Finding My Place
I trembled as I entered the room. The faces of the pets were blank. They obviously didn’t care that I was here. Quickly, I scanned the room. Plain walls, with a few cupboards, and several Neopian Times clippings by the map. My new teacher seemed to have a cheerful smile permanently plastered on her face.
“Class, we have a new student. Her name is _Duskyr_,” exclaimed the bubbly brown Wocky, Mrs. Green, “Why don’t you go sit next over there, dear. That’s the only available desk at the moment.”
She directed me to a desk near the back of the room, next to a red Draik. A cheery, lopsided grin spread across his face. Seeing it, I couldn’t help but smile. I sat quietly, letting the time drag by, wishing silently that this school day could be over. A few apparently eager pets answered most of the questions, making it easier to sit back and be ignored.
At lunch, I sat on the steps outside silently, and reading one of the thousands of books my mom had bought for me last week. As I read, I half watched the other pets. Most of them were laughing with a group of other pets that seemed similar in color and attitude. I didn’t expect them to want to be my friend, and I wasn’t about to ask them to be mine. I was a plain yellow Aisha, and I didn’t have any siblings or friends. I also liked being alone... or at least, mostly alone... ish. A voice burst into my thoughts, startling me into reality.
“Uh... New Girl?” inquired the intruding voice. I looked up. It was the Draik that I’d sat next to.
“My names Ky,” he continued, looking at the ground, “You want someone to show you around?”
“Sure...” I answered slowly. This was an unexpected kindness. “You can call me Dusk.”
He grinned again, and I giggled. Somehow his lopsided grin made me forget that I was alone here, and how poorly I’d been treated in the past. He showed me all of our Neoschool, explaining about the different kinds of classes, and who to avoid. Most of the rich, painted pets were at the top of his ‘who-to-avoid’ list. Thoughts of my lonely past gradually drifted away, and for the first time in four years, I actually smiled. Not the phony smile I put on when Mom was concerned about me being so quiet and solitary. It was a smile that came from the inside, and seemed to warm up my whole body.
To my surprise, Ky lived two doors down the street from my own neohome. As we walked home, we chatted about where we came from.
“I was in the pound,” said Ky. “I was a red Shoyru. My mom’s friend adopted me and fixed me up a bit. I got turned into a Draik when she got a morphing potion from an old friend. She sent me here, to my mom, because she didn’t have enough food or neopoints to take care of me.”
“You were pretty lucky!” I exclaimed, “My story’s not as happy... My first owner never fed me right, and yelled at me for things I didn’t do. I ran away, and ended up on the streets, begging for food. My mom found me and took me in... sort of an upgrade. I get food and shelter, even if I don’t see her much during the day.”
“Another upgrade – now you have a Draik for a friend.” He grinned, bowing awkwardly. I couldn’t help but laugh at his bow, nearly tripping over my own paws as I doubled over with laughter.
Too soon, we reached my house. Smiling brightly, he waved, telling me he’d come by in the morning before school so we could walk together. Maybe my life was finally turning around...
A few years passed, and Ky and I were almost always together. Some of the painted pets at Neoschool threw insults at us for almost anything, but they never stuck. After a little while the bullies would get bored of us not caring, and leave. Every day was new and exciting, especially weekends, when we went on adventures through town...
We walked through the marketplace, but today he dragged his feet, and I knew something was wrong.
“Ky?” I whispered softly, trying to read his expression, “What’s wrong?”
He didn’t answer right away. I could see he was thinking hard.
“Dusk,” he said slowly. “My mom... she... she told me that I might be going to live with her friend. The one that sent me here six years ago.”
So he was leaving? I stood there, stunned. Part of me wanted to believe he was joking, trying to fool me into laughter, but when no grin came, I knew he was telling the painful truth. She lived in Meridell, and we lived in Neopia Central.
“When are you going?” I asked, my voice cracking.
“Tomorrow... Mom asked her if she wanted me because she wants me to be in a place where I’m loved for who I am, not what I am.”
“Will you forget about me?” I asked, thoughts reeling. I felt one tiny tear creep out of my eye, and dance its way down my face, dripping unheard to the cobblestones.
“Never” was his short, but satisfying answer. I did my best to absorb his lopsided grin into my memory, not wanting to forget even the tiniest detail etched into our friendship.
The next day, he moved. I got some neomail from him a few weeks later, telling me he was happy, and missed me tons. I almost answered it, but Mom had told me not to use our neomail without permission. She never had understood our friendship. The last bit of news I got from him was to say he was moving, but not to worry, because he’d keep an eye out for me, just in case I stumbled upon Shenkuu in my free time.
Life at school became less bearable by the day, and half the time I let the bullies' words chip away at me. Instead of making a new friend, I kept to myself, like I’d done before I’d met Ky. My mom stopped asking if I was alright, and sighed when she saw me in my room, alone, staring at the wall, or the roof, just thinking about Ky, her eyes sad and distant. I thought of our adventures, of the time when everything was free of sadness, and nothing seemed bad, but most of the time, I just thought of his funny crooked grin, and the sound of his voice. I never wanted to lose that.
Days turned to weeks; weeks that dragged on painfully with no word from Ky. Mom pulled me out of Neoschool halfway through a lesson, quietly whispering something to Mrs. Green, who simply nodded. She’d gone to the Hidden Tower and brought me back a Baby paint brush. As she painted me, a distant look passed over her face.
“Dusk, I’m taking you to the pound. I’m sorry, honey, but I can’t stand to see you so depressed. I know I can’t give you everything you should have – lots of love. I can’t bring back your friend either. Please forgive me...”
I nodded silently. It wasn’t anyone’s fault. She’d loved me, but not all the time. She had offered me a chance at life, though, something I didn’t have before I met her. I wasn’t mad at her. I never would be.
After she finished the papers to abandon me, she glanced back, and then walked quickly away. I mumbled goodbye to the empty doorway, and Dr. Death lead me to a room.
“This is where you’ll stay until you’re adopted. We’ll bring you some food in the morning,” he said, smiling coldly. When I sat down, he dropped his hard glare, and left.
I thought about Ky, and wondered about where he was. Would I ever see him again? I promised myself that I would find him, just as soon as I was out of here. Just as soon as I had a home.
I must have gone to sleep, for I woke up to someone knocking on my door. The pink adoption Uni came in with a smile.
“There’s someone here who is thinking of adopting you. Would you come meet them?”
I put on a phony smile, and followed her to an office down the hall. It took a long time for my now short legs to get down the whole hall. It was farther than Dr Death’s office. Someone sat in a chair opposite the Uni’s desk with an Ogrin. She stood up and smiled kindly as I entered the room. A wave of new, indescribable emotion swept through my tiny body. Before either the Uni or this owner had time to speak, I whispered something almost inaudible. Just six simple words: “Will you please be my mommy?” A tear rolled down the lady’s cheek. She smiled and signed a form quickly.
“Yes, Duskyr, I will be your mommy.”
We travelled to her house and I chatted with her and the Ogrin the whole way. My new mommy’s name was Sandy, and the Ogrin was Tara. They lived in Shenkuu. My thoughts fluttered with happiness when Sandy mentioned this. I could find Ky!! I bubbled with happiness all the rest of the way to the house, spouting nonsense and half finished thoughts.
When we reached my new home, Tara opened the door. I was scared, and also excited.
“We’re home!!” Tara called. “Come and see who we found at the pound!”
I jumped and went to hide behind Mommy. I didn’t know she had another pet... Tara handed my adoption papers to a pet just out of my view. Slowly I inched into the room, trying to see my new sibling. A red Draik was reading the adoption papers. Slowly a familiar lopsided grin spread across his face. It was Ky.