The Trials and Tribulations of Kougrahood
Acceptance, so universally acknowledged as a side dish to love, is always a tricky skill to master, for its form can arise in many different ways. Accepting that your fur is going to stick up all day, no matter how much you brush it, is one form it can take. Accepting a new member to the family? A whole other one entirely.
Bawarria had accepted, on the particular day that her fur would no cooperate, that no matter how she brushed it, it would stay exactly as it was. She didn't particularly like it, but she accepted it. The day had not begun on its usual high note. Halloween was barely two months away, and although she had promised, Perrie had not been able to come back home from her studies to celebrate the festive occasion.
Bawarria pushed down her disappointment. A gulping sound may have erupted in the process, but she maintained a firm smile. It was in this letter, that Perrie had neatly written from Altador, that the name of someone new had entered Bawarria's life.
"...despite all my nagging, the professor has insisted I stay until November... I can at least send over a Pumpkin Pie, you always enjoy them... Pottery will have the recipe in case it doesn't make it through the journey... Will miss you! Lots of love, Perrie x..."
Bawarria blinked, as only one could when a new an unfamiliar name appeared out of no where. Pottery? Who was that? What kind of cruel parents would name their child Pottery?
And then, as if by fate, Bawarria instinctively turned the letter around.
"...P.S, Pottery is going to stay with us as of the last week or two of October... She'll be arriving at our house any day now... Don't ask her why, I will explain to you later... Be nice! She's going to be part of our family now, and she's a very dear friend... xx"
Bawarria frowned. A dear friend?! She had certainly never heard of her before, so she mustn't be THAT great. Bawarria decided, then and there, that this did NOT sound like a good idea. Not only was Perrie going to be absent for one of her favorite festivals, but some intruder was going to infiltrate her family! Bawarria folded the letter closed, and peered at the envelope it had come in. The time stamp was almost a week ago. Bawarria had barely put it down on the table and turned around, when a giant KNOCK had almost split her eardrums.
Bawarria's ears slapped flat against her head. It must be her! She knew it... She stalked through the house and peeped through a crack in the door. Indeed, behind it stood a very pretty Kau with wispy, goldish hair and the appearance of someone who had lived in an eternal Autumn, and a large red suitcase was balanced beside her.
"Hello? Is anyone here?" called the Kau. "..I... I'm Pottery. Is this the right house?"
Bawarria reefed open the door, a scowl stretched across her teeny little face.
"No it is not," she replied meanly. "You're a stranger. Go away."
The Kau blinked with surprise. "Oh!" she exclaimed. "But you must be Bawalia!" and she swiftly took out a note from her bag, and read it, all the while looking at Bawarria as confirmation.
"Perrie said you'd be here! She wrote it in her letter. I'm so excited to meet you!"
Bawarria wrinkled her nose at Pottery's attempt to say her name. "It's BAWARRIA, actually."
"Oh, I'm sorry!" Pottery replied, with a huge smile that made Bawarria despise her even more. What business did she have being happy?!
"I'm terrible with names. Must be why my parents called me Pottery. They're ceramicists. Not imaginative ones, though! Oh, you have a gorgeous home!"
Pottery had walked right past Bawarria without even a second thought, and was hauling her luggage into the lounge room. Bawarria looked shocked and angry beyond her wildest nightmare. This Kau was downright rude!
...But as Pottery collected her things, Bawarria took a moment to reflect. (One might hope right now that this reflection was for the better – alas, this story would be far shorter if it had been). If this imposter wanted to stay here, she would have to survive the week living with a Baby Kougra from Hell. There was no way she was going to steal Perrie away from her. Bawarria had concocted the most brilliant plot to ensure Perrie would not be taken away from this so-called dear friend..
"This way to your room!" Bawarria blurted out suddenly, making Pottery jump as she slumped on her bags in a show of tiredness.
Bawarria led Pottery up, up, up the stairs – to the highest, and dirtiest, room in the house. Pottery did not seem to mind, despite the trouble she had carrying her things; and if she did mind, she certainly did not complain. Bawarria smugly opened the door of a room right at the end of the hall.
Mold and dust had begun to eat away parts of the wood, and the condition inside was worse still: cobwebs hung from every surface available, and where there were no cobwebs, there was dust! Dust so thick, parts of the room could not be seen.
"This is where you can stay," Bawarria said coldly.
"Oooh, it's so dusty!" Pottery exclaimed with a hint of curious delight. "Like some old, abandoned mansion that's haunted with ghosts!"
Bawarria scowled. What a stupid thing to say.
"Goodnight," Bawarria said sternly without even acknowledging Pottery's comment at all. Pottery looked outside, where it had barely begun to darken at all.
"Goodnight?" she asked with surprise, but Bawarria had already blown her candle out and strutted off, leaving the Kau to fumble her way inside and attempt to feel around the assortment of old, musty furniture and Spyders.
Now... the planning begins...
Bawarria sat awake in her room, a torch propped up under her sheets, and a notebook flat in front of her on the bed. Scribbled across the top of the first page was, "Imposter Eradication", and just below was a set of smaller headings titled, "Phase One, Phase Two, Phase Three -" mentioning the aligning dates until Perrie was scheduled to return home. Beside each header, notes and plans were scribbled in with their desired effect. Bawarria read carefully through her notes, and when she was satisfied, prepared herself. Tomorrow, begun the start of Phase One: Chore Chaos.
The day was bright and the sound of life emanated from the little home in Terror Mountain. Despite the condition of her bed, Pottery had slept quite soundly. She awoke and opened the curtains to a warm ray of early morning sunlight. The happy beginning, however, ended when a thud came from her door. Pottery opened it, sleepy-eyed, to see a very determined-looking Kougra staring back at her.
"Time for work!" she bellowed, thrusting a mop in the Kau's hooves and proceeding to fill her arms with laundry.
"Work?" Pottery asked tiredly, gazing down at her overflowing arms with a mixture of alarm and dizziness. Bawarria seemed to have ignored her at first, pulling out a bucket of hot, soapy water on wheels.
"Yes, work. You have to do chores here. It's not a bed and breakfast, you know." She pushed the bucket in front of Pottery and beckoned her to follow.
"Come on. First, you need to mop the floors of all the rooms up here and go and refill the bucket with clean water when you finish. Then you can dust and tidy up and cobwebs or mess. After that, do the rest of the rooms, except for mopping the lounge room, and then you can start on the laundry."
Pottery looked around with an expression of tired surprise. "Why not the lounge room?" she inquired sweetly.
"Because that's carpet, Doy," Bawarria replied, rolling her eyes. An even more defeated, "Oh," came from Pottery's lips.
"When you've finished the laundry and hung it up to dry, you can clean your own room, I suppose," continued Bawarria, as if the task of even trying to make Pottery's room clean was, in fact, a reward rather than another chore. "I'm going to start hanging up some Halloween decorations. That's what me and PERRIE do every year together. At lunchtime you can bake a Pumpkin Pie or something." And with that, Bawarria dismissed herself with a commanding, "Let's get to work!", and Pottery was left in the hallway to ponder over the events that had just unfolded.
Obediently, and without so much of a huff, the Plushie Kau began as Bawarria had instructed. It was exhausting, no denying, despite her durable character and strong physique. She had mopped all of the floors by lunchtime, where she swiftly raced to the kitchen to turn the oven on, and as quickly as she could, began to make a little Pumpkin Pie. By mid-afternoon, it was in the oven cooking happily, and Pottery had returned to her cleaning. The laundry was hanging on the clothes line, and it was not until the pie was cooling on the windowsill and the sun was beginning to lower, did Pottery begin her own room.
Bawarria had spent most of the day decorating and making Halloween trinkets – and stealing a taste of the steaming pie when she was sure no one was around. She cut little paper pumpkins out, all with different scary faces, while she plotted more chores. Every single day, Bawarria filled Pottery's time with cleaning, cooking, errand running or working, until the Kau looked severely tired all the time; though nonetheless sweet and friendly. Incredibly annoyed the work had not affected the Kau more severely, Bawarria decided it was time to begin Phase Two of her Imposter Eradication plot. This irritatingly nice intruder was not welcome, and tomorrow, Bawarria would up the ante. Tomorrow, they would know they were an imposter... Only two more weeks to go until Bawarria was determined Pottery's stay would come to an end.
Something didn't... seem right. Pottery felt her coat bristle and stand on end. She turned around in her half-awake slumber. No, that still wasn't right. Something didn't feel normal! Pottery had never felt her fur that agitated before. Twisting and turning, to no avail, not even putting her pillow over her head could end the uncanny feeling. Pottery leaped awake, slashing her blanket off, only to see about a thousand Spyders rushing across her legs and back.
A petrifying wail echoed throughout the house, so shrill it could have broken every window in the building. Pottery had jumped from her bed so fast she had been a blur. Bawarria entered coolly, looking at Pottery as if she had interrupted her in a deep thought. "What?" she asked with an irritated tone. "Some of us were sleeping." She looked incredibly happy with herself. Pottery made a meeping noise, and nodded to her bed of creepy crawlies that were scattering in every direction. Bawarria made an annoyed sigh.
"I suppose you can sleep on the lounge, if you want to be a baby about it," she huffed, leading the shaky Pottery downstairs where her excellently tendered fire she had been forced to make the day before still crackled merrily. "Didn't you clean your room properly?" Bawarria snorted indignantly. Pottery didn't seem to hear her. She crumpled onto the lounge looking very sorry for herself; her usually free spirited locks drenched in sweat, and hanging limply around her tired face. Bawarria smiled to herself. Finally, she was getting results! The Kau looked positively dreadful. Bawarria left for a short period, only arriving silently again to get a glass of water, unbeknown to Pottery; who, Bawarria saw with surprise, was crying to herself as she lay on the couch. Bawarria looked around with alarm, before quietly sneaking away. She hadn't ever met someone who cried over Spyders. If this was all it took to make the Kau upset, Bawarria had an easier job than she thought!
...Pottery had only just slipped back into an uneasy sleep when...
Something hard hit Pottery's ears and she jumped awake. It was Bawarria, who had dropped a saucepan in the kitchen. She said an unapologetic "sorry" to Pottery, who tried to smile, but gave up half way.
"What time is it?" she asked sleepily.
"It's way too late to be just waking up, that's what," replied Bawarria snobbishly. "I shouldn't have let you sleep in, it's not like you faced certain peril last night or anything. You missed the weekly clean out!"
Pottery rubbed her eyes. "Oh, I'm sorry," she said guiltily. "What's the weekly clean out?"
Bawarria looked annoyed at Pottery already. "Ugh," she sighed, deciding to explain it to her as if she only had half a brain. "It's when we clean out all our unused and unwanted things, then put them in the rags bin. I found a whole HEAP of clothes I'd never seen before upstairs in the corner! All in some daggy old, red suitcase. Had to heave them all outside by myself, too." Bawarria looked as if she had sacrificed herself for Pottery and was not happy with the lack of appreciation she had received. Pottery, on the other hand, had a look of worry on her face.
"Not my red suitcase in my room?" she asked wearily.
"Ugh, yeah, that old one that looks a hundred years old," said Bawarria, knowing fully it was indeed Pottery's.
"Oh my gosh!" she exclaimed, sitting up with great effort. "Those were all my clothes! When do they get picked up?"
Bawarria shrugged. "Dunno, mid morning I guess..." she replied offhandedly.
Pottery raced outside as fast as her tired legs could go, only to stop and stare in horror as a large cart of – of HER clothes – disappeared into the distance. She would NEVER catch them! All her clothes, her precious memories, had slipped right through her hooves, and a look of utmost defeat described Pottery's entire being. "WAIT!" she cried, but it was no use. They were gone.
She returned inside slowly, and walked upstairs into her room. She did not have any sweet sparkle left in her, and Bawarria was delightedly sure this meant success. "What are you doing?" she called up as Pottery ascended the stairs.
"Oh... Uh... Just going upstairs to, uh, write a letter. Nothing important.. I'll be down soon," and she disappeared. "Don't forget you've got more CHORES!" she cried out.
Bawarria marveled in her cunning. Yes! No one would steal Perrie, or her family, and Bawarria could relax at once. She had no sooner rejoiced, than Pottery had reappeared, looking terribly put out. She retried another smile, and succeeded somewhat. "I-I just have to post this letter, Bawarria. I, er, think I'm not going to stay here as long as I thought. I've only been here a couple weeks, and I know I'm not very welcome here. I'm sorry to have imposed on you and your life. I'll be able to be packed up and ready to go by lunch... it's not like I have much to pack anyway," and she stumbled out the door with a melancholic slump.
Bawarria stopped for a moment.. She had remembered how to pronounce her name at least. As happy as she was in her ultimate victory, Bawarria couldn't help but feel a little guilty, and a little bit more, sorry for Pottery now that she had triumphed.
She sighed heavily. The least she could do was help her pack her things away.
Bawarria ascended the stairs and, carefully, entered Pottery's room. Inside, the place indeed looked quite cheerful. Far more cheerful than it had been a couple weeks ago. She slunk in, and began to straighten out the bed and tuck things away neatly, placing them in piles on the little bedside table. She advanced on the previously unrecognizable desk, where a new array of letters and paper was scattered neatly across, with an assortment of old, worn photos. Bawarria peeked at some of them. There was a group of Kaus, another of an old cottage, some more of various other pets, and a newspaper clipping about a large fire that had burned down a small village. Bawarria looked at them curiously, before picking up some of the letters and beginning to read them...
"Thank you so much, Perrie, for offering your home to me. I can always count on you – you've been here for me since before I can remember. I never thought I would lose my home, not even in my wildest fears. I still don't think it has fully sunk in yet... Potts"
"You are always welcome at our home, with us. I am so sorry for what happened. We will be here to help you settle in. I'm going to be kept in Altador for a couple more months, but our home is open to you. Bawarria will take good care of you. She will understand what you are going through... Perrie"
"I managed to recover some of my things, but most of it is just soot and ash now. I've been advised to leave as soon as possible. I can't stay at some Inn the rest of my life, and I can't stay at your home forever either. I don't know what I'm going to do, I lost everything! My home, my family, my life. I'm just thankful I have good friends. I am very excited to meet Bawarria. I love Kougras! .. Potts"
Bawarria read a few more, feeling extremely horrified at herself. Pottery was here because she had lost her home in a fire! Just like Bawarria had!
What had she done...
She spared no second in racing out of the room, her paws thundering beneath her as she jumped down the stairs four at a time. She had to catch Pottery – she just HAD to! She couldn't believe how blindly she had tried to get rid of her, now that it all seemed clear.
Bawarria ran out of the front door, not stopping to close it behind her, and was off down the street in a blur of orange and yellow. The beginnings of tear drops smeared out behind her, making everything seem blurry, but she did not slow. She felt so awful about how she had treated Pottery, she didn't bother to wait until pets moved out of her way, she simply jumped over them or between them.
Bawarria screeched to a halt suddenly, dumbstruck by the sight of a large cart full of clothing that was in front of a Second Hand Shoppe. She skidded in its direction, only to be met with a friendly-faced Quiggle in green overalls. "Howdy, Bawarria!" he said happily.
"Those clothes!" Bawarria gasped, spotting a large, red suitcase. "Those are Po-er, mine! I left them out by accident!"
The Quiggle looked around and chuckled. "Yer," he said. "Did think they was too nice to be thrown out." He pulled the suitcase out and placed it beside him. "I can drop 'em back off at your house, Bawarria, when I come back this afternoon?"
Bawarria grinned so much she forgot she was even upset for a moment. "Oh!" she exclaimed suddenly. "I gotta run!! Thank you!!" and in another blur of colour, she was off again. The Quiggle waved goodbye, but Bawarria didn't notice.
She ran, and ran and ran, until at last the bright shape of the Post Office was at last in sight. Bawarria slammed the door open, huffing and wheezing, looking desperately around.
"Is she here?!" she called.
"Is who here, little Missy?" asked the Postman cheerily and with some alarm.
"The Kau! The Plushie one!" breathed Bawarria furiously.
"Oh, no, ma'am," he replied kindly. "After she posted 'er letters, she said we was straight off to the train station!"
Bawarria's pupils turned to horrified pinpricks, and before the Postman could say another word, she was gone: racing down the now-bustling streets of Terror Mountain, hoping with all her heart she hadn't missed Pottery.
There were legs and feet everywhere; of every size, shape and colour. Loud toots and gusts of smoke billowed out across the station, and no matter how loudly she called, Pottery was no where. No where to be seen at all. Bawarria pushed through as many pets as she could, looking up to the signs. Neopia Central, Faerieland, Haunted Woods – where would Pottery have gone?!
Bawarria felt defeated beyond measure. She thought of how she would tell Perrie what she had done... How the look of disappointment would radiate through her eyes. She thought of her own family, and how Pottery was just like her. But most of all, Bawarria thought of poor Pottery; the kindest pet she could have met, and she treated her like some evil intruder!
Bawarria slumped and began to walk away.
Then, to her surprise, she heard a strange voice. She knew that voice...
"Bawarria? Is that you?"
Bawarria skidded around to see the face of, not only Pottery, but.. Perrie?! Tears rushed to Bawarria's face. "You're here!" she shrieked. "You're both here!" and she leaped into the arms of both Perrie and Pottery, sobbing and looking more like a Baby Kougra than ever.
"I'm so, so sorry!" she spluttered. "I didn't want to accept you because I thought you would take Perrie away! And break my family!"
Perrie giggled, to Bawarria's surprise. "Bawarria!" she said with a humorous hint of scorning. "If you accept new pets into your family, your family can only get better! What about Patche, and Spiderlegs, and Sueid? They're all a big family. We're all a big family! I know acceptance is scary sometimes, but if you don't take that risk, you won't be rewarded with someone new and caring in your life. Pottery told me all what you were going through."
Bawarria looked at Pottery with surprise.
"I understood why you didn't like me.. I could have made more of an effort to reassure you I wasn't going to steal away Perrie, and, if you'll still have me, I was rethinking my stay.. Maybe I could remain a bit longer?"
Bawarria grinned again, but this time it didn't go away. "How about... forever?"
Bawarria was overwhelmed with emotions, and not to end this story with a cheesy life lesson or anything, but on that day Bawarria did learn that acceptance can bring wonderful things, and that maybe, just maybe, having Pottery become part of her family, was actually not so bad after all.