It was warm and sunny that day in Neopia Central. The sun was out, there were no clouds, and it seemed like a perfect summer day. However, not all areas of the busy city were quite so cheerful. Not many noticed the lone, empty road in the back of the labyrinth of streets that housed many neopets and owners.
Very few remembered the name of this nearly abandoned road, and the few families that still lived there were not a social bunch.
Located at the very end of the road was an old, worn down wooden neohome that looked as though nobody had lived in it for years. However, if one looked closely, they would notice in the old grimy window, a small blue furry face was gazing out of it, watching the street.
Of course, nobody ever noticed this little lonely pet as she waited by the window. She would do this every day. She barely ate, or moved at all. She was afraid that if she left, her owner might return while she was away. She had to be there for the day her owner returned.
* * *
“Kat, will you get out of that nasty chair and help us make dinner!” a voice called from the other room.
The blue Acara took one last glance both ways down the street, and then groaned as she stood up from the old Snowbunny Chair and stretched her stiff legs. She grumpily strode into the kitchen to help her brother and sister make supper for the three of them.
“Why do you constantly have to nag me about sitting by the window, Cherry?” Kat asked as she searched through the dusty cupboards for something decent enough to cook.
The red Uni shook her head disappointedly.
“Kat, you sit in that broken chair every day, staring out that dirty, faded window for... something that’s never going to happen,” she explained, trying to avoid an emotional outburst from her senseless older sister.
Kat snorted at her. “I’m waiting for Lyn to return, Cherry. Don’t be so uneasy about this. She’ll come back soon enough. I know she’s been gone awhile, but she’s fine, I’m sure. It’s not like she forgot about us!” she replied.
Cherry and their brother, Andy, exchanged worried glances.
“Kat, it’s been six and a half years...” Andy said quietly, his voice hoarse.
Kat simply shrugged. “So? She said she was going to come back, so obviously she will. She wouldn’t have lied to us.”
Her siblings only sighed, and continued preparing the table. They didn’t have much food left in the house, so their dinner consisted of some Altadorian Bread, a basketful of different cheap fruits, and some other unusual combinations of food they managed to accumulate from the Money Tree. Lyn had left them with barely twenty thousand neopoints when she’d disappeared six years ago, which the three pets had used up long ago.
The pets finished quickly, and immediately afterwards, Kat ran to her chair and once again stared out her window, almost desperately. Andy and Cherry could always sense some form of despair in their older sister’s behavior. The Acara was in denial; she had been since their owner had failed to return that fateful day.
* * *
“Goodnight, everyone, I’ll be back in the morning!” the eleven-year-old girl called from the living room.
Her pets were already in bed. Lyn always spent the night away, as she didn’t have a bedroom in the small four-room neohome.
“Goodnight Lyn! See you tomorrow morning!” her three pets chorused from their shared room.
It had been just like any other night for them. Lyn always left for the night, and returned either in the morning or afternoon, depending on the season. The young neopets had no reason to think that their owner would simply not return to them without warning. However, the very next day as they wandered downstairs, they were surprised to find it was already 10:00 AM, and Lyn wasn’t back yet. Still, they shrugged it off, assuming she was just running late, and would surely be back by noon. Though the afternoon came and went, the young pets still didn’t worry.
“Oh well, she must just be busy. She’ll be here in the morning,” Kat had said reassuringly to her little brother and sister, who were slightly worried to have no sign of their owner.
The days passed, and those days turned into weeks, and the three siblings had become increasingly worried. They didn’t know what they could do to find out what had happened to their wonderful owner. At first, they’d tried asking passersby at the Neopian Plaza if they knew anything, but had no luck. They were either told to go home, ask someone else or were just completely ignored.
Kat had resorted to waiting patiently by the window in the living room on looking the street before their house, confident that Lyn would return, and things would go back to normal. But she never did.
* * *
“Kat, do you want to come with me to the Money Tree? It’ll be good for you get out of this stuffy place for once,” Andy asked on his way out the door the next morning.
Kat stared at him blankly for a moment.
“If I leave, Lyn might come back while we’re gone. She’ll see that we aren’t here, and might just leave again,” she explained.
The Kacheek sighed sadly. He decided it wasn’t worth arguing that Lyn was probably not returning. Even if she did, Cherry would still be here. Andy knew, though, there was no way to get through to her. So he simply nodded and left.
* * *
“I remember when Lyn bought her first paint brush. It was a basic one, but still. It was a paint brush. That made it an accomplishment, you know?”
Andy and Cherry didn’t respond. Kat always talked about when Lyn had been still around. Sometimes they did remember what Kat was talking about, and other times they would wonder if she was making things up. Kat especially loved to talk about her life before Lyn had adopted Kat’s siblings.
“And do you remember that Lyn used that paint brush on you, Andy? You were a red Kacheek, but she painted you green, so she wouldn’t have two red pets. She was always obsessive like that,” Kat said, laughing a little at the memory.
“I just wish she’d come home already,” she added quietly, picking at her omelette.
Andy dropped his fork onto his plate and stood up abruptly.
“Sorry, girls, I don’t feel too well. I think I’m going to bed early tonight,” he said, turning his head away as he scurried to the bedroom.
The two sisters ate silently for a while, deciding not to bother their brother. Kat seemed to notice that she’d upset him with her reminiscing, and stopped eating after a short while as well.
“I don’t know what happened to this family,” she finally said. “Since Lyn vanished, it’s like we’ve fallen apart.”
Cherry sighed. “Kat... do you have any idea how your behavior is affecting Andy and me? You were supposed to be the oldest, the bravest. We looked to you to tell us we would be okay. At first it worked, but when Andy and I came to our senses, you didn’t, and it only caused more stress. We do just fine without Lyn. If you didn’t talk about her so much, we’d all be so much happier,” Cherry explained.
Kat scowled. “How could you not miss Lyn? She’s our owner! She loves us!” the Acara snapped.
Startled, Cherry sat back in her chair.
“Kat, she doesn’t love us! Whether or not she did before, she wouldn’t have abandoned us if she cared about us. She didn’t even tell us that she was leaving! Why you still defend and admire her, I’ll never understand. But I’m happier than ever without an owner! I’m strong because I’ve had to stand up and take care of a neohome, make food, and take care of my two older siblings!” Cherry snapped back bitterly.
Kat stood up from her seat to look down at the Uni, who only did the same, making them eye-level again.
“I can’t believe you would say such things! She was my owner longer since I was adopted first, so it’s obvious you weren’t as attached. I, however, will forever be loyal to the human that took care of me. Lyn WILL return one day, and she’ll take you straight to the pound once I’ve told her that you’ve betrayed her!” Kat bellowed.
Cherry glowered. “I’ve been taking care of you for six years. Lyn only took care of you for two. But if you’re too stubborn to accept that Lyn is gone, then don’t bother depending on me anymore for listening to you. I can’t do it anymore.”
With that, Cherry left the kitchen and joined her brother in their room. Kat stood at the table for several minutes before turning and slowly making her way towards the Snowbunny Chair in the living room. She curled up on it as best she could. Her back legs hung off the side, so she wrapped her arms around her knees and rested her head against the back rest of the chair. Eventually, she drifted off to sleep.
* * *
“Come with me.”
Kat opened her eyes to look up at her Kacheek brother.
“What?” she asked, blinking a few times.
“I’m going to the Money Tree, and you’re coming with me whether you want to or not. You haven’t left this house in six years,” he said. His voice was monotonous.
Kat was about to argue, but Andy turned around too quickly, and she decided not to bother. She still felt weary from her fight with Cherry the night before. Grabbing a Tchea Fruit for breakfast, she followed her brother reluctantly to the door. She hesitated as he walked out the door, but shuffled after him as he approached the dirt road in front of their home.
Neither of them said anything at first. Kat shivered in the cool morning air. When was the last time she had actually breathed fresh air? As they continued down the long road to Neopia Central, Kat studied her surroundings. The neighborhood looked nothing like it had six years ago.
“Why are all these houses abandoned and falling apart? They used to be so lively,” she commented quietly.
Andy shrugged. “They’ve slowly been abandoned over the years. All the families either fell apart, or got bored of the depressing scenery.”
Kat felt herself wanting to turn around and run home where things were familiar and safe. This wasn’t the same Neopia she knew from her childhood.
Soon enough, they entered the Bazaar and were making their way through the shops. Kat’s eyes widened at everything around her. She hadn’t kept up with Neopia as it had changed, and knew nothing about the world she was actually living in.
“I don’t get it. What is this place? This can’t really be Neopia Central. All the shops look different. I’ve never even seen some of these pets and colors!” she whispered to Andy.
They approached the Money Tree, which was extremely crowded for a Monday morning. Kat sat down on a nearby bench and watched while her brother quickly snatched up neopoints and food. As she waited, a strange neopet sat beside her. Startled, Kat slunk away slightly, and continued to stare at the creature until he looked at her.
“Can I help you?” he asked her.
“Oh, no... Well, I was just wondering... what kind of neopet are you?” she asked, slightly embarrassed.
The pet raised an eyebrow. “I’m a Lutari, of course! What, you’ve never seen one before?”
Kat shook her head.
The Lutari’s amused grin faded. “You’ve really never seen a Lutari before?” he asked again.
“No. And I’ve never seen whatever color you’re supposed to be either,” she answered, almost rudely.
“Gee, I know Maractite is a new color, but it’s not that new...” he said.
Andy walked over just then, his arms full of cheap foods and a few small bags of neopoints.
“You ready to leave, Kat? I can’t carry any more,” he said.
“Yeah, let’s go,” she said, standing up quickly.
Without another glance at the Lutari, Kat grabbed Andy’s arm and briskly pulled him back towards home.
“What your problem now?” he asked.
“I don’t like it here. Neopia’s not the same anymore,” she muttered.
“Of course it’s not the same, Kat. Things are always changing. If you’d been around to experience it all, then you’ve liked all this, I’m sure.”
Kat was about to respond, when something caught her eye. She whirled to the right and locked her eyes on a human only a few feet away. Andy looked around to find what his sister had spotted.
The girl was about 17 or 18, and was talking to a desert Aisha. Kat took a step forward to follow them, but stopped suddenly. Could this really be the girl that Kat had admired for so long, yet disappeared even longer ago?
“Lyn...” Kat murmured, almost hopelessly hoping that the human would hear her and turn around. Kat glanced at Andy, who looked bewildered, somber, and weary all at once.
He closed his eyes. “It’s not her, Kat,” he said quietly.
“Yes, it is! I’d know her no matter what! She’s... she... did abandon us. She left and got new pets and a new life, and forgot about us.” Shaking her head, Kat turned away from the oblivious human and headed slowly back to their neohome. Andy followed her.
“I’m so sorry, Kat,” he said.
“It’s not your fault. If anything, I’m glad I got to see her now. Now I know she’s never coming back to us. But you know what? I don’t care anymore. I’m glad because I’m not going to live for her anymore. I’m going to live for myself and my siblings who stayed by my side for all these years. I’m just sorry I didn’t realize it until now,” Kat replied.
They approached the worn old house. As she opened the door, Kat’s eyes immediately met her younger sister’s. Without using words, Cherry noticed the change in her sister. Lyn may have been gone, but that didn’t mean her former pets were. They didn’t need an owner. They would be perfect without one, Kat knew. She would finally move on.
* * *
At the very end of Chia Close, there is a small dirt road. Very few remember the name of this nearly abandoned road, and the few families that do still live there aren’t very social.
Located at the very end of this road is an old, worn down wooden neohome that looks as though nobody’s lived in it for years. However, if one pays attention, they will notice that there is a very happy family of three that go about their day as though they have it all.