My Judge Hog
Written for my best RL friend. I love you, my beloved Hana Banana King Kong Hong Kong. Shorty and Tubby may leave you, but I’ll always be here. ^^
He had left at 7:38am NST on the 15th day of the Month of Celebrating. I awoke to the noises of him packing and jumbling around. It took me a few seconds to remember what was going on. Then, the memories of the last few days flooded back to me. Jumping out of bed, I ran to him with my bedhead hair and wrinkled pajamas a few sizes too big.
It was all a blur after that. I remember flinging myself against his warm body, as if squeezing him as tight as possible could change things. As if it would prevent him from walking out that door. As if he would put down his things and decide to stay. As if my world could be fixed again... As if.
But life went on, and my fourteen year old self holding onto my father with all my might could not stop him from walking out that door. I walked by his side all the way to the Eyrie cab, like a little Doglefox to his master. He tried to avoid the subject the whole time, just smiled and made small talk, as if it were just another morning... We both knew it wasn’t. But even with that knowledge, there was no remorseful goodbye, nothing that would signal the end of something good, something great, something precious. His eyes crinkled at me and I saw the sadness behind them. Or I convinced myself that there was sadness, at least. The Eyrie gave me a formal nod and flew away, my father sitting on the Neopet’s back, flying out of my life forever.
I actually stood there for a while, silently screaming for my wings to move. My father was out of sight; my last remembrance of him that day was his back, sailing emotionlessly out of my sight, into the horizon.
I stared at the spot that the Eyrie had been standing in. I remembered my father kneeling there, convincing me that I would have the best time at my new Neoschool. How nervous I had been, and how he had enveloped me in a gentle hug. How he grinned knowingly at me when I came back and gushed about my new friends. How he would call me the best daughter in the world.
And how he would always be waiting there for me when I was sad. How he would pick up my tiny Zafara body and let me cry on his shoulder while he carried me home.
I walked robotically inside my Neohome. I thought that I would go to my room to cry, but surprised myself by going to his room instead. I couldn’t tell my stubborn legs to stop, as they had already taken control of my body.
I opened the door to his empty room, unfamiliar and familiar at the same time. I inhaled and smelled his scent lingering in the room, a comfort to my pain. I traced the lines on the floor, where furniture had covered it and it wasn’t faded like the rest.
I softly opened the closet, and that’s when I felt those hot tears sting my eyes. That unfamiliar image of the abandoned closet was permanently engraved in my mind, never to leave me again. It was completely empty, except for a small picture tacked up against the wall. There was a Faerie Zafara, painted soon after her first day at Neoschool, a little Baby Uni, and a Blue Peophin. Next to them stood a tall, strong human, our old owner. The one who had promised he would never leave. The one who had said he would always be there for us.
Underneath that picture was a slip of paper, stuck to the wall with a piece of tape. It read:
“I’m sorry, Hana. It’s for the best, you know. I hope that you will find this note soon after I leave so that you can assume the role of the head of the household. I just can’t stay any longer. It’s up to you now, to take care of your siblings. They don’t know I’m leaving; they think I’m just going on a quick vacation. It’s up to you to tell them the truth.
My world shattered. It was like everything I had believed in had been tied to that picture. Why hadn’t he taken it? Did we mean that little to him? And what about the note? How could he have not had the courage to face my little siblings by himself?
I felt angry at my father for leaving, but at the same time, I wanted to beg him to come back. Different emotions flooded through my mind, sadness, anger, guilt, shame... Through all of the emotions being etched across my head, regret stood out among them all. I regretted the times that I was so selfish towards him, had taken his presence for granted. I wondered if, maybe if I hadn’t been that way to him, he would still be here. I realized I wasn’t blinking and, when I did, a fat teardrop rolled lazily across my cheek.
I leaned my pained body against the wall and buried my head in between my legs. I didn’t want to look back up. I didn’t want to lift my head to see the empty room and the closet, empty of all but that abandoned picture. As all of my past rushed across my mind, my head pounded against my temples. They throbbed sharply. I wanted to stay in that old familiar world that I knew so well. I don’t remember how long I stayed in that position. It felt like hours, days, weeks, months, years.
Silence overtook the room, and grabbed control of my world. Looking back on it now, I have realized that the silence I had experienced then was the significant factor for my ability to gather up my emotions and pick up all the broken pieces that my owner had left behind. It gave me a chance to collect myself and stand again. It was then that I learned how to appreciate everything I had, for they weren’t there to be taken for granted. I felt my anger cool and my tense body relax. Instead of looking at the hurtful present, I decided to dwell on the happy moments we had spent together. I closed my eyes and flipped through the memories in my mind.
A scene stood out to me amongst all the thoughts that were loudly rolling through my head. I didn’t realize it was significant at the time, but now I realize that it was one of the most amazing moments of my life.
It had taken place on another normal day. I hadn’t had any siblings at the time and was a regular Yellow Zafara. I was in my Judge Hog days, and I liked to fly around the house, my arms spread wide and the with the wind brushing across my furry little face. I felt a sense of security whenever I did that. My father would sweep in and bear hug me against his chest. He would whisper softly in my ear, “I need Judge Hog’s help, won’t you save me?” And so I would bravely come to his rescue and save him from “impending doom.”
But on one particular day, he had surprised me. He hadn’t waited for me at my Eyrie bus stop and it had been a bad day for me. I walked into the house, grumpy and feeling as betrayed as a four year old could feel. But to my surprise, I found my father waiting there for me.
He was wearing a Judge Hog costume and his hands were placed grandly on his hips. He ran over to me and stretched his arms out. The wrapped around me and lifted me high into the air. He spun me around, my fur swishing against the ceiling. He leaned into my ear and I felt his hot breath as he whispered to me, “I’m here for you.”
That’s the father that I still think of and remember today. My owner, my father. The one who would never lose his temper of me when I was cranky. The one who would always hold my hand and help me through my obstacles, step by step. The one who would envelop me in his big bear arms and swing me around and around. The one who could make me feel like the only little Neopet in the world. The one who can save me. The one and only. My own personal Judge Hog.