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Because It's Christmas, After All


by lavendergoddess79

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As I walk down the street, I almost don't notice that it's dark outside. It's always so hard to tell with all of the bright lights in Neopia Central this time of year. It's almost like there's really no difference between day and night, and they just kind of blend together. But it's still somehow darker and colder at night. That's kind of like the way I feel about this place. It really isn't any different that it was a few year ago, but it feels so much more empty.

      Well, it's Christmas time again. I can tell from all the colorful lights, the thin layer of snow that covers the ground, and the excitement of the crowds as they search for the perfect Christmas presents for their friends and family. I always used to love the holidays. It's so hard to feel lonely in all of the crowds that they bring. But this year, things are a little different.

      I used to live with my owner, Makayla. She was the nicest owner ever. She painted me cloud and groomed my fur daily, telling me I was the most beautiful Aisha ever. It's hard to remember those times, but I can if I try hard enough. I mostly only remember little things about her, like how she always wanted a Jhuidah Faerie Doll, but could never afford it because she spent all her neopoints on me. I remember her pale blonde hair and bright blue eyes. But I remember Christmas best of all- drinking hot chocolate and sitting around the fire place as we opened presents. Everything was perfect then and I just wish it could go back to the way it was, but that isn't going to happen.

      It was two years ago when everything changed- Christmas Eve to be exact. That was the day when Makayla decided that she didn't want me anymore.

      "Laila," I remember her saying, "I'm so sorry, but this is for your own good. I'm only putting you in the pound because I can't take care of you anymore. You don't have anything to worry about- you're a painted pet. Someone will take you right away. You probably won't even have to stay here one night."

      She was right. Within minutes a curly haired girl came to the pound, smiling as she looked around. Seeing me, she quickly decided that I was the one she wanted, and adopted me right then.

      "I'm Hailey," she told me excitedly as we left the pound. "You'll feel right at home with my other three pets." So I went with her to her neohome in Meridell.

      I didn't like it there at first- it lacked the excitement of Neopia Central. I also hated Hailey's other three pets, three Grarrls who seemed to think that mocking the new pet was just the most fun thing in the world. But I decided to give it a chance.

      After a few months, I gave up on Hailey's family. I just couldn't stand it there. So I left. One night I packed up my few belongings, a notebook, a pen, and a few neopoints, and snuck out, leaving a short note explaining why I left, and that I had no intention of coming back. I doubt that Hailey cared much that I left, and if she did it was only because it means she lost her only painted pet. That was the only reason she had wanted me, anyway.

      I couldn't stay in Meridell after that. I had hated that place. So I went back to the only place I had every really called home- Neopia Central.

      And that's where I am today. Of course, I don't really have a neohome or anywhere to go. But I've done just fine without. And the lack of neopoints isn't much of a problem. I only need neopoints for food, really, and I've been able to rely on the neopoints I find on the street.

      So I walk casually through the crowd as I make my way to the market place. I used to love going here during the holidays and looking in the shop windows and the interesting items people were selling. This was a great place to shop. I always used to find great deals here back when I had neopoints. Now I'm more of a window shopper, looking at the items from afar.

      I continue to glance through the shop windows. I see one window filled with every sort of candy I've ever seen. The next one had mirrors and grooming items arranged in and interesting pattern. Then I come to a doll store, where I notice something hanging in the window- a Jhuidah Faerie Doll, priced at 90,000 neopoints. The doll looks just like the island faerie that Makayla always admired. I haven't seen one of these in ages. Just seeing it makes me think of Makayla and how she loved these dolls. I turn quickly to get as far away from here as I can so that I won't start to cry.

      Suddenly, I trip on something, falling onto the ground. I manage to jump to my feet before the crowd behind me tramples me. As I get up, I catch a glimpse of what I tripped over. It's a bag of some sort, with some black writing on it. I can't quite tell what is says. I quickly pick it up to get a closer look. As I continue walking with the crowd, I open the bag and look inside. I recognize its contents as neopoints.

      That's when I remember to look and see what the writing on the bag says- 90,000. Wow, that's a lot of neopoints. I could buy myself my own neohome with this. Or I could visit Faerieland, or buy enough food to never have to worry about finding neopoints again.

      But I have a better idea. I turn around again, heading back to the doll shop. I push open the wooden door, and gently close it behind me. I head up to the window, and take the island faerie doll off of the display. I carry it up to the front of the shop, where I get in line behind a few other pets. My turn comes quickly, and I place the doll on the counter, setting the bag of neopoints down next to it. I don't say a word. The gold Skeith that is the shopkeeper takes the neopoints, emptying them on the counter. He looks at them, apparently counting to see if I have enough. Satisfied, he hands me the doll. I take it and leave the shop, smiling to myself. This will make a great Christmas present for Makayla.

      I walk down the street in the direction of Makayla's neohome. I remember the way well. I pass the small shops in the market place and continue on. I count the numbers of the neohomes on the street as I pass them. I'm almost there.

      I'm a little excited to see my owner again. Maybe things have changed. Maybe she'll want me back again. But I won't get my hopes up. Then, I see the house. My heart starts to beat quickly as I nervously approach it.

      As I get closer, I see a girl standing in the front yard putting up Christmas decorations with three pets. I recognize her pale blonde hair and bright blue eyes. I watch her and the pets talking, laughing, smiling at each other. They seem to be the perfect family. What was I thinking? They don't want to see me. I turn around and hurry away from this place, allowing myself to get lost in the crowd of pets that fills the streets.

      ~*~

      Makayla turned her head quickly. She knew that she'd heard something. As she looked into the distance, she saw no one. She sighed. Maybe she shouldn't have gotten her hopes up again. What are the chances that Laila would be here? But it was Christmas, after all. That had always been Laila's favorite time of the year. And Makayla's Christmas wish had been to see her Aisha again.

      Makayla thought back, remembering when she spent all of her neopoints on a cloud paintbrush a year ago. She had nothing to buy food with, and couldn't take care of her old pet, so she took her to the pound. The very next day, something very lucky had happened. She won 50,000 neopoints playing the fruit machine. She hurried back to the pound. But to her horror, Laila had already been adopted by a girl named Hailey.

      At first, Makayla didn't know what to do. Over time she adopted three pets from the pound. But she always kept enough room for one extra pet, just in case.

      Now she headed up to the front of her yard, where she thought she had heard something. As she turned her head, she thought she caught a glimpse of a cloud Aisha running into the crowd. But maybe it was just her imagination. That's when she saw the package on the ground.

      It was a small, plain brown box, not much bigger than her hand. Curious, Makayla picked it up and opened it to find a Jhuidah Faerie Doll. She smiled to see it. She had always wanted one, but they were so expensive these days. She wondered who it was from. Then she saw the note attached. She carefully unfolded it and read it to herself.

      "Dear Makayla,

      I'm sending you a little present, because it is Christmas, after all. This is the time of year for giving. You used to give me so much, and I never really appreciated everything you did for me until now- now that I know what it's like to live without you. I miss you so much, Makayla. You were the best owner ever. But I realize that you have new pets now, and don't want me around anymore. I understand. I haven't had a home in the longest time, but I'm going to try to find a new place to live. Before I do, I just wanted to officially say goodbye and thank you for everything you've done for me. So merry Christmas, and please don't forget about me. I'll certainly always remember you.

      -Laila"

The End

 
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