Colour of Shame
It was a bright summer morning on Mystery Island. I sat up in bed, and looked out the window. The island was already very active with tourists, and the sun shone brightly in the sky, casting light over our home.
“Good morning, sunshine,” I replied to myself cheerfully. “It’s good to see you again.”
I stretched my arms, feeling bones crack at the slightest movement. I blinked my bright red eyes, squinting them at the sight of how bright it was outside.
It looks like another hot, humid day on the beach, I thought to myself. Even though I liked seeing the sun shine outside, I absolutely hated being outside on the beach. There were too many tourists crowding the beach, the salt water knotted my fur, and there was the worst ailment of them all, sunburn. I sighed. Some days I wished I lived on Terror Mountain for how hot it was outside.
Pushing the thought aside, I walked down the steps of our house. Because all the rooms were made of jelly, the floor felt squishy between my toes, squeaking with every step. I could already hear Raeneya, my cloud Zafara sister, sitting in the kitchen with a bowl of cereal, squealing with delight. It was obvious that if she was this loud today that she had already had a cup of coffee. Caffeine normally gave Raeneya a sugar rush, causing her to be very hyper.
I sat down calmly at the chair across from her, but didn’t reply. Anderis, my Christmas Kyrii brother, sat next to me, his head practically buried in his bowl. He was choosing to ignore Raeneya and her intense sugar rush, along with me approaching the table. Flaevours, my Speckled Shoyru brother, had his bowl on his lap while he sat in front of the Neovision, watching early-morning cartoons in his polka-dot pajamas. The morning was very quiet, more so than usual.
I went on casually eating my Ghost Pancakes, my favorite breakfast. Raeneya stared at me with a huge grin on her face. It was disturbing, and even though I continued to ignore her, she continued to stare. I turned to face her.
“Can I help you?” I replied.
“What? Didn’t you hear?” Raeneya looked puzzled.
I flicked my ears. “Hear what?”
“You should have heard with those big ears of yours.” Raeneya remarked.
“Heard WHAT?” I repeated.
“That you were getting painted. Mom just said it yesterday.”
I stared at her, stunned. I was getting painted today? Why didn’t I hear about it sooner?
“When did she tell you this?” I demanded.
Raeneya flicked her tail in annoyance. “Three days ago. What planet have you been on?” she retorted.
I glared at her. She always had some witty comment waiting in the back of her mind.
“But I haven’t been painted since... since...”
“Since five months ago? Yeah, Mom’s a quick saver. And a quick spender...”
I rolled my eyes. Our mom had a serious neopoint-spending problem. Once she made at least 100-thousand neopoints, she started thinking about what to spend it on. It was a bad habit, one that we neopets couldn’t even break. I had gotten used to being mutant. I didn’t want to change it now.
“Why did Mom want to change my color? She liked it when she morphed me into a mutant. Why?”
“She thinks you need a new appearance. She thinks young neopets may find you frightening.”
My tail hit the ground. Frightening...? Just what I needed, another person in Neopia who thinks I’m completely hideous.
“She really said that...?” I hesitated.
“Kind of. She just said she wanted to paint you. I don’t think she said it exactly that way.”
I sighed with relief. At least she didn’t think I was scary. Most Neopians judge us mutants as mean and creepy. I try to ignore those facts most of the time.
“I guess I’ll go ask her what color I’m going to be painted. I just hope it’s a good one...”
Raeneya pulled me back by my shoulder. “Before you go, can you get me some more milk for my cereal?”
* * * * * * * * * * * *
I peered through the crack in Mom’s doorway, looking to see if she was there. The room was empty. Not realizing that Raeneya and the others were still downstairs, I swung open the door, letting it slam as it hit the wall.
“What was that?” Flaevours called up.
I panicked. What would I say? “Uh, it was nothing! I just tripped!”
“Are you alright?”
“Yeah! I’m fine!” I yelled, my voice shaking.
There was a short pause before Flaevours called back up. “Well, if you’re sure, okay!”
I sighed with relief. No one could know what I was doing. I began searching the dresser drawers for some hint. I needed to know what color I was going to be painted. One drawer after another, and yet no list of paint brushes, no drop of paint, not a single thing to be found.
The door! It was opening! Where am I going to hide?! I glanced frantically around the room. Nothing here but piles of clothes! Wait a minute...
Clothes! There were enough clothes in the piles for me to hide in! I quickly slid under a few pairs of pants, shirts, and some other unmentionables.
The door was open. It was Mom. She must have come to make sure I hadn’t come into her room because of her secret paint brush.
She glanced around the room nervously, and then I froze. She was staring straight at the pile of clothes I was hiding in.
Don’t move a single muscle! If you move, she’ll know you’re there! my mind instructed me. I obeyed. My muscles became stiff, unmoving under the pile of dirty clothing. Mom rolled her eyes and crossed her arms.
“I know you’re under there, Shantaar. Come out.”
Rats! How did she know?
I climbed out. Now I would never know what color I was going to be painted.
“If you want to be good at hiding, you need to keep your tail hidden.”
My tail? I turned around. Just out of the back of the pile of clothes, my tail was sticking out. Arrrrggggh! I screamed in my head. I really needed to work on my hiding skills.
“Why did you come in here anyway? You must have had some reason.”
“I want to know what color I’m going to be painted!” I slapped my mouth. That was something I didn’t want her to know.
She sighed and sat down on her bed. “Shantaar, you don’t have to be nervous. Painting is completely normal among neopets,” she explained. “Painting a neopet on the outside doesn’t change anything on the inside. You’ll still be the same adorable Korbat that I love.” Her voice was sympathetic. My eyes began to well up with tears. I couldn’t hold myself back. I practically fell into her arms, and gave her a huge hug. She looked down at me.
“So are you ready? I have your new paint brush.”
I waved my tail excitedly. “Where is it? Can I see it?”
She got up off the bed and walked calmly to her dresser. “Here it is!” she exclaimed. Then she lifted out of the drawers a brand new, amazingly wrapped glowing paint brush. My eyes shone.
“It’s awesome!” I jumped on the bed excitedly.
She smiled. “So are you ready now?”
“You bet!” I jumped off, landing with a small thud.
“Put on a coat first.”
I raised an eyebrow. “Why? It’s Mystery Island. It’s over 80 degrees outside!”
She giggled. “Gotcha! I was only joking. Now come on, let’s go!”
We ran down the steps, yelling ‘Rainbow Pool’ like complete maniacs. We didn’t really care. Everyone does that their first (or maybe every other) time to the Rainbow Pool. But as everyone watched and laughed at us, we did the same. It was off to the Rainbow Pool we went. And nothing would stop us now.