Like We Had it All
Dedicated to the amazing friends I made two years ago. You both remind me of Olivia. :)
They always had a way of making me feel like my difference was something to be ashamed of. At first I had vainly thought that they would view me as exotic, rich in character, wonderful... But I was really wrong on that count. I had known beforehand of the society that we were going to move to, and I was excited. I had not been popular in Mystery Island, but surely I would be now, white painted fur and all. I would be a touch of flavor in a place that lacked any originality.
My mother decided to move us to an Aisha inhabited town on the outskirts of what was at the time, a very stylish Neovia. The place has changed over the years, but it was nice then; sunny, friendly, and joyous, despite the open vanity that had placed a finger on the town. I probably would have had a wonderful first month there, me being painted when hardly anyone else was. But my appearance held a huge flaw: I was certainly not an Aisha; I was an Ixi.
Most of the Aishas that were my age were pretty rich, and definitely beautiful. But when I walked into that schoolhouse on my very first day of neoschool there, I knew that they detected a presence of something different; something alien. And their distaste was almost tangible. Those pretty Aishas that I longed to be friends with did not like me one bit, and it suddenly felt like life there wasn’t worth living if I wasn’t to have any friends.
Claudia, the red Aisha who ruled over everyone else in my grade, was the one who liked me least. She would send me a look of freezing scorn across the room every day; just a signal to let me know that I wasn’t wanted. But she never really needed to do that. You see, I already knew I was the loathed one in the class.
It went on like this for the entire month of Storing; I would go to neoschool every day crossing through my shortcut in the woods, everyone would glare at me as I entered the schoolhouse, and Claudia would spin around in her seat and give me the look that she reserved especially for me.
I never told my mother about what went on at school, but my little sister was the one who could take a hint. She knew I had no friends, but hardly spoke of it. It wasn’t until the month of Celebrating that everything changed almost at once.
It was the second day of that month when she came. She was an Aisha, naturally, painted a soft baby blue color and a single auburn braid flowing over her shoulder. Her name was Olivia and everyone, including me, was enchanted by her. There was no doubt in Neopia that Claudia wanted to snatch this newcomer for herself. I knew this well, and had to remind myself that Olivia would never want to be friends with me, an unwelcome disease in a too-clean place. Besides, she was too pretty and amazing to ever consider me as a friend.
The Haunted Woods were vast, and on the edge of them was Neovia. But on the very edge of Neovia was where my town was, right by the sea. At times I would go down to the shore and sit on a log and think about Neoschool. The best part about the shore was that no one ever went there; a lot of the girls at school feared they would get their frilly dresses wet. I liked my dresses too, admittedly, but this didn’t stop me from going to what I liked to call “my home away from home”.
It was a grayish sort of day when I went down to the shore after I had finished my school work. There were gray clouds in the sky but the sun still shone brightly on the almost teal water, and that was when I heard it.
There was singing coming from the shore; beautiful, carrying singing. It touched a part of me that made me feel happier than I had in days, and my first thought was that there must be water faeries, or some sort of magical being wading out in the water. Didn’t it seem logical? But when I pushed aside the branches of the tree that blocked me from the beach, I saw Olivia, wearing a shimmery dress that reminded me of the moon, her golden hair streaming behind her and her mouth forming words as she sang.
I was held in silent fascination for what felt like ages, but likely only lasted about thirty seconds. I walked up to her eventually because even I knew that maybe, just maybe, this was my chance to get to know this new Aisha.
“Olivia,” I called, marching through the sand to where she stood. She looked around and smiled.
“Hello,” she replied warmly. “You must be Cecily. I remember Alexis from neoschool was telling me about you. I guess you’re the only one who isn’t an Aisha here.”
There was something about her tone that boosted my confidence even more than her song had. “Yeah, I moved here last month. Was that you singing?”
Olivia nodded and didn’t say anything else. She looked towards the sea in apparent longing and sighed. “I won’t be here for long.”
“But you just got here!” I was shocked and horrified all at once. Why were my chances at making friends always spoiled? “You couldn’t possibly be leaving so soon.” There was a note of sorrow in my voice, which embarrassed me. I didn’t want Olivia to know how much I wanted her to stay.
“I’ll meet you here tomorrow,” she said, turning towards me. “It will be my last day. I had a feeling someone needed me here. I guess I was right.” And on that cryptic last word, she turned on her heel and departed.
The next day came and went in a hazy flash. All I remembered of it was Claudia shooting me glares all day long. All the Aishas in the community seemed like they were trapped in this little box, where no one different was allowed to enter because it simply seemed so wrong to them. It was like they didn’t realize that there were other pets out there. I had met several Aishas on Mystery Island, but none of them were like the ones I met in the little town. And somehow, I pitied the people who lived in that society.
When school let out for the day, I went to the waterfront as promised. Olivia was already there, singing the very same song, but she stopped when she saw me, and instead smiled rather sadly.
That day was clear and breathtaking; how could I forget it? Olivia and I stood before the sea together, and she spoke in a voice that reminded me of the ocean itself.
“I wander, you know,” she was saying, almost as cryptic as before. “I wander and help neopets with their issues, just because I like to. I’m not a faerie; I can’t solve things with magic. But I can offer words of comfort and hope they help. Cecily,” she added, though not looking at me directly. “I know all the Aishas at school are snobby and are rude to you because you aren’t like them. But when you think about it, they don’t matter much. Maybe they’re jealous of you, I don’t know. But I like to think that it’s these little things that matter the most, really. Claudia and her gang may have loads of neopoints, but they certainly don’t have the eyes to see this.” She gestured out at the foamy waves. The way she spoke wasn’t like a counselor either; that sort of half-soothing monotone voice. Olivia’s tone made her seem like she actually cared, like she was just a normal neopet throwing in some advice. So I took that advice to heart.
We stood there like we were queens, like we had it all. In a few minutes those little golden strings had bound us as friends. And we looked on in silence, me being one more person who held the key to happiness in my little town.