All That Glitters is not Green
Gichi stepped into the Pet Central Community Center. It was Friday night at the Beauty Contest, which meant everyone would be trying to snag early voters. The crowd was bustling as different pets attempted to find the room where their category. It was exciting and daunting at the same time. Smiling brightly, she attempted to navigate her way through the mix of pets, humans, and even faeries.
Her mother and brother were accompanying her, but as usual, they were running late. She made her way to the room where the Skeith part of the contest was to be held. The green pet attempted to find a dressing room of her own, but someone stood in her way.
It was another Skeith, dressed extravagantly, with makeup covering her face. A pet whose owner had taken the effort into securing a royal paintbrush.
"Voting is down the hall."
Gichi looked confused.
"I'm not voting, I'm competing."
The other Skeith sneered.
"What? This is for beautiful pets, come back when you're painted faerie."
"No one said anything to me about needing to be painted something," the green Skeith replied.
The other girl ignored her, as she noticed the buffet. Gichi frowned, and made her way to the dressing room. It was decided right then and there not to mention that to Spider. She was a noisy human, and tended to cause upsets when she felt one of her pets had been insulted.
The Skeith glanced into the mirror, her dress glistening in the light of the dressing room. This was her first Beauty Contest. She wore a glistening yellow dress, the only thing she was feeling confident about. It was golden silk, with yellow lace. Spider had gone all the way to Meridell to get it.
She frown, glancing at her hand.
Such a plain color, nothing like the more expensive paint brush types like royal, or plushie. She wasn't an overly young pet, really; she should've entered the Beauty Contest before now, but growing up, the girl had always been under the impression that only painted pets entered the Beauty Contest. The basic colors, like green, just stood by and watched.
Green, such an unglamorous color. She had never wanted to be painted anything but green; no one had ever mentioned that it was a basic color before, but now. Was her self confidence so fragile that one comment made her upset? The Skeith smiled, picked up a pink wig, and placed it on her head.
The door closed from behind her as her mother and brother entered. Her mother, Spider, was a short human, with brown hair tied back into a ponytail, clipboard in hand. Conreo, her brother, was an equally short Cybunny, with a sour expression on his face. Both carried clipboards, because it made Spider "feel important". Gichi held back a smile looking down at them, despite her depression. They were trying so hard, taking what most people viewed as a game so seriously.
"Alrighty, Gichi," Spider announced, a bright smile on her face. "Don't forget to smile!"
The Skeith frowned, and glanced at the door behind the human woman, her heart sinking. Maybe she should just go home.
"Mom, maybe we should come back, when I'm painted something better."
Spider looked confused. Amongst her neofamily, there were plenty of speckled and glowing pets, in her mind, there was no better color than green.
"Like what, exactly?"
Gichi glanced down at her feet, blushing slightly.
"Something not so... cheap."
"Cheap? Gichi, I thought you liked being green."
The Cybunny sniggered.
"Next she'll be saying she wants to be an Usul or Uni."
Spider shot him a glare, which had no effect. It wasn't an unknown fact the broad opinion of most Neopians was that Skeiths were lazy, mean, eating machines. It was also a broad opinion of most Neopians, Cybunny were happy, sweet, friendly creatures. Most Neopians hadn't met Conreo.
"No, I like being a Skeith; it's just I want to be painted something special."
The human frowned at her.
The Skeith looked at her mother doubtfully.
"It's time," Conreo piped up.
Before she knew what was happening, Gichi was being shoved out the door to the back stage. Other Skeith were waiting, dressed in their best. Her heart sank as she spotted the royal amongst the crowd, twirling in front of a mirror.
"We'll be in the audience," Spider said, dragging Conreo by the arm.
The Skeith watched them go.
She was tempted to leave the back way, but her mother had her heart set on seeing Gichi on the stage. She didn't want to disappoint her, but she wasn't sure that she could stand to go on now.
The royal Skeith from earlier passed by and glanced at her.
"I can't believe they let a basic color like green behind here. Green, like snot."
Gichi shifted unhappily. There was a lot of food; it would have been unwise to leave a group of Skeiths alone without food, or else there might not be a stage to have the contest on. She didn't feel like eating.
The royal Skeith paused in front of her, this time with some friends. They pretended not to notice Gichi as they munched on the food from the buffet,
"The quality of this contest has gone. They're letting plain old basic pets in," one of them said. "Why would a basic join the Beauty Contest?"
"I would rather be Mutant than a basic color," the royal added.
Gichi shifted uncomfortably, inching away.
There was a scream of dismay, causing her head to snap around. The royal had squeezed the filling of a jelly donut all down the front of her dress.
"My dress! Now I can't go on stage!"
Gichi turned her head to see it was the royal from earlier. Tears were swelling up in the other female's eyes. She bit her lip thoughtfully. The other girl had done nothing but insult her since she had arrived, but it was apparent this contest meant a lot to her. A look of determination spread across the green pet's face as she scurried back to the dressing room. She quickly changed into her everyday clothing, then rushed out of the room.
A few moments later, the royal Skeith felt someone tug on her sleeve. She glanced down to see the dumpy little green Skeith she had insulted, now dressed in a T-shirt and skirt, offering a beautiful golden dress to her in one hand, and handkerchief in the other.
"Here, I don't care if I go on stage in normal clothes, so you use my dress."
Gichi frowned as the other pet began crying more, but relaxed as she was pulled into a hug.
"I'm sorry for being mean earlier," the other pet sniffled, accepting the dress and scurrying off.
Gichi's name was called, and she walked on stage. Her green scales glistened in the lights like emeralds, and she could see Spider, and even Conreo smiling up at her.
No one had to tell her; Gichi knew for herself. You didn't have to be painted royal, faerie, or any other such color; that didn't matter. That was just the outer layer. Gichi knew she was green, she knew she was plain, but she also knew she was special.