It is mid afternoon in the apartment of Onson Sweemy. It is an apartment he shares with his fluffy, Peter. Or rather, he used to. He’d left town for the last two weeks and had paid the neighbor boy to watch him and keep him fed. The boy, being thirteen and not particularly scrupulous, fed and petted Peter every day…for the first week. See he was supposed to empty the litter every day, but he hadn’t been. It’s gross and he didn’t want to. So after a week of begging the boy who came to feed and give him one half huggie per day to “pwease cween wittabocks” he’d finally decided to escape. It wasn’t hard. Kid left the door open constantly and never checked where Peter was. He’d been locked out of his playroom on the first day and he spent all day nervously pacing in front of his saferoom door holding his poopies.
So Peter escaped. He scampered down the hall, babbling his thoughts as fluffies do. “Petew hafta wun! Hafta gu fin’ daddeh! Daddeh wiww sabe Petew fwum meanie wittwe hoomin!” He made it down one flight of stairs before someone noticed him. They hoisted him by the scruff of his neck and dropped him outside of the elevator on the ground floor. “I’m not wearing shoes, the door is automatic. Now get lost.” He stomped out the front door, turned left, and was no longer on the security cam footage.
Onson had found Peter after two days of searching. More accurately, he found what was left of Peter. He’d made it pretty far for a fluffy, but if a fluffy is four blocks from a dog park, and he walks four blocks in that direction?
Let’s say he isn’t getting to block five.
Onson was angry. Not at the neighbor or the kid he’d paid. No, he’d already had it out with the kid’s mother and his neighbor seemed genuinely aghast that she’d played such a pivotal role in losing his pet. No, he was a sort of directionless, formless anger. So he dropped by the alley behind his building as he got home and adopted a Soon Mummah.
The Soon Mummah was named Yewwow Pwetty for her pretty yellow fluff. Her speshul friend was named Green Grassy. You can guess why.
The Soon Mummah went upstairs with Nice Mistuh to see the new housie! Green Grassy had to wait outside, but nice mistuh said he’d be right back. The door closed behind him and Green Grassy sat back on his haunches. Before long, a woman approached. “Hewwo, nice wady! Suwe am a pwetty day, wite?” The woman chuckled at his attempt to small talk. “Are you waiting for someone?”
He started nodding excitedly, his front hooves occasionally becoming untethered from the earth by sheer joy. “Nyu daddeh! Fwuffy and speshaw fwend hab nyu daddeh! Gween Gwasseh am waitin’ fow nyu daddeh come bwing tu nyu howsie!” She figured this must be the replacements her neighbor was getting. She decided to sit outside with him until the guy got back, maybe then she’d feel like they were square. Guy was kinda weird, and owing a weird guy a favor is a dangerous game.
Ten minutes later, he came down, carrying a trash bag to bring to the curb. “Hey, this little guy yours?” Green Grassy was smiling and waving, barely containing his glee. “Daddeh! Daddeh! Gween Gwassy weddy fow see nyu howsie!” The man made a puzzled look. “I have no idea what you’re talking about. After what happened with Peter, I think I’m done with fluffies. Sounds like you’ve got a little liar here, huh?” He started using a silly voice as he leaned in, mocking the fluffy. “Nuuu! Daddeh, wememba? Am Gween Gwassy! Speshaw fwend am in nyu howsie! Am soon mummah! Need speshaw fwend!”
The woman rolled her eyes. “Of course. Christ, this is why I hate those things. Like, what was the point of that lie?” She brushed it off and went back in. Onson dropped the trash off, and turned around to find the panicking fluffy pissing and shitting himself, doing that obnoxious tapping thing with his hooves. He’s scared, so he should run, but there’s nowhere to run and nothing to run from, so he’s just having a breakdown.
“Daddeh nu 'memba Gween Gwassy? Pwease! Need gu back tu Yewwow Pwetty! Soon mummah need speshaw fwend!”
“Nah. I’m good.”
It had been so long since Yewwow Pwetty had seen her special friend. So many forevers since daddy took her name away and made her use a new one she didn’t understand. Yellow Pretty meant something! It meant yellow, like the big bright thing! And pretty, like pretty flowers! “Sunshine” was just nonsense!
She’d always ask daddy to stop using that name. He never did, but he didn’t punish her. He just ignored anything she said that didn’t suit him. It made her so sad. Why was daddy being so mean? Where was her special friend? She asked daddy, but he always found a way to deflect her questions. Daddy is so smart! She’d be asking him about Green Grassy and he’d just get her talking about her tummeh babbehs! Then he’d leave before she realized what happened. Then she’d cry and cry in her playroom.
Daddeh only came in a couple times a day. He was always very nice, and he played with her gently and never gave hurties. He’d sit with her, read to her, even let her babble on and on about nothing! He was the best daddeh when he was in the playroom. But when he wasn’t? It was like she didn’t exist. And anymore, any mention of her special friend would cause daddeh to drop everything and leave her until the next time he had to come in. The light was on an automatic timer and there weren’t any windows, so he’d just come in to feed her.
She stopped asking about him. Stopped asking about her name. She even stopped asking about him ignoring her. The first time she broached the topic he just said she was being silly. The next time he walked out of the room. He forgot to feed her that night.
She’s sure he forgot. He must have forgotten.
But how? There was no door! There was a very strong babygate, and she could see daddeh down the hall in his chair! Why couldn’t he hear her? She’d make yellies and screamies until her tawk pwace hurt. Nothing.
But normally he at least feeds her. Tonight, he sat in his chair watching teebee. She hadn’t bothered him for days, but this time she was hungry. “Daddeh? Daddeh! Hewp! Daddeh nu gif nummies fow soon mummah! Soon mummah hab tummy huwties! Nu gud fow tummeh babbehs!” She softly pattered against the gate to zero effect. She screamed and sobbed herself hoarse, but he just got up and went to bed.
But he hadn’t fed her. And that’s not all. See, the lights are automatic, but the night light isn’t. Daddeh had to plug it in every night. And he hadn’t.
The lights went out. Yewwow Pwetty sat in a sobbing heap. She eventually drug herself back over to her bed. Tomorrow daddeh would feed her. He’d feed her and pet her and love her. So long as she understood the rules. As she surrenders to fatigue, she thinks she finally understands the rules. Finally gets it. No questions. No requests. No arguing. You agreed with daddeh or you got ignored.
Sunshine sobbed as she drifted off to sleep.