Sound of the Ocean
I picked up the shiny purple cowry shell and pressed it against my right ear. “I hear something,” I said in wonder, delighted with the discovery. “Listen.” We were in my owner’s shop, looking around at some of the stuff she was trying to sell.
I hurriedly handed it to my sister, Janie, a white Kougra. Janie did as I asked and held it up to her ear. “Yes,” she answered, recognizing the soft noise. “That sound is the ocean.”
“The ocean,” I breathed out in a whisper, entranced just by the thought of it. “Is the ocean beautiful, Janie?” I was only a week old. My owner, Sandra, had created me so Janie and her brother – who’s now also my brother – would have another companion.
“Oh, yes,” Janie answered quickly. “I’ve only been there once, but it was amazing. Perhaps we’ll go again sometime, so you’ll be able to see it, too.”
“I hope so.” I stared at the shell, cupping it in my soft Xweetok paws. Then, reluctantly, I placed it back where it belonged on the shelf. When I glanced back over at Janie, she was trying to pick some lint off an old plushie.
“Do you want to go shopping, Minnie?” Janie asked, turning to look at me. She loved shopping. I didn’t that much, but I always went to make her happy.
“Sure,” I agreed, this time feeling rather excited to go. We both ran back into the house to collect some neopoints. Then we met at the front door.
“I already told Sandra,” Janie said. “And I asked Simon if he wanted to come, but he said no.” Simon, our brown Lupe brother, wasn’t into shopping at all. He preferred to stay at home with his Spardel and listen to music or read.
* * *
Janie and I were both really hungry, so we stopped by the health food store first. Sandra insisted on us always eating healthy meals, but it was all right to have a sugary snack once in a while.
When we were looking at all the food, Janie pointed to a green, strange-looking thing and exclaimed, “That’s what I want! I love sprout wraps.” I hadn’t had the chance to try very many things yet, but I was very open to trying new stuff. So, I ordered one as well.
Turns out, I don’t like sprout wraps. At all. Janie laughed aloud, nearly choking on hers, when she saw me spit out the first bite I took, gagging. She told me she’d finish my wrap, and that we’d visit the bakery to find me something else to eat. When Janie finished her food, we took off.
I decided that I like the bakery – very much. There’s lots of yummy treats there. I got some toast with jam, and it was much better than the wrap. I even let Janie have a bite, and she said she liked it as well.
While I sat outside the bakery, eating my toast, Janie stole into the chocolate factory, making me promise I wouldn’t tell Sandra. A few minutes later, as I was licking the sticky jam off my fingers, Janie came back with a small bag of blueberry jelly beans.
“These are the best flavor there is,” she claimed, popping a few into her mouth and then offering me some. “I can’t believe they actually had them in stock!” We walked slowly, munching on the chewy jelly beans and enjoying them thoroughly.
We stopped in front of the grooming parlor, because Janie said she needed to get some things. She selected a small, purple bottle with swirls on it from the shelf.
“What’s that?” I asked, feeling really uneducated and embarrassed.
“It’s nail polish,” Janie answered matter-of-factly. “I always buy the faerie Kougra claw polish. It makes my nails look prettier, like a faerie Kougra’s purple ones.” She seemed to understand that I hadn’t known what the polish was. How would I, though, being only a week old?
“Oh,” I answered, somewhat interested. “And what is that?”
Janie had grabbed a little compact container. She popped it open. “See this stuff inside?” she asked, waiting for me to say I did. When I nodded, she continued. “It’s Eyeshadow. It’s purple, to match the nail polish.”
Eyeshadow. I rolled the word around my head a few times. “It gives your eyes a shadow?” I asked.
“Well, sort of,” Janie answered, this time floundering. “I’ll show you when we get home, okay? It’s kind of hard to explain.”
I shrugged and picked up a snazzy moon comb. “I’m going to get this,” I announced to my sister. “My fur is always so tangled.”
“I like your fur,” Janie said. “Blue Xweetoks have very nice fur, if you ask me.” I blushed, pleased with the comment.
“Well, come on! Let’s go buy this stuff. There’s still some shops I want to go to, then I’ll show you the Money Tree.” Janie headed for the cash register.
The Money Tree? I wondered. What’s that? Instead of asking, though, I followed the Kougra, hurrying to catch up.
* * *
Uni’s Clothing is a very nice shop, I decided after we looked around a bit. Janie and I each bought a nice new collar. Hers was jeweled, and mine was green satin. The Uni shopkeeper, whose name I supposed must have been “Uni,” since it was Uni’s Clothing, said that the green satin collar went exceptionally well with my blue-and-brown fur.
Next door was the smoothie shop. I’d never heard of a “smoothie,” but after I’d tried a lemon blitz, I was hooked. They were delicious! Although, the brain freeze part was extremely surprising, and quite painful. Janie thought it was funny, and cracked up after I had slurped down a large gulp, then almost screamed because of the brain freeze.
After that was when I discovered the wonders of the plushie shop. I wanted to buy all the plushies they had, but I didn’t have enough neopoints, so I had to settle on two – a yellow Gnorbu and a green Acara. I loved them both very much, and insisted on naming them.
“The Gnorbu will be Sunny,” I told Janie, “because see? She’s yellow, like the sun. And the Acara will be Smiley, because she has a nice, happy smile. Don’t you think?”
“Mmm,” Janie just muttered, her eyes fixed on a red Cybunny plushie. “Isn’t that cute? I’ll take it,” she told the shopkeeper, pulling out her money.
“What are you going to name the Cybunny?” I asked after the purchase was made.
Janie gave me a funny look. “I don’t name my plushies,” she said simply, and promptly dropped the subject. I felt foolish, but kept my plushies’ names, believing it was fine for me to name them, even if Janie didn’t.
We never did get to see the Money Tree.
* * *
Back at home, I left Janie, taking my plushies, and retreated to Sandra’s shop. To my surprise, Sandra was there, talking to a customer.
When she finished, she turned to me. “Hi, Minnie,” she said with a smile. “Did you and Janie have a nice time this afternoon?”
“Yeah,” I answered. “Want to see what I bought?” I showed her my plushies, and the moon comb. “This is Sunny, and this is Smiley. They’re sisters.”
“How sweet,” Sandra said, feeling Sunny’s fur and Smiley’s ears. “They’re very soft, too.”
That’s when I remembered about the shell. “Do you still have that one purple shell?” I asked her eagerly. “Janie said it was... I think, a cow- something.”
“The purple cowry shell?” Sandra asked, drumming her fingers on the table surface and humming a cheerful little tune.
“Yes! That one. Is it still here?” I quickly scrambled on top of the counter, where I could view the whole shop all at once.
“I’m sorry, Minnie,” Sandra said in a regretful tone, her humming coming to an end. “I sold it about a half hour ago. I didn’t know you wanted it. If I’d have known...” she trailed off, seeing my sad look.
“Oh,” I said quietly, looking down at my toes with slumped shoulders. “It’s okay, I mean... you didn’t know. It’s just that, well, there was something special about it.”
“What was that?” Sandra asked curiously, helping me down from the counter.
“I heard the sound of the ocean in it.”