He was always there. Left of the second rock bridge, just before the ticket booth. He was always leaning on the west wall, harmonious. Sometimes, he was humming the main hit of the band playing at the concert hall that day. Sometimes, he was occupied with playing magical melodies on what could only be described as a Cobrall-shaped sitar. Sometimes, he just lay down, resting his eyes whilst the sun steamed across the skies, creating a quilt of warmth over Tyrannia. That content, lonely spotted Blumaroo... he was always there.
Another red-skied day, and the clouds were wispy but firm. It was early morning, and my owner, Paige, was once again dragging me along to visit her dailies. As her current active neopet, I took the liberty of setting my alarm for 11:50pm, to be sure that there was a Tigersquash Cappucino ready for Paige when she awoke at midnight on the dot, ready for our timely, daily trek around Neopia. My sisters were always sound asleep when we left, and have usually barely shifted an inch by the time we come crawling back at 6am.
Most of the stops we make, I can tolerate. The tombola man, I don‘t trust at all; he towers over my puny Aisha build - not the most safe position to be in, in my humble opinion. The secret laboratory terrifies me in ways I should think a neopet should never experience... that zap, that scientist... I shudder just thinking of it. I adore doing the faerie crossword, although occasionally I get over-excited at the prize of 600 NP and irritate the Library Faerie by disturbing her deathly silence. My favourite visit, though, is the giant omelette. Sure, the eggy goodness would be enough for anyone to enjoy... but it's the peculiar stranger I toddle past twice every day that intrigues me the most.
This particular morning, however, the routine I had become so used to had changed. We walked past the first rock bridge. My heart started thudding at the thought of seeing him again. The excitement enthralled me - what could he possibly be doing today? It's like a great, daily surprise. Could he be juggling a variety of Tyrannian rocks, or even parts of the discarded furniture from the warehouse nearby? Perhaps he would be edging towards the ticket booth, praying for one kind Neopian to offer him 10 neopoints or so. My mind wandered wildly for ideas as we neared his usual spot, my steps getting faster as I scurried towards the giant omelette.
"Wow, Harriet, don't get too excited - I know you don't enjoy omelette THAT much!" Paige giggled, strolling along behind me. As I got nearer, my smile widened; that strange Blumaroo always made my day...
I turned the corner, to face the usual west wall. But it was bare. There was no spotted Blumaroo to be seen. No instruments, no food remains, no dirty clothing... nothing. It was as if he was never there. There was no sign of his existence within seeing distance. My heart slumped in my body. It was such a letdown - what would I have to forward to in my mornings now? I continued walking with Paige towards the giant omelette, covering my face with my long ears to hide my disappointment. The omelette had better be bacon today; otherwise, I definitely am having a bad day!
As I approached the omelette, I scanned the area for the regulars. I could see Jimmy, the hyperactive Gelert. He was always at the top of the omelette, searching for the best catch of the day. I couldn't see Honey, the sweet little baby Acara. I also spotted a few newbies - a blue Gnorbu with a female owner who looked rather bewildered by a random oversized food item in the middle of nowhere. More confused neopets, further confused owners... and then I saw him. My spotted Blumaroo. He was at the base of the omelette, scooping through with a Battle Spade. Breathing heavily, he swept beads of sweat from his forehead as he looked up and spotted me. He smiled, and waved shyly. The fact that he had recognised me made my heart skip a beat - and my legs carried me over to see what had brought him here instead of his usual leaning speck on the western wall.
"Ha. I'm looking for a Spinach Feta Omelette." He giggled. "I must sound so silly. Allow me to introduce myself. I'm Nicholas."
He had even had a soft talking voice, very similar to his singing. It made me feel safe, as if we were in a bubble together away from the many dangers of Tyrannia.
"I'm Harriet. I've seen you around here a lot. You're entertainment, I'll give you that. What brings you here, though? What about this omelette, dragging you away from your beloved spot? I got quite a shock when you weren't there."
He smiled, tilting his head to the floor. "My mother always fed me spinach products, they were so nutritious and tasty. But about three months ago..." His smile seemed to fade, as his ears wilted and he came off the ground from balancing on his tail.
"What happened?" I sympathised.
"My mother became obsessed with collecting avatars, and abandoned me when she found some vile Krawk that a friend offered to her. I was just left here to fend for myself, with no word of warning, no goodbye, no kisses or hugs... this Spinach Feta omelette is the only reminder I have of how lovely she used to be. But I can never find them these days. Neopoint-hungry Neopians always beat me to it."
"Oh gosh, I'm so sorry. I wish I'd spoken to you sooner, you could have done with someone to talk to." I felt genuine sorrow for the poor Blumaroo. All those times I walked past, not giving one thought to what kind of suffering he may have lived through. Just then, I thought of the one thing I could do to bring a tiny bit of joy back into his life. "Will you be back in your usual spot in about half an hour, sir?"
He pondered. "Most likely. If not, I'll be back here. I never do lose hope in finding it. I pray to Fyora every day that she would bless me with such a gift. I believe one day it will happen, and that beautiful omelette will be in my possession." he nodded, and picked up his spade. "I shall see you tomorrow then, young Harriet. I look forward to your future visits, you do brighten my day."
With those final words, he wandered off into the distance. I ran back over to Paige, urging her to hurry with her choosing. We needed to get home, and fast - I had business to attend to!
Eventually, Paige had packed up her things and had scurried home with me. As soon as we got to our neohome, I charged through the door. Not paying any respect to my dozing sisters, I rummaged through our toy boxes and closets until I came across the sought-after wooden box. Scribbled in pink crayon on the lid was ‘HArrIeT's StUUF' - and inside was a variety of treasured items. A bag of peanuts I once managed to grab at the food shop, two pieces of secret laboratory map, a few neopoints, and deep inside... a foil-wrapped package. I made a grab for it, stuck it in a satchel and dived out of the door again before you could say "Tyrannia, here I come!".
Thankfully, he was still there. Nicholas, the kind-hearted, abandoned Blumaroo, signalled me over as I plodded down the road. Running from Terror Mountain to Tyrannia took the breath out of me, and I could barely utter "Here... you... go..." as I handed over the slightly squashed parcel to him. He looked slightly puzzled at the random present, but nonetheless started to unwrap it. His expression of bafflement soon turned to delight as he uncovered a good-as-new, fairly fresh Spinach Feta Omelette.
"I wasn't going to eat it; it only would have been found by my conniving sisters and then sold for some useless bunch of toys of some sort. I knew it would mean more to you."
Nicholas seemed speechless, and instead embraced me with a warm hug. "You don't know how much this means to me." His eyes glossed over, as if he would burst into tears of joy at any moment. But inside, I could still feel a sense of loneliness. I hesitated, but decided to take a plunge.
"Say... Nicholas... what if you were to come home with us? I'm sure Paige would welcome you with open arms. You would fit right in." I winced, hoping he wouldn't be disgusted by an almost-total-stranger inviting him to move in. But oddly, he seemed to contemplate the offer.
"I would, but..." He shook his head. "I've had so much fun living here on the streets. Every day is a new experience, and I wouldn't change this for the world. I may have lost a fantastic life, but I've gained a new one along with it."
He continued to smile with gratitude. And I smiled, knowing I had helped someone in need.
"I'll see you around, Nicholas. Thanks for the wise words. Enjoy your omelette."
Nicholas smiled his warm beam. "Thank you, Harriet. I'll continue to entertain you for as long as you visit." And with that, he twirled around on his tail and sat back onto his western wall.