Sanity is forbidden Circulation: 91,590,388 Issue: 174 | 21st day of Sleeping, Y7
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Smile of an Acara


by 3dcourtney12044

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A Royal Acara pranced gracefully down the sidewalks of Neopia Central. Her velvet, violet dress blew softly in the small breeze, as did her long, plum-coloured hair. Her clear azure blue eyes sparkled in the sun as she elegantly strode about Neopia.

     As she passed the Money Tree, the Acara chuckled quietly to herself at the thought of actually having to grab sackfuls of Neopoints there to make a living. She glanced down at a pouchful of Neopoints in her paw, thought for a second, and grinned haughtily, continuing on her way as she browsed through the shops. You'd never, in a million years find her there, taking or giving donations.

     Leslie looked up at the sky, and did a small gasp when she saw the sky was slowly turning gray mixed with a dark shade of blue. The clouds looked heavy, full of rain that could pour down at any moment, so Leslie stopped to make a decision; should she get what she came all this way to purchase, or go home to her luxurious, large Neohome and sit by the fire as the rain poured down outside?

     She'd come all this way, she might as well get that new dress she'd wanted. Then she'd quickly get home before the rain fell, and all would be well as she tried on her new dress at home in front of her full-length pink mirror. A grin spread across her face and she walked on.

     Quickening her pace, Leslie finally made it to Uni's Clothing, one of her favourite shopping stores. Pushing the door open, the Acara smiled at all the latest clothes and wondered what she should buy first. With all these Neopoints, the sky was the limit and she was ready to shop.

     Gazing at the wonderful new outfits, Leslie grabbed a dress and held it up to herself. "Hello, may I help you?" came a gentle, chipper voice.

     The shopkeeper, a blue Uni with a pretty scarf wrapped around her neck and star-shaped sunglasses was standing behind her. "Get me this in a size medium, would you?" demanded Leslie simply, thrusting the dress at the Uni.

     She shook her head, looking down at the power-blue dress. "I'm sorry, Miss, but we are completely sold out. Might you try some other time?"

     The Acara narrowed her eyes at the Uni and said, "You must have one SOMEWHERE." Crossing her arms, Leslie glared at her, tapping her foot impatiently.

     The Uni put the dress back where it had come from and said to Leslie, "I'm truly sorry, but I'm afraid we have none left in that size."

     Leslie was now angry. She stomped her foot on the ground and exclaimed, "Then maybe I'll try another store! One where they actually have GOOD service and treat their customers kindly!"

     With that, the Royal Acara stormed out of Uni's Clothing, leaving the shopkeeper with a puzzled expression on her face at the Acara's outburst. Leslie didn't turn back, just ran out of the store with a frustrated look on her face.

     "There is absolutely NO descent service these days!" she exclaimed to no one in particular as she pushed passed busy shoppers and made her way through the crowd. "Ugh!"

     The massive crowd was dissipating as the air got colder and the sky darker. Suddenly, it happened; the rain poured down with no warning at all, creating large mud puddles in the ground instantly. Small ripples were made at the Rainbow Pool from drips of water as the rain fell. A wind blew in all directions, making the Money Tree swing dangerously through the air.

     Leslie cried, "Oh no!" She put her hands over her head, as if that would stop her expensive, velvet dress and perfectly done-up hair from becoming wet. But it didn't; her hair drooped, her dress sagged, and her eyes filled with tears as he lowered her hands. She began running in an instant, trying to reach home quickly so her owner could clean her up, and make her some nice hot soup in front of the fire. She almost taste the soup, and feel the flames of the fire drying her off.

     The Acara could barely see where she was going as the rain fell down faster and harder, and suddenly, she tripped over something and fell down with a loud thud and an "ouch!". SPLAT, right into a mud puddle. Mud splattered everywhere, all over her hair and dress and making her no longer look like a Royal Acara. Her tears mixed with the rain as she lay spread-eagle on the ground, not wanting to move. She tried to raise herself off from the ground, and she did, now sitting on all fours. But her paw slipped, and she fell back into the mud.

     Leslie lay there, motionless and miserable, her dress soaked, her hair brown from the mud. All of her expensive makeup had washed off, and she could see watery pink and red blotches of her blush on the ground. She soon closed her eyes, pained from her fall and the fact that her expensive jewelry, hair, dress and makeup was wet and ruined, and fell asleep.

     * * *

     The bright sun was beating down on her back. Leslie's eyes popped open and she sat up, rubbing her eyes. The ground was muddy and wet, but the rain had stopped and the sun was peeking out from behind a puffy cloud. The air was warm, and Leslie slowly got to her feet.

     "Aah!" she cried out when she looked down upon herself. Her dress was ripped and tattered with blotches of mud covering it, and she had a scrape on her knee. Her face was tearstained, and she did not look at all rich or royal like she was. You would never have guessed she lived in a mansion with a rich girl and had a Rainbow Faellie as a Petpet, or had tons of expensive outfits in her pink room with makeup of all kinds in almost every drawer.

     She grabbed the pouch of Neopoints she'd dropped earlier, and strut in the direction of her home. She was given a few stares from passers-by, but she just shot them all dirty looks in return as they did.

     Finally, her large Neohome came into view. She kicked open the gate angrily, and charged up to the front door on the cobblestone path. She tried to open the door, but the brass knob wouldn't turn.

     "Cassie!" she cried, knocking on the door, exasperated. "Cassie, open up!" She called her owner's name over and over, and by now she was pounding on the door with her fists and all of her energy. "CASSIE, OPEN UP! IT'S ME! IT'S ME, LESLIE! GET OUT HERE, I NEED YOU TO HELP --"

     All of a sudden, the door slowly opened and a tall girl with straight, brown hair and freckles dotting her face stood in the doorway. Her hair was pulled back in a tight Unitail, and her expression was what Leslie had not expected.

     She'd expected her owner to see her, and start gushing over her, telling her it would be okay. "Ooh, Leslie, let me get you some ice cream," she would coo.

     But her face was surprised at first, taken aback even. And when she saw Leslie's muddy state, a disgusted look was planted on her face. "Yes?" she said coldly, and Leslie could sense annoyance in her owner's voice.

     "C-Cassie, it's me!" she squeaked. "Can I come in? This is MY house, after all."

     She took a few steps toward the door but Cassie blocked her way. "Um, hello?" Leslie said impatiently, tapping her foot on the stone porch. "Cassie, I had a terrible day! I fell in the mud and wrecked my dress and--"

     "This isn't your house!" spat Cassie. "You're not my pet! I only have one pet, Shyle."

     "Shyle?" cried Leslie, rooted to the spot. "Who's Shyle!?"

     A young, Pink Uni appeared at Cassie's side. Her glossy, pink fur was perfect, her mane braided beautifully. Her hooves shined in the sunlight and her eyes sparkled slightly, as did her smile. But there was something wrong with her; her smile sparkled, giving her beauty, but it also showed an I'm-better-than-you grin, making her look nasty and spoiled and snobby at the same time.

     "Yeah, you're not my sister," said the Uni briskly, spinning around to leave. Cassie went with her, slamming the door behind her, leaving Leslie alone on the porch.

     "But...." Leslie said meekly. "Cassie.... You're--" She stood in silence for a few minutes, then sighed sadly.

     The sound of laughter came, the sound of happiness. Leslie ran to a window nearby, and lifted herself up onto the window sill to see a familiar dining room. The large dinner table spread across the room, and at the end of it sat Leslie's ex-owner and Shyle. Her eyes widened, eyes brimming with tears as she watched the two chat and giggle happily together, as Leslie had once done with Cassie. A plate of cookies sat in front of them, and Leslie could smell the sweet scent of just-baked chocolate chip cookies.

     Her stomach rumbled, and she dropped back to the grassy, wet ground, her shoulders sagging, her head hung. Leslie walked slowly down the cobblestone path, and out onto the sidewalk.

     "How could she have forgotten me? ME?" Leslie muttered under her breath. "I was only gone for a few hours! Then she goes out and adopts that snobby pink Uni! Who did she think she was, anyway? Princess Fernypoo?"

     She made her way back onto the busy streets, trying to figure out what to do. She was starving, and with all these Neopoints, she could probably buy food, some new clothes, and a new hair ribbon.

     Glancing down at the Neopoints in her hand, Leslie let out a cry of despair and fell to her knees. There was a hole in her bag, and Neopoints were falling out one by one. She figured they'd been falling as she walked, and Neopians picked them up hastily enough so she didn't see them! She picked up any Neopoints she spotted on the ground around her, which wasn't very many.

     She quickly counted them, and gasped. She only had five hundred Neopoints left, and with that, she couldn't really buy a Gourmet lunch.

     But, at least she could buy something. Running to the Neopian Bazaar, Leslie spotted the Bakery and decided that she could grab a doughnut and maybe a few appetizers. For now, it would have to do.

     She pushed the door open, and the sweet smells of cookies, bread, and doughnuts came over her. A bell chimed above as Leslie entered, and the shopkeeper, a blue Kacheek with an apron and a chef's hat, welcomed her. "Welcome, Miss. How can I help you?"

     "Gimme a purple doughnut, and a few of those tiny strawberry-frosted cookies," she said. "Oh, and one of those cupcakes with mint icing."

     "As you wish," the shopkeeper said. He rushed to the front desk, and told her to wait for one moment as he quickly disappeared into the back room. Leslie couldn't wait to get some food so she could think straight, and figure out what to do.

     "Here you are," he said, handing her three paper bags with her baked goods inside. "That will be one thousand, five hundred and sixty eight Neopoints please."

     Leslie's spirit fell. She held out her pouch of five hundred Neopoints. "All I have is this," she said quietly.

     He took the goods back with a saddened expression on his face. "Sorry, Miss," he said to her.

     "B-but, wait!" she cried as the Kacheek turned to leave her at the counter. She was quite desperate for food. "What can I buy with this?" She slammed the Neopoints down on the counter and he grinned.

     * * *

     "Ugh," grumbled Leslie. She sat on a wooden bench with a paper bag next to her, containing a loaf of bread in which she had bought from him. "I can't believe this, it's... unbelievable!" she said louder.

     She hated the bread, she hated the rain, she hated Neopia Central. She wanted to blame this all on anyone, anyone! She was angry with the Uni shopkeeper that REFUSED to serve her, the Kacheek shopkeeper who gave her nothing but a puny loaf of bread, and all of Neopia for no reason.

     She stamped her foot angrily on the ground. Leslie's stomach still rumbled, but this bread would never be enough to satisfy her.

     Suddenly, she perked up. The Soup Kitchen... yes, the Soup Kitchen could help her! The lovely, kind-hearted Faerie that served soup to all poor Neopians -- of course!

     Leslie thought this over, and remembered that she would never accept help from that Soup Faerie. She didn't NEED it -- she was rich! She had all the Neopoints she'd ever need! Or at least... she used to. She sighed heavily.

     Now more desperate than ever, Leslie grabbed the bag, took the bread out and devoured it. She thought it tasted quite good, but she would never admit it -- not even to herself.

     She scrunched up the bag, threw it over her shoulder, and sat there, arms crossed, scowling. How had her life changed so dramatically in a few short hours? From a little rain? HOW?

     Glancing at the Money Tree, Leslie knew it was her last hope. She could grab some Neopoints, and start a new life -- she didn't need Cassie and that new pet, Shyle. She didn't need the Soup Faerie; she could do this all by herself. Nobody needed to help her, no one needed to show her what to do.

     The Acara flew down the street, and slowed down when she got to the Money Tree. It was packed; owners and pets were snatching up bags faster than lightning, right as they were being set down. There were items and Neopoints everywhere; and Leslie knew this was her new life.

     Out of the corner of her eye, Leslie spotted a bag with one thousand Neopoints in it. She shuffled over to it, reached out her hand, and right as she was about to grab it, a Zafara flew passed and snatched it up in his paws.

     "Hey!" she shrieked. "That was mine!" But the Zafara didn't turn back and apologize; he just sped around the Money Tree to grab more.

     She realized she'd have to be quicker than that; and so she got to work, running towards whatever she could find and grabbing it before anyone else.

     In the next half hour, Leslie had gotten nine thousand Neopoints. A triumphant smile on her face, Leslie departed and made her way for Uni's clothing, where she could buy new clothes and then, with her leftover Neopoints, she'd -- well, she didn't know what she would do. But she'd figure that part out later.

     Leslie set off, and as the pretty little shop came into view, the Acara began to run a bit faster, with the Neopoints clutched in her arms.

     Suddenly, Leslie was stopped by someone who got right in front of her. She hadn't even seen them; she just hit them and fell back on the ground. "Hey!" she screamed at them. "Watch where you're--" But she stopped when she saw who she'd bumped into.

     A pale, white Ghost hovered a few feet off the ground, eyes fixed on Leslie, who trembled from head to foot. You'd think you'd run right through a ghost, but he was just as solid as any human being.

     She knew what he wanted; her Neopoints, but he wouldn't get them. She held them closer to her as the Ghost slowly moved closer. "B-back off!" she said, her voice shaking. "I... I...."

     Then, before she knew what was happening, Leslie's scream of terror filled the street as the Ghost made one of the scariest faces she'd ever seen, dropping her hard-earned Neopoints to the ground. Seeing this, the wandering Ghost grabbed them and took off, heading straight for the Money Tree before she could grab him. "No!" she yelled helplessly. "Stop him! Come back here! Come... back...."

     As the Ghost disappeared from sight in the mob of Neopians crowded around the Money Tree, Leslie sat there, helpless. She'd now lost everything; her Neopoints she had spent all afternoon getting, her owner, her precious mansion. All in a couple of hours.

     She hugged her knees, rocking back and forth. She just sat there, tears streaming down her face, in the middle of the street right in front of Uni's Clothing, trying her best to hold back the tears that were escaping.

     Now sobbing, Leslie lost all hope. She hid her face in her paws, crying. She missed Cassie, she missed her Neohome, she missed being rich. Suddenly, the world was spinning. The crowd disappeared into thin air, as did her surroundings. Everything around her was pitch black, dark and creepy. Leslie let out a long, shrill shriek as she began falling, falling, falling...

     "Leslie!" called a voice in the distance. The voice sounded concerned, but so far away.

     Falling, falling....

     "Leslie!"

     The Acara closed her eyes, but kept on screaming. She wanted the voice to hear her, she wanted everyone to hear her pleas and cries for help.

     "Leslie!" The Acara could almost recognize the voice, as if she knew who it was, but not quite yet.

     She tried to grab something, but there was nothing to grab. All was silent, except for the voice and her screams echoing. She was forever falling, falling, falling....

     "Leslie!"

     The Royal Acara's eyes popped open. She was sweating, and above she could see the dark, gray sky. Tiny droplets of rain were gently falling, making a pitter patter noise as they hit the ground.

     "Leslie, are you okay!?" came the voice, now much closer and easily recognizable. The Acara shot up to see Cassie sitting beside her on the ground. A few strands of her soft, brown hair blew in the breeze. Looking down at herself, Leslie saw her mud-covered dress and dirty fur. She sighed heavily, trying to calm down.

     A few shoppers around her in Neopia Central turned to look at her, but then quickly walked away when their eyes met. "Wh-where's Shyle?" she asked quickly.

     Cassie looked puzzled. "Shyle?"

     "Yes, that Uni!" Leslie exclaimed. "The one you adopted. And the Ghost! Where is he? And my Neopoints, and... and..."

     "It's alright, sweetie, it was all a dream!" Cassie reassured her. "I found you here, I was wondering what was taking so long. You must have not gotten the dress you wanted, because your Neopoints are still here."

     Leslie looked at a leather pouch full of Neopoints by her side. It wasn't the Neopoints she'd saved up at the Money Tree, but the Neopoints Cassie had given her before she left her mansion to go shopping.

     Her blue eyes widened. "You mean... it was a dream?" she questioned. "We're rich?"

     Cassie smiled. "Of course, honey!"

     A smile was put on Leslie's face. She got to her feet and brushed herself off. "Let's go clean you up," said Cassie, "and then we can go shopping and get some new makeup at the Grooming Parlour."

     Leslie grinned and walked by her owner's side, satisfied that they were finally doing what they were supposed to; shop, and live in their enormous mansion with all their expensive possessions as they'd always done.

     The rain was still dropping, but not as bad. Leslie was back to her old self, and she knew they would never become poor, like she had in her dream.

     As the two passed the Money Tree, Leslie stopped and glanced down at her Neopoints. "What is it, Leslie?" asked her owner, stopping as well and looking at her pet curiously.

     "One minute, okay?" said Leslie, as she began to walk in the direction of the Money Tree. She set the Neopoints down, and, almost instantly, a small, yellow Kougra grabbed them.

     He looked poor and hungry, his paws and fur muddy. His sunken eyes widened and he managed a small grin. "Thank you," he said softly to Leslie. With that he scurried away to grab other items.

     She smiled, and, for the first time, it was a genuine, meaningful smile. Her eyes shined, and suddenly, the rain stopped completely.

     A beautiful sunshine came out from behind the clouds, making the Rainbow Pool water glisten and sparkle as though there were diamonds inside. A long, large, colourful rainbow appeared in the sky, and even though Leslie was covered from head to toe in mud, she felt it didn't matter. The crystal-clear sky matched her eyes as she beamed at the rainbow.

     Shoppers stopped to admire its beauty. Leslie no longer cared that she was Royal; she could be covered in mud all the time for all she cared! Okay, well, maybe not, but the point was, the Acara now knew the meaning of kindness.

     In her dream, the pink Uni's smile had been snobby and nasty, because she was rich and self-absorbed. Leslie's was nothing of the sort; her genuine, picture-perfect smile was of a friendly, kind-hearted, loving Acara who changed after realizing that wealth isn't everything.

The End

 
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