Behind the Smile: Part Three
“Hey, Nancy! I’m so glad that you’re here. You’ll never guess what happened!”
“What happened?” I inquired, starting to get excited.
“Over here!” the smiley said, looking at someone about seven feet to the left of us.
They came closer, and I was able to get a good look at them. She was the most beautiful yellow Acara I had ever seen. Her fur was thick and luscious, and her nose was a pretty little spot of light pink. Her eyes twinkled, and she had a permanent smile upon her sweet face.
“Illey?” I asked, shocked.
“That’s me,” she replied timidly. She had a sweet, clear voice of crystal.
“But... how?” I was truly shocked. That was the last thing I had expected.
“Well, remember what I said last night, about keeping an eye out for yellow Acaras? Well, after I left you, I was sent to someone’s conversation to show that they were happy. A few posts later, I saw a yellow Acara.”
“Illey,” I said.
“Nope. Some pet with a bunch of numbers as a name.”
“Then, I was sent to another board. I saw a purple Acara named Illy. For a second I thought that she has painted herself. But then I noticed that an e was missing. Darn.”
“So when did you find her?”
“Well, about ten posts later, I saw a yellow Acara. Her name was Illey.”
“You finally found her. I’m so happy for you, Smil!” I exclaimed.
“I’m just glad that I found my big sister. She’s definitely... a lot different than I remember her. When she disappeared into that bright golden light, I didn’t know what to think. Was that really my sister? What happened? Why did it happen? So many thoughts raced through my head then. But I realized that my first priority was to get out of those TNT forsaken woods. The total blackness was very frightening. I felt as if I were going to bump into a tree with every step I took. There was a single, dreadful howl... but whatever had created it was far away by then. Once or twice I thought I saw eyes peering out at me, but I might just have been a bit paranoid.
“When I finally reach the Deserted Fairground, Sssssssidney crept up behind me, scaring me half out of my wits. ‘Sssssssscratch the sssscratchcardsssssssessssss?’ Man, that lisp is SO creepy. After that I just ran through the place. ‘Test your strength! Are you a weakling? Prove yourself here!’ ‘Knock down a coconut! I swear my game isn’t rigged! Only 100 neopoints a coconut!’ Yeah. Not rigged my TAIL, alright. Sheesh. Those people just DO NOT leave you alone, even if you’re obviously trying to escape!
“By the time I was out of the fairground, I was panting. I had to stop running. After all, I hadn’t had any rest since our long, pleasant hike through the lush green forest earlier. I slowed to a walk, and started to consider places to stay. I was NOT going to go back to the fairgrounds, nor was I dumb enough to sleep in the woods. Eventually, I came upon a castle. Edna’s home. I begged to stay with her, but she wanted to go on a quest for her. I told her that I didn’t have any money, so she told me to fetch her some ingredients from her garden. I thought to myself, what trouble can that be? I’ll only have to pick some plants.
“HA. Big mistake. It turns out that her garden is more of a swamp of creatures that bite, sting, whack, stick... and overall HURT you. Badly. I had to pick five snapping flowers. My poor paws will never get over that,” she said, shivering. “I also had to get her some eyeball-looking flowers. I never thought they could be as gross as they really are. They looked like real eyeballs.” She shuddered. “The stems were the bloody optical nerve that holds your eye in your head. There were vein-like designs over the pure white balls. In the very center was a pure-black pupil. Some of them had blue irises, or colours. There were also red, the most common, and others were either black or so dark brown that you couldn’t tell them apart from the pupil. They were also slimy. Like I said before. They were realistic. Nastily realistic.
“I picked some other nasty and vicious plants of various sizes, textures, colours, and shades. All were extremely repulsive. Edna seemed surprised when I returned with all that she had asked for. ‘You lasted much longer than the others,’ she said. I couldn’t suppress a shudder. ‘For your good work, I shall let you stay. One night. You sleep with the Meowclops.’ Yes, she has a Meowclops. I think she admires Sophie a bit too much. She had a bunch of Sophie stuff lying around. The poor Meowclops was even green with a little patched up witch’s hat. I guessed that she had created it during an ‘experiment’ of hers. I suspected this because of the pink fluffy slippers it was wearing.
“But then, in the middle of the night she passed through the room. And she was wearing matching fluffy pink slippers! She had on a lavender robe with bright pink fluff as lining. She even had a fluffy pink nightcap, embroidered with little green images of Sophie. I had to keep myself from laughing. She probably would have turned me into a mortog if she knew I was awake to see her like that. I couldn’t help at least smiling to myself, though. You have to admit, it IS quite comical.
“The next morning I left, to Edna’s relief. I think she didn’t want to risk me seeing her fluffy, strikingly pink outfit. Of course, I didn’t mention it to her. That would have been D-U-M-M. Erm, I mean dumb, not dumm. D-U-M-B. Right. As soon as I was out the door, she slammed it behind me. She’s really big on being courteous, no? Lovely person. I feel bad for the Meowclops. I mean, it has no choice but to stay there. Poor thing.
“By now I was starting to get REALLY hungry. All I had had to eat since we started on this journey was a flower petal. It tasted really yummy, by the way. Like chokato and strawberry. Mmmmmmmm! I was so hungry, I was actually considering going back and eating the whole flower. Or at least try to steal some spooky food. Yes, I admit it. I was THAT hungry.
“Luckily, I was nearing the edge of the woods now. Finally, I stepped past the last row of trees, and out under the clear, bright blue sky. It stretched forever and ever, never ever ending, touching every place there is. I decided right then and there that I wanted to see the world. So I went back to Neopia Central. On the way, though, I was lucky enough to find some berries to eat. First, I went straight to the Soup Kitchen. It’s not like berries can sustain you for long. Then I grabbed some neopoints from the Money Tree, ducked and dodged around the other pets that were trying to grab at the things that were there, and walked off, hoping to find a home. Thankfully, I made my way to the Neopian Pound, and they accepted me without paperwork or questions.
“One day, I was adopted by my current owner. She was really lonely and wanted a pet. She couldn’t decide what species to create, so she went looking in the Pound for a suitable pet. When she came to my cage, she just knew I was the pet for her. At least that’s what she says. So she adopted me and took me to her neohome. We lived quite happily, and still do. Of course, now I have other siblings, whom I love dearly. But, through all those years, I couldn’t help but wonder what became of my sister. I had a hole in my heart, and I tried to push it away, to fill it up with happy things and thoughts of the future. But every now and then, the past reared its ugly head and I missed Smil terribly.
“Last night, however, things changed. My owner took me to the boards, to get the latest scoop on the goings on of the Altador Cup II. She was happy to learn that our team, Krawk Island, had made the finals. So happy, in fact, that she used the happy smiley face... Which, but a stroke of luck, happened to be my beloved sister herself. When she started talking, everyone involved in the conversation ran off, afraid and confused. Smilies are supposed to just be a happy little yellow circle,” Illey finished her story with a beautiful tinkling laugh that sounded wonderfully melodic, like pure crystal.
“I’m so happy I could see her again, if only it could be under normal circumstances... Normal being me as a yellow Lupe again, not a smiley. I can only feel happy. I wish that I could have feelings again. I even miss sorrow,” Smil said, as sadly as a happy smiley could.
“Perhaps we all need to realize that it is best to know all emotions. To have experienced as much as you ever could in a lifetime. Being happy isn’t all that life is about. It is about suffering, then getting over it and looking back on how far you’ve come. That is a true blessing, one of the few that life offers,” I said, startled by my own wisdom.
“Perhaps,” Smil answered, after pondering over this for a bit. “That may be why I miss feeling... anything. Joy can be quite boring after a while. True contentment is not possible, I guess, even when you are always genuinely happy.”
We were all silent for a moment, lost deep in thought.
“Well, I guess we should leave you two to your reunion. It isn’t every day that you meet a lost sibling,” I said.
“Alright. Good-bye, Nancy. See you later, Hy. I hope I’ll be able to talk with you again someday,” Smil said regretfully.
“It was a pleasure meeting you,” Illey echoed. “Good-bye!”
“Bye!” I shouted over my shoulder as Hy barked in parting. “So, ready to go home?” I asked my Lupess.
“Remember what you said, about emotions being important?”
“So, why don’t we interview another smiley? Like the sad one? Sadness is a completely opposite emotion of happiness.”
“That’s a great idea, Hy! Let’s go over there now,” I agreed readily.
“Come on, then!” Hy almost ran me over in a mad scramble to get to the cage which held the sad smilies.
“Hold on, Hy,” I puffed, struggling to keep up with my fast-legged pet.
She finally stopped in front of a cage, and I joined her. Several blue dots lined the inside of the enclosure. Some sulked sullenly by the edge, as if wanting desperately to escape but knowing that they had no place to go even if they could. Some even glanced longingly at the happy smilies, obviously wishing that they could trade occupations. Others moped in the center of the cage. Yet others wandered up to us, vaguely curious but not daring to say anything.
“Excuse me,” I said to one smiley as it loped slowly past us. “May I ask you some questions, please?”
The smiley turned slowly on its round bottom, and looked me in the eye. Within the gloomy depths, I could see complete misery. Its gaze was extremely unsettling, and it took all of my effort not to shiver.
The smiley sighed, a long, sad sigh. “If you must.” Its voice was deep with sorrow, chilling me to the bone. I was actually starting to like this guy.
“Um, alright. Do you by any chance remember how you came to be here? Or do you know who might?” I inquired uncertainly.
“Yes, I know who may know. The saddest smiley of us all. Would you like me to bring them over for you?” the smiley offered morosely, seeming completely uninterested.
“Sure, if that’s not too much trouble,” I said, mentally shuddering at how anything could possibly be more poignant than the majority of the blue balls.
The smiley rolled unhurriedly toward the center of the cage, and stopped near another smiley. They exchanged a few words, and the second smiley started toward us, leaving the other smiley behind.
“What is it that you want with me?” the smiley asked, looking into my eyes. This smiley’s eyes were even more chilling than the first’s. The depths of its sadness were so strong and intense that I would have gotten lost in their eternal spiral of despair if I had not looked away. This was, indeed, the most depressed creature I had ever met.
“I just wanted to ask you... do you remember how you got here?” I looked over at Hy for support, but found that she was cowering, standing slightly behind me. Great. I was on my own.
“Yes, I do,” the smiley replied resentfully. “I wish I could forget, but it will forever haunt me.
I may not
Have been the best to you
But why did you have to do this to me?
I may not
Have been the person you wished me to be
But why did you have to hurt me so?
I may not
Have been the kindest, though
Why did you have to leave?
I may not
Have listened to all you said to me
But did you ever even care?
I may not
Have always been there
But why must I suffer through this pain?
To be continued...