Changes and Friendship: Part Three
“That story was AMAZING,” Winkie whispered to Sadie as the two of them left the school building. She had followed after her, in the hope that they would get to know each other. Sadie gave her a faint smile.
“The way you described the trees and everything... such great ideas... how the Sloth could you say it wasn’t detailed? It was the best in the class!” Winkie gave her a pat on the back, which made Sadie look even more uncomfortable, but slightly happier.
“Well, I need to hurry home.” She looked at Winkie enviously. “You’re lucky you have wings. You can just fly home, can’t you?”
Winkie suddenly felt really bad, and gave Sadie a little sympathetic smile. “I’ll walk with you today. Anyway, I don’t fly when there are a lot of Neopians about.”
“There aren’t many around this afternoon,” Sadie mumbled. Winkie looked up and saw that this was true – she could just fly straight home.
Before she could say anything, however, Sadie mumbled, “Your owner must be really nice and rich, to paint you a colour like Faerie. I’ve never been painted before... but I really wish I could be painted Plushie.” She sighed, holding up a plain yellow hand. “Of course... that’s waaaaaay out of the limit. Still, I feel a little left out. There are only two Neopets in the grade which are basic in colour.”
“You’re still really pretty,” Winkie insisted truthfully. Sadie didn’t seem to believe her, so she added, “Why have you never been painted?”
The Aisha wrung her hands uncomfortably. “I’ve been in the pound four times, for five years in total,” she said, after a few minutes’ silence. “I’ve had five owners, and all of them were, and are, too poor to buy me any paint brushes. Apart from my current one, they all abandoned me because they didn’t like me, thought I cost too much to feed, thought it was fair I got abandoned because I was adopted in the first place... stuff like that. Same old story, and just when I was beginning to like them. My current owner is just as likely to abandon me as the rest, right now – she’s already got three other pets, and she created them. I’ve always come to this school, but...”
Winkie felt a stab of pity for her, but could only say, “Oh!”
“They were OK owners, mostly... except that one time I had to sleep in a trash can because there weren’t enough beds...” She laughed and smiled at Winkie, who was once again frozen in shock. Sleeping in a trash can?! Jenny would never do that, she thought. Sadie must be really strong, to laugh about something like this...
“You’ve never been in the pound, have you?”
“You’re lucky... your owner must love you very much.”
Winkie was trying to formulate a reply. But Sadie was right. Jenny had always looked after her, always been there for her. She’d bought Winkie toys, painted her, given her pocket money, allowed her to choose what they’d eat every night... and Winkie had still complained often. But how could she, when next to her was someone who’d been abandoned four times, lived with poor owners, had to share with three siblings, and didn’t even squeak about how unfair it was? Finally, she asked the only radical question she could think of: “What was it like in the pound?”
Sadie shrugged. “How you’d expect it to be like. Bunch of cages, abandoned Neopets left and right and centre, Dr. Death sleeping in his office, Adoption Uni trying to get people to adopt us... owners talking about ‘badly-named basics’ and stuff like that... but it was OK, really. There were some nice Neopets there, even if I didn’t talk to them, and we were allowed to eat one third of a piece of omelette every day, and it was usually plain, which I like.”
That sounded absolutely awful to Winkie, and once again, she couldn’t believe Sadie could speak about it in such a casual tone.
Sadie rubbed her head thoughtfully. “I’ve never even told my, uh, ‘sort-of’ friend, Maylene, about this – at least, not in this much detail. And here I am, blabbering it all to a Neopet I’ve really only just met.” She gave Winkie a weak smile.
Winkie nodded as she tried to think up something bad enough which had happened to her that could even compare with Sadie. But before she could remember anything so bad...
“I have to go, that’s my house,” Sadie said suddenly. The two of them looked over at a run-down hut, extremely small in size, probably not even big enough for one Neopet and owner. Sadie glanced at her, feeling a little embarrassed.
“Bye! It was... nice meeting you.” She hurriedly ran over to the door, unlocked it and rushed inside, closing it behind her.
Winkie watched the house, standing there in silence, for a minute, but soon decided to leave. She kicked off from the ground and flew over Neopia Central.
She came back home early enough, but spent most of her time on the bed, thinking about Sadie and patting her Weewoo, Scooter. She tried to remember back to when she’d just been born – although that was impossible. She simply couldn’t think of anything really bad that had happened to her, anyone that had really mistreated her, or anything like that. She felt like a real spoilt brat now... and Sadie must’ve thought of her this way. But if only there was something she could do to help Sadie...
Later that evening, Jenny came to her room, looking worried.
“You’re very quiet today,” she said, looking at Winkie in concern. “Is there something wrong, honey? Did anything bad happen at school today?”
Winkie laughed. “No, nothing bad happened. Just a few... um.... I’ve just been thinking about some things.” She paused again, lost in her thoughts and memories.
“Well, what do you want to eat tonight?” Jenny asked.
Winkie simply shrugged. “You pick. And... uh... I’ll help you make it.” She closed her eyes briefly. She really couldn’t care less at the moment.
Jenny grinned. “Did I hear that right? You’re offering to help in the kitchen?” She paused. “Well, if you want to let me pick, I think we should have Mynci Mushroom Soup, some gingerbread, Cheese Stuffed Mushrooms and a Garlic Kebab. What do you think?”
Winkie was about to say, “Actually, do you think we could have a Turkey Drumstick Dinner? Why in Neopia would you pick that sort of food?” when she remembered Sadie. While she was at the pound, she’d eaten just one third of a piece of plain omelette, every day, for five years in total. What Jenny had picked was a luxury in comparison, even if she didn’t particularly like it. After all, Jenny had long put up with her choice of food for every meal.
“Sure, let’s start cooking,” she mumbled, trying to sound excited.
“Well, I’ll need ingredients. Winkie dear, do you think you could get them for me? I’ll write them down... ”
Winkie happily took the list and money. It was nice to go out in the evenings – she could fly around without many Neopians distracting her.
“Come here, Scooter! Want to go to the Neopian Food Store with me?” With the Weewoo after her, she took off in to the cold, night air.
The Neopian shops were only a few minutes away, when she flew. Winkie smiled, momentarily forgetting about Sadie and what she’d heard today. From up high, she felt like she could see the whole of Neopia. Sometimes she wondered what would happen if she flew up really, really high... Would she be able to see the top of Terror Mountain? She stopped at the Neopian Food Store.
There wasn’t any queue, and she bought everything they needed very quickly. Winkie looked at the change in her hand.
“There’s enough left to buy ourselves a piece of chocolate,” she noted to Scooter. “Scoot, do you think we should buy it? I’m sure Jenny won’t notice – she just gave us a bunch of coins; she didn’t even know how much she gave us.”
Scooter cocked his head, as if to say, “You decide.”
Winkie sighed. “I know it’s bad to trick Jenny, but...” She smiled. “Just this once, it’ll be OK. Anyway, I think we need to go around the plaza...”
At that moment, it started to rain. Winkie yelped and quickly flew towards the bazaar, passing through the plaza as she did so, trying to get to the Chocolate Factory before she was totally drenched. But as she was zooming through the bazaar, she saw two figures in the distance. She stopped for a moment to look. It was pouring really heavily now, so she found it rather strange that the two were walking along as casually as if it was a sunny afternoon.
BOOM! A clap of thunder. Winkie flew down lower, and saw that it was an owner and her Neopet. A short, black-haired girl. And a Yellow Aisha. Winkie frowned. No, it couldn’t be...
The pair stopped at the Neopian Pound and headed inside. Winkie rushed down, not realising that her groceries were sopping wet. She watched from the window. There was no mistaking that lonely, mellow expression.
The girl handed over a small bag of neopoints. Winkie wanted to burst into the room and yell, “No!” but Dr. Death was already filling in the forms. She felt helpless and pressed her face against the window.
To be continued...