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The Extra


by jelleyfrosting

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This is dedicated to all those who have touched my life without realizing it.

*

As the rain falls against my face I can feel the cool drops slipping down to the ground. Cool and wet and refreshing. The smell of the wet grass and the feel of the drops on my feet as I run through the field, all of it is so enchanting. The sight and smell of the endless field cause me only to run farther. Away from everything.

     Finally I stop and sit down on the spot. The rain has stopped now and the clouds are quickly rushing over to another place to let down their remaining rain. The sky is almost clear and I can see the stars, the moon, and a very small outline of Kreludor.

     I plop onto my back and continue to look up, letting the rain drops remaining on the grass drip onto my face, arms, and legs. I feel so infinitely small staring up at the vast expanse that lies over me, encompassing me.

     I always feel small, though. I am belittled by everyone and, in turn, belittle myself. In fact, as I sit here I can only recall one moment when I found myself feeling like I was worth something to someone. Feeling like I mattered. It wasn’t due to circumstance, but to a very different something. It was because of a person...

     *

     ... It was a cold day in the Month of Giving and snow was gently drifting around me, accumulating on the ground. It wasn’t a heavy snowfall; in fact, it was very light. That was something that was quiet common here. It would snow just enough to get people’s hopes up then it would all melt, along with any dreams of the perfect Snow Chia.

     The weather only taught me more about life that I already knew. You couldn’t dream or it would all melt away, just like the snow.

     I was thinking along these lines at this time in my life. I was crushing the snow with the heel of my boot with a certain malice that can only a pet like me can even imagine. It wasn’t aimed at anything in particular, nothing tangible. It was anger at the world, at the way my life had turned out.

     “Chloe,” a voice in front of me chimed into my thoughts. “What did I just say about snowflakes?”

     I felt my mind go blank, realizing that I wasn’t listening as the annoying Poogle they have the right to call our ‘teacher’ went on a monotone about snowflakes. Who cared about snowflakes? Honestly, who cared?

     Of course, all of these thoughts stayed in my head. I just proceeded to look up at her, a certain glare in my eye that had silenced others far stronger minded than her, and kept my lips sealed. I didn’t wish to talk; talking had never changed anything. It only encouraged them.

     This was how I rebelled against the world.

     The Poogle looked down from my glare and changed the attention to the know-it-all Kacheek named Snip that was jumping up and down in the front, his arm raised high. “Yes, Snip?” she asked, trying to hide the annoyance in her voice. It was clear she had wanted to torment me and failed. How sad.

     Snip beamed as the Poogle called on him, his face shining with the honor at being the one called. “You said that not a single snowflake is the same. They are all different. Everything is different. We are different and we should not be ashamed of who we are.”

     Who we are? I stuck my boot in the snow again, looking down to see the thousands of different snowflakes. How could that snob of a Poogle even know anything about anything? What was the worse that could have happened in her life? She had to eat an omelette instead of her 1,000 Neopoint meal.

     Who we were was what most people called the Extras. We were pets who no one wanted or cared about, but our happiness was still vital to a few losers who petitioned for some proper care to the pets in the Neopian Pound. Thus the teachers. They picked the brightest out of the Neoschool and had them teach us for an hour every day. Pets volunteered all the time, trying to look better to everyone else even though they couldn’t give a rip about us.

     That’s who we are. We aren’t special. We are the Extras.

     I kept my thoughts to myself, looking around at the snow falling and trying to imagine myself as a snowflake. I was drifting silently through the air, slowly falling to the world. I could feel myself become sadder as I fell, knowing that I would soon have to come to terms with the world. But not yet, because right then I was flying.

     Someone touched my shoulder and brought me out of my daydreams. I immediately withdrew from the touch, looking at the person reproachfully.

     “Sorry, Chloe. It’s time to go inside now,” whispered the quiet Zafara to the side of me.

     I looked around and realized that the other pets were heading into the dreary Pound that seemed huddled in the corner. I shrugged and jogged after them.

     I know there is a clichéd notion about how ‘my life changed then’ but it’s truly hard to understand how quickly it does change unless you’ve been through it. For truly, my life did change right then.

     I opened the doors, stomping my boots dry and slipping them off, and spotted another volunteer signing up. How long would this one be here? One week, one day? I couldn’t ponder on it, though; it was time for Play Therapy. Even though the ‘therapy’ part was annoying, the play part was more than enjoyable.

     I walked into the small room that served as our playroom with secondhand toys salvaged from the Money Tree piled against the white walls. The carpet was nice, being the only room in the whole Pound that was carpeted.

     I grabbed a notepad and pens and retired to a corner, content on drawing my way through Play Therapy time. Everyone else was already playing with each other, all talking happily as they made up games of make believe.

     The doors opened again, letting in the nice Uni named Rose and the pet I had seen signing up to be a volunteer. The pet, now that I could take more time and interest to actually notice, was a nicely colored Faerie Ixi with delicate wings that folded against her purple back. She looked very dressed up compared to the rest of us, a curl sliding in front of her eyes. I felt very insignificant, being only a red Kyrii with an attitude. I turned my attention back to my drawing pad.

     “Everyone,” Rose said above the chatter of the room. She stood silent until every pair of eyes (except mine) were on her. She then proceeded to smile and continue her speech. “This is Kiara. She will be volunteering for Play Therapy, alright?”

     Everyone nodded or muttered a ‘Hello, Kiara’ and continued to play whatever they were playing before. Rose and Kiara walked around the room, introducing the pets and a little something about them.

     I let them sit at the edge of my mind, half-mindedly listening to Rose and half-mindedly drawing in the notebook I had. The drawing wasn’t of anything in particular; it just made me feel better about myself. In fact, I wasn’t even paying attention to the shape I was drawing.

     “And who is that?” Kiara asked, pointing a hoof at me with a smile on her face.

     Rose looked at me and gave a pained smile. “This is Moany or something like that. She doesn’t talk or respond in any way.”

     “Is she mute?” Kiara asked, lowering her voice as she asked this question. I held myself back from correcting Rose; she had never gotten my name right and never would. That was alright with me. I just continued to draw randomly.

     Rose shook her head, “No. She talked a lot when she first got here. It was about two weeks in that she ceased communicating at all. She just stares off into space or draws. I wouldn’t even try if I were you. You’d just be setting yourself up to fail.”

     Kiara didn’t respond to this but I could feel her sympathetic gaze on me, just succeeding in boiling my blood. I didn’t want any sympathy, especially not from some pampered Faerie Ixi.

     I’m not sure when Rose left; I wasn’t paying attention. I just continued to half draw and half think about how frustrated I was with life.

     I felt someone near me and immediately knew who it was. There was only one person who even bothered to approach me. That would be Kiara, the one who didn’t know any better.

     Kiara bent down and attempted to look into my eyes, still smiling at me. “What are you drawing?”

     I didn’t answer. This person didn’t even deserve a glare, not now. I just continued to scribble across the pad. Maybe if I wished hard enough, she would leave. I wished. She stayed.

     “Is your name really Moany?” Kiara asked a small chuckle in her voice as she said this.

     Is your name really Kiara? Don’t make fun of my name, I thought angrily. Then again, that’s not even my real name.

     Kiara stopped chuckling and continued to stare at me. “Can I call you Mo then?”

     I stopped drawing, surprised that she would even think of a nickname. I half wanted to laugh; trying to think about how interesting it would be if she called me ‘Mo’ because she thought my name was Moany. I resisted, though, and just pretended to study my picture happily.

     “What is it?” Kiara asked, excitement rising in her voice. It sounded like she had gotten the strange notion that if I was done with my drawing I would then proceed to carry on a conversation with her. “Can I see it?” She bent over the pad and looked anyway, trying to get a look on my art skills. “Who is that?” She pointed to a shape I had drawn.

     It wasn’t a shape, though. The Ixi was right; it was somebody. I realized who it was and hugged the pad to my chest, raising my eyes to glare at her. I wanted her to leave, and to leave quickly as I felt tears rise in my eyes.

     “Sorry,” Kiara muttered, and backed off. “Well, I’m a good listener if you want to talk.”

     I’m sure you are, I thought in frustration as I watched her walk off and play with the other pets that actually liked her.

     I looked back down at my pad and felt sadness overcome me followed by anger. I recognized the person; it was my old owner.

     *

     All Kiara ever said to me, every play time, was the same thing. “What are you drawing, Mo?” “Can I see it?” “Well, I’m a good listener if you ever need to talk.” Then, she’d walk off. However, she never tried to take a peek at what I was drawing again.

     Then, about one week in, Kiara sat down by me and stared off into a wall. “I was in here once,” she started off, looking around the room.

     I ignored her and continued to draw; it was a common ploy that people used when trying to ‘deal’ with me. I was used to it.

     “I was about two months into my first owner when he decided to pound me. He didn’t say why; just left me here.” Kiara sighed, her voice wavering a bit as she recalled the tragic event. “I was in for about a month before I got adopted. It was wonderful, though. My owner is great.”

     Must be to paint you that, I thought to myself. Her whole story didn’t have any impact one me, or so I thought. I found myself paying more attention to her, though, trying to draw and listen at the same time. There had to be some draw in somewhere around here.

     “It helped me to talk about it and make friends.” Kiara prodded me with her voice, trying to get me to respond. And there was the draw in.

     I responded with silence.

     “You don’t have to be my friend. I understand, I hated people like me too. At least try and be nice to Snip; he’s nice; or Chara, the cute Zafara over there. She’s quiet but really sweet,” Kiara said, pointing out the pets in the room.

     I looked up from my pad and looked around the room. At first I felt slightly hopeful; all these pets were going what I was going through. Maybe I could be their friends. Then I felt myself withdraw and anger grew in the place that hope used to occupy.

     “What are you going to say next?” I mutter angrily to Kiara. “That everybody lives happily ever after who has hope?”

     “So Mo talks,” Kiara says playfully, a smile on her lips. If she could have only known the full length of her accomplishment, her smile would have been larger than life itself.

     I scowled. “Stop telling us all that everything turns out great for everyone. It doesn’t.”

     Kiara shook her head. “I’m not trying to make you believe anything. I just want you to have a friend. You need a friend.”

     “Why?” I asked, not realizing that every pair of eyes was on us as I yelled at her. “So that they can hurt me, too? Or maybe they can realize that I actually am supposed to be an Extra?”

     “They won’t hurt you. They want a friend just as much as you do.” Kiara moved forward to give me a hug.

     I pulled away, feeling feelings that I didn’t want to bring up again raising. I shouldn’t have talked. “Everyone hurts somebody once in a while.”

     “They went through the same thing as you did,” Kiara explained, still trying desperately to get me to see her side. I was stubborn, however, and couldn’t find the strength to do it.

     “No one went through what I did,” I muttered angrily so that only Kiara could hear it, folding my arms and turning my back to her.

     “You’re right. In a Pound full of pets you are the only one who has felt abandoned,” Kiara growled at me, taking a step back from me. “You sulk in the corner then and be happy that you are alone.” She stormed away to go play with the other pets, drawing their attention from me.

     I felt a sense of loneliness climb over me as she walked away. I was being stupid; of course they knew what I had gone through. That all made sense now. But I pushed off the common sense in me and sat down with my notepad and pens.

     This time I didn’t draw.

     *

     We were outside again; this time the snow was mostly melted. I looked down at the puddles, refusing to talk again. Lots of pets would go up and poke me, trying to explain that they knew what I was going through, but I didn’t respond. I just listened. I was sad that Kiara was gone, not having showed up again since she got into the fight with me. I made her leave. It was all my fault.

     Now, everyone had given up again. I was the silent Kyrii in the back that stared off into space with a sulky frown and sometimes a regretful look. There were no more smiles as I flew; I just tumbled to the ground.

     I looked up briefly to look around the terrain. We were talking about ‘rebirth’ or something like that today. Again, I wasn’t listening. I was too busy thinking about anything that could get my mind off of my guilt.

     That’s when I spotted Kiara, walking down the street with an owner and her beautiful wings. Not even thinking, I raced across the space that separated her and me. I needed to talk to her, desperately. I had no idea what I would say, hoping it would all just come out.

     I poked the Ixi on the shoulder shyly, ignoring the calls for me that just flew at my back. I had something to do. I had something to say.

     The Ixi turned to look at me and recognition came over her. I could tell she recognized me because she scowled and I instantly felt as little as the pebble on the ground that I often kicked.

     “My name is Chloe,” I whispered to her. “Not Mo or Moany. My owner left me here after two years for a younger, cooler pet.”

     Kiara’s look softened as she heard me talk and (I would like to suppose) saw the apologetic look on my face. She looked up at her kind looking owner (who was smiling at me) and said, “Do you mind if I meet you at home?”

     The owner nodded and Kiara and I walked.

     We didn’t walk anywhere; we just walked and I talked. I talked and she listened. I talked about everything I’d felt since I’d been pounded, and she understood. Sometimes I wouldn’t even talk about anything; I just liked knowing that she was listening to me.

     At the end we ended up at her Neohome, about two miles from the Pound. I stopped and looked inside, trying to hide the yearning that I felt as I looked at her happy home. Luckily, Kiara didn’t notice it.

     The Ixi hugged me and whispered, “One thing you said was true. You are an Extra. An Extra Special Kyrii.” She giggled at her little, stupid pun and walked off towards her home, turning to wave to me.

     I waved back but wasn’t really paying attention. All the way home I thought about what she said. It was really dumb to her but to me it made me feel something I hadn’t felt since I had been pounded, like I was important to someone. Extra Special, I thought to myself, smiling.

     I jogged the rest of the way home.

     *

     I lie on the ground still, thinking about life. I study the stars and pretend I am one, shining brightly to everyone. I like to think that I could be one, someday. Maybe I will; maybe I could make a difference to someone like a star makes a difference against the night sky.

     I stand up and look around, now ready to return to the Pound. I didn’t get adopted yet (not every story turns out fully happy), but I have made friends with Snip and Chara. I guess that’s why I felt belittled when Chara got adopted today, that’s probably why I ran. I felt like an Extra again. No, I let myself feel like an Extra again.

     I never saw Kiara again, except briefly at the stores when we got to go shopping. She probably couldn’t recognize me, though. Because now I’m happy. I can only hope to make a difference to someone like Kiara did to me. As I ponder on this thought some more, walking through the wet grass, I realize something that makes me smile.

     Maybe I already have.

The End

 
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