(NOTE: This was originally posted on October 19, 2011, well before the 'Houspets Babies!' story arc. Think of my story as a ridiculously depressing alternate universe.
This is also an edited (As of 6/25/12) version of the original piece. Adverbs have been done away with, and a few awkward lines removed, altered, or switched around to fit. I hope the changes make for better reading.)
Peanut had never forgotten that hot summer day, though he’d been scared that someday he might.
When he was a young pup, fresh from adoption and placed into strange, terrifying new surroundings, he was too scared to be sociable. Rather, he buried himself into books for young children and daydreamed about valiant knights and distressed damsels. Whenever he needed company, the dog imagined a cadre of make-believe friends – a group of ordinary playmates, perhaps, or brilliant scientists, or brave adventurers; seclusion was drowned and channeled to form eclectic mish-mashes of the psyche. Once in a while, not even that would be enough. Peanut would lie on his bed some days and feel a deep and cutting loneliness that could not be assuaged by his owners, the Sandwiches, no matter how loving they were. After a while, he found the solitude unbearable, and resolved to do something about it. On July 17th, Peanut stepped out into the large, tantalizing world of the Sandwiches’ driveway…
…And saw her
; though Peanut couldn't tell at the time. With vivid yellow eyes scintillating in the sunlight, the kitten nevertheless appeared wretched. She lay hunched on the side of the road, her purple and white fur dirty and disheveled in all directions, and her head downcast. She noticed Peanut from the corner of her eye and glanced up, in weak fright.
For several minutes all Peanut did was gaze, wondering what to do and how to act. The feline, distressed, cradled her head between her knees.
That was what it took to shake Peanut from his reverie. Stepping forward, and facing no immediate opposition, he sat down next to the kitten – who watched him from her fetal position.
“H-hey,” Peanut said, his social skills and the current circumstance leaving him lost for words. “Are you alright?”
Peanut’s companion failed to respond, hugging herself tightly.
“If you want,” Peanut said, “You can go inside my owners’ place. I’m sure they wouldn’t mind.”
The cat vaulted her body up with uncanny speed, startling Peanut out of his wits. “Really?” She whispered, grabbing his fur.
“Uh, yeah – yeah! T-they’d love to have you!” Peanut said, smiling. The kitten stood up, and ran for the Sandwiches’ home.
Not a second later, she stopped. Swaying on the dull concrete driveway leading into the house, she shuddered, and collapsed into a heap.
The Sandwiches nursed her back to health soon enough. Touched by her injured state, they vowed to keep her under their wing.
The family bounced back and forth between several dozen names for their pet over the first month or so. Once they even decided on the regal and charming Princess Periwinkle, but that was dropped soon enough – and forgotten for as long as possible. In fact, it wasn’t the Sandwiches’ at all who found the right name for the cat – it was Peanut.
On the last day of August, the pup woke up and was struck with a revelation. Jumping out of bed, he sprinted over to Mrs. Sandwich.
“Hey, mom!” Mrs. Sandwich looked up from her newspaper, brushing frazzled light brown hair from her face.
“Sweetie, don’t you know it’s six in the morning?” She asked, wiping sand from her eyes.
“That doesn’t matter right now, mom! Listen - I know what name to give our cat!”
Mrs. Sandwich snapped to attention. “Go ahead…”
“We’ll name him… Grape!” Peanut said, puffing out his chest in pride. Mrs. Sandwich blinked and covered her mouth with her hand, struggling not to laugh. She failed, and Peanut pouted.
“Mom!” He said. “It’s not funny!”
“Of course it isn't, sweetie,” Mrs. Sandwich said, smiling. “In fact, I think it’s a wonderful name.”
“You do?” Peanut asked.
“Yes,” Mrs. Sandwich said. “In fact, from now on, Grape shall be our pet's official name!” Peanut cheered all the way to Grape’s bed, and shook her awake in excitement.
“Hey! Hey, c’mon, wake up!”
Grape muttered and growled, whirling around to face the dog.
“What do you want?
” She hissed. Peanut’s eyes widened, and he took a step back.
“Well,” He said, “W-We’ve given you a name!”
Grape bored holes through Peanut’s skull with her eyes. “And?”
“Uh… I-it’s Grape! Your name’s Grape!” Peanut said. “Isn’t that a great name?”
Grape glared for several minutes. Peanut shifted under her gaze, ready to bolt if necessary.
“Sure,” Grape then said, devoid of anger. “It’s a great name.”
Peanut blinked. “Can I go back to sleep now?” Grape asked. Turning around, she closed her eyes. Peanut glanced at her for a half of a second. His wits catching up to him, he ran for his life.
A year passed. Grape – and Peanut – grew more and more outgoing, learning of all the pets in Babylon Gardens. Other things blossomed much faster than relationships, however. During one temperate June afternoon, Peanut sat drawing on the living room coffee table of the Sandwiches. He wasn’t good at it, but he found a certain form of creative release in the act.
That afternoon, Peanut was suffering from a very frustrating lack of ideas. Most of the time, he was full to the brim with them, and sometimes would spend the whole day sketching out whatever he could imagine. At that moment, he had nothing. Sitting on the couch and staring a piece of paper, torn from a notebook on the table, Peanut growled to himself. When ideas finally began to race through his head, they seemed dull. It felt to Peanut as if everything he thought of was an old hat, uninteresting or shallow. The Adventures of Spot, his self-written comic, was too predictable; his earlier brainstormed ‘Dave, the Incredible Pizza Man’ too trite.
After an hour of contemplation, inspiration struck Peanut like a lightning bolt. Not even bothering to think about what he was going to draw, he dived into his work. Frenzied pencil strokes began to form a, to Peanut, magnificent and beautiful shape. Sharp curves and jagged lines seemed to be at the very least almost in the perfect position. Soon the canine was staring at a very personal and breathtaking picture of –
Peanut stared at the paper, uncomprehending. He wondered if he had drawn something without purpose. If he was trying to create a masterpiece, why...?
Then, it all clicked. Somewhere deep inside Peanut’s brain, dozens of newborn emotions tumbled out. Some felt strong and overpowering - the majority, however, were weak and confusing. Shaking his head, more puzzled than he had ever been in his life, Peanut picked up his notebook and pencil. Too bemused to think, he ran outside and shut the door.
Around half a minute later Grape entered the house. As she sat on the couch in the living room, about to watch television, something pale caught her eye. It was a solitary piece of paper, badly drawn with pencil and abandoned. It looked kind of like a dog, to her, but with a tail rather odd for a canine. She resolved to hand the sketch to Peanut later.
Later that day, after several confrontations, misunderstandings and soul searchings, Peanut felt something else. It was very hard to detail. In fact, it was almost paradoxical in its sensation – It seemed to both stab and comfort Peanut at the same time.
The emotion symbolized something Peanut had never felt, only read about. The realization of it hit him like a ton of bricks, sending him crashing down on a kitchen chair in disorientation.
Despite common sense, and some pets’ ideas of moral decency, Peanut was in love with Grape.
Passions grew stronger afterwards, concealed in hidden, scribbled-in photos, and masked beneath a psychic girlfriend. Every day, they became harder and harder to control. Peanut would go to bed at nights and feel a crushing emptiness – as if he were a pup again, desperate for a friend. His comics would veer into hopeless and depressing situations, before he threw them away in anger and grief. Peanut would bury himself back into his imagination, and once again spend his days daydreaming of a happier life.
Not all days were so miserable for Peanut. In fact, one day made him ecstatic; it was the day Grape found those scribbled photos, and had already connected the dots well beforehand. It was the day Grape kissed him. Despite being just a mild peck, to Peanut it symbolized a rebirth of hope, and total salvation from tears. For a few days, he began to dream beautiful dreams, ones where he and Grape had picnics and candlelight dinners, and where they chased each other in the moonlight.
Nothing came of it. Grape still kept her boyfriend, Maxwell, and Peanut still wished he had someone by his side every night. He regardless tried his best to be happy, even when he couldn’t. Peanut supposed that at least he was with her, whether as a friend or something more. It was all the consolation he was going to get.
Years passed. Friendships bloomed and withered like flowers over the seasons. Dull shades of grey began to line fur and hair. Childhood games were discarded, or played with a fraction of the energy there had used to be. Grape spent even more time napping on the couch than she used to, and even Peanut’s boundless energy began to wane. Other than lethargy, however, things went on more or less as they always had; the dogs held onto their old rivalries, and the cats kept to themselves, most of the time. The only thing punctuating the mood was the silent notion that so many were starting to run out of time.
Peanut never stopped loving Grape, though they never were together. Later in life, he ceased to feel grief over the missed opportunity – just calm reminiscence. He became content with friendship.
On one July 17th, another hot summer day, Peanut went over to wake up Grape as usual.
“Grape!” Peanut said, smiling as he poked her. “C’mon, Grape, wake up!”
She didn’t respond.
“C’mon, Grape,” Peanut said, not smiling anymore. “Wake up…”
He turned Grape around.
Staring, Peanut felt a curious numbness, which grew from the depths of his soul to his entire body.
Grape wasn’t breathing.
A few weeks after the funeral, Peanut took to talking to himself. He would pretend Grape was right next to him, wherever he went. Whenever a problem arose, he would ask for Grape’s help – if Peanut couldn’t find his favorite chew toy, she would point him in the right direction. When he thought of a joke, Grape would be right beside him, smirking. Whenever he cried to himself at nights, she would be the one to hug him, and calm him down.
One Friday, Peanut stopped having conversations with Grape. He went through the day like he used to, playing with friends and daydreaming.
In the afternoon, Peanut sat down on the couch, to draw a sketch. He did not hurry, and he was not done until sunset.
When Peanut was finished, he lied down on the couch. As he closed his eyes, he saw what he had always dreamt of: A candlelight dinner, and moonlight chases with an angel.
Mrs. Sandwich found Peanut an hour later. He had a crude drawing of a cat over his heart, and a smile on his tranquil face.(http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NDHY1D0tKRA)