Confessions Of A Musically Inclined Hissi: Part One
I didn't always have a voice.
I remember the day with perfect clarity. I was in my later years of Neoschool, a slimy slip of a Hissi with starry, shimmering scales and bright, golden eyes. I was new to the school in Neopia Central, but I was a brave, spiny thing who slithered onto the stage with startling confidence, my head held up high.
"My name is Melody," I hummed. "And I will be singing Dream by Ursa and the Usukis."
It all went downhill from there.
The whispers of the bustling crowd swept over me like bitter, morning breeze. Their eyes were thin and calculating, their smirks were sharp and mocking. Here I was, a new girl, sneaking onto their territory several years too late. I thought that we were too old to play this sort of game, but I was so, so, wrong.
And when I croaked our the first note, hoarse and dry, it set of chains of jeers and laughter.
This was my beginning; darting off the cursed stage, teary-eyed and cold.
I remember sobbing for hours. I remember the slams on the bathroom stall-doors, the screeches and the giggles. The 'hurry it up in there's and 'that'll teach you to try and steal my part's and the never-ever 'are you okay's that I had pieced together in my mind for comfort. Piles of toilet paper surrounded me like a white, tear-stained palace. For all I knew, school had ended. My owner would be worried about me. I'd never get to check the mail and see if my old friends had written for me. But I was too scared to venture out of my tear-bloated cage.
I was too... alone.
After a long rift of silence, I was ready to peer out of the cold, metallic doors. The bathroom was empty, save a few sticks of eyeliner and lipgloss scattered on the bathroom sinks. I breathed in heavily, shakily, and all but bolted for the door.
And then, when I opened it, I made a run for the school doors. I didn't even care if school was still in session, which probably wasn't the case anyway. I didn't care if the principal came strolling toward me with a confused look on his face. I didn't care at all.
I was outside and almost home free when I saw him, the boulder before my sanctuary, lying haphazardly on the grass, peering up at my disheveled form.
He was a boy, about my age. A Lupe, with pale blue fur and kind eyes. He was waiting outside, looking natural as could be, and when he caught sight of me, he began to sit up and then stand, before beginning to move toward me.
Something inside of me jolted and I quickly slithered into the other direction. He was probably going to make fun of me. The smile was fake. He was going to cackle in my face, that's what he was waiting for---
I heard the rustling of grass from behind; I tried to quicken my pace to no avail.
We were face-to-face in moments. He gave me a toothy grin, and I think my heart melted-
"You okay? You don't look too good."
-before it promptly sank beneath the pavement.
"Um," I whispered, suddenly shy. "I..."
He locked eyes with me and I quickly averted my gaze, hoping he wouldn't notice the swollen scarlet my crying eyes had taken to.
"Don't worry about what those girls did back there," he murmured softly, and I couldn't believe he was there for my embarrassing 'singing'. "I thought you did fine."
"You don't have to lie to make me feel better," I hissed, dipping my face into my wings. I didn't need his pity.
At that point, I didn't have it in me to feel bad for what I had said. I spent hours crying, and here he was, trying to patch it all up with lies. Thanks, but no thanks.
But then, he had to go and say, "Okay. Maybe you weren't too good. But does that make you feel any better?"
I was ready to snap at him, scream at him, shake him until his little lily Lupe bones rattled.
So much for that.
"Well, trust me on this, I'm being 100% honest when I say that you were made for the stage. You were just nervous back there, and those jerks weren't helping. Big deal."
"It's not like..." but I stopped. I wasn't about to share my life story with this guy after just speaking to him. I didn't even know his name.
"Not like what?" he pressed, and for some reason, I faltered.
"It's not like I'm that good of a singer... anyway... I've always wanted lessons, but my owner isn't exactly rolling in neopoints. This whole rejection before I tried... it's been good for me."
He took a step toward me and I flinched a bit. I realized then that we had slowly but steadily slipped away from the school. He was giving me that same, piercing look from before, and I think that if he told me that he was going to transform me into a Mortog then and there, I'd have said yes.
"Don't say that," he told me gently. "Don't give up before you've even tried."
"Well, then." I scowled, stubborn. "All your advice is simply marvelous, except for the one key factor: I can't even sing! I thought I'd do it for fun, but I guess this school is just too competitive. Oh, well, woe is me. I'll get over it."
My words were a lot more than just harsh, but he took it without even wincing. "Your problem isn't that you can't sing. It's that you cut yourself too short and give up without even giving yourself a chance to shine."
That was enough. "You don't know me... you, um...!" I struggled for a name, my sharp words quickly dissipating into a pathetic lull.
"Adrian." He grinned, not missing a beat. "And I'm not saying I know you. I'm saying I know what your problem is. And that I can be your singing teacher."
"I... I don't have a problem- and WHAT?!" I had finally registered his final words. And I'm pretty sure I stopped breathing for a while.
"You heard me." Adrian beamed, canines gleaming. "I can help. If you must know, apart from being an amazingly good-hearted neopet, I am also quite musically inclined."
I snorted, but my eyes softened. "You'd... you'd do that?"
I hated the stutter in my voice.
But any doubts of mine died on the spot when he replied with:
"Anything for a friend, Melody."
I had originally assumed that Adrian was kind of a loser/outcast/pariah (you get the picture) like me. I mean, why else would he hang around with a loser/outcast/pariah if he wasn't one himself? But, contrary to my original beliefs, he was as popular as could be. He had friends in high places, low places, and then... friends just as lame as me. He even waved to a couple of those snobby girls who had all but cackled at me when I went on stage a few days earlier. It didn't sit well with me, but one friend was better than no friends.
But Adrian was true to his word. After his obnoxious display of ultimate popularity, I had assumed whenever he'd next see me, he'd be high-fiving some pretty pet and laughing in my face for ever considering him a friend.
Boy, was I wrong.
He walked up to me, surrounded by what seemed like millions of colorful faces when he sang, like a true performer:
"Melody." His voice was a bright tenor, his grin unwavering. "Can you hear the music in the air?"
I stared at him, jaw unhinged. He was insane! Pets were staring at us, some amused, others annoyed with Adrian's usual flamboyancy.
"What are you doing?" I hissed, and he laughed. It sounded like music.
"Singing!" he dipped into vibrato. "There's singing in the air, leaving me without a care-."
"Adrian!" shrilled a Faerie Usul, whom I recognized as Tiffany, one of the girls who had been laughing at me on my first day. "Would you shut up?!"
"The music can't be controlled, you must let it unfold!"
After blatantly ignoring the angry Usul, he dragged me away to the music room; I decided, then and there, that we were friends.
"You're not singing high enough," he chided softly, paws skimming over the piano beautifully. He was helping me with my scales, trying to determine my range.
I craned my neck upward a bit, in preparation for higher notes. I began to sing, but he quickly stopped me.
"Mel, don't look up like that. You can sing the note just fine without looking all silly."
"Sorry," I mumbled. As grateful as I was for him helping me, I wasn't above being frustrated, so I quietly tacked on a, "Your Majesty."
"Heard that," he sang, and I couldn't help but be envious of his perfect tone. "Now sing this: 'How now brown Kau.... How now brown Kau.'"
I repeated, inwardly rejoicing when I reached the higher notes.
"Definitely a soprano," he said to himself, and I decided that it sounded lovely, so I didn't press on. "Just remember to breathe well and support those notes..."
And when I sang again, it wasn't pitch-perfect or even very pretty. But it was me, and it was most definitely my music, and that was enough.
To be continued...