Kaylee sat in her room, warm, dry and comfortably insulated from the world just outside her window. Her room, richly furnished, was plush and opulent, promising eternal bliss to whoever should grace the thick carpeting. A fire roared in the fireplace, giving the room a soft, red glow, which made the room a great blessing on a wet, rainy day.
The figure who sat, surrounded by silken pillows, expensive toys and trays of gourmet food, was, in fact, not at all comforted by the wealth she was used to enjoying.
In fact, Kaylee, was kneading a very expensive plushie in her thoughtless moment. Or, at least, her lack of movement, speech and facial expressions suggested thoughtlessness, but in reality she was thinking very much. You see, in her short life, which had so far been just as rich as her room, she had never needed to think much. Her owner, who adored her only child, had lavished such money upon the girl that instead of being a normal neopet, she would remind one very much of a dress-up doll. She only spoke to ask for something, (since she was accustomed to getting everything she asked for) or to complain, because, as I have already mentioned, she was used to getting everything she wanted, and being uncomfortable was certainly not one of her chief desires.
She had been painted a dozen times at least, having started out as a meek yellow Shoyru, and having been painted royal, faerie, baby, then having been morphed to a Draik, was again re-painted faerie, and then was painted plushie.
As you could probably tell from my narrative, this pet was used to being made much of. Her owner was a billionaire, very literally, and so had the liberty that the rich have; the ability to never worry about money, to give their pets anything they wanted, to unconsciously be so patronizing to those of us who don’t have endless funds that they can walk among the higher class, and scoff at us down below.
So as Kaylee sat there, thinking, her very selfish side was hoping someone would pass by her window and marvel at the beautiful Draik who sat there so prettily, so quietly. So she was very disturbed when her owner came in, ruining the picture she had been trying to make for passers-by, a few minutes later.
“Kaylee!” Opal sang, bursting into the room with a box of sparkling clothes, “I just got back from the Trading Post. It’s all the latest fashions; here, you try them on!”
The plushie Draik sighed grumpily, feeling very put-upon indeed. “No. I don’t want any of those ugly things.”
Opal’s smile faded, to be replaced by a very dumb-founded look which would have showed any on-lookers the extent of the spell that the spoiled creature in the thick armchair had cast upon her mistress. “But... I just bought these...”
“But they are ugly! I don’t want them!” Kaylee stomped, flying out of her chair. “Take them back!”
Opal reluctantly stuffed the gowns and accessories back into her box. “Alright... I’ll donate them to the Money Tree... but you owe me.”
“I don’t owe you anything!” Kaylee squealed. “If anything, you owe me for not letting you embarrass yourself dressing me like that!”
Now, Opal had withstood all of the years of this child’s life stoically, spoiling her beyond healthiness, but never before had she felt so miffed. She had just spent her entire afternoon shopping, spending millions, to fill this neopet's wardrobe with only the fanciest, most fashionable clothing for sale. Having reached her home not only to find the girl in a temper tantrum, but to have her refuse the clothing was bad enough. However, now she was insulting her mistress, who had done so much for the child, by insulting her sense of fashion; it was far too much. In a rage, the likes of which Kaylee had never seen her owner in before, Opal began to berate the neopet ferociously.
“You spoiled pet, you... you...” Opal couldn’t even find words to vent her rage. Then, suddenly, a calm fit ensued, which scared Kaylee more than her owner’s rants. “I can’t put up with you anymore.”
Kaylee felt her veins fill with lead, and her tongue seemed to swell beyond the point of use.
Opal, who seemed in a trance now, grabbed the surprised but protesting girl’s arm and began to drag Kaylee to the door of her room.
“No, no wait!” yelled Kaylee, realizing that she would go to the pound and be adopted by someone, who probably would have no money. “I’ll take the clothes. I will! I was joking... really...” But her calm slipped away quickly as her owner said nothing, but dragged the Draik out the door, out of the house, into the street, and into the pound.
Of course, being a plushie Draik, she stayed in the pound for a whole three and a half seconds, before being sniped away by some lucky pound surfer.
“So what’s your name?” a lady asked, as she gripped the unfortunate plushie Draik by the squishy arm. “No, wait, let me guess... Michael?”
“I’m a girl,” Kaylee growled, wishing she was anywhere else.
“Oh, a girl!” The lady looked surprised. “Umm... Rachel?”
“My name is Kaylee_Symphony and I belong to Opal Symphony. I was put into the pound by mistake; you have to help me find her!” Kaylee lied wildly, trying to call up fake tears to help her story.
“No, no,” the lady corrected, being kind but quite firm as they pushed through the afternoon traffic. “Your name isn’t Kaylee_Symphony anymore. It’s Kaylee_Miner.”
Kaylee, overwhelmed by the sudden loss of wealth, happiness and opulence, began to cry, and then she realized that she didn’t even know this woman’s balance.
“Are you rich?” Kaylee asked, feeling no shame at the blunt question. In her old life, you were either rich or poor; there was no sugarcoating about it.
“Well,” Mrs. Miner said, trying to dodge the question, but then realizing that there really was no way around it. “We really aren’t here or there... we sway back and forth.”
“What do you have in your bank account?” asked Kaylee, praying that she had at least twenty million. Any lower than that, she was sure, was not nearly enough to support anyone.
“Oh,” Mrs. Miner said, “One hundred, maybe one hundred and fifty.”
“Million?” And Kaylee’s eyes sparkled again. It wasn’t nearly as much as Opal had had, but it was better than nothing.
“Oh no, oh Fyora no,” said Mrs. Miner hastily, popping Kaylee’s dreams like balloons. “One hundred thousand.”
And at the utterance of that last word, Kaylee felt the strength slip out of her limbs. The numbers kept repeating themselves in her head. One hundred thousand. One hundred thousand. One hundred thousand.
That’s not going to last a day, she thought, and she felt like screaming in anguish.
And after that she didn’t remember anything else about the journey. Even months later she couldn’t recall anything after that one thought, but they must have traveled very far, because when she could remember things again, they were in the countryside. Trees stretched on and on, while mountainous hillsides jutted beside the country road on which they walked. Kaylee didn’t have any idea where they were until she saw a sign that said ‘Meridell; next right’. Kaylee was dragged, however, into the left fork of the path, down a deserted road.
“Not much... farther...” Mrs. Miner panted, when suddenly a little cabin came into view. It was very charming, with little roses climbing the sides and neopets toys left scattered around the lawn, but I’m afraid Kaylee thought it was disgustingly poor and terribly built, namely because it was slightly slanted to the side since many young pets had slammed about inside it.
“Here we are,” said Mrs. Miner, suddenly brightening. “Isn’t it nice? Not really the cleanest of homes...” she said, gently kicking aside a bike as they got to the door.
“You can say that again,” Kaylee muttered, kicking the bike mostly out of spite, because it wasn’t in her way. “Where’s the house?”
Mrs. Miner turned slowly, realizing that this pet had obviously been used to a bunch of wealthy pleasures that she couldn’t afford. “This is the house.”
“What?!?” Kaylee said, feeling that nothing, no punishment, could ever be worse than living in this cottage.
“Come on in,” said Mrs. Miner, for the first time feeling ashamed of her hard-earned lifestyle and meager home. “You’ll like it better on the inside.”
“I doubt it.” She snorted.
Mrs. Miner whipped around again, and yelled at the Draik, who was going to have to stop mouthing off or she was in for it. “Listen, you!” she said, in a voice that made Kaylee flinch in surprise. “I’m not used to back-talk, so you’d better stow it, understand?”
Kaylee was so surprised, she nodded and swallowed her tongue.
“Good.” And Mrs. Miner relaxed her grip on the doorknob of the cottage, and opened the door.
A helter-skelter arrangement greeted them; dolls perched comically on the backs of toy cars, clothed with shredded articles apparently long discarded by even the youngest child. Toy swords leaned against walls and baskets, while cups of juice and plates of half-finished snacks lay on everything from the floor itself, to the backs of furniture.
Kaylee groaned inwardly, but, still a little awed by Mrs. Miner’s outburst, kept it all inside. For a few minutes they stood there, taking it all in, then Mrs. Miner said awkwardly, “Well... it's home.”
The moment she spoke, barreling around the corner came two Lupes; one yellow, one red. They yelled “Mommy!” as they ran, and head-butted their owner in the stomach. She didn’t reproach them for doing so; only tousled their heads and asked if they’d been good. One, the red Lupe, grinned and answered, as frankly as any young child, no. The yellow Lupe looked abashed at Kaylee in the doorway and didn’t answer at all.
“Well... where’s Ariana?” Mrs. Miner asked, scooping the boys up in a hug as she walked across the threshold.
“Dunno,” answered the red one, whom the mother had called ‘Tommy’. “I fink she’s upstairses, doin somfin.”
Suddenly, dressed in a large yellow dress and wearing many pieces of jewelry draped around her little neck, an Aisha came slowly down the stairs, wobbling in high heels she had apparently taken from her mother's closet.
“Whoa, Ariana,” cried the owner, rushing to the rescue of her small daughter, who certainly would have tripped otherwise. “Let’s not go looking in Mommy’s closet anymore, k? You are too little to wear these yet.” Mrs. Miner wrestled the heels from her neopet’s feet, finally setting the child back on the ground.
“Mommy, Mommy,” yelled little Ariana, turning to find Kaylee, suddenly shy, in the doorway. “Who’d dat?”
Mrs. Miner, who had apparently forgotten Kaylee, suddenly smiled again. “That, children, is Kaylee. She is going to be your sister now.”
Little Ariana hugged her on the spot, much to the surprise of the Draik, and declared her ‘my sider’ with much aplomb; Tommy shook hands with her cordially, and introduced himself with a comical adult air while the shy yellow Lupe simply said ‘hi’ and hung back a few feet.
“I knew you kids would like her!” Mrs. Miner smiled, well pleased with her success. “Who wants a snack?”
Since all of the younger ones, of course, did, Mrs. Miner left Kaylee standing on the step with a quick gesture towards the upstairs. “Your room is the third on the left.”
Kaylee walked up the rickety stairs slowly, a little afraid that the whole thing would collapse. She suddenly didn’t feel quite as upset about the whole moving here thing as she had before she had met the neopets who lived here. She had never had siblings before and she liked the prospect immensely.
When she reached the pinnacle of the steps, she turned and counted the doorways. One... two... three...
She walked over and opened the door, only to find none of the disarray she had seen about the rest of the house. Her room was neat, orderly, and blue. The soft hues of this color adorned every sharply folded crease on the bed, every pillow, every trunk. Only white and blue were allowed, and only the soft hues that Kaylee had never noticed until now how much she admired.
She didn’t have an item or an article of clothing to her name, so she sat down on her new bed and lay her head on the pillow. Sweet, aromatic wisps of lavender arose to meet her nose. She inhaled deeply and sighed.
This isn’t so bad, she thought absently. Here I don’t have any money, any toys, any books, or any fancy clothes or food, but I have a lot of things here that I didn’t have before.
A cozy home.
An owner who actually loved her.
And, in spite of everything which had happened to her over the past five hours, Kaylee smiled.