A Better Life: Part One
The crisp wind bit painfully into the head of a young, mutant Kacheek. She stared solemnly up at the beautiful blue sky, the sun shining brightly, betraying the feeling of dread that bestowed itself upon her as her parents ushered her towards the place of doom.
Her mother, a spotted Kacheek, looked down sadly at her little girl. She checked the warm scarf, wrapped tightly around her daughter’s neck before her eyes traveled up to the repulsive monstrosity that bulged out of the girl’s head. She closed her eyes for a moment before patting Death’s Domain on the back. The quick glance didn’t go unnoticed by her daughter.
“Are you warm enough, dear?” she asked casually.
Death’s Domain nodded mutely, although the cold wind gave her brain freeze. This was considerably appropriate for her condition. She looked back at her father, who refused to meet her eye.
“Do I have to?” she asked quietly.
She watched as a tear trickled down her mother’s cheek. “I want you to find a better life.”
Her mother walked her in through a pair of large, ominous doors, her face showing no emotion. As she approached a smooth wooden desk across the room, Death’s Domain had the urge to flee. She wanted to run back out those doors and latch onto her father’s leg, never to let go.
But her mother marched her firmly onwards, until they reached the desk where an older, sadder looking Techo sat next to a cheery pink Uni.
The Techo attempted to smile at them, but years of watching young pets lost to their parents and owners showed in the form of sorrowful eyes. “I take it you’re here to abandon?” he sighed, glancing down at Death’s Domain, the smile falling from his face.
The word abandon rang over and over again in her head. She felt tears welling up in her eyes as the truth of the matter hit her hard in her stomach. I’m never gonna see them again, she thought sorrowfully as she clutched onto the sparsely filled bag in her hands.
At her mother’s nod, the Techo sighed again. “Are you sure about this?” he asked sternly. “It’s a very big decision to make.”
“I’m sure.” Her mother’s words ripped her heart in two, and she felt the first tear fall down her greenish-blue cheek.
She didn’t even notice as her mother signed the paperwork. The Techo took her hand and began to lead her into another room. As she glanced back she saw her mother exit through the front door.
“Is Dee coming back?” she heard her little brother ask innocently. Then the door to the pound closed, and Death’s Domain began to cry.
She sat outside in the fenced-in yard. Her scarf fluttered half-heartedly in the wind, occasionally brushing her cheek. Her head was cold, much colder than the rest of her body. She shivered as she watched the other pets play.
The pink Uni she remembered seeing in the lobby came up to her and knelt down. She smiled kindly at the young Kacheek. “What’s your name?” she asked.
She couldn’t bring herself to say that her name was Death’s Domain. It was a dumb name, and she knew it. Instead, she opted for the name her little brother would always call her. It was shorter, and rolled better off the tongue. “My name’s Dee,” she whispered, gaze glued to the ground.
The Uni continued to smile at her. “You look cold, Dee,” she said. “Why don’t you come inside with me? I might be able to help.”
Dee looked curiously at the Uni as she began to rise. Her head, still cold from the biting wind, screamed at her to follow the Uni. So she did, as she felt a sense of security with the kind neopet.
The Uni led her to a room in the back filled with boxes. As she peered around the dingy room, she noticed that most of the boxes were empty, but the ones that weren’t were filled with things like clothes and sheets. She even found one filled to the brim with plastic butter knives.
The Uni pulled one of the boxes off a shelf and placed it in front of the young Kacheek. Dee looked inside, noting a variety of old, used hats. The Uni gave her another warm smile. “It’s not that I don’t like how it looks. I just bet your head gets very cold this time of year.”
Dee didn’t respond. Instead, she got down on her knees and began to look through the box. Most of the hats were very depressing: worn and grey, filled with holes or covered in patches. She figured not many Neopians wanted to donate any good clothes to the pound.
Then something caught her eye. It wasn’t black, brown, grey, or faded. It didn’t have any holes or patches, and most importantly, it was pink. The exact same shade of pink as the caring Uni that stood in front of her.
As Dee pulled the hat out of the box, the Uni spoke up again. “We just got the box today. You’re the first to pick out anything from it.”
Dee placed the hat over the large bulge that protruded from her head. It fit perfectly. For the first time since she entered the pound, a large smile spread across her face. “Thanks,” she said gratefully.
The Uni merely graced her with another smile.
Dee sat in her room, all alone. Her last roommate had been adopted yesterday and she truly felt happy for her.
She had been in the pound for about a week now and was getting used to the hustle and bustle that came with the place. People were always being picked up and dropped off. She could often hear the cry of an abandoned young one or the giggle of someone who was willing to look past the sorrowful atmosphere and have a little fun.
She pulled the pink hat farther down her head. She had not removed it since the Uni had given it to her. Light spilled in through her window, illuminating the picture of a Gelert playing a piano that she had been coloring. Her last roommate had left the book for her in hopes of keeping her occupied.
As she brought the green crayon over the Gelert’s paw, she heard a gentle knock on the door. A small blue JubJub hopped in, closely followed by the Techo that had taken Dee into the pound.
The Techo smiled at Dee, his grey hair falling partially over his eyes. “Death’s Domain, I’d like to introduce you to your new roommate: Jenny.”
Jenny smiled at Dee. “Hullo, Death’s... uh, Domain.” Her smile faltered at the name, but Dee was used to it by then. The JubJub refused to be deterred by a name, however, as the smile returned full force. “It’s nice to meet you.” She looked Dee over, glancing at the coloring book and the bright pink that sat atop her head. “Nice hat!” she said cheerfully.
Dee realized then that people had become more accepting of her since she started wearing the hat. She pulled on it self-consciously before plastering a cheerful smile on her face as well. “Thanks, Jenny,” she said. “Just call me Dee.”
The next day Dee knew was going to be important for her. She woke up with the sun, excitement bubbling inside her. For what, she didn’t know.
The picture of the Gelert hung proudly on her wall. Jenny had helped her finish coloring it and she felt as if it was something to be treasured. Her first activity with her first friend. The thought that Jenny might not have been so kind had she seen the great big brains sticking out of her new friend’s head crossed Dee’s mind for a brief second before she rolled out of bed and exited the room silently.
She made her way to the kitchen where she knew the cook would be preparing breakfast. She was quick to find out on arrival that the cook allowed early risers into the kitchen to eat before the others.
The only other pet in the kitchen was a red Grarrl who was devouring a plate of eggs as if he hadn’t eaten in days. Dee recognized him as Greg; an older, slightly boisterous pet who enjoyed eating whatever he could get his hands on. It didn’t surprise her that he was already stuffing his face.
“Hullo, Greg!” she said cheerfully as she sat down next to him.
He seemed a bit surprised by her forward attitude, but nodded in acknowledgement. His mouth was much to full for him to say anything.
Dee thanked the cook as he handed her a plate of eggs. She began to eat, wondering vaguely why she was in such a good mood. Greg seemed to be wondering the same thing, as he was continuously giving her odd looks.
As Dee neared the last bit of eggs, she heard the sounds of hooves trotting towards the kitchen. She turned around, just in time to see the head of that same pink Uni who had been so kind to her.
The Uni smiled. “There you are, Dee. I’ve been looking for you.” As the Uni entered, Dee noticed someone else was with her. It was a young man, with messy brown hair. He wore a black T-shirt and a pair of baggy jeans.
The Uni turned to him. “This is Death’s Domain: the one I told you about.” The man looked at Dee for a moment. A look of uncertainty crossed his face, but he hid it well.
Dee looked back at her eggs, hoping against rejection. As she began moving what was left of her eggs around the plate, she felt someone touch her arm. She turned to see clear blue eyes looking at her.
The man smiled. “My name’s Kevin,” he said. “And I’m looking for someone to adopt.”
Dee looked at him silently, praying that maybe the fates weren’t against her on this day. Hope fluttered in her stomach as Kevin continued to smile at her.
“Would you like to come home with me, Dee?”
Her eyes widened and she dropped her fork onto the plate. Did he mean it? Was she really going to be adopted? She desperately hoped that he wasn’t joking.
Kevin laughed. “This isn’t a joke, Dee. I really think you and I could get along.”
Filled with glee, Dee allowed the pink Uni to guide her back to her room where she quickly packed everything she owned. The picture of the Gelert was tucked carefully into her pocket while the rest of the coloring book was placed on Jenny’s night side table. Her friend was still sleeping peacefully and Dee felt bad about waking her up, but she wouldn’t leave without saying goodbye.
She shook Jenny gently and the young girl groaned. “Wazgnt...” she mumbled, slowly opening an eye.
“I’m leaving, Jenny,” Dee whispered excitedly. “Bye.”
Jenny closed her eyes again. “M’kay,” she said. “Have fun.”
Dee was fairly sure her friend hadn’t fully processed what she had said, but she decided to let her go back to sleep.
Dee liked her new owner. He had taken her all the way to Tyrannia where he had a beautiful home. He gave her toys, fed her great food, decorated a room just for her, and he even got her a little Harris she named Jim.
Jim was an energetic little guy, always running around and getting into trouble. She gave him a cute little pink collar that, despite many attempts on his part to remove, remained firmly around his neck. After that, he didn’t seem to like her all that much, but always showed up in time to get food.
Dee was excited about her first day of neoschool. She had yet to meet any pets her age in Tyrannia and hoped that there would be at least one that would like her.
So when she entered the classroom on that first day, she felt the tension knotting in her stomach, a sure sign that she was more nervous about it then she had originally thought. The teacher guided her in and introduced her to the class.
“This is Death’s Domain,” she said. “She’s new to Tyrannia, so please make her feel welcome.”
As the class chorused ‘Hello,’ Dee took a look around.
In the center of the class was a red Gelert looking decidedly bored. He was wearing a black T-shirt and was talking half-heartedly to a Maraquan Draik sitting next to him. The Draik was regarding her with calculating eyes. Maybe trying to determine if she was worthy of talking to him? She wasn’t sure if she wanted to know. At the back of the class was a green Korbat. He wasn’t paying attention to anything the teacher was saying as he doodled energetically in his notebook. Front and center was a red Kougra wearing a pair of thin-rimmed glasses. She looked up briefly from her notes to regard Dee with sorrowful eyes before lowering her head again to continue reading. A shock of light brown hair fell over her face. Off to the side, gazing distractedly out the window, was another red Gelert. She looked very similar to the one in the center of the room. Twins maybe?
There were many other people in the room, but Dee didn’t have time to examine all of them as the teacher spoke to her. “Why don’t you go sit over there in front of Espion?” She pointed in the direction of the Draik, who was by that point talking to the Gelert next to him.
The Draik looked too rich, she decided. Would he like her? As she got closer she noticed that despite his rich looking color and high class species, his clothes were just as worn as anyone else’s. He smiled when he chatted with his Gelert friend; definitely not a sign of being snobbish. Had Dee been too quick to judge as many had been to her?
She sat down in front of him, taking out some paper and a pencil. The Draik stopped chatting with his friend and turned to her. He cocked his head ever-so-slightly to the side and offered a tentative smile. “My name’s Espion,” he said, sticking out his hand in greeting. “This is Ayrton.” The Gelert next to him nodded his head in acknowledgement as Dee accepted the proffered hand.
“My name’s Dee,” she said timidly. “Forget what the teacher called me. I don’t like it.”
Espion nodded in understanding, his black hair bouncing slightly on his head. “Well, my name’s really Espionage. But that’s a bit of a mouthful,” he admitted. “It’s just easier for everyone to call me Espion.”
Ayrton snorted slightly, green eyes betraying a gentle sense of mirth. “Believe me, I’ve tried calling him by his full name.” A smile spread across his face. “It just doesn’t sound right.”
Dee couldn’t help it; she smiled as well. She was beginning to like these two. Espion was kind and generous with his words while Ayrton emitted an aura of light-hearted humour. As she smiled fondly at the two boys she almost missed Espion’s next words.
“So, you new to Tyrannia?” he asked quietly. The teacher had begun her lesson and it was important that they were not caught talking. When Dee nodded the affirmative he leaned closer. “Then I’ll just have to make sure you find your way around.”
The teacher shot him a stern glare causing him to jerk upright into a proper seating position. Some of the class giggled and Ayrton let out a small snort of amusement. Dee didn’t laugh, however. She just smiled happily, knowing the start of a good friendship when she saw it.
To be continued...