Name and All: Part Three
But a few minutes had passed, and I hadn’t heard her footsteps. I opened my eyes to see this girl kneeling down, looking at me. Not down, not through, but at me. Our eyes connected, and from her soft brown eyes I could tell that they held kindness, a kindness my past owner once showed when he used to smile at me.
Smiling gently at me, the girl took her hand and patted my head. I flinched without meaning to, and her hand lifted itself quickly. “Did I hurt you?” she asked in concern. Her voice was soft and full of warmth. I shook my head vigorously, and she smiled again in relief. “I’m Alicia5218, but you may call me Alicia. I’m pleased to meet you!” Taking my paw in her hand, she shook it eagerly.
For the first time in what seemed like ages, I managed to give a slight smile in response. Something inside me, that I had thought was long gone, began to stir within me. Was this... happiness? Could it be the dying embers of my heart were somehow stoked into life, by this rather ordinary child? My cheeks grew flush at the thought.
Turning to the adoption Uni, Alicia asked, “Miss Rose, could you please pull up the paperwork? I’ve found the pet I want to adopt.”
My smile grew brighter in elation; crying tears of joy, I leapt into my new owner’s arms and embraced her tightly. Even when she stood up I wouldn’t let go, and so she merely held me in her arms.
Rose simply smiled and nodded, and walked over to her desk. As Alicia carried me over to the desk as well, I saw the other two pets I was with, a JubJub and a Grundo, trudge quietly over to Dr_Death’s side of the building. But as I looked at him bringing them in through the door, I could have sworn I saw him give a sad smile just before he closed the door. I wondered if, despite the uncaring attitude toward all of us, if he had simply hardened his heart as I had, to survive in that place. To take in so many pets being abandoned, and seeing so little actually being adopted, must be hard on both of them. Rose tried to hide her sadness with smiles and flowers, while the Doctor tried to pretend he didn’t care anymore.
I realized that without them, my past owner would have left without a word, and I’d be in my neohome, waiting for him to come back, not realizing that he never would. It was sad that they were needed at all, but things would be far worse. I would have never met Alicia, and many other pets would not have met their new owners.
Feeling tired from the day’s happenings, I rested in the crook of Alicia’s arms. She carried me out past the doors of that place, and I was momentarily blinded by the light. True, honest to goodness sunlight. I felt my fur warm slightly under its gaze. A cool wind blew across Rose’s little garden, mingling with the scents of flowers as it brushed against me. She walked at a steady pace so I wouldn’t be jostled so much, and I looked at all the sights of Neopia Central as we walked by. Such sights as the Money Tree or the Rainbow Pool, which I had taken for granted before, seemed so beautiful to me now. I listened to the happy chattering of other Neopets and their owners as we passed by them on the cobblestone road, so different from the crying and despair that filled the Pound.
As we went off on a little dirt road, Alicia stood in front of a quaint neohome; our home. It was a small stone building, with one side of the house covered in Wiltadendhrons. A thin trail of smoke floated out of the chimney. It was certainly a place to call home. Alicia carried me in, and gently set me down in an easy chair. She fed me soup until I was completely full, and then she carried me into my new bed. A bed, so much softer than the rough ground I had grown used to, was like I was resting in a cloud in Faerieland. She patted my head, and told me to get some rest. I was happy to oblige her, as I drifted off into a peaceful sleep.
Getting used to living outside of the pound was not easy; the first weeks I had nightmares of the screams and cries of the other pets, and I could never eat omelettes ever again. The hardest part was feeling so anxious whenever Alicia had to leave the neohome, or if I had done something bad like accidentally break her Altador stained glass window. I was so afraid she would abandon me, like Adam had, that I would practically tremble in fear. But each time she would lovingly pat my head and say, “It will be alright, Amaya. I’m not leaving you.” It took me a while to believe in her words.
When I started to feel more comfortable around her, I asked Alicia why she had adopted me. She thought about it for a moment, and then replied, “At the time, you looked like you really needed me. Your file had said you were abandoned so your owner could ‘upgrade.’ I don’t feel that Neopets are ‘things’ that can be thrown away like that, and so I decided to adopt and take care of you.” She then gave me a big hug and added, “I’m glad that I did.” At that I felt satisfied and smiled in response.
Once I started to trust her, Alicia and I became close friends. We worked together in our neogarden, and travelled around Neopia to see all the wonders it held. I had become happy like I once was, long ago. Getting plenty of sunshine and exercise, my body grew strong and healthy. Being well fed, my fur grew thicker and regained its sheen. Most importantly, with love, I felt my heart become full and more kind, and willing to not be so bitter about the past. After all, all that had happened to me brought me to her.
However, the other pets that were still left at the pound had bothered me; some nights, I could still hear their crying in the dark. So I spoke with my owner, and she agreed to help foster pets, and care for them until we found a loving owner for them. It was nothing fancy; we just used my room to share space for other pets, and we helped feed them and keep them happy. Sometimes we saved enough neopoints to buy them a paintbrush, to help grab an adopter’s attention. And though each time one of them was adopted was a sad parting, we felt better knowing that they would have a new life like I did.
One day, I was at the market buying groceries for our foster pets, when I saw someone familiar in the corner of my eye; I turned quickly to see more clearly.
There before me stood my former owner. His name was different, but I would never forget his face. But his eyes were no longer gleaming like in the beginning, or cold like when I saw him last. They were simply filled with sadness.
“Hello, Amaya,” he said in a low voice. “You seem to be doing well.”
At a loss for words, the only thing I could think to say was “Yes, I am.”
“Look, I know you probably don’t want to talk to me anymore, but I just wanted to say that I’m sorry. I was still being a stupid kid when I abandoned you; I was so concerned about having the best named pets, then the best painted ones, then the best stats... but through all that I forgot something. None of those things that everyone told me was important actually was. I should have known that what was important was you. You were my friend, and that was what really mattered.”
At that I began to cry with joy once more, and felt as if a huge burden was lifted off of my shoulders. The burden of past sorrows and pain, that had weighed upon me for so long, was carried off by the evening breeze. All I could muster in response were the words “thank you,” though I could only mouth them, so overwhelmed was I that my voice held no strength. I slowly turned around and began my walk home, to my loving owner. As I reached the door to my neohome I was greeted warmly by Alicia and our foster pets. Setting down my day’s purchases, I leapt up to embrace her, thankful that we were together. And while I pitied my past owner for learning what I had always known the hard way, I was more than happy to belong to an owner who loved me: Name and All.