The Paint Brush Misconception: Have a Great Grey!
Also by chivo
There are days when the sunlight seems to have given up its efforts to filtrate through the ominous, endless oppression of a stormy, dull sky. When even the ivory turrets of Meridell castle seem to softly admit defeat and take on a pallid, tarnished tone all of their own. Days when pets trudge, rather than walk. When the Weewoos who surround Krawk Island seem to sigh instead of uttering their eerie call to ships sailing by. Grey days, when all color and effort seems to be extracted from Neopia.
This was one such day.
The small Plushie Draik, locked away in his room with strict instructions not to emerge until the mess he had made was cleared away, uttered an utterly weary sigh, slumped down beside his bed, and gazed mournfully out the window. The sunlight didn’t dapple the glass as it so often did, the scene outside merely seemed devoid of color, light and life.
With a slow, drawn-out creak the door of his room slowly spun open, a head of tumbling cobalt curls peering in. There was a cough, followed by a dainty shuffling of delicate feet, then without further ceremony a Royal Kyrii entered the room. She skipped and balanced over each strewn about toy or book, much like avoiding traps. Even the appearance of his best friend couldn’t lighten Meti’s spirits, though he gathered the energy to glance up.
“Did my owner say I could come out of here?” He mustered the will to utter the sentence, coupling it with a rather exaggerated sigh.
The Kyrii rolled her eyes, more than accustomed to her friend's dramatics.
“No. Anjie said that I could bring you up your lunch, but that you weren’t allowed out to play until the room looked less like a stampede of Tonus had visited.”
Meti glanced at the lunch in disdain.
“I don’t want to eat. I’m too weary. Sorrow engulfs me.”
Spectra snorted in amusement.
“Meti, the only thing that threatens to engulf you is self pity... And possibly whatever toxic gas is emitting from the disgusting mess in here.”
Meti pulled a face.
“Look outside, Spectra. It’s so...”
The Kyrii glanced out the window.
“Grey?” she suggested merrily.
Meti nodded woefully, slumping and sliding farther down where he sat. His friend observed this pathetic scene for a moment before sighing.
“Meti, you only feel grey because you don’t wish to tidy your room. You can play and have fun on a day like this just as easily as you can on one filled with sunshine and rainbows.”
The Plushie Draik looked disgusted and unsettled at his friend’s failure to understand the utter misery of his situation. Crankily, he turned away.
“Just go, Spectra. You cannot understand my sorrow! I must suffer alone!”
The Kyrii almost burst into laughter at over an overdramatic, self-pitying display, gingerly making her way to the door. As she opened it, she glanced back over her shoulder.
“You know, Meti. Next time you decide to pity yourself when the day is grey and gloomy, think about the grey pets of Neopia. They endure it every single day.”
The Draik considered this as his friend departed. Spectra, despite a very obvious lack of empathy or compassion, did seem to have something of a point. It was all well and good to be happy when you were a Plushie Draik. Curiously, he glanced down at his form, letting his gaze travel over the bright, sunny fabrics and merry scattering of kaleidoscopic color.
Spectra’s words rang in his mind, Meti not being the kind of creature to let any kind of idle statement go. He had a slight tendency to obsess, a characteristic that had gotten him into trouble many times in the past. But this was different.
Meti didn’t know many Grey pets. There was a Grey Uni he sometimes ran into when walking on the Shenkuu shore, and often he witnessed a rather morose looking Lupe wandering by and assumed their Neohomes were next door to one another. But beyond that, only one creature came to mind. His friend, Tzar, who was a rather striking grey Krawk. Tzar had never seemed morose or depressed, but Meti hadn’t observed him all that much. Tzar was more his sister Taja’s friend than his, and Taja seemed to avoid spending too much time with him ever since he had used her Island Krawk bracelets as toys to skim over a nearby lake.
Really, there was only one thing to do. Observe Tzar and decide once and for all whether being a Grey Krawk was affecting his happiness. Meti wasn’t sure what he would even do with the information once he had it, but enquiring as his mind was, he now needed to know.
His chance presented itself the very next day. It was overcast again and it had to be said that the Draik’s bedroom still looked a lot like Maraqua after the pirates had plundered it. Tripping over an old book and stubbing his toe against a Wooden Chomby Toy, Meti hopped out of his room to hear his sister chatting downstairs.
“So I suggested that instead of having no wings, Anjie could buy me some of those earth faerie wings...” Taja’s inane gossiping drifted up the stairs. Normally Meti would have rolled his eyes but the sound of Tzar’s voice replying changed everything.
“Yeah, nothing wrong with wings,” came the idle reply. Meti wondered if Tzar was just as board with Taja’s ramblings as he was. Gently peering down into the living room, he spotted the pair of Krawks lounging around near the coffee table and grinned.
It took only a few moments for Meti to grab a notebook and pencil. These of course were the must haves of any investigative reporter, which Meti rather fancied he was. Crouching down on the lowest step, the Draik observed the bored looking Grey Krawk.
Tzar didn’t SEEM depressed. Although his scales were a dull, tarnished tone, much like the sky on a pallid winter day, he seemed content to listen to Taja’s ongoing chatter. Now and then he yawned, but Meti couldn’t say whether this was sorrow or merely a reflection on how boring his sister was.
Tzar, lounging on his back, let out a sigh and gazed at the roof. Meti thought he seemed rather sad; this was all the proof he needed. Dashing back to his room, the Draik rummaged through the box he kept under his bed. It was stuffed full of important things, and scrawled on the side in very firm print was the word ‘Treasures’. From it he withdrew a white paint brush, holding it up above him like some victorious hero. Even if Tzar was foolish enough to associate with Meti’s sister, he still didn’t deserve to be cursed with a life of misery because of a paint brush color!
The Draik dashed downstairs, skidding to a halt in the lounge room and charging at the unsuspecting Grey Krawk. With a deft flick of the paintbrush, he thrust it in Tzar’s direction, resulting in a white stripe appearing like magic, materializing from nowhere, on the Krawk's back.
Of course, chaos followed.
Taja wrestled the paint brush off Meti, who went down fighting.
“RUN, TZAR! BE FREE OF YOUR... YOUR... GREYNESS!”
In the meantime, poor Tzar was spinning in circles, trying to examine the skunk like white pattern streaming down his back. The white paint brush itself went flying, landing smack bang in the middle of the new rug their owner had been so proud about buying. It was only the sound of the paint making a delightful squishing sound against the fabric that froze Taja in her attempt to beat sense into her younger sibling with a pillow.
“What in Faerieland do you think you’re doing?” Taja’s shriek could have roused even the Turmaculus from slumber.
“Tzar is grey! He’s sad!” sobbed Meti, the tears more for the benefit of his owner, should she wander in and discover her ruined rug. Taja, however, didn’t buy the sorrowful act for a second.
“Meti...” The gentle interjection came from Tzar, who was trying not to laugh. “Being a Grey pet doesn’t make me sad. I like the color. Enough that it makes me happy.”
Meti looked sceptical as Tzar continued gently.
“It’s a matter of liking who you are. Not everyone wants to look like they belong in Neopia’s biggest toy box. But you’re happy being painted Plushie, right?”
Meti glanced down at his rotund fabric form, nodding slowly.
“And not everyone wants to look like a minion of Lord Darigan. Or to be invisible. But some pets do, because everyone is different. Neopia would be a pretty boring place if we all chose to look the same.”
Meti felt a sense of humiliation wash over him. Once again he had let his eagerness to help carry him away in the heat of the moment. Sheepishly he got to his feet, ignoring the disgusted look Taja was aiming in his direction.
“I’m sorry about painting that stripe, Tzar...” The murmur was soft and full of shame, but the Krawk smiled benevolently.
“Meti, think nothing of it. It’s going to mean there’s no chance at all of me looking like anyone else!”
The Draik lit up. Sure, when Tzar left he knew Taja would use him for practice in her game of bullseye and when Anjie found her expensive, ruined rug, they would be lucky if they were ever allowed out of the Neohome again, but a vital lesson had been learnt. Grabbing his pencil and paper, Meti dashed towards the stairs as Taja cried after him.
“Meti! Where do you think you’re going?”
The Draik turned and grinned proudly.
“To find another paintbrush! I want to look a bit different too!”