The royal/striped Shoyru, named Smalldra, walked through the dusty streets of Neopian Central, her head looking down at her feet, hidden under her royal dress. Though her dress was probably getting dusty, she made no move to hold it up off the ground. Her mind was too full of other things. It all started with a trip to the neoboards.
Smalldra and her owner, Josh, went up to the corkboard marked “Neopian Pound”. On it were many papers already posted, mostly for pets that were up for trade. But Josh was there for a different reason.
In his hand, he held a piece of paper that advertised a Darigan Xweetok that he had up for adoption in his foster home. He found a tack and posted it up on the board. But before he left, another post caught his eye. He pulled it off and read it over. Smalldra, only coming up to her owner’s waist, couldn’t see what it said.
“What is it?” she asked
“It’s nothing,” he answered, putting the piece of paper in his pocket. “Come on, let’s get back home.”
Smalldra now knew why her owner didn’t tell her at the time what it said; he didn’t want to upset her. But she found out later anyway, and wished that it was still a secret. The worst part was the fact that she overheard it rather than being told face-to-face.
She sat down under a tree as she thought of that part.
When they walked in, Smalldra noticed that Josh went straight to his room at their home and closed the door. Smalldra thought that was weird, since he usually kept his door open. As it got later, Ningaia, a desert Aisha and Smalldra’s sister, glanced at the clock hanging on the wall, then stood up from the game of Kacheekers she played with Smalldra, while Smalldra stayed in the living room.
Ningaia lightly knocked on the door and reminded him it was getting to be dinnertime. When he didn’t answer, Ningaia slipped in and saw Josh staring at the post he pulled off earlier. His face was a mix of worry, sadness, and concentration.
“What is it?” she asked.
Josh handed her the post without a word. Ningaia took the piece of paper and read it out loud.
“UC Faerie Pteri UFT. Requesting a good battle pet... any color... any species.” Ningaia read, slowing down by the end when she realized what it could mean. Smalldra had the high stats, and she was an experienced battler. “But I thought you didn’t believe in trading pets.”
“I don’t,” Josh answered. “But the UC Faerie Pteri is a dream pet of mine, and there’s no other way to get a UC pet.”
“But Smalldra is your first pet, and my sister!” Ningaia yelled, loud enough for Smalldra to hear all the way into the living room. She stood and crept over to the door, staying out of sight. From there, she could hear what they were saying.
“I know. That’s why this is such a hard decision for me. And I thought you two never got along, since you argue a lot,” he replied.
“All the time. Doesn’t mean I want her gone. I don’t know what I would do if you traded her,” Ningaia answered.
That shocked Smalldra. The fact that her owner, the one who took care of her, trained her, morphed her, and got her painted, was actually considering trading her. As she listened more, she found out that her high stats were the reason.
Smalldra looked down at herself, thinking of all the faerie abilities and the training she received over the past year. She was always proud of her powerful body and high stats, but now they felt like a curse.
Tears sprang to her eyes, as she brought her knees up to her chest and let the drops fall into her knees, not caring if she stained her dress. The pain of thinking her owner may be thinking of giving her to a new owner, some person she didn’t know. Someone that may not even take care of her. The feeling cut right to her heart.
“Am I just a bunch of numbers to him now? Stats that you can pass on to another person for something else?” she thought, as the tears that fell freely. There wasn’t much more that led up to that point, but it left a bad feeling.
Smalldra heard enough. She went the rest of the way to the door and shoved it open.
“I can’t believe you’re even thinking of trading me!” she yelled. “And without even telling me first!”
“Smalldra, I was going to tell you. But I wanted to...” he started.
“When? When the trade was finalized? When we were on my way to my new owner’s house? I don‘t know if I‘ll ever be able to forgive you for this,” she interrupted, and then stomped away.
“Smalldra, if you’ll just listen...” Josh tried to say, following behind her.
“I’ve heard enough,” she replied, heading to the front door. “I’m taking a walk, and I don’t know when I’ll return... then again, I’m a bunch of numbers to you. It doesn’t matter if I return or not. Then so be it!”
She slammed the door behind her and just ran, ran until she wasn’t able to run anymore. That’s when she started walking, and thinking, leading her to this moment.
“Something wrong?” a voice asked.
Smalldra looked up to see a red Pteri above her. He was perched on one of the branches of the tree, but fluttered down to land on her shoulder.
“Yes, something is wrong. My owner promised never to trade me or my siblings. But now he’s thinking about it, since he’ll get a dream pet in return,” she answered.
“Ah, yes, pet trading. I’ve seen it happening to many pets nowadays, too many to count. I’m guessing you ran away because of it?” he asked.
“Thinking about it. Why should he care whether I do or not? To him, I’m just a bunch of stats he can pass on to someone else,” Smalldra answered. “And after all those battles I won for him, and all those plot points I gave him as well?”
“Well,” the Pteri answered. “I know that humans can usually make impulse decisions and regret them later. You seem well fed and healthy, so he’s not starving you like some do. Since he takes care of you so well, my guess is that he decided not to go through with the trade. In fact, he may be looking for you right now.”
Then Smalldra heard a familiar voice yelling her name. It sounded like it was over at the bazaar, but there was no mistaking the voice of her owner. Smalldra stood, but then hesitated. Was he looking for her because he needed her for the trade, or because she wanted her back home.
“Is that your owner?” the Pteri asked.
“Yes, but I’m unsure,” Smalldra answered. “He may be looking for me so he can complete the trade.”
“I doubt it. Like I said, he cares for you better than most owners nowadays. You should at least go and see if you can talk it through. Make him see that you don’t want to be traded. If he really cares about how you feel, he’ll respect your wishes,” the Pteri answered.
Smalldra gave a nod and walked out to the Bazaar. Josh was near the fire furniture shop, but started running towards her as soon as he saw her. They met in the middle, embracing each other for what seemed like an eternity.
“Smalldra, I’m sorry. I should have talked to you about it first,” Josh told her. “I decided not to go through with the trade. After you left, I found out how much I would miss you if you were gone, and never coming back. There’s no pet, not even my dream one, which could fill that void.”
“Well, being a Shoyru, I can’t forget what you almost did. But as long as you promise me never to trade me or my siblings, we can work towards healing, and trusting each other again.” Smalldra answered.
“I promise,” Josh answered, and they walked home. Owner and pet, together forever.