Broken Wing, Humble Heart
It’s odd, really. Everyone knows the old saying:
“You don’t appreciate what you have until you lose it.”
I’ve heard it too; far too many times to count. Yet like most young Neopets, I failed to truly understand what it meant.
Then something happened. Something that I was not expecting.
And I learned what it meant... the hard way.
It was a few months ago. My owner, BG, had been busily ripping up part of the roof of our Neohome and laying down a new, flat roof. Each night, when he was done for the day, I would pepper him with questions as to what he was up to.
“Just wait and see,” was his constant response.
So I did, but I have a tough time waiting for things that really draw my attention.
BG set down a new roof with some strange tile-like materials, then proceeded to rig up a rain gutter system. I had no idea why, as we live in the Lost Desert, and rain is a rarity. But no matter what I asked my owner, he wouldn’t tell me what it all meant.
Finally, one morning, BG woke me up early.
“I need to show you something,” he told me.
I was very curious now. I got to my hooves and hopped off the bed, then followed my owner into the kitchen. There was a blueprint lying on the table, and he showed it to me.
I felt my jaw hit the floor as I stared at the blueprint.
“A... rooftop garden?” I managed to ask, staring up at BG in pure glee. “J-just for me?!”
He nodded as I leaped into his arms and hugged him tightly. It was a fantastic surprise.
“Thank you! Thank you!” I squealed repeatedly.
Over the next two weeks we worked almost non-stop on the garden. We moved a load of soil into it, then BG assembled a little glass sun house, just big enough for me and a friend to lie down in. We spent a day picking out plants at one of the greenhouses in Sakhmet, then began to arrange them. The closer to completion we got, the more excited I became.
Finally, we finished. BG tossed the last of the flowerpots off the roof, then settled down on the edge as I curled up in the sun house with a happy sigh.
“This is so nice...” I said happily.
“It’s perfect for a Royal Girl Uni like you,” my owner responded.
I spent the whole day just relaxing in my new garden. The next morning, I was about to fly up to it when my friend Di, the baby Lupe who lives next door, came over to say hello. We talked for a while, and I carried him up to the garden so he could see it.
“Such a pretty garden for such a pretty Uni,” he commented, making me feel even happier.
Once we were back on the ground, Di challenged me to a race. Three laps around the Neohome. So we started to run, and I was way out in front in no time.
On the last lap, I looked back over my shoulder to see where Di was.
“Come on!” I yelled back to him. “Try to keep up!”
“Look out!” he squealed in response.
I brought my head back around to see that I had changed course and was now barreling straight for the wall of the Neohome! Those bricks looked extremely painful.
Normally I would have been able to turn and not hit the wall. But as I began to turn away, I stumbled.
Now I was too close to the wall to do anything but brace myself for impact.
I slammed into the wall, but fortunately I yanked my head away just in time.
Unfortunately, my left wing was caught directly between my body and the wall.
At the moment of impact, I felt terrible, agonizing pain shoot through my wing. I crumpled to the ground, screaming and in tears.
Everything after that was a blurry mess. All I can remember was waking up in one of the Sakhmet infirmaries with BG, Di, and Di’s owner, Hayley, standing by the bed I was in. I felt rather drowsy, and tried to stand up, but promptly fell over.
“What happened?” I managed to gasp.
BG looked grave, and Di looked scared. A Cybunny medic arrived as my owner and Hayley exchanged glances.
“You crashed into the wall of your Neohome,” the medic told me. “Your left wing took the brunt of the impact. It’s broken.”
I could have screamed in shock. But I managed to stay silent.
“H-how bad a break?” I whimpered, afraid that I would never be able to fly again.
“A clean snap along two bones,” the medic answered. “The break will heal with no complications in three months. Don’t worry, you will fly again.”
Then he looked me square in the eyes.
“But until then, you’re stuck on the ground. We put your wing in a cast and splint, but it won’t support you should you try to fly.”
I sank back onto the bed, about ready to cry. How would I take care of my garden?
About an hour later, the medic cleared me to go home. BG carried me back to our house, while Di and Hayley followed along. No one said anything on the walk, but as my owner set me down to open the front door, Di spoke up.
“Is there anything I can do to help?” he asked me.
“Come on, Di,” Hayley responded. “Let’s give BG and Urasina some time alone.”
“But I want to help Urasina!” the baby Lupe squeaked.
BG bent down and gave him a rub on the head.
“You can help us by giving her some time to recover, OK?” he said kindly. “I appreciate the offer, but you should listen to your owner.”
Di nodded, and I could see that he was fighting back tears as he turned to follow Hayley. I was also fighting back tears, and once BG and I were indoors, I let them flow. My owner picked me up again and gently cradled me.
“H-how can I live without being able to fly?” I sobbed, burying my face in a fold of his cloak.
“I know it’s hard,” he responded gently. “But you don’t NEED to fly to survive.”
“Yes, I do!” I retorted.
“No, you don’t,” he answered firmly. “There’s a difference between a need and a want. Let me tell you.”
I did my best to listen as I cried.
“A need is something that you absolutely must have to live. The only needs I know of are food, water, and breathable air.”
“What about a home?” I cut in.
“How do you think the Neopets without owners live?” BG replied. “Think of the Uni herd in Meridell.”
“What about an owner?” I asked next. “I KNOW I couldn’t live without you.”
“Where would you be if I wasn’t here?” he questioned.
“Still in the Pound!” I began to cry harder at the scary memories.
BG seemed to acknowledge this. After all, he had rescued me from the Pound more than two years ago.
“Getting back on topic here, a want is anything other than a need,” my owner continued. “You may call it a need, but it really isn’t.”
He gently set me down.
“Do you understand?”
I nodded through my tears.
The very next morning found me sitting at the base of the wall, staring up at my garden. How would I ever get up there?
BG came out of the house with the ladder and leaned it against the wall.
“I know you can climb this,” he said to me.
I got to my hooves and gave it a try. I made it up about three rungs before my right foreleg slipped and I lost my balance. BG steadied me and guided my hoof back onto the rung. But try as I might, I couldn’t get up the ladder.
“I’ve got another idea,” my owner remarked as I hung my head, about to cry again.
He disappeared around the side of the house, then came back with my wooden pulley rig. I used that rig to move sand out of the holes I dug almost every week. BG set the rig down, then fetched his tool kit and several wooden boards. I watched as he built an attachment for the rig that looked like an Altador pulley crane.
“All you have to do is climb onto the wooden platform here,” he said. “All I have to do is climb up the ladder and run the pulley to pull you up.”
He carried the rig up onto the roof, then dropped the platform down to me. I climbed on and braced myself.
It was a slow and wobbly ride, but after about a minute I stepped off the platform into my garden.
“But now I have to bother you anytime I want to go up or come down,” I said to BG. “I don’t want to do that.”
“You’re not a bother, little one,” he responded kindly. “If it makes you happy to be in your garden, then I’m happy too.”
That was how life went for those three months. On most days I’d have BG lift me up to the garden, then I’d neigh loudly when I wanted to come down. I marked out three months on the calendar, and as they ticked away, I got more and more eager.
Finally, the day came. BG took me back to the infirmary and the medic removed the cast and splint.
“This healed beautifully,” he said. “You can fly now.”
As soon as we left the building, I was airborne, laughing and crying at the same time as I looped and rolled in the sky over BG’s head.
“I’ve missed this so much,” I sighed as I landed in my owner’s arms.
“But you survived without it, didn’t you?” he questioned.
I couldn’t help but giggle at him. I had survived, and survived quite well.
Later that day, I was relaxing in my sun house as the sun went down. BG had dismantled the crane earlier, so I had the garden to myself. The sunset was beautiful.
I thought back on those three months with a broken wing. I had learned a lot, from the difference between a want and a need, to how far my owner was willing to go to help me, to the true meaning of that old saying.
“You don’t appreciate what you have until you lose it,” I murmured to myself.
I looked back at my wings. They were fully functional, at last. But as I turned to look at the sunset once more, I vowed to never take flying for granted again.