would usher the glowing crystals into rusted lanterns she had stolen from a certain Techo. After that, she would return to Neopia, and give the stars to those who were lost, to those who were in darkness, like she had once been.

      This Xweetok - this Xweetok was looking for her star as she silently slipped out of her modest marble home. She had other plans than to waste away in the confines of this house, sad and alone. She wanted more, dreamt of more - she dreamt of running, of getting away, to live as she wished and to never be chained or caged. A free spirit, a winged creature - that's what she wanted to be.

      But as she slipped from the shadow cast by her home into the moonlight, she saw two figures approaching, one shorter than the other. One was a girl, precisely five feet tall, with wide, deep brown eyes, long dark hair tied into a uni tail, tanned skin, and scarlet lips. Beside her was a small, shy red Zafara, who had chalky lavender eyes that peered with fright at the sand around her, at the strange buildings and faraway stars. And suddenly, all thoughts of plans and memories slipped away from the Xweetok; suddenly, all that mattered to her was this small girl, and this small Zafara. She was, certainly, caught off guard by the sight of the pair - especially the little Zafara, who was so painfully familiar. The sight of her brought happy memories back to her in a flush of vibrance and color, but what were happy memories suddenly felt like nightmares of the past, haunting her while she was awake. An ache suddenly ravaged her heart as she stood there, only a foot away from the door of her new home, as still as ice.

      The girl paused in her steps, then leaned down to whisper something in the Zafara's ear. The Zafara then stood on tip-toes to whisper something into the girl's ear. Rhis went on for a few minutes before the Zafara, whose hand was linked with the girl's, suddenly broke free and ran at full-speed toward the Xweetok. A rush of feelings - joy, sorrow, confusion - wrapped around Tramikaa as the tiny Zafara hugged her tight, and suddenly she was sweeping the little neopet into the air, tears stinging her eyes.

      Kannon? she wanted to ask. But she didn't, because she knew that this little girl wasn't, and could never be, the little sister she had lost - the little sister who was no longer hers.

      A few steps later, Icy was standing in the moonlight, smiling at them. "Tammy," she said, "This is your new little sister, Mihuw."

      And Tammy could only reply by crying. She cried and laughed and smiled, and when she was done hugging and squeezing the little red Zafara, she went over to Icy and hugged her, too. She cried and cried and cried, and the cold, crystalline tears that swelled from her eyes cried as well: "Thank you," they cried. "Thank you so much. Thank you, thank you, thank you."

The End

 
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