Now with 50% more useless text Circulation: 112,409,164 Issue: 224 | 20th day of Sleeping, Y8
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Of Black and White


by xerdies01

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"But why? Why do I have to give up this lovely Christmas coat? You only painted me a month ago and now you say you've got me a White Paint Brush!" Em the Uni yelled at her owner.

     "Em, that was at the beginning of the Month of Celebrating," Shirley, the owner, explained patiently. "Christmas is over now; it's the Month of Sleeping and anyway when you were painted we were living in Neopia Central. You're such a conspicuous colour here in Faerieland, I bet you stick out like an Aisha's ears! There are only three colours that fit in this place - Faerie, Cloud and White-"

     "So why can't I be Faerie? It's loads better looking and-"

     "I already told you, I can't afford it."

     "White," Em muttered rebelliously. "White… it's not even fashionable… it's like, not much different from the basic colours. If you want a new look you could get maybe a Shadow Paint Brush. Shadow Neopets are really cool."

     "Shadow would look even more weird than Christmas! Em, why don't you try to understand? All right… let's make a deal. You try being white for one week and see how you like it, and if at the end of that week you're still unhappy, I'll get you a Shadow Paint Brush."

     Em nodded curtly and left the room without looking at Shirley. She had gotten her own way. Shirley had had to give in.

     Her owner stood up and called softly after her, "Trust me, Em."

     * * * * *

     "Em, you look totally awesome!" Shirley gasped, as Em stepped out of the Rainbow Pool with a glistening skin of white.

     "No, I don't," Em retorted. "I'm only doing this because you said you'll paint me Shadow after a week."

     "If you don't like being white."

     "I really don't see the point of this, Shirley. And so many Neopoints wasted on that Christmas Paint Brush."

     "I didn't waste any Neopoints on it. I found it on the floor when I went to the Advent Calendar, remember?"

     Em was unfazed. "You could have sold it, then. Just because you get a thing for free doesn't mean you can't make some money out of it."

     Shirley sighed. "I'm sorry, Em, I really am. I just didn't think. But Christmas isn't a Faerieland colour. It looks out of place now that the festivities are past."

     Em didn't look like she was convinced. "Christmas will come again at the end of this year."

     "For heaven's sake, Em!" shouted her owner, finally running out of patience. "Do you think I don't know that? You have to go and spoil the whole trip by your endless bickering. I don't want any more arguments. Now, as soon as we get home, you're going to bed because in case you've forgotten you've got Neoschool tomorrow."

     * * * * *

     The white Uni stood in front of the Zen Mirror in her room, critically gazing at her appearance. She didn't want to be white. She had always wanted to be Shadow. It was good for hiding from other people's prying eyes.

     Even being Christmas hadn't been so bad. Admittedly, she had looked something like a walking Christmas tree, but now she felt bare, incomplete… why couldn't Shirley ever stop to think before making decisions? She had recently changed Em's brother Luz from a yellow Scorchio to a Cloud Lenny and then frantically started providing him with books because Lennies were supposed to be intelligent and Luz's intelligence was below average. That was the sort of thing she did.

     Em would probably be laughed at and jeered at the next day at Neoschool. If only there was some way she could avoid it… pretend to have Sneezles or Ugga-Ugga or something… but Shirley was extremely strict about such matters.

     Well, there was one comfort at least… by the end of the week she would be Shadow. Shirley was quite fair when it came to a point where she and her pets disagreed. She never forced her own wish upon them.

     With this thought, Em fell asleep.

     * * * * *

     Next morning, Em awakened early, filled with a looming sense of dread. She would look dowdy and everyone would notice. They would tease her mercilessly.

     At breakfast, she had no appetite. Her favourite Strawberry Kau Cream Cake and Kau Kau Farm Milk sat untouched on her plate, along with a Faerie Leaves Hot Dog. Shirley did not seem to have noticed, because all she said was, "See you this afternoon."

     Em always flew to school with her best friend, Immie the Faerie Meerca. She had always envied Immie and felt proud to be seen with her. Today, however, she felt that she would rather have gone alone. Nevertheless, she floated up to Immie and greeted her cheerfully.

     Before she had a chance to say anything else, Immie glanced at her and burst out, "Oh wow, Em, so you finally decided to get rid of that boring old Christmas coat! I've been wanting to tell you how odd it looked for ages but I was afraid to for fear it would hurt your feelings. It seems you realized it yourself, after all. You look great; do you know, I've been asking my owner for a White Paint Brush since last Fyora Day. She tells me I can't be white because Meercas don't normally have wings and she spent a fortune painting me Faerie. But it's nearly as good having a white Uni for a friend. Let's go, shall we?"

     Em was stunned, if rather pleased, at her friend's reaction. She flapped her wings harder to catch up with Immie and soon the two were flying side by side.

     At school, Em moved quickly to her desk and sat down, keeping her head low. As she had predicted, Immie was the only one who seemed to appreciate her colour. All around her, Faerie and Cloud pets pointed and whispered and giggled, stopping as soon as her head turned in their direction. Unfortunately, there were not many white pets in her class. Those that were, were shy introverts, preferring to keep a good distance from others. Em felt horribly alone.

     Her teacher, Miss Faellia, swept into class just then and banged on the table for silence. Em noticed that her teacher too was white, a white Lenny, and the lump in her throat eased a bit.

     Miss Faellia's eyes fell on her, and she smiled. "Why, Em, I see you've been painted white."

     The whispering and giggling broke out again. Miss Faellia's smile turned into a frown. "What is so funny, class? All I said was that Em had been painted white. I can guess… all you Cloud and Faerie pets despise white and think of it as a dull, common colour, don't you?"

     All the pets were silent now. When Miss Faellia spoke, students listened.

     "Out of forty pets we have only five white ones here - Aqui, Lydia, Jerana, Cyrus and Em. Sad to say, this colour is not much appreciated by the younger generation. But I will prove to you today that it has its good points. I want each of you five to tell us what you like about being white, please. Aqui, you first."

     Aqui the Bori got to her feet. "I-I like being white because… erm… white is the colour of goodness and purity. It stands for cleanliness of body and spirit. Not like Shadow, which signifies evil and darkness." She sat down, blushing.

     Next it was Lydia's turn. She, like Em, was a Uni. "Miss Faellia?" she said boldly. "I can't tell you why I like the colour white."

     "That's all right, Lydia. You may have some personal reason-"

     "No, that's not it. The fact is, I don't like it at all."

     Everyone laughed. The tension in the air lessened. Even Miss Faellia hid a smile. "Then you can tell us why you don't like it."

     "Well, white is just… white. It isn't pretty or colourful. And it reminds me of how cold it is on Terror Mountain. We used to live there before."

     Jerana, a Lupe, jumped up. "Excuse my interrupting, but that's just why I like white. It presents a perfect fit-in for the Month of Sleeping, because it is the colour of snow and ice, and white pets aren't awkward like Snow pets are. Snow is everywhere at this time and white blends in, in a dainty manner. And in summer it looks just like the puffy clouds."

     "Way to go, Jerana!" yelled his friend Cyrus, a Gelert. "Personally, I like it because it's the cheapest alternative to Faerie when you live in Faerieland because only Faerie, Cloud and White look good here."

     Isn't that exactly what Shirley had said? thought Em. But there was no time to dwell on it. Miss Faellia was calling out her name and she still hadn't decided what she was going to say. Dizzily, she got to her feet. Everyone stared expectantly at her. Then her eyes met Immie's. And then - she knew. It was the only thing she could possibly say, and the only thing that it was right to say.

     "I don't think we should be having this discussion, Miss Faellia."

     The Lenny's glasses fell off her beak in surprise. "Why ever not, Em?"

     "Does it really matter so much what colour anyone is? Do we white pets have to prove that our colour is as good for Faerie pets to accept us? In choosing a colour, all that should be kept in mind is one's personal choice and not what anyone else says. And what colour other pets choose to be is none of our business, it's theirs, and we oughtn't to interfere in it.

     "White is just one of the many colours a pet can be in Neopia. Granted it matches well on Terror Mountain and in Faerieland but there's no need to make a mountain out of a molehill just because somebody else is painted Cloud or Faerie and we aren't."

     The whole class, including Miss Faellia, had been hanging on to each of her words. When she finished, breathless, they all broke out in applause.

     "Em… you're quite right. We shouldn't be making out that there's a difference between Cloud and Faerie. I was wrong to start all this. I think it would be best if we adjourned this topic here," said Miss Faellia.

     * * * * *

     When Em reached home that afternoon, she was in a cheerful mood. As she was going upstairs, Shirley stopped her.

     "Em, listen. I've been thinking over what you said, and I've come to the conclusion that you have a right to choose what colour you want to be, so…" She handed Em a brand new Shadow Paint Brush.

     Em looked at the paint brush in her hand; it was what she'd desired for years. Then - she remembered Aqui's words.

     White is the colour of goodness and purity…Not like Shadow, which signifies evil and darkness…

     The Uni gave the brush back to her owner. "Uh, Shirley, Immie thinks I look quite cool now, so for your sake and hers… I don't mind staying white. Besides, this coat has helped me make four great new friends!"

     Shirley laughed and shook her head. "Sometimes pets can be hard to understand."

The End

 
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