Flutter: Part Two
With that, the orange Aisha led us out, just as more rain began to fall. She took us back to the Rainbow Pool where four young Lupes huddled under umbrellas. An orange Lupe gave a bark of greeting on seeing his packmates. This welcome warmed me and I wondered if I would ever get such a welcome from anyone just once in my life. I stayed silent behind the orange Aisha and Adino as the group talked amongst themselves.
With none of them watching me, I changed my color to starry, just to gauge the orange Aisha’s reaction. I didn’t have long to wait.
“Oh yeah and this is-oh, I never got…your name,” the orange Aisha said as she turned to look at me.
Both she and Adino looked shocked, as well they should I decided to give them a moment to recover, seeing that it was a lot to take in.
“My name is Flutter. It’s nice to meet you all,” I introduced myself, stepping between the orange Aisha and Adino to shake hands with the other Collared Greens.
“Flutter. That’s an interesting name for a Neopet that can’t fly,” the orange Lupe observed.
“Yes, I have heard that before. Well, I like my name. I’m not going to change it to please someone else.”
“You shouldn’t. Your personal preferences are all that matter,” the orange Aisha put in.
I smiled at her, grateful for her understanding. Thus far, I believed I had made the correct choice for my first friend. Though, I also understood this to be only the beginning. That’s when I got the first question: from a brown Lupe who was merely curious.
“May I ask why you’ve come out in this weather,” the brown Lupe asked.
Brown was a plain color, a sturdy color, the color of earth. Like earth it was either rich and fertile or dry and cracked. This Lupe was like the latter. I had no problem with my response.
“Oh, nothing in particular. I’m not put off by weather. Now, I’m curious about you all. You call yourself the Collared Greens and identify yourselves by wearing green collars. You’ve included an Aisha into your pack. Do you live in Neopia Central?” I looked at each of the CGs, still taking my measure of the young Lupes that were so close to the orange Aisha.
“Yeah, we do. We live with our Alpha Inc-“ the brown Lupe began.
“That would be my uncle,” the orange Aisha cut in.
I nodded my head in sudden understanding. Yes, it now made sense that an Aisha lived with Lupes because she was related to their Alpha, as they had called him.
“Other than Brandi, none of us are related to our Alpha. Some of us have siblings here but not all,” the brown Lupe finished.
I smiled, pleased to have finally learned my friend’s name. Brandi suited her quite well.
“How many of you are there?” I asked.
“Our numbers vary. Currently, there are nine of us,” the brown Lupe said.
“Where are the rest of you?”
“If I know my brother and, unfortunately, I know him all too well, then he would be in the bookstore. He’s not crazy about rain. As for the other two, I don’t care to know where they are.”
When the brown Lupe said this, the others, including Brandi, reacted with ruffled fur, gleaming eyes, twitching ears and curled lips. I was horrified. They had been nice just a moment ago. Had I judged them incorrectly? Needing reassurance, I cast my gaze to Brandi.
I wanted, no needed an explanation.
“There is unrest everywhere it seems. May I ask why you all are so against the last of your pack mentioned,” I said, arcing one fine brow, in a carefully controlled show of nonchalance.
“Abene and Abaddon are not the oldest among us but they are the biggest,” the brown Lupe began.
“Baddest,” the orange Lupe said with a shudder.
“Ugliest,” a purple Lupe said.
“-pair of Lupes that have ever lived,” the brown Lupe finished with a firm nod.
“A bit dramatic, don’t you think?” I snorted, covering my uncertainty, not wanting to believe that I was being lied to but also wanting to see for myself.
“Hold your judgement until you’ve actually met them, Flutter,” Brandi said, placing a hand on my arm.
I was amazed that Brandi had almost read my mind! I was also reassured by her words. My doubt dissipated.
“If you say so,” I said with a small nod.
We chatted for some time before a few stomachs began to growl.
“Any preference for where we should eat?” Agam, the brown Lupe, asked.
“Galactic Gastronomy,” Brandi put in at once.
“No!” more than one Lupe objected quickly.
I flicked one ear, amused at their reaction. I had never heard of the place Brandi mentioned. Was it really that bad? I was not a picky eater so did not give voice to an opinion.
“How about hot dogs?” Juzi, the orange Lupe, suggested.
No disagreements arose with this suggestion and we began to head over to Hubert’s Hot Dogs. The others continued to talk and I walked among them, content to listen to their chatter. I changed my color from starry to spotted and heard an exclamation of surprise from Juzi. I was not surprised that he was the first to notice. As was common for his color, he was bright, alert and cheerful; he did not miss much.
At Juzi’s cry, the others turned to look at me: all shocked. Agam, true to his color, recovered his composure first.
“Flutter! How-What-“ Agam spluttered.
“I’ve never come across magic quite like yours,” Brandi said thoughtfully.
“I’m certainly not going to tell you how. It is a magic of sorts that I’ve had for years,” I said firmly, unwilling to reveal too much for fear that one of them would try to get the same magic for themselves.
I did not abuse my power. All I wanted was to fit in, not stand out. Others with more mischievous or darker leanings would have no such inhibitions. I shuddered to think what the wrong Neopet would do with such power.
“Then that means you weren’t born with your power, like I was!” Brandi exclaimed.
I was taken aback that Brandi had powers but did not show it. “That’s right.”
“So, you could have wings, if you wanted them,” Juzi pointed out.
“Yup! I can be any color I want, as long as Aishas can be painted or zapped that color.”
“Can’t you make up your mind what color you want to be?” Sky, a blue Lupe, asked.
Nah! Too confining for my taste.”
By this time, we got into line at Hubert’s Hot Dogs. I felt better that none of them seemed put off or jealous of my magic, merely curious and without malice, which was important to me. I felt comfortable among them as I had never felt before. It made me feel warm inside to know this. I got a Cheese and Mushroom Hot Dog and we all sat at a table to eat.
The others were busy eating but even so…
“I’m surprised you don’t have more questions for me,” I commented.
“It’s not that we don’t have them,” Agam said.
“It’s just a matter of you answering them,” Brandi said.
What an astute bunch I had found myself with!
I looked thoughtfully from Lupe to Aisha and back again. “Well, I don’t know any of you all that well. Why should I share so much with you?”
Even though I wanted to, I was still hesitant to trust. This was all too new for me. Agam cast a glance outside. Rain fell and the light was fading.
“After we finish we have to head on home. Flutter, as long as Alpha Inc doesn’t mind, I’m sure you could come over tomorrow,” the brown Lupe said.
“Sure. I’d like to meet the other Lupes in your pack,” I said readily.
“There’s Alpha Inc! He has Adisa, Abene and Abaddon with him,” Juzi said, starting up from the table.
“Best ask him now,” Brandi said with a nod.
We walked outside and I was introduced to Alpha Inc. I felt immediate like for the yellow Lupe with his open face and kind eyes.
“You could certainly come tomorrow. As long as you don’t mind rowdy young Lupes,” Inc said with a smile.
“I can handle them, I’m sure,” I said.
“Then we’ll see you tomorrow.”
The next day dawned clear. I woke up and knew what color I would be: gold. It fit the day. I wanted to put my best foot forward. It also reflected how I felt on the inside.
Gold was a bold color, a winning color. It was not an easy color to wear. Some gold Neopets are cocky, entitled or spoiled. Others live up to their color by being gold through and through. It was not a color I wore often but I knew I could handle it this day.
To my utter delight, as I came within view of the CGs territory, they were outside to greet me. I was beaming all over, the sun hitting me and making me shine.
“So, what are we going to do today?” I asked, hands on hips, looking at the CGs.
“What do you normally like to do?” Lavender, the purple Lupe, asked.
“Oh, whatever strikes my fancy. Sometimes influenced by my color of the moment.”
“How about a game of soccer then?” Agam suggested.
“We can’t play Yooyuball anymore, thanks to Brandi,” Sky, the blue Lupe, said with a sigh.
“Really? What happened?” I asked, truly curious (I had never played either game but had seen them played so I was eager to play anything suggested).
As our game began, we kept up a stream of chatter. The Collared Greens were open with me and I felt that I could trust them completely. I had hoped for one friend and gotten a whole pack! Taking a break, we sprawled in the grass.
“Flutter, we’re all born one color. I understand some ‘pets are painted or zapped but what about you? What was your original color?” Juzi asked, sitting up, arms draped lightly over his drawn up knees.
I was startled by the question. I hadn’t thought that they would come to the heart of the matter. I looked at each one of the CGs, one by one. I liked them, I trusted them but I could not truly call them friends until they knew all about me. Decision made, I rose to my feet and took a step back.
Then, I began to change.
“Flutter, you were born this way?” Agam asked.
I nodded, doing my best not to react. “Yes. No one knew what to make of me. Others treated me as an outcast. ‘What are you?’ they would say. I never had an answer. My power allows me to blend in as I will it.”
“Yours must be a hard life.”
We were all startled and I turned to face Inc as he approached. I felt apprehension. The yellow Lupe was their Alpha. What he said went. What would he say?
“I don’t know what you mean, Inc,” I stammered, unable to hide any longer.
“Oh, I believe you do. We all need roots. For a season we may not settle but then that season ends. I was lucky to find my place at last. It’s not easy.”
“That being the case, for the past two decades, I have brought young Lupes into my care, hoping to smooth the way for them, as others once did for me. Yet, where is your support? Your power makes it difficult to share with others. No friends, no family, no home. No one fully understands what it means to be Flutter,” the yellow Lupe said.
As Inc spoke, my ears drooped. He was Alpha for a reason. His wisdom was like nothing I had known before. He had seen the real me instantly. Yet, he still welcomed me.
I don’t know how I took this fortunate turn but I was horrified to feel my throat clench with emotion.
“Today, I hope that has changed. You can always come here if you ever need or want to,” Inc said.
I kept my eyes unnaturally wide, hoping to prevent tears from falling. “I-Thank you. Your offer means a lot to me. I do like it here. You’ve all accepted me for me, not for any of the colors that I’ve been or my power.”
“Then that’s settled.”
“Welcome to the CGs, Flutter!”
My new packmates surrounded me. This was all I had ever wanted: acceptance, friendship, love and understanding. I started out alone in this world except for my colors. Now I’m no longer alone and my colors don’t matter.