Life of a Plushie
It was sunny when I opened my eyes for the first time. I should have enjoyed the darkness while I had it, because from the time my button eyes were glued on, I have never been able to shut them. I was made in a little store, and put on a shelf there, too. The store was small and shabby, and I shared the shelf with a sadly small assortment of other plushies like myself, but it was the only home I’d ever known, and I loved it. I sat on that strip of wood, pressed against the glass of the shop window, and stared out at the same street for months. Sometimes there were leaves on the street, fluttering around in a breeze, sometimes Neopians hurrying along on their errands. My favourite days of all were when soft white snow coated the ground and blew against my window. I never tired of watching the different snowflakes patter down, because, as everyone knows, no two snowflakes are the same, and therefore the variety is endless.
But few people ever came into my shop, and often the green Shoyru who owned it would look sad when he came to dust me and my shelf-mates. Sometimes people did come in, but they chose only the rare Plushies; no one gave me, a plain yellow Lupe Plushie, a glance.
One day the Shoyru owner came with a large sign, which he stuck right in front of me on the glass of the window. It was covered in strange writing, splashed large and lime-green. I didn’t know what it said, but when the little purple Mynci who helped in the shop saw it, he sighed and said:
“‘Going out of business’. How sad.”
I didn’t know what ‘going out of business’ meant, but perhaps it meant something good, even though the Mynci thought not, because after that people streamed in and out of our store constantly. I had never seen so many people. The green Shoyru and little Mynci boy were kept busy dropping Neopoints into the till, fetching toys off shelves, and wrapping packages. Cheerful chatter and voices rang through the shop, and for the first time, I experienced a natural Plushie urge: I longed to be held, to be cuddled and played with. I was, after all, a toy. I needed a little pet to play with me. And so when one day the Shoyru came and snatched me off the shelf, bundled me into a paper bag, and thrust me into someone’s hands, I was elated. I was going off into the unknown, but hopefully I could fulfill my mission as a Plushie. Neopoints exchanged hands, a few words were said, and we were on our way, me and the cheerful red-haired girl who had just bought me. She skipped down the street at a truly alarming pace, swinging my bag wildly, and laughing. She seemed in a wonderful mood. Suddenly, we came to an abrupt halt, so fast I was jolted against the side of the bag. It didn’t hurt; I am, after all, made of cloth, but it did give me a bit of a scare. A door banged open with a loud smack.
“Verren!” Cheerful Girl’s voice rang out, high with excitement. A patter of footsteps sounded, and I heard a small gasp.
“Mummy, you’ve got me a present!” a high, baby voice said. A paw reached into the bag, and dragged me out. And so I got my first glimpse of Verren, my new owner. She was a Baby Lupe, with all the adorable features of such a kind, and it was love at first sight for both of us.
“Oh, Mummy, I love him!” she squealed, clutching me to my chest. I felt the beat of her heart against my stuffed body, the feel every Plushie longs for, and knew I was home at last.
Verren loved me. She took me everywhere. Outside to play in the soft snowdrifts, build snowmen, and snow huts. She took me to the table at meals, where we shared hot chocolate and soup and anything else that Holly, Verren’s owner, cooked up for us. Winter passed into spring, and I was carted to the park in a doll pram, where I learned that Plushies do not make good Yooyuballs, mud stains, and grass smells sweet. I was sent to Neoschool for the first time, where I sat quietly in a corner and learned along with Verren how to read and count and when Shenkuu was discovered. I sat on the swings and was pushed until I was dizzy; I hung from Verren's paw while she hung from the Mynci Bars. And then spring became summer. Verren learned to ride a bicycle, and from then on we went everywhere on that odd little contraption. We went to friends’ houses, where I met other Plushies and various toys, we went swimming (I learned that Plushies and water do not mix), we played Frisbee. I think maybe Holly had spent all her money on Verren’s Baby paint brush, for the little Kougra did not have any other toys. Whether or not this was a good thing for Verren, it was certainly for me, because it meant that I was the only, and therefore highly special, toy. I was Verren’s constant companion. I acquired many stains, rips, and new stitches over the years, and once my whole arm came off, to be sewed back on rather hastily by Holly, while Verren wept new tearstains onto my now dingy yellow coat. But it was not until one day three summers later that I finally got to prove my worth.
Verren was building a pyramid of small pebbles, stacking them very carefully. I was held tightly in one paw, happy to swing by my tail, listening to the birds chirp and the wind rustle the few leaves that had already started to fall. Verren had just finished the pyramid and was standing up to admire her work when the burly red Kyrii jumped out from behind the tree. I saw him from my upside-down position, and immediately knew something was wrong. Verren opened her mouth, but the Kyrii clamped a gloved hand over it tightly, muttering:
“No, you don’t.”
Verren struggled, but he had her tightly with a gleeful look on his face.
“This one’ll fetch a lot o’ money, she will,” he cackled. “She’s a Baby; them’s rare!” and that was when I knew that he was one of the illegal pet-snatchers who stole rare and painted pets and demanded money and expensive items for them. I also knew that I had to protect Verren. And so as the Kyrii started off, and Verren’s paw swung back, I let myself go flying. I flew through the air about half a metre, where I landed with a soft thump on the ground. Bits of leaf and dirt stirred up, brushing over me. The Kyrii didn’t even notice me until he tripped over me. He went sprawling in the dirt, and Verren bounced a small ways away. She immediately started screaming. Holly came running out of the house, took in the scene, and started shrieking for help.
Ten minutes later Verren and I were in the house having a tea party, my coat brushed of its organic coating, and the Kyrii was in the hands of the DON. That night, as she tucked Verren into bed, me lying on the pillow by her head, Holly said:
“You know, Verren, I think that Plushie of yours is special.”
“She’s the most special in the world,” Verren answered, and I glowed with a happiness that only a Plushie can ever feel.
“It seems almost as if she can think for herself,” Holly mused, reaching out to turn off the light. If she only knew, I thought as the room plunged into darkness.
But alas, no one can stay young forever. Everyone grows up. Three years after the day I had been brought to 55 Rainbow Drive, Neopia Central, Holly decided that it was high time Verren grew up. I will never forget the day Holly came home beaming, clutching a dripping Faerie Paint Brush. I knew, just by looking at it, that a Plushie’s worst dream had come true. Verren hugged me just as tightly as we made the journey in a small boat, whispering how beautiful she would be soon and how much we would do when she had wings. But I knew deep down in my cotton heart that Verren would never again be the same. And she wasn’t. The thoughtful, elegant Kougra that walked out of the Rainbow Pool was no longer my precious owner. This was Verren, a Kougra interested not in building pyramids of pebbles and playing Plushies with her friends, but rather in finding a job at the Art Centre, sipping coffee, and chatting with her ‘girlfriends’. I, no longer needed, was put away on a shelf, to be replaced by boxes of complicated puzzles, electronic toys that gave my Verren endless pleasure, and little plastic modeling blocks from which Verren would build models of her Art Centre. And I sat on my shelf, slowly gathering dust, and watched as life went on, because I was only a Plushie, after all.
Holly, too, was changing. No longer the frantic, rushed, ecstatic little girl she had once been. She was older now, far more thoughtful. At night, I could hear her talking reading letters aloud, saying things like ‘college’, ‘study abroad’, ‘courses’, ‘degrees’ and other words foreign to me. But I knew, as a Plushie always does, that an age had come to an end. And so it was with little surprise that I watched as Holly took Verren one day, suitcases under her arm, to Holly’s best friend’s house.
“You’ll love it there; you’ve always liked Geneviva and Amy. I won’t have time to take care of you once I start college,” Holly said as they left. “Honest, it’s for the best.” But that night when she came home, and for the first time in so many years there was no Verren in the house, I saw tears in her eyes.
Two days later Holly sold the neohome, and everything left inside, including me. I had known Verren would not take me to live in her new life; I was old, a thing of the past and her babyhood, but I had still held out some silly hope that someone would want me.
The new family moved in. A boy, several years older than Holly, with jet-black hair and curious green-glass eyes, and his two pets, a silver Zafara and Island Mynci. All of them were very quiet, too quiet for me. I longed once again to hear Verren’s shouts and Holly’s cheerful voice ring throughout the house. But they were a neat, quiet family, and no-one used Verren’s old bedroom, or even bothered to come in. I suppose they had enough rooms. That was, until one day when the boy went out with his silver Zafara, and came back in with a Baby Zafara.
“Little Jessie,” he said tenderly, carrying her into my room, which still held Verren’s old furniture. I was startled when I heard the creaking of the door, but I lay still, and watched. “Do you like being Baby?” he asked, smiling a little. Jessie smiled back at him, beaming with that charm that only babies have. I looked longingly at the pair of them. What I would give to have my Verren back. And then, to my surprise, the boy came over to my shelf and thoughtfully took me down. He rubbed me against his shirt, dusting me off, then reached over and handed me to Jessie.
“Look, Jessie. This Plushie looks like it’s seen quite a lot of wear-and-tear. Someone must have loved it very much, once. I suppose we could give it a second chance, leastwise till I can buy you some proper toys.” He laughed, unaware of the sudden blossom of joy that filled me. “I guess I wasn’t quite prepared for a Baby pet.”
Jessie took me slowly from his hands, looking me over. I could see her big baby eyes taking in my ragged, patched coat, now more other colours than yellow, my badly-stitched-back-on arm, my button eyes that no longer matched. And then, to my surprise, instead of throwing me back, she hugged me gently to her chest. And as I felt the beat of her heart against my stuffed body, the feel every Plushie longs for, I knew I was home once again.
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