Losers: Part One
Ella looked around at the pets around her. Her best friend in the universe, Peppermint, was adopted just yesterday by a nice girl who was about six. Nobody really liked her at the pound, except for Peppermint and some other girls a few rows next to her.
Oh, how she wished she’d get adopted soon! Her old owner, Maurice, had to get rid of Ella because he didn’t want to play Neopets anymore. He was getting too old. Ella’s brothers, Kevin, Randy, and Mike were adopted years before.
It seemed like nobody wanted Ella. They would just let her be without an owner, sad and thrown away. Nobody wanted a frisky little green Blumaroo to take care of.
Every day, Ella wished for an owner. Whenever the jingly little bell rang, her heart soared.
One lucky day, a nice girl who looked about ten or eleven, walked through the door. The bell rang.
“Hello,” said the nice Uni behind the counter. “Are you here to adopt?”
“Yes,” said the girl. “I’m looking for someone nice, happy, and frisky.”
I’m nice, happy, and frisky, Ella thought. Just play it cool, Ella. You’ll get adopted today.
“Here are some candidates,” said the Uni. “Here is Quisk. She is a female Ruki, costs 93 NP to adopt, and loves to hunt for treasure.”
Ella always hated Quisk. She would always bully the pets younger than her, even though she was so sweet to owners and such. Maybe her old owner figured that.
“No thanks,” the girl said. “I’ll just look on my own.”
“Okay,” the Uni said. She went right back to work.
The girl had brown hair tied into a high, tight, ponytail and startling blue eyes. She was wearing shorts and a T-shirt, not something fancy that Maurice liked to wear. The girl also looked very athletic and laid-back.
She stopped at Ella. The girl stared down at the Blumaroo and said, “Hello there.”
Ella’s heart leaped. She tried not to blow it, like she did with other owners, but she just couldn’t contain herself. Ella hopped all around and tripped some of the other pets. One of the other pets, a big Skeith, tripped the girl.
I ruined my chances of being adopted, Ella said. There is no way that girl will like me.
“I’ll adopt the Blumaroo,” said the girl.
WHAT? Ella asked herself.
The girl jumped up, brushed herself off, and laid 79 NP on the table. “Let’s go home,” she said to Ella.
Home. Ella had never heard the word home, not even with Maurice. The word tingled her insides and made her even more excited. She had finally found an owner, who probably had a nice home.
“My name is July,” said the girl. “You are going to love living with me.”
I know, thought Ella. She’ll probably give me good things to eat like Neggs and exotic food. I’ll have nice siblings and toys to play with. I can’t wait to go... home.
“I already have two pets,” said July. “Addie is a Shoyru and Marla is a Cybunny.”
Sisters, Ella thought. I’ve always wanted sisters. And these sisters have beautiful names.
Ella repeated Addie and Marla to herself over and over again. The names seemed comforting, like an owner who gave you Slushies to drink when you were sick. Maurice never gave Slushies because he couldn’t afford them. All he could afford were those free Omelettes that didn’t taste that good anyway. The soup from the Soup Kitchen wasn’t good either; Ella had visited there more than once. She knew her new life was going to be better.
July lived in Mystery Island. She opened the door and yelled, “Addie! Marla! Come here!”
Marla was the first to appear. She was a Faerie Cybunny with a little Floud at her heels.
“I’m Ella,” said Ella. She put out her hand.
Marla shook her hand with a firm handshake. “Marla,” she said. She picked up the Floud and held it up to Ella. “This is Snuggles.”
“Pleasure to meet you, Snuggles,” Ella joked, patting the Floud’s head.
The Cybunny jerked her Petpet away. “I didn’t say you could touch him! Jeez!”
Ella looked up at July, who took her in the kitchen. “I’m sorry about Marla,” July said. “She’s just a bit... moody lately.”
“Is Addie different?” Ella asked nervously.
July shook her head and said, “Oh, yes. Addie is quite the opposite of Marla.” She then called, “Addie! I want you to meet somebody!”
“Okay!” said a loud, happy voice. Ella could smell perfume. A desert Shoyru stepped lightly on each step carrying a little Anubis.
“Hello!” cried the Shoyru. “You must be my new sister! I’m Addie. This is Abbie.”
“Addie and Abbie,” said Ella, smiling. “That’s cute.”
“Thanks,” Addie said. “You can pet her if you want.”
Ella stroked the Anubis’s head.
“We have a little theme in our house,” said July when Addie went up the stairs again. “Your color should match your Petpet.”
“Oh,” Ella said, disappointed that she was just plain green. “You must be rich to afford paintbrushes and Petpets.” Ella didn’t even know she was being rude.
July shrugged and said, “Addie is upstairs playing cards. Do you want to go play with her?”
“I don’t know any games,” Ella admitted, staring at the floor.
“Addie is a really good teacher,” said July. “She can probably teach you Ratscrew or Jin Rummy in about five minutes.”
“Okay,” said Ella, starting up the steps. “When is dinner?”
“I’m going to buy some pizza for a treat.”
“What’s the treat?” asked Ella.
July stared at Ella, but her expression was soft. “We have a new part of the family! Shouldn’t we be celebrating about that?”
Ella felt silly and went upstairs to play with her new sister.
“Hello,” Addie said.
“Hi,” Ella said timidly. “Can I play with you?”
“Sure,” said Addie. “I’m going to teach you Ratscrew.”
Addie gave Ella a pile of instructions. It took a while, but Ella finally got the game. It also took a while for Ella to be deep with her new sister.
“So, what is up with Moody Marla?” Ella asked, impressed with her alliteration.
“Oh, Marla is just upset that she can’t take the intermediate course in the Training School,” Addie said. She put down a six in the pile of cards. “I, on the other hand, am happy that I am taking the grasshopper course and I don’t want to waste any more money on Codestones.”
Ella did not know what Addie was talking about, but Training School seemed fun and interesting. Codestones seemed mysterious and expensive. “Why does Marla want to be in the intermediate course?” asked Ella as she slapped down three sevens.
Addie put down a five and took the pile. “Marla is really into the Battledome,” she said. “And the only way to win is to be trained. The intermediate course costs 3 Codestones, and July can’t afford that. Codestones are also really hard to find.”
Ella tried to engage in the conversation, but she knew too little about the subject. She put down a king and a three facedown.
“Marla gets really upset over the tiniest things,” Addie said. She put down two sevens face down and gave Ella three more cards.
“So she’s always like this,” Ella said. She gave Addie three more cards and put an ace in the pile.
Addie shrugged and said, “Who knows what lies inside Marla’s mind.” Addie put down her last card facedown.
“That’s a queen,” Ella said.
“WRONG!” Addie yelled. “I win!”
I always lose, thought Ella. Then again, I have never played this game before.
At dinner that night, Marla gave July an icy stare as she peeled the pepperoni off her pizza. She didn’t like pepperoni.
“Do you like your pizza?” July asked Ella.
“I’ve never had pizza before,” said Ella.
Addie and Marla gasped at the same time.
“My old owner, Maurice, couldn’t afford it,” explained Ella. “We just ate from the Soup Kitchen, mostly.”
“That’s terrible!” cried Marla. She really seemed concerned. “Why did he get rid of you, anyway?”
Addie kicked Marla under the table.
Ella didn’t mind sharing her story. “He got too old. It was the summer before tenth grade, and he decided that he wanted to play football instead, so he got rid of my brothers and me.”
“Who were you brothers?” Marla asked.
“Kevin, Randy, and Mike. They were really good brothers, actually, but they got adopted years before I did.”
“Wow,” Marla said. She seemed to forget that she was mad at the world. She really seemed to be genuinely interested with the strange little Blumaroo.
After dinner, July gave each of her pets dessert. Addie got four chocolate Moehog coins, Marla got Fruity Jubpops, and Ella got a chocolate coated mint bar. Ella had never had dessert, except when Maurice won a boring lollipop. She never had dessert so delicious.
“Do you want to play Go Fish with me?” Addie asked Ella.
“That’s the only game I do know how to play,” Ella said. “I’m actually quite good at it.”
The two sisters played. Ella lost.
I always lose, Ella thought. In cards and in life. I never noticed how poor I was with Maurice. I was losing then, too. Maybe now I can win. I have a great new home and great new sisters. Well, Addie is great, anyway.
To be continued...