Thanks to gremy_ for letting me use Betty in the story.
I sat down at my wooden desk with a plop and looked about the sunny classroom. The pets were yet to arrive so the rows of simple desks and chairs were still empty and the room was peaceful. I had been in this room many times before with many pets, and I loved it. In the Neopian school system, only a handful of humans are ever allowed to teach pets, but the school I teach at, Glenstone High School, is not very normal.
Soon a flood of pets came rushing through the door and sat down at their seats. I looked them over for familiar faces and realized I knew almost all of them. There was Brandon the brainy blue Tonu, Alicia the popular faerie Uni, Inite the sweet electric Draik, and even Betty, the class clown in all her freckled purple Poogle splendor. I went through the pet’s names and titles in my head and figured out just which ones I had to ask to come up and tell the class their names.
“Alright students, settle down please,” I said in a high-class no-nonsense voice. The pets that had been in my class before burst out laughing, but the ones that had not looked very confused. I smiled to myself as Betty raised her hand. Here come the jokes.
“Hey! Who are you and what have you done with our teacher?!” she shouted in mock horror. I played along.
“I am Ms. No-Fun, and I am here because the school board thought your teacher was just so much fun they put her on display in the assembly room.” The pets laughed again, and this time I laughed right along with them.
“On second thought, I think that I’m your teacher, Angel, and that I am lots of fun. I also think we are going have another great year together, unless of course Betty gets herself expelled for joking in class.” Betty bowed and I continued. “So, can I have the three new students come up here and introduce themselves and tell us... what their favorite color is under an ultraviolet light?” They came up slowly, not sure if they had heard me correctly. The first two, a pair of Usuls that were obviously twins, came up together.
“And I’m Tyler, and our favorite colors probably look grey under an ultraviolet light, because Taylor likes pink and I like grey.”
I smiled and looked them over. They were dressed simply in matching white t-shirts. Taylor had on a blue hair ribbon, and Tyler had a blue bandanna. I motioned for them to sit down and for the next one to come up. She was a red Ixi wearing a pair of glasses, a black t-shirt that was too big for her, and baggy blue jeans.
“I’m Tanya, and I don’t have a favorite color, so I’d imagine under an ultraviolet light, it just looks ultraviolet,” she said and tried to hurry back to her seat. I wasn’t letting her get off so easily.
“Tanya, if you don’t have a favorite color to share, you have to sing a song,” I said. The class cheered as I explained.
“You see, every time I ask a question that a student doesn’t have an answer to, they have to sing a song of my choosing. Then the class joins in after the first verse. Don’t worry, we only sing two verses,” I said. I wracked my brain for a good song for this shy little pet to sing, and came up with a sad folk song I had once heard the Neopian Philharmonics play. Tanya’s voice rang out clearly and softly as she sang, and by the time she had finished the class wasn’t quite prepared to sing the second verse. So the little Ixi was a singer. I’m sure I was the only one who noticed a small tear roll down her face.
“That was beautiful, Tanya. I hope you’ll consider trying out for choir next week. Now, let’s open our books to page 1, where you will find a lovely index of all the lessons I’m going to make you do this year!” I said in a perky voice. The class groaned and the first day of school was underway.
That night I sat on the couch looking over my lesson plans for the week, but thinking about Tanya. Her voice had been filled with emotion as she had sung the part in the song about pets being lost without hope. I decided that my goal this year was to get inside her head and find out was made her tick.
The next week went by well, and Tanya turned out to be an excellent student. She quietly did her lessons well, and answered all my questions, and turned in her homework on time, but I could tell that something was missing from her life. On Friday, I asked her to stay after school so I could talk to her. She was wearing a light yellow tank top that fit her, but had a nasty tear at the bottom of it. She seemed to want it to escape everyone’s notice, but it didn’t mine.
“You wanted to see me, Ms. Angel?” she asked quietly. I sat back thoughtfully in my chair, and motioned for her to pull her chair up as well.
“Yeah, Tanya, I did. I noticed you seem to be having some trouble making friends. You wanna tell me why?” No sense in beating around the bush. Luckily, Tanya was also one of those people who didn’t beat around the bush.
“I move around a lot. I’ve learned not to get to close,” she said, with her eyes downward. This was good; this was progress.
“And why do you move around so much?” I asked, trying to get deeper inside her head. That did it.
“You want to know the whole story, then? Fine, I’ll tell you! I used to be a singer for my owner’s band, and they all said I was perfect. Then one day, on our very first concert, I broke down. I couldn’t sing a single note correctly because I had such bad stage fright! My owner decided that I wasn’t worth it anymore, since I couldn’t sing and make his fortune for him.
“He was going to disown me, but I couldn’t stand the thought of being locked up. So I just walked right away. Unfortunately, my owner couldn’t find another singer, so he’s been chasing me ever since. I move around a lot because I have to.” Tanya said, coming close to tears as she spoke her piece. That was certainly the most I had ever heard her say. We were both quiet for a few minutes, evaluating what our next moves would be.
“You know you can’t live on the street forever,” I said quietly. She sighed deeply.
“I know, but I can’t go back to live with my owner,” she said earnestly. I thought hard.
“Tanya, what do you suppose we do about this?” I asked her. She shrugged.
“You could always adopt me. I can clean and sing and I wouldn’t be any trouble to have around,” she said, trying to look indifferent about it but her eyes betrayed her and showed that she really wanted this.
What was a teacher supposed to do? I didn’t have any pets, but would my teacher’s salary be enough to care for me and this intriguing little Ixi? I could always play games in my spare time... maybe...
“Ah well, why in the world not?” I said as though it was no big deal. She looked up and smiled her quiet little smile.
“Thank you,” she said. I sighed. I guess I was making a trip to the pound to fill out adoption papers today instead of making apple pie. Oh well.