Just the Bunch of Us
For a long time, it was just the three of us: Atta, Mars, and me, Batty the Korbat. I was the first, and once Atta and Mars came along, I made it clear that I wanted to be the baby in the family forever and ever. I convinced our owner to paint me Baby. Once I was painted, Mars and Atta felt it was only fair that they be painted too. After long hours at the Rainbow Pool considering their choices, Atta decided she wanted to look like a pumpkin and was painted Hallowe’en and Mars decided he wanted to be a Disco Ruki. We were so happy with our colours and with each other.
And so it was for months and months. Years, really. We lived in our gallery between the corn and socks we collected obsessively. There was lots of room for the three of us. We were so close we were more like siblings than friends – Mars the big brother, Atta the little sister, and me the baby. We decorated the gallery for every holiday with every decoration we could get our hands on. We had a huge box of toys in the back that we all shared and never fought over. We thought that life couldn’t get any better, and nothing could disturb our utopia.
But one day things changed. On a cold winter day, our owner came by the gallery with a Royal Flotsam by her side. The Flotsam was floating along as though she were swimming through the air. Our owner stopped by often to check how we were, but she had never brought another pet along with her. The Flotsam looked small and shy, trying to hide behind our owner's legs.
“This is Princess Clea,” our owner told us. “She comes from Faerieland. Her castle fell from the clouds during a big storm and she needs a place to stay for a while. She loves to knit things, especially socks, so I said she could stay with you guys for a while. I hope you’ll make her feel like a part of the family.” And with that, our owner hugged the princess and left the gallery.
“Princess? Why would a princess want to stay in a gallery full of corn and socks when there are other palaces in Neopia in which she could live?” Mars asked with a sneer.
“You don’t have to call me princess. Clea is just fine,” Clea said, looking down at her fins. “I like knitting socks. I could knit you some socks for your gallery if you’d like.”
“We don’t need your socks. We’ve worked hard to build up our sock gallery without donations from royalty. Same with the corn.”
“Yeah,” Atta added roughly, glaring at Clea.
“Stop, you guys. We don’t even know Clea yet. Give her a chance!” I cried out. “Come on, Clea, want to see my Baby Fireball in a Box? It’s really neat!”
Clea started to look up, saw the look on Mars’s face, and looked back down at her fins. “Maybe I should just go...”
“NO!” I cried and grabbed her hand. “Come see, it’s super!”
I dragged Clea into the back room and started digging through the toy box in search of my Baby Fireball in a Box. It was my absolute favourite toy, but we had had a tea party with all our plushies since I had played with the Baby Fireball in a Box, so it had sunk down to the very bottom of the box, underneath all the plushies and dolls. While I was digging, I asked Clea to tell me about her toys.
“Well, I had a couple faerie dolls,” Clea told me, her voice barely more than a whisper. “The Soup Faerie Doll was my favourite. I always liked the tales of all the good things the Soup Faerie did for pets who didn’t have enough neopoints. She’s the one who got me to start knitting.” She started talking to me instead of her fins, her voice growing louder. “I knit things to keep all the less fortunate pets warm. Socks, hats, mittens, sometimes even sweaters and blankets. One Christmas I knit sweaters for three families that were living on top of Terror Mountain. I got to go down and meet them and everything. Mostly the faeries deliver my knitting to those who need it. They always seem to know who needs things the most.” By this time, Clea was smiling at me.
“That’s fantastic, Clea. I just love helping other people. On Christmas day, Atta, Mars, and I like to toss all sorts of chocolate down from the top of the Money Tree. We bought Atta and Mars some wings just so they could fly up with me. It’s so much fun. You should come with us this year! It’s only a week away!”
“That sounds fun.” Clea was smiling now, but the smile died suddenly. “If the other two will let me.”
“I’ll talk to them, don’t worry.”
“Okay...” Clea still wasn’t convinced. “I think I’ll knit something to throw down with the chocolate.”
Clea dug some yarn and a pair of needles out of her bag and I went back to the gallery. Mars and Atta were laughing at a joke, a mean joke by the sounds of their laugher. I scowled at them and told them all about Clea’s knitting and how she got to meet some of the people for whom she had knit. By the time I was done, Mars and Atta weren't looking so smug.
"Okay, maybe she's not as bad as we thought," Mars allowed, shuffling his feet back and forth.
"I guess we should give her a chance," Atta agreed.
Over the next few days, things started to improve. Clea spent less time looking at her fins and she taught the three of us to knit. Soon we were knitting hats of all colours and patterns to drop from the Money Tree on Christmas day. I was surprised by how easy it was. By Christmas Eve, we were knitting six hats a day!
"This is going to be so much fun! Just wait, Clea, you'll see." Mars and Clea had become good friends, and Atta was working in that direction as well. We headed over to the Money Tree early in the morning, after a quick pancake breakfast. I smiled as we went to the top of the Tree, Clea swimming through the air, Atta, Mars, and me flying. This was my favourite day of the year.
"Look at all the pets!" Atta cried excitedly. "Oh boy, I love Christmas."
We threw down all the chocolate and the knitted hats over the next few hours while we waved at the pets walking by and giggled at jokes we told to each other. Clea knew lots of jokes that we didn't know, which made things even more fun. When we ran out of chocolate and hats, we flew all the way back to the gallery where we opened our own gifts to each other and sang Christmas songs all day.
Just before dinner, our owner came around to check on us again.
"I'm glad to see you're all getting along so well! I'm very proud of you guys for being so welcoming to your guest," our owner told us.
"Can Clea live with us forever?" Mars asked.
"Well, it's up to you guys. Can you make room for a Royal pet down here with the working class?" our owner asked us with a wink and a grin.
"I'm sure we can!" I cried and we formed a group hug. "For a long time it was just the three of us, but it's so much better now that there's the four of us!"