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What Counts


by really_awesome_d00d

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It's not hard to forget the day I was born, seeing as it wasn't much unlike most other days in Neopia Central. Even so, I remember it as clearly as if it were yesterday. It was breezy and sunny, with hardly a cloud in the sky. The sun, usually egg-yolk yellow, was a pale, blazing white. It was neither humid nor dry, neither hot nor cold; in other words, it was the perfect summer day.

     I came into existence as the brainchild of my first owner. Or, so I thought. As it would later turn out I was basically conceived to be the living out of a fad. Needless to say, I now forget the name of my first owner. The only thing I do remember was that he was young, both physically and mentally.

     I thought he would love me. All pets think their owners will love them, whether or not that thought turns out to be true. I believed that he created me to be a gift, a friend, a lifelong pal. I believed he would cherish me for who I was and would become his confidant and trusted keeper of secrets.

     I was born a blue Eyrie, and I am still a blue Eyrie. I suppose now my owner thought Eyries looked cool. He didn't choose for me to be an Eyrie because of what it would bring me, but rather it would make him look cooler. It doesn't matter, now.

     The only real event I remember with my owner is that first day, while we were strolling through the streets, past the shops and Money Tree. He was as giddy as well, a schoolboy, and I was calm and nonchalant, listening to him contentedly, getting used to being his friend forever. He was a very talkative young boy and I remember wondering if he would ever be quiet.

     Then he said something that I would never forget.

     "So, Wartyuglypoopybutt, what do you want to do today?"

     I whirled around to him, a look etched onto my face similar to that of Jhudora's if Illusen learned of her true intentions.

     "What?!"

     "I asked what you wanted to do, Wartyuglypoopybutt." The boy stared at me as if I were crazy.

     "Who the heck is Wartyuglypoopybutt?" I asked him, barely able to speak.

     "Well you are, stupid." The boy's response was indignant.

     "You named me Wartyuglypoopybutt?!"

     The boy stared at me blankly. "Yeah."

     "Yeah? YEAH?! You named me Wartypoopyuglybutt and all you can say is 'Yeah'?!"

     "It's 'Wartyuglypoopybutt', actually, Wartyuglypoopybutt," the boy replied. "And besides, I didn't think you would care."

     "Care?! You didn't think I would care if I was named after probably the most disgusting mental image anyone could ever come up with? You do realize that you've just cursed my entire future, right?" I snarled at the boy, eyes slimming to fiery slits.

     "D-Don't look at me like that," the boy whimpered. "I didn't mean to make you angry--"

     "Angry? I'm well beyond angry, seeing as I now have no future, thanks to you. Have you ever heard of a royal advisor to King Coltzan named Wartyuglypoopybutt? How about a teacher? A scientist? A philosopher? Even a waiter, for Fyora's sake!? No. No one who is anyone is named Wartyuglypoopybutt or anything like it." With that, I collapsed to the ground with a sigh, burying my face in my claws.

     "You're not fun," the boy suddenly remarked.

     That's the last of the memories I had with him. The next seven days were spent suspended in limbo; I neither remembered nor felt anything during that time but how dark my life would be. Neopets can't die, I remembered. I would live forever as Wartyuglypoopybutt, with no consolation.

     When a week had passed, my owner dropped me off at the cold grey building I immediately recognized as the Neopian Pound. I didn't even care when he shoved me through the doors and began childishly discussing with a very flustered-looking Dr. Death.

     "His name is Wartyuglypoopybutt, he's a blue Eyrie, he likes making friends, and if he were to be encountered by a stranger he would try to make friends…" the boy yammered on. A pink Uni stared at him excitedly, nodding, trying to look cheerful. Dr. Death, meanwhile, looked about as content as a Kadoatie that's been shoved into a pitch-black room at midnight on the winter solstice.

     "Wartyuglypoopybutt, come right this way," Dr. Death murmured, indicating that I should follow him. I didn't even take a look back at my owner, who was probably already skipping down the lane, overjoyed to no longer care for such an ornery pet as myself. I'd made sure to make him rue the fact that he'd named me such a vulgar name in the brief time I'd been his pet.

     "You'll sleep in this cell," Dr. Death said emotionlessly. The rusty iron door swung open. I walked glumly inside, and sat down on the floor, feeling utterly hopeless.

     For who in their right mind would ever adopt a pet named Wartyuglypoopybutt, when names like Faerieprincess and Cuteypie and Crystalstar existed?

     ~*~

     "Get used to what they feed you here," a small Chia murmured to me as I passed by him in the lunch line. "It's all you'll ever get, even on your birthday." I didn't smile as a bored-looking Kau in a white uniform slapped a globule of grey sludge onto my plate.

     I sat down, alone, aloof from all other social groups in the pound community. No one even made a motion to even look at me. I ate my glop in silence, not wanting to know what the ingredients were. The glop tasted like wet cement, and was just as sticky. I washed it down with cold tap water, and when lunch break was up, I slipped back into my cell.

     I took a nap. When I awoke, it was raining outside. Most of the pets within their cells were talking.

     "Hey, what's your name?" called out a Kyrii, almost out of the blue, directly across from me.

     I pretended to ignore him.

     "What's your name?" he called out, louder this time. Unless I was deaf, there was no way I could not have heard that. But still I ignored him. The longer I kept myself anonymous, the better. I would be in here for a long time.

     "I said, what's your name?!" the Kyrii shouted, standing up. Other pets surrounding silenced.

     I looked up at him glumly. "Wartyuglypoopybutt," I whispered.

     "What?"

     "Wartyuglypoopybutt!" I wailed.

     The Kyrii fell silent, and rippling throughout the hushed crowd I heard snickers and bursts of laughter. I buried my head in my hands to hide my shame, completely mortified.

     Yes, I would be in here for a long time.

     ~*~

     No one attempted to sit next to me at lunch the next day, but I got odd looks. Whenever I looked around, other pets looked away, trying to hide that they'd been staring at me. I guess they expected me to in someway look like what my name suggested, even though I was just an ordinary blue Eyrie.

     When I returned to my cell, I ignored everyone around me, like I had during the morning. I watched Neopians come and go through the path before me. Very few stopped to look at me, and none stayed for long after Dr. Death told them my name.

     It wasn't unexpected. The chances of a generic blue Eyrie with an unusually awful name getting his lucky break two days into the pound were slim to none. I didn't expect those odds to change at all.

     The week passed by slowly. I rarely talked, if I did at all. Some pets would stare into my cell, only to look away with snickers and laughs. The blue Kyrii across from me, who I later learned was named Steff, would only look at me when he was done talking. And whenever he did, it was with a smile planted on his face.

     Not three days after my arrival did some bright-eyed, blond-haired little girl adopt Steff. Murmurings of jealousy echoed out through the cells around him, myself included. I would never forget the look of self-righteous triumph on his face as he disappeared from the pound, clutched in the arms of the girl.

     He knew I would never get out of here.

     The ninth day upon arriving to the pound a hideously ugly green Skeith sat across from me at lunch.

     "Whats yous name 'gain?" he demanded shortly after I sat down to eat my glop.

     "Could you repeat that?" I asked. "I didn't hear what you said." It was the truth.

     The whole cafeteria fell silent. Even the emotionless Kaus in the spotless white smocks behind the serving line looked up with clear looks of astonishment on their faces. The Skeith stared at me with beady eyes of sheer hatred for a moment, and then slapped my plate of glop off the table.

     "Hey! I was going to eat that!" I snapped.

     "Nobod makes funs of muh," the Skeith snarled. "I mate note talk good but I is betters than yous. Yous Wartyuglypoopybutt, stupid stupid Eyrie."

     "Leave me alone," I said quietly, staring forlornly at my splattering of glop upon the cafeteria floor.

     "Nos, Wartyuglypoopybutt, haha, yous no chance of gettings out!" the Skeith guffawed. The pets around him joined up in laughter, and I felt my blood rush to my cheeks and several hot droplets sting my eyes.

     The Skeith shoved me.

     "Wartyuglypoopybutt," he snarled. "Yous ugly, warty, poopy, and butt."

     I fell to the ground, three tears spilling from my eyes.

     "Oh, poors Warty!" he shouted with a laugh. "He's cryin'!"

     "Shut up!" I shouted and lunged, plunging my claws into his shoulder blades and driving to the ground. He let out a gasp of shock, and then ripped my squalling form from his chest effortlessly. He held me in the air a moment before flinging me like a mere pebble five feet and into the legs of an unsuspecting green Gelert.

     The Gelert let out a yelp and dropped her plate of glop. The glop splattered into my hair and dripped down my face, intermingling with my tears.

     The cafeteria period ended with glop in my hair, several bruised limbs, a pride hurt beyond repair, and tears streaking down my cheeks.

     The green Skeith just laughed.

     ~*~

     Dr. Death stopped outside my cell later that night, when I'd calmed down.

     "I heard you had a spat at lunchtime today," he murmured. "I'd have you know that we at the Neopian Pound do not tolerate misbehavior of that sort."

     "Misbehavior? Doctor, I'd have you know that I did nothing wrong. That Skeith, he--"

     "I've already talked to BigstupidGoliath," Dr. Death replied. "I know all what happened at lunch."

     "So you know that he punched me, threw me into some poor pet and ruined their lunch, and that he injured me?" I showed him a blotchy purple spot on my exposed right elbow.

     "Yes, I know all of that," Dr. Death snapped. "Stop with the theatrics, if you please. I have no appreciation of them. You are both equally to blame. You attacked him, even if he did attack you, and such violent and immoral actions will not go without punishment."

     "Punishment? He started it!"

     "Nevertheless, you fought back. In any case, your punishment is lunch duties alongside BigstupidGoliath for two weeks. For one half-hour every day after lunch break you will mop the floors and clean the tables. Failure to comply with this allotted punishment with result in more severe punishment."

     "What severe punishment?" I challenged.

     Dr. Death only glared. "It starts tomorrow," he added. "Goodnight, Wartyuglypoopybutt."

     I expected venom in his voice when he spoke my name, but instead I only heard his real voice. He did not speak my name with disgust.

     There was an unfamiliar gleam in Dr. Death's eyes as he walked away, and I heard him sigh as he departed.

     I shrugged it off. Dr. Death probably didn't care about me. Just as my first owner didn't care about me, and like all the pets in this pound could care less if I disappeared forever.

     ~*~

     It's amazing what you can hear while you eavesdrop in the pound.

     First, there are horror stories: tales of pets abandoned so long that they can't even remember their own name, and begin fabricating past lives for themselves where they lived in luxury and fame, when no such life existed. The most interesting of these tales is that of an old, gnarled Lupe, so ancient he was nameless. He was the only pet in history who escaped the pound.

     They say that all day and all night he would sit, murmuring to himself in the dankest corner of his cell while he plotted his escape, speaking in riddles of a land where sunlight shone upon jelly and he could eat his fill. Everyone thought he was insane.

     When he finally did escape, they say he never returned, and instead fled to the land he spoke of so fondly and dreamt of constantly. Others say he escaped only to be imprisoned elsewhere, still dreaming of his jelly paradise.

     It was certainly interesting when dafkjasdGGAagGJAGJG, the nearly nonsensical yellow Nimmo to my right, said it to the pet in the cell to his right.

     The other interesting things you can hear while eavesdropping are of happenings in the pound -- namely, my bout with BigstupidGoliath. It's amazing how much pets will stretch the truth to make a story more interesting. From the way JigglyFatBoy, the cherry-cheeked Chia porker that was once to Steff's right, tells the story, you would've thought BigstupidGoliath and I were Meridellian knights locked in combat with weapons forged from the purest fires and both equipped with magical spells and with faeries to guide us, when it really wasn't that fantastic of a fight anyways.

     Others talk of BigstupidGoliath's awe-inspiring power and skill; others speak of my furious attacks upon him. I prefer to listen to those who talk about my part of the fight with respect, knowing it'll be the only respect I'll get with a name like mine.

     I try to forget it every day, but I never do.

     ~*~

     As a part of my lunch duty punishment, I must also sit with BigstupidGoliath every day at lunch for the two weeks. He never talks to me, only minding and toying with his food. I feel his eyes on me whenever I look down, though, and know he's plotting revenge. I stare at his shoulders with a bit of pride, knowing that the shiny red claw marks won't dim for quite some time.

     After two weeks is up, I'm allowed to sit wherever I want again. That is, by myself again.

     But this time, I'm not alone, and BigstupidGoliath is not near me.

     Instead, the green Gelert sits down across from me, the one whose lunch I ruined the day of the fight. She smirks at me slightly.

     "Hi," she murmurs.

     I don't reply.

     "You're--"

     "Wartyuglypoopybutt, nice to meet you, too," I finish for her with bitterness in my voice. "What do you want?"

     "I just wanted to say that I can relate to being lonely."

     "Weren't you sitting with your friends the day I ruined your lunch?"

     "Yeah. But they all got adopted now and I have no more friends to sit with." The Gelert's voice was sorrowful.

     "Oh, cry me a river. You don't have to live with a name like Wartyuglypoopybutt. You can actually get friends."

     The Gelert just smiled at me.

     "What?"

     She pulled out her nametag from around her neck and handed it to me. "Read it," she said briskly, still grinning.

     I looked down, and nearly dropped the tag in shock.

     It read, "Uglywartypoopybutt".

     "You're name is Uglywartypoopybutt?" I stammered, unable to contain my excitement. I had someone I could finally relate to!

     "Yes," she said shortly. "My owner was a little boy who didn't care what he named me."

     "But if your name is just as bad as mine, no offense… How did you make friends?"

     "It's not the name that counts, Wartyuglypoopybutt," Uglywartypoopybutt said, eyes shining. "It's who you are that does. Some superficial and unintelligent people will look at you and never know anything beyond the fact that you've got a terrible name. That's a curse we've both had to bear.

     "Even so, there are those few who'll see past that, like the ones that became my friends. I acted like myself. I like to help people out, I try to be friendly, and I try to be nice. People see that. They are friends with me for my personality. They see past my name.

     "I'm hoping that'll be enough… to be adopted, one day."

     Uglywartypoopybutt stared at me expectantly.

     "Good luck," I whispered, dumbfounded.

     Lunch was over sooner than I expected.

     ~*~

     The next day, Uglywartypoopybutt didn't sit down across from me at lunch.

     I didn't even have to ask to know what happened to her.

     I left lunch that day with a smile.

The End

 
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