The Most Wonderful Gift
"Come on, Baby! It's time to go to Neopia Central," yells Bella from the front door.
"I don't want to go today," I shout back.
"Kate says today is special. You have to come," Bella yells. I can hear her walking back toward our bedroom. I cuddle Miette close and snuggle farther under my blanket.
"Are you coming or not?" Bella asks. "We're leaving when Kate gets done reading to Jazzy."
"I guess I have no choice," I sigh. I really don't want to go to Neopia Central Every time we get there my heart starts pounding. "I'll be down in a minute. I have to feed Miette," I explain to a very impatient looking Bella.
"Okay, but hurry up. They're almost done with the book," she says, already fluttering back to the living room, exercising her new set of faerie wings.
I'm still nervous. Ever since Kate abandoned Reni I've tried to avoid Neopia Central, making excuses about training Miette for Grave Danger. Sometimes I'm allowed to stay home, but other times Bella drags me along.
When Kate brought me home I was so excited. There were so many things to do and places to explore. I was just a baby so Kate took me everywhere with her. We read books all the times and ever day she would buy me something new, a plushie, a Chocolate Faerie Cake, a new book. One day she brought home a Mazzew and told me she was all mine. I named her Miette which means "little one" because she was my little baby! Kate promised one day she would paint me Pastel, but first she had to save lots of neopoints.
I'd go everywhere happily with Kate and Miette, the Trading Post on Mystery Island, the Auction House in Neopia Central. We would even peak into the Snowager's cave where I would sneak in and steal neggs if he was sleeping. I was always happy and never scared.
One day Kate woke up singing, "Today's the day," practically running around the kitchen with excitement as she prepared my Space Cereal. After she hurried me through breakfast we rushed over to a building I'd never seen before. All sorts of people and pets were paired up waiting in front of a door that said, "Top Secret" A huge Skeith guarded the door, only letting one pair in at a time.
"Where are we?" I ask breathlessly. Now I was excited too.
"This is the Secret Laboratory," Kate explained, "It only cost me 800,000 neopoints and it's how we are going to paint you Pastel!"
"Really?" I exclaimed, "How does it work?"
"I'm not sure exactly. All the guides says it's random, but I'm sure we'll get you Pastel pretty quickly. The Scorchio Scientist has this huge laser"
"What?" I shout, nervous for the first time, "A laser?" A Poogle behind me stared grumpily at me for my increased volume. I took a deep breath and quietly asked, "Does it hurt?"
"Oh... I'm not sure," Kate said, suddenly looking worried, "Let's ask someone." she turned to the irritated Poogle and said, "Excuse me, but have you been zapped before? My little Xweetok is wondering if it hurts."
"I've been zapped loads of times and it doesn't hurt a bit," said the Poogle, but then he stared menacingly at me and added, "I promise."
Kate seemed satisfied with the answer and went on chattering about what a great deal this was, but I stopped listening. I was not convinced by the mean Poogle. I stood in line, staring at my tiny brown feet. I was scared but didn't want to say anything to ruin Kate's good mood.
"Next!" the Skeith bellows, what seemed like hours later. Kate hurriedly pushed me through the door. She signed some piece of paper that said, "Waiver" at the top. All I caught were the bold words "Use at your own risk."
"Ready?" Kate asked excitedly. I gulped and stepped forward onto the small red X on the ground as Kate stepped behind a shield. I closed my eyes as a crazy looking Scorchio pressed buttons on a massive laser. I didn't want to see what would happen next.
A warm breeze blew over me and I felt a tingling sensation from the top of my head to the end of my tail. I opened my eyes just as Kate yells, "Oh my! Look at yourself!" and points to a mirror in front of the exit door. I can't tell if she's happy or not.
I walk closer to the mirror and notice my feet are yellow. I try to think what color I cold be, Camouflage? Spotted? Gold? No. It wasn't gold. It was definitely yellow. I knew I wasn't Pastel. I look up to see my whole face is blue with stars that stretch up to the top of my mane. My body is pink and red. My legs are orange and my feet are yellow. "Oh my" was right. I was Eventide! I looked like a beautiful sunset! "I love it," I said softly, barely over a whisper. I sway a bit as I admire my shockingly vibrant appearance
"Move along!" shouted another giant Skeith. I had completely forgotten we were still in the lab. we both scurried out the door.
On the way home I noticed Kate didn't look nearly as happy as I was. "What's wrong?" I asked her.
"Nothing. I don't know. I just wanted you to be Pastel right away. I don't like Eventide," she answered, sounding grumpy with me, "But now I'm afraid I'll zap you into another species. Do you like your new look?"
"I love it!" I said happily, flicking my beautiful multicolored tail behind me.
"Okay then. You can stay Eventide until I have enough to buy a Pastel Paint Brush" Kate said quietly, walking slightly ahead of me.
For the next week Kate seemed withdrawn. She was busy with her new guild responsibilities so I entertained myself by reading my old books to Miette and got used to my new look. I didn't take it personally until one day when I saw a list on the table. "Dreamies." I wondered what that meant. "Maraquan Shoyru, Faerie Kacheek, Baby Chomby" My heart started racing. "She doesn't want me anymore!" I thought.
That day Kate came home with Reni, a Yellow Shoyru she adopted from the pound. I knew it. She was going to replace me. Kate was in a much better mood as she introduced us. Each morning Kate took Reni to the lab and zapped him, leaving me at home to play with Miette and all my now worn plushies. Each evening Reni came back happy and gushed over dinner about all the games they played and places they visited while I sat in wait.
A week later, Kate brought home another pet. "This is Jazzy," she said. "She'll keep you company while I take Reni to be zapped. I noticed you've seemed lonely." Jazzy was a Red Uni. There was nothing on the Dreamies list about a Uni. Maybe I had been worried about nothing. We became friends immediately
The next day Kate came home looking upset and it was clear why as Reni walked in the door behind her. Reni was a Blue Grundo! After dinner Kate told us she would be alternating who she took to the lab between Jazzy and Reni for the next couple days.
Then Bella arrived, a beautiful Yellow Kacheek. She was clearly the new favorite. (You know there is always a favorite) She got the newer toys, bigger scoop of ice cream, and played way more games of hide and seek with Kate. Most importantly Bella was NEVER taken to the lab. Reni was changed into a Starry Grundo, and then a Tyrannian Grundo, Jazzy became a Pink Meerca, and then a Speckled Meerca but Bella never stepped foot behind those "Top Secret" doors.
On a breezy day I'll never forget Bella and I had been playing tag with Jazzy, who was much slower due to the short legs she hadn't gotten used to. Bella noticed Kate first and whispered to me, "Where's Reni?" She was right. Reni wasn't here.
Kate looked sad and didn't even say hello to anyone on her way in. She just hung up her bag and went to her room. Shutting the door behind her. Bella snuck up to the door and swore she heard crying. What has happened?
Kate didn't come out until dinner. Jazzy had made omelettes because we were all starting to get hungry. Kate apologized for not making dinner and mumbled something about "He'll find a new owner who loves him." I gasped. She took him to the pound! She rescued him from the pound, why would she take him back? Then it dawned on me. His zaps weren't going the way she planned. That meant I was next. I knew she didn't like my color. I didn't sleep well that night.
I get up slowly, giving Miette and hug before I set her in bed. I hope I'll be home to read her a bedtime story. Kate seems to be in a great mood. She is even happier than the day she came home with a faerie paint brush and an announcement for Bella.
"All right, everyone. Let's go," says Kate, getting up off the fuzzy sofa where she had been reading to Jazzy. "I have a special surprise for Baby today and I want everyone to be there."
Why would she want everyone there if she was just leaving me at the pound. To have my sisters watch and she puts me in a small room behind big metal bars without windows or a single toy? That's how I always imagine the pound anyway. It's not like Kate to be cruel like that. I dread every step, knowing it's my last trip with everyone. Bella and Jazzy talk excitedly in front of me, pondering what the surprise could be.
"Maybe she's taking us to the Chocolate Factory," Bella squeals. "I'd love a Jelly Blumaroo!"
"The surprise is for Baby," Jazzy argues. "I bet she's getting a new petpet. She's had Miette for a long time"
"No. She loves Miette too much. Maybe she's buying her a new outfit," Bella counters.
We walk past the path to the Plaza to my surprise. I'm not going to the pound? It looked like we were heading towards the Money Tree. All I've ever gotten there was junk. I don't know why Kate would take me here. We keep walking farther.
"We're here!" exclaims Kate, skipping a little as though she can barely contain her excitement. I look up and gasp. We're at the Rainbow Pool! I turn towards Kate, eyes wide with wonder and notice she's holding a package. "I finally had enough," she says softly as she opens it for me.
The most beautiful paint brush I've ever seen is sitting in the box on a fluffy white pillow. "Oh, Kate!" I sob. "I thought you were going to abandon me." I know now she never will.
"Abandon you? Why?" Kate asks, looking confused.
"You abandoned Reni because you didn't like him painted a Tyrannian Grundo. I knew you didn't like how I was painted either," I say starting to feel slightly silly about all the worrying.
"Because of Reni? He told me he wanted to leave. I was so busy earning neopoints and taking care of all of you and he wanted an owner who only had him to worry about. I was so sad to give him up," Kate explains.
"So you never wanted to abandon me? This whole time you were just saving up to paint me Pastel?" I ask.
"Of course," Kate sighs, shaking her head. "I promised you that from the beginning. Why would I do anything else?"
"Kate, you're the best owner ever!" I scream with excitement as we run towards the Rainbow Pool together.