To Make A Difference
Ting was sick. And it wasn’t just the simple Neoflu kind of sick. She was sick of this world and all the people in it. All the greedy Neopians who took the good items from the Money Tree, the snobby owners tip-toeing along with their noses stuck ten miles up in the air, the long line of starving pets, hungrily awaiting their meagre bowls of soup. It sickened her... But she didn’t know what to do about it.
The night was cold. The forecast showed a massive storm heading towards Neopia Central. Already the winds were picking up and the first frosts of snow were starting to rain down from the heavens. But Ting was oblivious to all of this. Her almost silent mutterings distracted her from the harsh reality that was the real world. She was on her way back from an eight hour shift, volunteering at the Soup Kitchen. Ting was always in this dark, gloomy mood after working. Not even the weather could stop her thoughts turning to the many horrors she saw each and every day. Her small, Scorchio-shaped shadow was briefly illuminated by a street light, before flitting out of existence into the murky night.
Ting was struck out of her reverie by banging headfirst into a cloaked figure, wrapped tightly in a long, luxuriously furred overcoat. Ting shook her head to clear her thoughts, and had an apology ready on her lips when the stranger spoke.
“Watch where you’re going, you filthy bum! Oh, and get a haircut, you look atrocious.”
The figure was about to storm off dramatically when Ting lost it. Her day had not been one of the best and now this... this insolent woman just had to come along and make her life worse.
Ting launched herself then and there onto the back of the stranger. She bit and clawed her way to where she assumed the face was.
“Look!” she cried, yelling into the stranger's face, “I was about to apologise, ok? I am NOT in a good mood and you and your snooty attitude are NOT helping!”
And that’s when it struck her just who she was yelling at. It was hard to tell looking upside-down as she was, but after staring for a few seconds, Ting quickly hopped down from the now not-so-strange stranger.
“Um... I’m really sorry, truly I am. I-I had no idea that it was you, you see, and my day was really bad and I-”
Ting broke off as a shiver shook her tiny form. It had really begun to snow now, and Ting wasn’t wearing many layers. She looked up into the face of the woman, now recognised from the many posters around Neopia, sadness in her eyes.
“Sorry,” she whispered, as she collapsed onto the pavement. Perhaps it was more than just Neoflu.
A human girl came racing down the street, headed straight for the cloaked figure.
Skidding to a halt right in front of the unconscious Ting, the girl quickly dropped her bags and took off her coat, draping it over the tiny yellow Scorchio. As she rose with Ting tucked safely in her arms, the girl asked her mother what had happened.
“You weren’t torturing innocent pets again, were you, Mother?”
“Humph,” the woman stated. “I was merely walking along, minding my own business, when this rapscallion ran straight into me! I was almost winded! Then, she started assaulting me for no apparent reason, and once the ruffian saw who she was dealing with *flick of hair*, she started blubbering and ‘apologising’ to me. The nerve of her!”
The young girl sighed.
“Mum,” she lectured, “just because you’re the best fashion guru in Neopia Central, doesn’t mean you can be mean to everyone who’s not up to your ‘standard’. No-one is worthless, and no-one is beneath you. Everyone has the right to live out their lives peacefully and without fear, pain or hunger. Neopets, humans and faeries all share the same feelings and experiences. They all breathe the same air as you, and that is NOT a crime.”
Ting was half asleep, but she felt the warmth around her, and heard a voice enter through the darkness. It was a voice of equality, and everything she ever wanted. Ting smiled, and drifted off into the land of slumber.
The light. The burning light. That was all Ting managed to take in after slitting her eyes open and quickly shutting them again. Suddenly, Ting heard someone humming close by, and this jogged her memories of the walk home, and the stranger attack.
Ting leapt up and attempted to roll out of the bed she was in, only to again be blinded by the bright light. Ting squinted her eyes and a quick scan around the room told her that she wasn’t at home. She remembered fainting, and the voice, and then nothing. She could only conclude that she was in the house of the famous fashion guru who she had so carelessly attacked, Madam De’Confluge. Ting immediately shut her eyes tight against the light and started apologising profusely.
“Oh! I’m so, soooo sorry about tackling you, Madam. It’s just that I had a really bad day and it was all my fault and I’m so sorry! Please don’t send me to the Chia Police!”
Ting stopped when she heard a giggle.
“My, my, you are a funny one. I’m sorry about the light. Here, let me just shut these curtains.”
There was a rustling sound and all of a sudden it was a lot darker. Ting cautiously opened her eyes and found herself staring into the beautiful brown eyes of a young, dark-haired girl. The girl smiled and sat back down on a stool next to the bed.
“I’m glad that you’re finally awake. I took you to the Hospital and they said you had Achy Head, so I had to go out and buy some Magic Goop.”
Ting’s eyes widened.
“Magic Goop? But that stuff is really expensive... Why would you waste so much money on me?”
Ting stopped for a second, and took a real look around the room. It was extremely large, and the furniture seemed quite pricy.
“Wait; let’s back up a step here. I don’t mean to sound rude, but I am really confused. Where am I? How did I meet you? And no offence, but who exactly are you?”
The girl’s smile faded a bit.
“You are currently in the guest bedroom of Madam De’Confluge’s mansion. I... I came across you in the street. You were unconscious....”
She trailed off and stared at the floor.
Ting raised one eyebrow and tried to remember where she had seen the girl before.
“Wait... I know you! You’re her daughter...”
Ting paled and again began apologising.
“Waaah! I’m so sorry for attacking your mother! I just-”
Ting was forced to stop as the girl starting laughing her head off.
“Oh... you’re so funny!” she managed between bursts of laughter.
After a few minutes, she finally quietened down enough to talk properly again.
“Look, I don’t know the whole story, but I gather you accidentally bumped into my mum, and she was really mean to you?”
Ting nodded and the girl went on.
“But man, that’s the first time I’ve heard of anyone actually attacking her! It was great. She was really put in her place.”
The girl sighed again.
“But that still isn’t enough to change her. She’s such a stubborn fool, always sticking to the old ways and customs...”
She trailed off, muttering to herself.
Ting was still a bit confused at this point, and couldn’t seem to grasp the fact that she, an ordinary yellow Scorchio, was inside Madam De’Confluge’s mansion. Ting stared at the girl, but the well of hatred inside her heart refused to be shoved aside.
“So,” the girl looked up as Ting spoke, “I’m supposed to believe that you ‘found’ me unconscious in front of your mother, and then magically decided to whisk me away and cure me? You rich people are all the same; I don’t need your pity.”
Ting knew that she was digging her own grave, but she had to get it out of her system before she exploded.
“You think you can just do one thing and change the world!” Ting burst out. “I go to the Soup Kitchen every day, and every day without fail there are thousands of pets standing in line, just waiting for a meagre bowl of soup, so they can live and breathe another day. And every day as I walk I see people like you, people who don’t care about our society or the world we all live in. People who squander away their money on petty things like jewellery and gourmet food.”
By now Ting was standing on top of the bed, staring down at the girl who had saved her, tears streaming down both their faces.
“Every day is the same,” Ting sobbed, “I try to fix things, to do my part in the world, to fix the wrongs of others. But I’m only one person, and no matter how many hours I volunteer, or how many neopoints I donate, it never makes any difference.”
Ting dropped down on the bed and continued weeping heavily, unable to continue her tirade. She felt a warm body close to hers, and realised that the girl was hugging her.
“If you’ll let me,” she sniffled, “we can be two people, trying to make a difference. I’m Alissa.”
Ting hugged her back.