Confessions & Forgiveness
About two years ago I'd gone to visit a friend of mine--Meghan--who lived in Neopia. I'd been to the place a couple of times, and had even lived there once. I'd loved it, and my pets, but after a time, my life had become too complicated for me to stay. So with a heavy heart, I'd packed my things and left Neopia, I'd thought forever. I would have never thought I would move back. How could I? I'd left my pets behind to fend for themselves. And now, thanks to me, they were alone, afraid, and starving. Forever. How could I come back to Neopia, knowing what I'd done?
But Meghan urged me. "You would love it here!" she had told me enthusiastically.
"I don't know... " I'd muttered, uncertain.
"Come, on! I'll even help you get started," she prompted. I gave in. After all, it couldn't hurt, could it? It wouldn't be like last time... I would make sure of that.
She'd helped me to set up a new account. I chose the name kamcd711, Kam for short. The only thing that was left was to create a neopet.
I'd never been good at making choices, and now I had to choose just one of these pets? I spent a half hour trying to make a decision. Behind me, Meghan sighed loudly. "How 'bout a Chia?" she suggested, eager for me to make my choice.
"NO," I said firmly. "Chias and I aren't the best of friends." She sighed loudly again. I looked through all the species again. "I want a Shoyru," I said finally, after about an hour of prolonged-decision-making.
"Finally!!" Meghan cried, and taking my hand she led me through a door labeled 'Create-A-Neopet.'
* * * * *
I created a red Shoyru, and I named him flame_storm711. This was before Neopians were obsessed with having 'well-named pets'; pets whose names had no numbers or underscores. At the time, I'd thought it was a very nice name. I still do.
He was energetic and fun, lively and hyper. He and I got along wonderfully from the start. Meghan helped the two of us move into our new neohome, then she had to leave. "Just let me know if you need any help!" she called as she left, waving to me and smiling widely at Flame. "Oh--and don't forget your newbie pack!"
"Newbie pack?" I asked, confused. I walked over to the package she had pointed at, and saw that it was addressed to me. "Hmm... Want to open it now, or later?" I asked my pet.
"Now, now, now!!" he squealed in excitement. I grinned at his enthusiasm.
"Okay, okay," I laughed, and opened the package. Inside were two starter paint brushes, green and blue, some food items, and two small creatures made of cardboard. I picked one up and examined it closely. It was pink, and had two large, oval-shaped ears. The other was orange and had a mane. As I was looking at the pink one, it blinked at me. Surprised, I let out a yelp and dropped the thing. "It's... alive!" I gasped in surprise. Flame blinked at me, then burst out laughing, clutching his sides and flapping his wings. I couldn't help it; I started laughing too, and soon the two of us were lying on the floor, tears streaming down our faces as we gasped for air.
"I... I think... I think they're petpets," I said as soon as I could speak around my laughter. Flame picked up the orange one, and looked at it closely.
"Can this one be my petpet?" he asked, looking at me with his wide eyes. I nodded, and he hugged me, squeezing me until I couldn't breathe. "Thank you!" he said happily, looking at his new friend. "I'm going to call him Leo."
And so this was my new family; me, my Shoyru, Flame Storm, and his Liobits, Leo. Together we learned the ways of Neopia, often through our mistakes. Still we got by, and we had a wonderful first few months together. We had a wonderful family in each other, but after a time, I began considering adding a new addition to our family...
* * * * *
"Flame," I said one day, as we sat at our table, eating our dinner. He looked up at me, his eyes questioning. He'd sensed something unusual in my tone. I could tell he wasn't sure whether to be excited or nervous. I smiled at him reassuringly, and I saw him relax a little. "I was wondering... if maybe you might want to, umm... " I trailed off, uncertain of how to say this.
He looked at me carefully. "Yes...?" he prompted. The suspense was bothering him to no end. "I-was-wondering-if-maybe-you-wanted-to-get-a-new-brother-or-sister?" I said breathlessly, barely pausing between each word, making it sound more like one word. He didn't have any trouble understanding.
"YES!!" he yelled, his face breaking into a smile that stretched from... well, not ear-to-ear, because Shoyrus don't really have ears, but... It was a big smile, okay?
I couldn't resist smiling back. "I was hoping for a Xweetok... is that okay with you?" He nodded, too happy to speak.
I was happy, very happy, but in that moment, I saw in my memories five faces. The first face was the face of a red Kougra, my first neopet ever, MyStripey. The next three faces were also neopets; a red Acara, a blue Aisha, and a blue Uni, Mimi, Golanne, and Sammi. My first four pets. The last face was mine, two years younger. In the memory, all five of us were smiling, a happy little family, as we had been back in the beginning. But in the next moment, the image in my head changed.
No longer a memory, this was the work of my imagination. This time, it was just my pets in the image, and it was not a happy picture. Their faces were dirty and miserable, streaked with tears, and it was plain they had not eaten in ages.
I gulped. How could I be doing this again? I was risking far too much. What if I had to leave, abandon my pets, again? It would be horrible enough if I did it to Flame alone, but if I did it to two pets?
No, I told myself. No, this would not happen again. I would never abandon my pets, no matter how complicated my life became.
I went to bed that night more nervous than I'd been in years.
* * * * *
The next day, Flame and I went to the Pound. It was a bleak and depressing building, full of pets and owners alike, some of whom were crying, others were smiling so hard it looked as though their faces would break, and others looked as though they were in shock. It brought back the unpleasant image from the night before, the image of my four pets from my old account, starving and miserable...
I shook my head slightly. That would never happen again. I would make sure of it.
We approached the desk labeled 'Adopt.' Behind it sat a kind-looking pink Uni. "Hello," she said pleasantly, smiling at the two of us. "Can I help you?"
"Yes," I said, returning the smile. "We're looking to adopt a pet--a Xweetok, actually. Do you think you could... " I trailed off, because the Uni was already standing up.
"Follow me," she said, leading Flame and me through through a door behind the desk.
Behind the door, two rows of cages faced opposite each other, creating a path in between them. The Uni lead us down this path, pointing out pets, Xweetoks, as we had wanted, every now and then. But I didn't really see any that seemed right for our family.
We looked at pets for almost an hour, and I began to get worried. What if we couldn't find a pet that was right for our family? Sighing, I turned to Flame Storm, to tell him that we should try again another day, when I caught sight of her.
She looked just like any of the dozens of other Xweetoks we had seen that day, unpainted, average name, but... something about her made me walk over to her cage. Hearing my approach, she turned her face up to me, and looked at me with blue eyes that had long lost hope. I could only imagine how long she must have been in here.
The Uni must have heard me stop, because she turned around. Seeing my kneeling in front of the cage, a small grin found its way onto her face. I gestured for Flame to join me. He came slowly, eyeing the Xweetok curiously. I turned back to her.
"Hi," I said quietly. "I'm kamcd711, but people call me Kam. This is flame_storm711. I call him Flame or Flame Storm for short." I looked at the name plate above her cage. It read 'lexie_x84.' "Do you like to be called Lexie, or by your full name?"
She blinked at me in surprise. "Lexie," she said quietly. I nodded.
"Do you think... would you like to come live with us?" I blurted out. Both pets looked at me in surprise.
"I uh, I... Yes," she replied, looking as surprised to hear herself say the words as I was. For some reason, I'd been expecting a 'no.'
The Uni must have been listening to our quiet conversation, because no sooner had Lexie said the words than she unlocked the cage let her out. "Follow me, please," she said, walking back the way we had come. The three of us followed close behind her.
I had to sign some papers and hand over a couple hundred neopoints, and that was it. Lexie was officially part of our family.
Flame couldn't stop talking on the way home. He told Lexie everything-his likes, his dislikes, his favorite everything, he told her about our home, about his pet Liobits Leo. He basically told her every detail he could remember about himself, and a few things about me as well. Lexie listened quietly, nodding at appropriate times, answering when asked a question, and even offering up some facts about herself. She liked shopping and listening to music, she loved plushies, and she was always up for adventure. I smiled to myself. She'd be the perfect sister for Flame.
Flame and I helped Lexie move into her room. It wasn't hard, considering she only owned a small suitcase worth of belongings. "We'll take you out shopping tomorrow and get you some furniture and stuff," I promised her.
That night, we made cookies, we talked and joked around, we laughed, and we celebrated. It was such a wonderful family moment, and so of course it made me think of the last neofamily I'd had.
I remembered the night after I'd adopted Sammi, the blue Uni from my old account. The five of us, Sammi, her three brothers, and myself, had been so happy. We'd had a party like the one Flame, Lexie and I were having now. That was just a few short months before I'd left Sammi and her family. And now they were on their own, alone and starving. And it was all my fault. Tears streamed down my face as the guilt finally overwhelmed me.
Lexie and Flame were at my side in an instant, comforting me, trying to find out what was wrong. Of course that only made me feel worse. I didn't deserve their sympathy. Sobbing, I choked the whole story out to them. They deserved to know what kind of owner they were living with.
"You guys... weren't the first pets I had. I had four others, a couple years back. Stripey, my first neopet ever, was a red Kougra. I created him. The others, Mimi the red Acara, Golanne the blue Aisha, and Sammi the blue Uni, I adopted. I'd meant to give them a new, wonderful life, and for a few months that's what we had together."
"But... things came up in my life. I was young, and I couldn't handle the responsibility of caring for my pets. So... I left. Just like that. And now, thanks to me, they're probably the most miserable pets in Neopia right now!" I broke down into sobs again.
For a long time both pets were silent. I was worried about what they'd say, what they'd think. Would they want to find a new owner? I wouldn't blame them if they did.
It was Lexie that spoke up. "Kam... " she began. "Kam, you're sorry for leaving your pets, aren't you?" I nodded, unable to find my voice. "Well, then you wouldn't ever consider doing it again, would you?" I shook my head. "Right. Look, Kam, as bad as you feel, it's not your fault. You're still ten times better than my last owner." She made a face.
"My last owner was awful. She let my siblings and me go hungry; we lived in a cardboard shack. When she was home, she looked right through us like we were worthless. It was a relief to be put in the pound after living with her."
"So, Kam, not matter how bad you feel, you'll always be a wonderful owner, because you actually care about your pets."
I was crying again, but I was crying from happiness. They knew the truth, and still thought I was a wonderful owner. I hugged them both tightly to me, and they hugged me back. Then we each had two more cookies.
That night, I began to forgive myself, and I knew that the others would have, too.
Yay, I'm in the Neopian Times! This story is mostly true. After I got Lexie, I adopted Sal and Skating Sprite.