Lost and Found
"Osinie?" my mother, well, I called her that but she was really my owner, called for me. Her usually gentle voice had taken on a tone I just couldn't place. Whatever it was, it seemed urgent, so I decided to listen.
"Yes, Mom, what is it?" I got up and walked to where her voice came from, her bedroom. Just as I approached, the door swung open.
"I'm going on a trip; you're going to stay in the pound until then." As she said that, she pulled out a red paintbrush. I was horrified. She went on trips regularly, and never once did she throw me in the pound. She gave me a knowing look and knelt down to pat my head.
"Faerieland recently fell. I'm going in to help out and get the citizens back on their feet. I'm not going to return to Neopia Central anytime soon. But when I do, I want to get you back. You're from the islands; you know people love how you look. I'm painting you red so that you won't be adopted by the time I get back." With that, she stood and walked away. I couldn't do anything except follow.
We walked together to the rainbow pool, an eerie silence between us. I wasn't mad. In fact, I was as calm as I always was. She promised to pick me up, after all. I knew she could be lying, but I don't think she would.
Then, we arrived. She stood me in the pool and painted me down with the brush. Once it was done, I stepped out and looked at myself. I was hideous! Red was most definitely not my color. I looked over to my mom. Judging by the expression on her face, she shared the same beliefs.
She said her goodbyes then, where it was private and she knew we wouldn't be mocked. Before I knew it, we were at the pound and mom was filling out the papers necessary to abandon a pet. It was then that I saw, out of the corner of my eye, another pet being abandoned. This one was crying, shouting.
"Are you really going to leave me like this?"
"Oh, please, no!"
I sat up and took a breath. I had dreamt about that day every night since I first came here. It had been three years since then, but I still held out hope that my mom, no, my old owner would return.
The pound wasn't as bad as other pets made it out to be. I shared a room with two other pets; it wasn't uncomfortable. We got to wash three times a week, and the food was... decent. It wasn't home, but I still felt fine.
I heard the door creak open, and people flooded in. I had become so good at blending in that no one noticed me. Well, no one but one girl who smiled and petted me through the bars. I couldn't help but smile back.
Then, she turned and walked away. I let out a sigh of relief, glad she didn't adopt me. I leaned back a little. It was going to be yet another long day.
I waited a few minutes. People walked by, and I picked out a couple of faces that I'd seen in here a lot. Then, a hand reached for the bars of my cage. It inserted a key into the lock, and then was joined by another to pick me up and put me in the arms of the girl.
"Hi there," she began as she carried me out of the pound, "My name is Lilly, but you can call me Lil. I'm gonna be your new best friend!" She let out a little giggle.
I stared at her face. I was greeted with the big round eyes and bright smile of a child. Her light brown hair was tied off in pigtails with two yellow ribbons.
"Hey, are you listenin'?" she asked, pouting and stopping her bouncy walk down the street. I shook my head.
"Well, I was saying that you're just gonna love-love-love my house! It's bright, and pink, and the garden is super-duper pretty!" She smiled, resuming her walk.
It was then I realized she was dead serious about this, and I didn't take it too well. I nearly broke down into tears- but I knew I had to be strong. I decided to speak up.
"Actually, I don't really want to see your house. I don't really want to be adopted by you, or anyone, in the first place. You see, my old owner promised she'd come back to the pound and pick me up again and I need to wait for her..." My voice trailed off.
There was a long silence while Lilly processed what I said.
"How long have you been waiting?" she asked.
"Three years, give or take."
"Hate to say it, but if she really cared she would have picked you up by now. If I didn't come along, you probably would have been stuck in there forever, so be grateful."
"No! That can't be! She loves me, she wouldn't just, just, forget about me!" I shouted at Lil. I should have felt bad, but I didn't. After all, she had just doubted my mom's love for me. There would be no way that she would stop caring! However, a part of my mind couldn't help but believe the girl who had just picked me up.
"Look, it's true, alright? Just trust me." Her voice was merely a whisper. "Uh, what was your name again?"
"Osinie. My name is Osine."
"Right. Just trust me, Osine."
I sat on the couch in Lilly's living room. She smiled and looked at me.
"Osine, are you ready to meet your brand-new little sister? I promise you'll love her!" She asked her building excitement like a firecracker about to go off.
"Sure, whatever," I sighed, shrugging my shoulders.
"ESKI!" Her voice was loud and high, a sharp contrast from what I was used to.
"I think that was too quiet, maybe you should try again," I said as I reached up to make sure my ears were fine. She giggled at my sarcasm.
"Don't make me shout louder."
"I didn't know that was possible," I muttered. I felt a bit bad for giving her the cold shoulder, but in my mind, she deserved it.
I heard hoof steps on the steps and turned around. A yellow Ixi stood on the second step from the bottom.
"Well, hey there. It's a pleasure to make your acquaintance. I'm called Eski by everyone I know." Judging by her voice, she was only a few months younger than me. "What's your name?"
"I'm Osinie. It's, uh, nice to meet you," I said as I turned away, trying to avoid more contact than necessary. As I did so, Eski trotted over and sat next to me. We were both still and there was a silence, before Lilly stood up.
"Alright, Osine, you'll be sharing Eski's room." I held back a groan. "Right now, we're going to get you cleaned up." She lead me upstairs, into the washroom. She turned the tap to warm, and watched as the tub filled.
Once it was full, she handed me some soap and walked out.
"Once you're done, come back downstairs for dinner, please!" She bounced down the hall and to the stairs. Then she disappeared from my sights and I sighed and started to wash.
As I sat in the tub I thought about all that had happened. I had been waiting for my mom, well, owner for three years, and then I was snatched up by this Lilly and denied a chance at ever seeing my owner again. I had every right to be mean to her, but I felt bad about it still. I told myself I'd be nice to Eski to make up for the guilt of what I was doing to Lil.
Once I was done cleaning, I leaned back and relaxed.
During dinner, I learned some things. For one, Lil didn't like eating meat, not at all. We dined on apples, celery, and veggie omelettes, without a hot dog in sight. Another was that Eski loved to eat. She didn't talk once during dinner, as she was too busy shoveling various fruits, veggies, breads and cheeses into her mouth.
Most importantly, I learned that Eski had also been adopted from the pound. She had been wasting away in one of the back rooms where no one visited, wishing for anyone to pick her up, if even for a short time. During Lilly's story about her I decided that the pound wasn't as good of a place as I had thought. I'd still rather be there than here, though.
That night I was brought up to Eski's room, and given a bed. It was very comfortable compared to the pound floor. Lilly patted me on the head and walked downstairs.
"Goodnight, guys. Sleep well!"
The following days passed slowly. I did what I told myself I would and snapped at Lilly. She put up with me well enough, and I continued. Eski didn't usually leave our room unless for meals or "family bonding." Some nights I really missed my old owner and screamed, cried and threw things, but Lilly would come in and tell me to be quiet. I tried to ignore her but eventually I'd tire myself out and collapse into a sleeping heap.
Eski and I weren't really friends, but we were definitely fine with each other. I thought she was a great Neopet, and, despite being the older one, looked up to her. She didn't understand why I was being mean to Lilly, but didn't try to stop me.
Then, I got a brilliant idea. I would sneak out and find my owner and we would be together again, forever. From then on, I plotted. I practiced sneaking around until I became quite good, and then finally decided to set my plan into motion.
Once it was late and Eski and Lil were asleep, I headed downstairs. The stairs creaked and I thought I might wake someone up, but thankfully I didn't. I grabbed some bread and an apple from the fridge, opened the door, and walked out onto the streets.
I thought that they wouldn't be busy at night, and it turned out that they weren't. I turned to the direction I thought Faerieland was and began to walk. I went a long way, and my feet ached but I kept going. I grew hungry and I ate the apple, but I didn't stop. I would be strong, I would find my owner.
Faerieland was almost in my sight when they found me. I heard their voices scream my name ad I turned. It was clear that they had been crying from the wet streaks on their faces. Lilly ran over and hugged me.
"I had almost given up, I thought you were gone forever!" She squeezed me tightly as Eski ran over.
"Yeah, we thought you were long gone. Nice to have ya back," she said, trying to not let on how much she cared, "But really, we should head home."
And so, hugs and tears were given by Lilly and my sister as we began the long journey back. I did not feel rescued. I felt captured.
The sun had risen and people were just poking their heads out by the time we got home. We were all tired and hungry, exhausted from the long journey. We opened the door and went straight to the couch. Lilly got us food, and once we were done she sat me in her lap and stroked my head.
Despite telling myself not to, I fell asleep in her lap.
I slept for two days. When I woke up, I realized how terrible I had been. It wasn't a slow realization either; it just hit me like a ton of bricks. I decided to start being nice to Lilly. She wasn't, and never could be, my real owner, but she was all I had now. I stood up and walked downstairs to where she was. I saw her stepping out the door as we went down.
"Hey, uh, Lil."
"Oh good, you're awake! What is it?"
"Where are you going?"
"Oh. Can I come?"
"Sure, come on!"
We walked out the door and down the street. I walked beside her and made sure to smile at her. She seemed relieved at my behaviour, and right then and there I thought we could finally get along. We walked past stalls and booths selling various objects, restocking our food supply.
Once we were done shopping and heading back, we bumped into someone. I muttered a quick apology and waited for the woman to move and let us by, but she just kept standing there. Suddenly, she gasped, so I decided to look up at her face.
She was smiling and tears had formed in her eyes and rolling down her cheeks. I didn't understand why for a second, but then realization hit me square in the face.