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Neopia's Fill in the Blank News Source | 24th day of Gathering, Yr 22
The Neopian Times Week 143 > Short Stories > A Plushie for Ella

A Plushie for Ella

by mrs_fluff

"Owner" is not a good word to describe the lucky humans that have Neopets and actually appreciate and care about them. "Parent" or "friend" would be a better description. But there are a few rare cases where "owner" is the only word to describe the human, when they only care about using their pet for power, pride, and to win trophies. These tyrannical owners don't give the slightest care as to how their pets feel or their wants and needs. Luckily, not many of the humans in Neopia are like this, but there is a small amount.

     One such human was a young girl called Karine. She was thin and of medium height, with brown eyes and greasy, brownish-blonde hair which she always wore in a sloppy ponytail. Karine had almost no talent whatsoever, but she had her small heart set on being a famous and popular Neopian with hundreds of fanmail letters pouring into her mailbox every day. So, she made up her mind into training her pet to become an extremely tough Battledomer that would make other pets shrink in fear. This way, she thought, she could get famous quick.

     However, Karine could not afford much. She could only keep one pet, and that was a very young green Wocky named Ella. She lived in a tiny Neohome, with only four rooms: a bathroom, a living room and two bedrooms. Karine could afford no codestones, but even if she could, she knew that Ella would not want to train.

     Ella was a personification of innocence. Karine had adopted her from the pound when she was just a few days old. The girl had found her there, whimpering and neglected, having been dumped when her original owner decided she didn't want a Wocky after all. Karine speedily adopted her in the hopes that the Wocky's past would infuriate her as she got older, and she would grow up to be an angry and tough fighter. But as the months passed, Ella never changed, and remained an innocent and sweet kitten. There was no will to fight in her; she wanted only to nicely play with anyone she happened to meet.

     Karine was disgusted at this, but she had a tiny shred of kindness inside of her that kept her from dumping Ella right back at the pound. Instead, Karine bought her a few toys and left her alone with them on most days while she went off to play games and do odd jobs to earn enough money to keep food on the table. Ella was a lonely Wocky, but she was never bored, and she always found something to do with her toys and immense imagination.

     One quiet day, when Ella was a few months old, Karine was walking down the street, heading home from an errand, when she nearly tripped over a Yellow Wocky Plushie on the ground. She picked it up, and saw that it looked new and soft. She considered selling it, but she decided to give it to her pet since she was so close to home.

     Karine walked onwards, and then up to her Neohome. She entered it and found Ella in the living room, smiling and doing tricks with her yo-yo.

     "Hi, Mommy!" called the Wocky brightly. "What's that you've got?"

     "It's a new toy for you," Karine said, tossing the plushie to her.

     Ella caught it and admired it. "Aww!" she squealed. "He's great! Thank you so much! I think I'll name him Wosco." She cuddled her plushie lovingly.

     "Whatever you say," Karine mumbled, and she thought no more of it that day.

     But over the next few days, Karine began to notice that Ella was obsessing over this plushie. The Wocky seemed to like it more than any of her other toys by far. She dragged Wosco with her everywhere like a security blanket. She brought it to breakfast, lunch, and dinner. She took it into the bathroom. She slept with her arms wrapped around it. The plushie was like a part of Ella that she could never let go of, and wherever the real Wocky was, the Wocky plushie was there too. Karine didn't understand why, but she didn't care that much. She had other things to worry about.

     Then, a few days later, Karine started to get annoyed. Ella was starting to neglect all the other toys that Karine had spent a combined amount of 50 whole Neopoints for, and that was a lot for her greedy soul. The Wocky was talking to her plushie more than she talked to her owner. And every day, Wosco got more and more ragged and dirty as he was pulled along over the floor wherever Ella went. Ella, though, never cared about how bad the plushie looked and how dirty and stained it was. She was purely attached to it.

     One day, after Ella had been addicted to her plushie for about a month, Karine told her, "Ella, dear, you shouldn't care so much about that plushie."

     "Why?" Ella asked. "He's my friend."

     "Well, he's not real," Karine responded sharply. "He's only a wad of stuffing and cloth."

     Ella tilted her head. "He's real to me. He always listens to me when I talk, and he never says I'm naughty or silly. You never listen and you say those things, and it makes me sad."

     Karine dropped the conversation right there out of frustration, not out of guilt that she was a horrible owner. Over the next few days, she tried telling her Wocky other things, but Ella refused to let go of her plushie.

     "Ella, look at that thing," she said once, her voice dripping with fake kindness and calmness. "It's all beaten up and dirty. It's probably unhealthy to carry it around. You don't want to get sick with some nasty disease, do you?"

     "Oh!" Ella exclaimed frantically, her eyes growing wide as she hugged her plushie tightly. "Do you mean Wosco has a disease? We have to take him to the doctor, then! Please, let's hurry!" She looked up at Karine with large, pleading eyes.

     Karine shook her head. "He doesn't have a disease, Ella. Forget it," she remarked, and then she turned and briskly walked out of the room.

     Another time, Karine ran into Ella's room and screamed, "Drop that plushie, Ella! It's a Malevolent Sentient Plushie... Wocky! Uh, yeah! It's dangerous, we have to get rid of it!" She tried to keep her fake horrified face, but her mouth twitched and burst into a smile, and she started to laugh wildy at her own lameness. Ella was sitting there with a blank look, but then she shook her head.

     "Those crazy owners! They're so funny, aren't they, Wosco?" the green Wocky asked her plushie. Behind her, Karine retreated out of the room, blushing bright red and growing angry with herself.

     Days went by with Ella growing steadily more and more attached to her plushie, and Karine getting more and more fed up and angry. Of course, it was a good thing for the owner that Ella was always occupied and hardly ever needed any attention, but it filled Karine with spite for some reason to see her pet with the little stuffed toy. Perhaps it was because Ella had her heart's desire, whereas Karine did not have (and probably never would have) what she truly wanted: fame.

     Every day, when Karine went out to earn some Neopoints, all she could think about was her pet and her pet's plushie. She wondered about Ella's strange fascination with it, and grew more and more jealous by the day. She didn't understand why that little doll won the admiration of the Wocky, and Karine got none. No one admired Karine for anything. The owner began to hate the plushie bitterly, as if it were some great Neopian villain instead of a mass-produced child's toy.

     A month and a half after Ella met Wosco, Karine had an idea that if she got a Petpet for her Wocky, she would abandon the plushie. She went out and bought an Abominable Snowball, the cheapest Petpet she could find. She brought it home and took it into Ella's room, where the Neopet sat playing with Wosco.

     Karine set down the Petpet next to her Wocky. "Hey, I got you a new friend so you can stop dragging around that disgusting plushie!" the owner said proudly.

     Ella looked at the Abominable Snowball with shock in her eyes. "Mommy, take it away! It's staring at me!" She screamed.

     "But doesn't your plushie stare at you?" Karine asked in confusion.

     "No. And this Petpet's eyes are so big! Please, please take it away! Please!" Ella pleaded, and she crawled under her bed, trembling.

     Obviously, that idea had been a failure. Karine took the strange little Petpet to the Money Tree and just left it.

     One day not long afterwards, Karine decided to pay a visit to her only Neopian friend, a girl named Helen. She brought Ella along, and soon Karine sat on a comfy chair in Helen's living room while Ella played with Helen's red Lupe outside.

     Helen was a very mean and cruel girl, but she was nice to her pets so they'd do what she wanted. She was Karine's biggest Neopian influence and role model. Yes, in Karine's eyes, Helen the spoiled brat made Jeran and the Defenders look like wannabes.

     Helen sat on a chair beside Karine, who was looking around at her friend's large and lavishly decorated room, wishing she could afford more things.

     "So, Karine, you look troubled," Helen said. "What's the matter?"

     "Well," Karine said, "I'm having some trouble with Ella."

     "Oh, you are, huh?" Helen asked, eager for any gossip. "What kind?"

     "Well, two moths ago today, I bought her a Yellow Wocky Plushie," Karine explained, "and now she drags it everywhere. Honestly, she won't let go of it. Ever. Wherever she goes, that plushie is there with her. I mean, it's already all torn up and looks like something you'd pick up at the Meridell Rubbish Dump. I don't know how to make her get rid of the thing."

     Helen shook her head. "Strange. I noticed she was carrying that thing with her. Well, what have you tried doing to make her dump the thing?"

     Karine began to speak. "Well, I've told her that-"

     "Whoa, whoa!" interrupted Helen. "Don't tell her anything. You've just got to take it through force! There's no nice way to go about it. If you just tell her things like a wimp, she'll never give it up."

     Karine's eyes were wide. "You think?"

     Helen smiled wickedly. "I don't think; I know. Trust me. Just steal it from her and dump it at the Money Tree. Someone will take it."

     Later that day, Karine and Ella went home. All the way back to their Neohome, Ella told her owner excitedly about all the fun she had had with Helen's Lupe, but Karine was not paying attention. Her friend's words kept repeating themselves in her head. By the time they reached their tiny house, the owner had made up her mind to take Wosco that very night while Ella was sleeping.

     The hours passed. Karine was uneasy for the rest of the afternoon while she waited for night to fall so Ella would go to sleep. Finally, the Wocky fell asleep in the early twilight, but Karine wanted to wait until midnight, just in case. She stayed up reading old issues of the Neopian Times until it was time, and then she stood up, took a deep breath, and headed towards the door to her pet's room.

     Karine silently tiptoed into the room, wiping sweat from her forehead. The Wocky was sleeping under the thick blankets on her small bed with a peaceful smile on her face, her arms wrapped around her plushie. Karine quietly approached her, then gently lifted up her arm from her plushie. The owner carefully took it from her pet with the precision of a surgeon, biting her lip and hoping that Ella would not wake up. When Karine held Wosco in her arms and Ella did not, the owner grinned and retreated out of Ella's room, not noticing that the Wocky was beginning to turn restlessly in her sleep.

     Karine strode out of her Neohome and down the suburban street, clutching the grotty plushie and heading towards the High Street. After a few moments, she came to the High Street, which was quiet in the dead of the night except for a few late restockers haunting the shops. There were also two poor pets sitting sleepily under the Money Tree in the hopes of a donation.

     Karine walked under the Money Tree and waved the plushie above her head. "Hey!" she called, shattering the silence of the night and bringing the pets under the tree to attention. "Does anyone want this plushie?"

     One of the pets, a red Zafara, shouted, "It's not the biggest thing, but I'll take it!"

     The blue Grarrl sitting next to him jumped up and cried, "No way! The plushie's mine! I need it more!"

     The Zafara leaped up too and stared menacingly at the Grarrl. "Oh yeah?" he shouted angrily. "You wanna bet?"

     Karine waved her hands. "Hey, we don't need a fight!" she exclaimed. "Rip the thing in half and you can each take a part, if you want. But someone, just take it!" She flung Wosco at the two pets, then turned from the scene without seeing who caught it and started to run back towards the street her Neohome was on. She could hear shouts and yells behind her as the two fought over the trivial plushie, but as she reached her street and ran down it, the noise faded away into the dark night.

     When at last Karine reached her Neohome again, she paused in front of the door and put her face in her palms. For some reason, she felt very sad and guilty all of a sudden. It seemed as if her heart had a heavy weight on it that she could not get rid of, and she couldn't believe that she had actually followed Helen's advice. She knew how much her pet had loved Wosco.

     Then, her ears picked up a slight noise coming from within her house. Karine's head jerked up suddenly, and she listened harder, scared that there might be a thief or some beast inside. But in a few seconds, she became aware that the sound was actually someone crying, and crying very hard.

     Karine threw open her door. She saw Ella sitting in the middle of the living room, sobbing wildly and wiping her eyes with her paw. She looked up at her owner. "Oh, Mommy!" she cried. "Wosco went away! I woke up and he was gone, and I just can't find him! I thought he was my friend!"

     Karine combated the tears that were forming in her eyes. "That's too bad," she said with a shaky voice. "I could get you another plushie, possibly."

     Ella shook her head. "No," said the little Wocky, "Wosco was the only plushie for me. Now... now, I don't have a friend at all!" Tears burst forth with new strength from her eyes.

     This time, Karine could not win the battle with her own tears. Sadness and guilt overcame her, and she became very angry at herself for doing what she had done. She sat down next to Ella, crying just as hard. "Actually... Ella," she gasped between sobs, "I know... where Wosco went. An evil beast snatched him away."

     Ella gasped. "The Pant Devil?" she asked with horror.

     "No. It was me!" Karine admitted, and her the tears streamed down her face. She expected Ella to scream in horror and become very angry. Instead, there was a long moment of silence- well, it was silent except for constant sobs and sniffles from the two.

     At last, the Wocky stopped crying (although she still sniffled) and patted her owner on the back.

     "It's okay, Mommy," she said. "As long as I have a friend. I liked Wosco so much because you never really cared about me, and he did. But I heard that other pets are friends with their owners. If you could only be my friend, I'd be happy."

     "I'm... so... sorry, Ella," Karine sobbed. Then she embraced her Wocky. "For tonight, and for everything. I'll be your friend. I need a better one than Helen."

     That was the night that Karine discovered the secret that so many other Neopian owners had already discovered. The secret was that the real point to life in Neopia is not being famous or admired, but having best friends-both Neopets and humans- that you truly care about and that care about you.

     But that was a long time ago. Today, Ella and Karine can hardly remember a time when they were not friends. They don't have a lot of money or possessions, and they are not and probably never will be famous, but the two cannot be separated.

     As for Ella's plushie, it has passed through many different homes and hands, but it has brought happiness with it always. Who knows where it resides now, but you can bet that its Neopet is very happy with it, and doesn't care about its age or appearance. That, my friends, is true friendship.

The End

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