I woke up on Monday morning freezing. My blanket had fallen off in the night. As I lifted it off the ground, I saw the holes a tigermouse must have chewed in it while I was dreaming. The well-worn blanket had been through so much and we didn't have the money to buy a new one. "If it isn't torn to pieces, it will work just fine," I remembered my mother say.
I rummaged through my dresser to find something to wear and found the sweater my grandmother had knitted for me last winter. The colors were faded and there was a rip in one of the sleeves but it would have to do.
As I walked down the hall and into the bathroom, I listened to the sound of rain on the roof, soaking it, wearing it down and causing more leaks.
I peered at my reflection in the cracked bathroom mirror. A small Xweetok stared back at me. My fur was a dull brown and so was my mane.
I felt the chill of the air as I stepped out into the rain later that morning. It was a short walk to school but it was not fun. The rest of the girls in my class rode to school on their alabrisses and wore their preppy riding outfits on most days but today they were all wearing fuchsia raincoats. They always tease me about not having an alabriss like them.
When I got to school, a royal Kacheek named Sarah, laughed about my sweater.
"Eww! just look at what Maddie's wearing today!" she sneered.
"Why don't you just get some glasses and a pocket protector to go with that dorky sweater?" yelled one girl.
The rest of the day wasn't much fun either. I fell in the mud during gym and Sarah tripped me at lunch while I was carrying a tray full of food and sent me sprawling on the hard linoleum floor.
I do have one friend in this school, though. She's an electric Cybunny named Lisa. She let me ride home on her alabriss while she walked.
"Why don't you come to my house today?" asked Lisa.
"That would be fun," I replied. I had never been to her house before.
Her neohome was much bigger than mine. She had at least two acres of land and a pool. I could see her family was quite wealthy. We walked through the front door and into a long hallway. There was a crystal chandelier hanging from the lofty ceiling and an ornate marble vase sitting by the door.
We went up a long staircase to the second floor and Lisa led me into her bedroom. It was a truly amazing room. The floor was covered with a pink plush carpet and the walls were rose with purple hearts painted on the molding. An oak bed with a yellow comforter was sitting in the corner by a large window with white curtains. There was a small purple chair next to her bookshelf. Her dresser was painted pink and purple. On the dresser were at least ten trophies. Tennis, riding, yooyuball you name it.
I wish I had that many trophies but I don't even have one. I think only rich pets who can afford private lessons can get them.
"Oh, do you like all my trophies?" asked Lisa.
"Yes. they're pretty," I replied.
"Do you have any trophies?"
I didn't know what to say. She had such a beautiful neohome and such a lovely room and I had nothing to show off.
"Yes," I blurted out "hundreds."
"Can I see them?"
What could I do?
"Uh, no." I said, "Um, it's quite late and I have to go home to uh, ... sleep. "
I ran out of her room and down the stairs.
"Maddie!" she yelled
But I was already out the front door and running home in the rain.
Now I was scared. Scared like a Feepit in a Meepit convention. I had to show Lisa hundreds of trophies I didn't have.
"So can you show me your trophies today?" she asked on Tuesday.
"No. I have quite a lot of homework to do. Sorry."
With every passing day, I was getting more and more stuck. I had to either come clean or somehow win hundreds of trophies in the next couple days. I couldn't buy any or Mother would want to know what I was up to and we just didn't have the money.
But then I saw an article in the Neopian Times that caught my eye. It was Sunday morning and I was just sitting down with a cup of hot chocolate at the breakfast table.
"Fancy yourself a writer? Then submit your short stories in the Neopian Times Story Contest! The prize is 5000 NP and a trophy so..."
A trophy! It was my lucky day. And we could spend the five-thousand neopoints on home repairs. I could write about virtually anything as long as It was appropriate.
Presently, I began wondering what I could write about. There were so many interesting subjects in Neopia. But what would I pick? And would I choose realistic fiction or fantasy?
I thought about this over the next few days and suddenly an idea came to me. It was perfect! I couldn't believe i hadn't thought of it earlier. I ran to my desk to start writing.
I worked on my story all night. Luckily, the next day was Saturday so I would have plenty of time. I neomailed my story in on Sunday. Next weekend, the Times would reveal the winner.
Monday came and Lisa asked me when she could come to see my trophies. I knew that even if I did win, I would only get one trophy and I told her I had hundreds. Perhaps I could make some. No. She would be able to tell that they were not real.
I thought that that wouldn't make me care about the contest anymore but for some reason, my excitement about it did not go away. I suddenly realized that I didn't care about the trophy but about having my story published because I loved writing. I loved it.
By the time Friday rolled around, I was practically bouncing up and down in my chair with excitement. I raced home and played with my little witch Usuki. I was distracted though. Friday night passed by like a slorg dragging a box of heavy weights across the floor.
Finally, finally Saturday came. I raced downstairs and grabbed the morning paper.
"We are pleased to announce," read the paper, "that the winner of the Neopian times story contest is Miss DreamLandFaerie with her wonderful story, The Life of a Spoiled Uni."
"I can't believe I didn't win!" I exclaimed. My story was way better than anything that weirdo could write. It was stellar! It was amazing! It was my best creation! It-
Wait a minute. I loved my story. I didn't care if it won anything! It was stellar! I printed out my story and put it on the coffee table so everyone could read it. There was just one more thing to take care of.
"Matilda," I said on Monday, "I need to talk to you."
"Sure, Maddie. What is it?"
I explained to Matilda about the trophies, about the story contest, and about everything.
"Maddie," she said, "I don't care how many trophies you have. I just don't understand why you lied to me."
"I'm sorry," I said. "What if we just pretend this whole thing never happened."
"Only on one condition," she replied. "I get to read your story."
For the first time in what seemed like years, I smiled.