Hiding in the Shadows
It was the first Monday in the month of Gathering, and Annalise woke up as usual, stretching out and getting up. She got all ready and crept quietly down the hall into the dining room. She grabbed one-third of a Ham and Cheese Omelette. Devouring the food, she grabbed her school bag and stepped out the door. Neopia Central was awake early as she walked to the bookstore. She camouflaged into the landscape, hiding whenever she could. Hiding wasn't all that hard for a small camouflage Acara. Annalise crept into the bookshop and up to the counter. Behind the counter, there was an imposing royalboy Krawk.
Nervously, and almost silently, she cleared her throat and stepped into the sunlight. The Krawk jumped, noticing her suddenly, and then said kindly, "Hello, and welcome to the Neopian bookstore. I am Tiraeus. How can I help you?"
"Um, do you know where the Nimmo who normally runs the bookshop went?" This big royalboy made her wonder how people could stand so much attention. "I need some books for school."
"Oh, I can help you with that!" He moved over to the shelves. "What book do you need?"
"I need the Large Book of Geometry."
He moved over to another shelf, and started searching the shelf, "The normal shopkeeper was going away for a while, so he hired me to keep his shop together. After he gets back, I might be helping him out in the bookstore a little. Aha, here it is!" He pulled a heavy looking book out of the shelf, "Are you sure? Looks awfully heavy."
"It's okay, I can manage"
She put some neopoints on the counter and slipped away.
Annalise walked back out the door, slipping back and blending back in with the scenery. She walked back across the street and over to her school. Outside, Terry and her crowd were staring at Terry's new Fiery Robe and Wheat Wreath Wig. Terry was the most popular girl in Annalise's school.
Just as she was about to grudgingly about to become visible, something happened. A random event! A whole bucket's worth of water fell out of nowhere onto her head. It sent tingles through her spine and all over her. It almost felt like she was changing species or color! Suddenly, it stopped, and she looked down. Oh no, Annalise thought!
She was dressed from head to toe like a Lost Desert pharaoh! Fake gold beard, jewelry, and utterly beautiful. If not beautiful, she could only be described as someone you can't take your eyes off, or totally stunning.
She looked up. Annalise saw that everyone was staring at her, even Terry the silver Cybunny. Her friends, and just about everyone else were gawking at Annalise. Annalise ducked her head and ran into Neopia Central school.
"How terrifying," she thought, unhappily. "Why would anyone want to be looked at all day? It's so embarrassing."
She ran to her homeroom, trying to stay in the shadows, but the golden glint of her jewelry gave her away, and people stared, entranced, as she ran by. One of the people she used to talk with, rarely, a glowing Shoyru named Kitty, called out, "Is that you, Anna? What happened?"
But Annalise just kept her head down, trying not to be noticed. The walk to her home room was long and embarrassing to her. She knew that she had received a random event color that was a color paint brush worth so much neopoints, and that even rich or famed neopets dreamed of, but she wished to be invisible.
In homeroom, everyone was staring at her. The teacher tried to call order in the class, but everyone just stared at her. The teacher shot her an angry look, and Annalise just wanted to shrink. Science was no better. She was stared at and her class hardly got anything done. All of the other neopets were too busy whispering about her.
However, right before lunch, she had Neopian History. Annalise hoped that she would have a better time, because their Neopian History teacher, Ms. Shelley, was very kind. However, as she was walking to History, her name was called to head to Mr. Song.
She walked into Mr. Song's office, worried about what she could have done wrong. The imposing starry Eyrie was the school's principal.
When she entered his office, she quietly cleared her throat, and he looked up, his eyes betraying nothing at her new color. "So, Annalise, I see you have changed color."
She nodded, feeling shy.
"I heard that you were very shy. Camouflage, I think you used to be?"
Annalise nodded again, almost surprised he wasn't unhappy with her for disrupting class.
"That must be hard, to go from near invisibility, just as you liked it, to being unignorable. I don't know what I would have done. But you can't change that, and you have been given a great opportunity. Neopets use neopoint fortunes to look like you do, and you should be thankful." He raised his hand as I started to focus. "I know you didn't use to like to be seen, but you can't help that now. Learn to like it. Most people like to be looked at admiringly. You can learn how to like it."
"You mean that I could get used to this? Everyone is always looking at me."
"Why do you not like being looked, anyways? At least use this amazing gift to befriend some fellow neopets. You would be less noticeable surrounded by friends, and they would get used to you."
Annalise slowly nodded, understanding him. She had never tried very hard to make friends. She was always just hiding. It could even be fun to get out and into the social world. She nodded, and Mr. Song told her she could go back to class.
She went back into the hall, and it was swarming with people. How could she ever get used to so much attention. Annalise practiced being stared at, walking slowly back to get her school supplies and looking up at people. The girls just looked at her, amazed, but some of the guys looked at her like she was made of gold. That was silly, she wasn't made of gold, just covered in it. She got her pack and walked back into the courtyard. Kitty was sitting outside, eating her lunch, with a cloud Aisha and a speckled Shoyru.
"Hi Kitty," Annalise said, walking up.
Looking up, Kitty said, "Oh, hi Annalise. Um ... This is Elle, an Aisha, and Luna, a Shoyru. Would you like to sit and eat with us?"
Annalise nodded and sat down with them.
"Must be shocking, to suddenly be amazing and glittery," said Luna suddenly, about halfway through lunch. "I wouldn't quite like it, but I guess I might get used to it. Some neopets dream about such a thing, but I think that's just silly. Speckled is fine."
"But imagine your opportunities," said the Aisha dreamily. She had a soft and relaxing voice. "You can be almost anything you want. Your friends are anyone you wish."
"I'm sure it's great to some, but it's not exactly me. All I've ever wanted is to be in the shadows, the edges. Now I will see if I can learn to be something else. I don't want to just be friends with neopets that can give me things, I want to be friends with neopets who I can give to. With what little I have, at least." Annalise was surprised by her forwardness. Maybe she could live like this!
"I hope you settle into your new color. It's a great way to get into social life and get out and meet people."
All of the rest of school was math class. She only had a little bit more in school though, at least. Annalise thought that she remembered all of her new friends from math class.
Soon after, the school bell rang, and they rushed off to class. She arrived at class, and realized that people were staring at her a bit less. Maybe they would just get used to her. At least a bit. She took out her Large Book of Geometry and set it on the table. Mr. Larsent went around to check that everyone had their new book.
He stopped in front of her desk. "New look, Ms. Annalise?"
She nodded, blushing at all of the attention. He turned away and finished checking off books. "Today, we are doing several experiments to introduce geometry to students. Get into groups of four and work on page 24." She walked over to Luna, Elle, and Kitty where they were meeting.
"Mind if I join? You only seem to have three."
"You can join," Elle said.
She talked with them throughout class, doing the experiment and going from hesitantly answering and chatting, to talking with them casually and ignoring the class. She easily slipped into being social and talkative. By the time school was over, she wished that it wasn't. She couldn't wait to get back to school tomorrow. Sure, the rest of the school gawked at her, but she had new friends to help me get through it.
On Friday of that week, she walked home with Elle, and Kitty. They laughed together about a joke Luna had made in science, and none of her friends stared at her in awe. She wasn't completely at ease with the attention from others, but she was getting more used to it. The rest of the students at her school were getting used to her presence. They would never completely ignore her, but they had gone back to paying attention in class and had (mostly) stopped staring at her. Annalise was truly happy and simply enjoyed her time joking around with her new friends.