One day I came home to find my owner crying.
"Are you sad?" I asked her.
She smiled, shook her head, wiped her eyes with the back of her hand, and said, "I'm happy."
"But you're crying."
"Sometimes we cry when we're happy, Celeste," she said, and then she hugged me and we made dinner and played with my Fyora Music Box until it was time to go to bed. I went to sleep and dreamed about flying, and my owner was with me and we were flying together. We flew all the way to Faerieland and back.
I never found out what she was so happy about, but as long as she was happy it was alright with me.
One day I came home to find my owner crying.
"Are you happy?" I asked her.
She shook her head and said, "I'm sorry."
"Sometimes," she said, "we have to go on long journeys far away from home. Sometimes those journeys last forever and we never come back."
"So we're going on a trip!" I said. "Are we moving to Faerieland?"
"I'm going on a trip," she corrected me, gently, "and so are you, but it won't be the same trip. I guess this is goodbye."
It took me all night to really figure out what she was saying.
Nobody wants to adopt a Blue Uni. My owner knew that. So instead of putting me in the Pound, she took out all the neopoints in her bank account, bought as many cheap omelettes as she could, told me the combination to the safety deposit box, and said I would be alright.
"When are you coming back?" I said.
"I don't know," she said. "Someday," but she didn't meet my eyes.
"Maybe by the time you're back I'll be able to fly up to Faerieland," I said. "I can fly past the roof of the Neopian Bank now, did you know that?"
"I know that," she said, and waved goodbye to me.
Soon I was able to fly to Tyrannia and back, and a daily visit to the Giant Omelette provided me with a sustainable source of food.
After I had retrieved my daily omelette, I would usually go gliding around the area, visiting Terror Mountain or the Haunted Woods before returning to our empty house in Neopia Central. It was always after dark by then, which was better for me, since before dark there were still Neopets walking along with their owners.
There were other days when I would stay at home idly cranking the Fyora Music Box. Or I'd poke through the safety deposit box and pull out a plushie. Once I found a Blue Uni Plushie, and I remembered that she'd bought it for me but I hadn't liked it because it wasn't faerie-related, so then she'd bought me the music box instead. I stuffed the plushie back into the SDB and went flying around Roo Island for the rest of the day.
I missed her. I never saw her again.
One day I met a Xweetok.
She was, like me, an abandoned Neopet, although her owner, unlike mine, had simply vanished one day without a word.
"I never liked her anyway," she'd said.
Her name was Marikoa. Mari for short. She was Red. She liked flying. She couldn't fly. Because of this, she couldn't travel to Tyrannia for omelettes, and had to live on what she could find in the SDB.
"I have enough omelettes for three of us," I told her.
We became friends, partly for survival, her because she needed food, me because I was lonely.
"I was always lonely," said Mari. "My owner only checked in every now and then to feed me. No toys or books or anything like that. I've gotten used to being lonely."
"Oh," I said.
"Have you ever wanted to visit Faerieland?" Mari said to me. We were standing near the Money Tree, looking up at the city in the sky.
"I have visited it," I said. "A few times. My owner would take me there and buy me Faerie Bubbles. The kind you can eat."
"How did they taste?" she asked me.
"Well, the raspberry ones tasted like raspberries," I said.
She groaned. We looked at the sky for a while longer before I said, "I could fly up there."
"Well..." I admitted. "Not really, but I'm trying. I can get far above the ground now. Maybe halfway between here and there."
"Or we could call a taxi," she said.
"If we had any neopoints."
We didn't, but between the two of us we hatched a plan: when we got to Faerieland we would never go back to solid ground. We would stay up there in the clouds forever, doing whatever one does in Faerieland. Whatever it was, it was bound to be magical.
"I hear they have really great real estate up in the cloud city," Mari said.
"And the Healing Springs can take away your hunger."
"And they have a really great library there. Probably a few magic books. I always wanted to learn magic. Think about what you could do with magic."
"Bring my owner back," I suggested, before I had a chance to stop myself.
"Oh," she said. "Yeah, I guess."
We stared up at the city and thought about things.
"There's something wrong with Faerieland," Mari told me, breathless.
"What?" I said.
"They're all stone! All the faeries are statues. Every single one of them! And Faerieland's falling, it's going to crash!"
"It is?" I said, not believing her. Mari was not beyond playing an elaborate practical joke like this. "Well, maybe Neopia Central will rise up and take its place."
"Look at the sky, Celeste!" she screamed.
I looked. It wasn't a joke.
That day, we watched Faerieland fall.
We later learned that the Xweetok who caused the whole thing had been defeated and turned to stone herself. Poetic justice, I suppose. But not worth it. Faerieland was going to stay on the ground forever. So much for clouds and hopes and dreams. So much for anything.
I remember, once, my owner had promised me that we were going to live in Faerieland once we had the neopoints. I was going to be painted Faerie, and I would get a Faerie Queen Doll from the Hidden Tower to play with. "Someday," she told me.
And then she left me alone with a pile of omelettes and a safety deposit box stuffed with things I didn't want and a Fyora Music Box that could only play one too-happy tune. And then I met Marikoa and we became friends but it wasn't enough, it was never enough to make up for what was missing.
"They're rebuilding it," Mari said.
"Faerieland?" I said. It was the only thing on our minds anyway.
"Yes," she said. "Of course they are. Did you think they were just going to let it rot? Come on, let's go there."
"Yeah!" she said. "You can fly to Faerieland now, right? It's on the ground."
I blinked. I could. I could fly to Faerieland. I could fly to Faerieland!
"What are you waiting for?" she demanded.
I stand in the middle of Faerieland-on-the-ground. They are rebuilding the pink towers. They are repairing the library and fixing the Healing Springs and the Rainbow Pool. The city is rising back up again.
"Now we can live here," Mari says. "Since transportation won't be an issue anymore."
"Yes," I say.
A passing Air Faerie flutters down to Marikoa and tells her to find something or the other, probably a beauty product. She nods, then turns to me and says, "So, then, why don't we help rebuild the place?"
"We will," I say.
"Meet you back here at nightfall!"
She rushes off and I stand in the middle of Faerieland by myself.
The Hidden Tower is probably being fixed, brick by purple brick, Faerie Queen Dolls and all. The Wheel of Excitement is being set up again. Poogles are racing on a distant hill. New beginnings spring out of ruins.
Sometimes we cry when we are happy.
I stand in the middle of Faerieland and I weep, and I weep, and I weep.