Frame Off the Wall
Also by sweeneytoddpwns
Kirima. Kirima Wheed. It doesn’t really sound like the name of the most interesting pet in the neighborhood, does it? It doesn’t sound like the name of the prettiest or the ugliest pet, or the smartest or the dumbest one. It doesn’t sound like the name of the track runner, the basketball player, or the stylist.
What it does sound like is the most average pet in the history of Neopia. Because that’s what I am. All of the other Neopets knew that I was nothing special, and I knew it, too. It's not that I didn't try (well, I had stopped trying quite sometime previously), it was just that I never felt comfortable actually being someone. So I remained myself: average, usual, and common.
My owner, though, she won’t give up. “C’mon, Kirima,” she’ll say, “it’s warm and sunny outside. Why don’t you go and play ball?”
Or: “I have enough neopoints now, I could paint you Purple. You used to beg all the time to be painted Purple. Why don’t we go down to the Trading Post and get a brush?”
My answer is always no. I don’t want to be special anymore. I would always be normal, always be unlike everyone else, too common to bother with, so what was the use in trying? I began feeling like my owner was only trying to please me to make herself happy, because, honestly, I didn't really feel happy even if I was going to be painted Purple. Besides, Purple is a starter color for Grundos like me. It wouldn't make me any more special.
See, I don't really fit into any of the social groups, at home or at Neoschool. I suppose it's mostly my fault because I keep rejecting a paint job, but in truth I don't really want into any of them. They are all like paintings, framed and hung up. I am the one painting whose frame has fallen off the wall. My frame is the one that, after falling, lies on the floor, gathering dust, and eventually gets thrown into the Rubbish Dump because nobody bothers to look at it anymore. Oh, if only I could find some sort of superglue to hold me back on that wall... But hopes of finding said glue was impossible now: I had already refused to be happy with who I was, and I couldn't really change that now.
Lately my owner's insisting that I try and make some friends, though. Sometimes - well, this morning - she went so far as to literally shove me out the door and tell me to get a little color in my cheeks. Hello! I'm painted red, of course I have color in my cheeks! So, feeling like I'd just been forced out of the house, I walked around the neighborhood until I finally found the park I'd heard had just opened a week ago.
It took me less than three seconds to feel like an outsider among the many Neopets playing in the sandbox, throwing discs, buying balloons, and swinging on the swings. I felt my pupils shrink, and I immediately froze in my tracks. I seemed to be the only pet painted red in the entire park! I was the plainest Neopet here!
It really is a strange thing to be - average. Sometimes I feel like this, where I really want to blend in for once, and sometimes I love being plain. And as I sat cross-legged on the grass, I pondered this.
That's when the baseball smacked me in the face.
Ow! What the heck was that? would have been the first thoughts that came to me, but I was cringing behind my hands and my face was hurting too much to think anything at the moment. When I finally opened my eyes and my vision returned to me, I found the baseball and turned it over in my hands.
“Over here!" said someone, and I looked up to see a Blumaroo just as red as me standing a few paces away walking toward me. When I handed the baseball over, I heard them speak again.
”Sorry about that! I have horrible aim. My owner sent me out here to practice, but, it's not really doing anyone any good, is it?" he chuckled. He looked curiously around at my face, probably looking to see if he had hurt me too badly. "Well, I don't think you can notice it too much, but it looks like I gave you a pretty bad bump on your forehead. Really sorry.”
All this time I had just listened to him, and I finally choked up an answer. "No, it's fine, really. I... I've finally found a good use for being red. Oh, I hate being red. What's your name?”
”Being red isn't as horrible as you think it is. Being red is awesome! Did you know that it's the color of ketchup? My name's Brandon. What's yours?"
"Ah... um... Kirima," I managed. "Call me Kiri." Why did I add that last part? Nobody called me Kiri! But too late now, I guess.
Brandon nodded, then asked, "So, why are you just sitting here? Are you waiting for someone?"
"Not really... I don't have a ton of friends."
"Are you new here?" the Blumaroo asked.
I shook my head. "Nah, just been... well, bad at making friends. I still am."
"Not good at making friends? It's easy; all you have to do is talk to them. I make friends everywhere I go! All you have to do is pluck up the courage to go up and have a conversation with them."
"Oh. I didn't know it was that easy. I've always been kind of... well... average. It's the word I use the most to describe myself... not that I have anyone to describe myself to.” I had a feeling I was jabbering on, but I couldn't stop. “I haven't really been happy in a while, I don't have very many friends, none at all, actually, besides my owner, and she insists that I go and make some. That's why I'm here."
I'd never actually gotten very, well, open with anyone before, and Brandon was definitely not your basic Blumaroo. Had I been hand-picking someone to talk with, I would have never picked him. He didn't seem like the kind of person I would hang out with, anyway. And the fact that I had met him all because he hit me with a baseball on accident was a little odd.
He interrupted my thoughts, asking me a question.
"So, Kiri, do you like Twisted Roses?"
I had never listened to Twisted Roses before, and the only thing I knew about them was that they were very angsty and loud.
And man, did Brandon change the subject quickly. "I've never really heard them... do they tour around here a lot?" I mentally smacked myself. This was Mystery Island, every band toured around here! It was just that I never got to see them.
"Yeah, they're coming 'round in two days, actually." Brandon grinned. "Hey, do you want to play baseball?"
I hesitated. I didn't have the slightest idea how to actually play. Teasingly, he reassured me, "I'll try not to hit you this time. Here, I have a bat..."
"Okay. But... I'll pitch." And I took the ball that had hit me, backed up a little, and waited for him to grab the bat. The second it was in his hands, I was ready.
Here's the wind-up, and the pitch...
And the ball practically flew out of my hands with a surprising amount of force. I was shocked; I'd never been able to throw anything in my entire life; I wasn't coordinated at sports at all! Before I could say anything about it, Brandon swung his bat, and it collided with a loud SMACK! as the ball soared through the air, and he ran as fast as he could. He touched a Bag of Sugar that I hadn’t known was there, and then another – sending me the silent message that they were the bases.
The ball flew, smacking the playground tower, bouncing off it, and then it swooped back down, bounced once, and skidded neatly to a stop as it delicately touched third base just a few seconds before Brandon did.
I couldn't help it - I had to laugh. He turned around to look at me, a playful smile on his face. Then, he started making faces at me: angry, confused, hurt, overexcited, they all made me laugh even harder. He put on quite a show, but then bent over to get the ball. He threw it over to me, and I shielded my face so it wouldn't hit me again, and it landed in front of my feet in a tiny cloud of dust.
"Out!" I said in a deep announcer voice. Then, in my regular voice, "It's three outs to a turn, right?"
"Kyaaaaa!" I screamed randomly as the ball spiraled out of my hands. Brandon hit it again, but he made a goofy face at me and I couldn't concentrate on the ball. By the time I'd stopped laughing, the ball had stopped rolling. It had gone straight up and come back down on home plate.
"Out! Out!" I giggled.
This game was getting fun fast, and he only had one more try before I would probably call him out again. I threw the ball again, with more confidence this time, and he thwacked it past the swing set, running towards first... second... third... wait, had he been getting out on purpose before? As he returned to home base, he threw his hands up in the air and did a victory dance.
"HOME RUN! AND THE CROWD GOES WILD! AHHHH!" he cried.
Almost immediately, I threw the ball back at him. "Think fast!"
But he surprised me, grabbing the bat and whacking the baseball again. Unfortunately, it flew right at me.
"Deja vuuuuu!" I shouted as I was hit in the face again, and fell over backwards. He stared at me with concern until I started laughing.
"I think that I have this weird baseball magnet inside of me that makes every single one smack me in the face," I said.
"Yeah, probably," he replied jokingly, helping me up to my feet. "Does that mean that you won't be batting?"
"Oh, I'll be batting," I said, and with a smile, I placed the ball in his hand. I backed up to home plate and nodded, signaling for him to pitch.
"Heads up!" Brandon sang, and the ball flew through the air. I surprised myself again, knowing exactly when to hit it, but it went right across and he caught it without difficulty.
"Out," he called.
"And you," I said, smiling, "have a baseball magnet in your hand."
“Do not!" he said, but he shrugged it off, and threw the ball. I swung the bat, and hit it perfectly. It glided over his head, and I ran past first base, to second, third... and made a home run. I pumped my fist in the air.
"That's right! The ball magnet has been reversed!”
Then I got smacked in the face again with the ball.
Oh, who cares about being average anymore? I wasn't average. This, right now? That's average. Average pets have friends and have fun, and don't hole up in their Neohome all the time. I didn't like being average because I wasn't "average".
This is average.
I like average. Average means that you're not exactly good, but not necessarily bad. This was good. Brandon had distracted me from my negative-ness long enough for me to realize that I was good, just the way I was. And that was how I always wanted to be.
Average means I can choose to be anything later on. But right now, I'd rather just be Kirima Wheed - or Kiri to friends.