"So if you go swimming, do you just explode?"
"Explode? Into the water? Disappear into an endless void of untraceable liquid.."
Perrie half listened to the baby Kougra she was musing with and continued to place the pebbles onto the Snow Lupe until he had a crooked smile. Her hair splashed slightly in her face, broke off at the edges, and floated to the ground in little pieces of snow and ice.
"Uh - oh, what?" she asked patiently, glancing around.
Bawarria was nibbling on a carrot and watching some pets on the other side of the park. They looked like they were also making snow pets and racing around throwing snowballs at each other. Perrie turned back to her Lupe, and continued to mold his snout until she was satisfied. This was her first trip out of Altador and she found the peaceful quiet of Neopia Central to be blissful and inviting.
"Do you ever think pets are too simple?"
Perrie stopped and looked around at Bawarria, who'd discarded her half chewed carrot and was pawing a lump of snow with a thoughtful expression on her face. She could not recall ever meeting a Kougra quite as unusual as this one.
"Anyone can surprise you," Perrie replied placidly. She felt good being free of her duties at the Kingdom, and even the philosophical blurting of a bored baby Kougra did not bother her. She wrapped her red scarf around her Snow Lupe.
"Here, help me put his hat on -"
Bawarria obliged, clumsily stumbling over her ginormous ginger paws, and pulled Perrie's red matching beanie over the Lupe's face until it sat in place. Perrie broke off a few small icicles from the tree that was hanging over them, and stuck them on either side of the hat.
"In case there's a wind - that's my favorite hat and scarf, you know!" and she joined paws with Bawarria and begun to stroll through the bent and winter worn trees that covered most of the parkland.
"And no," she said suddenly, "I don't 'disappear into an endless void of untraceable liquid..."
Bawarria looked at her with a mixture of relief and slight disappointment.
"This is my favorite time of year, you know," Bawarria said sweetly, kicking at some snow. Perrie smiled and pushed a beanie over the Kougra's big ears, humming quietly.
"Really?" she said smiling, and she buttoned up Bawarria's little green jacket.
"Yeah - I like the snow and everything, especially when you spit and it turns to ice, but I like visiting the family and the atmosphere of everyone being together." She buried her nose into her scarf and leaned closer to Perrie. Perrie smiled and nodded.
"But I feel like it's not enough sometimes. I still feel too simple, even when everyone's here being interesting - Zaro is playing the guitar on the beanbags and heating up the fire, Sueid is cooking cookies and Patche is eating them all - even that annoying little Leprechaun appears to yell at us and steal our socks, but I still sometimes feel an emptiness sneak up on me, like I'm happy one moment, and melancholy the next.."
Perrie gave Bawarria a loving squeeze and knelt down in front of her. Bawarria looked into the Wocky's emerald eyes.
"How a Kougra as little as you knows how to use the word 'melancholy' is beyond me, but don't worry - You're still growing into yourself!" She tried to smile as convincingly as possible. Bawarria sighed and collapsed into Perrie's arms defeatedly.
The two fumbled their way out of the park and into the main bazaar of Neopia Central, where the bustle and excitement of the holiday season spread through each and every rosy face. Cafes crowded with eager customers and families enjoying the novelties of the cold weather, and over the crisp wind and general cold, a delightful scent of hot cocoa, coffee, warm gingerbread and chocolate buns wafted pleasantly.
"What's it like studying in Altador?" Bawarria asked eagerly.
"It's hard," Perrie replied with a smile.
"I bet there are no simple pets there," Bawarria continued. Perry lead her into a sweet smelling bakery and ordered them two pieces of pumpkin pie and hot drinks.
"Well, there are simple things everywhere, but that's not the point," and when they had found a table with the fluffiest cushions, continued:
"You can find something interesting anywhere - if you look. There's a story behind every face."
Perrie stirred her coffee and sipped it while she flipped open a copy of The Neopian Times that was sitting there. Bawarria chewed dreamily on her piece of pie and glanced out the window at the winter wonderland that surrounded them and looked out at all the pets passing by. As she looked, she saw an old, homeless Grey Krawk sitting by himself and reading a far more tattered copy of the Times, shivering every few seconds. A young Spotted Gelert with long red hair stood by the bus stop a little further over and buried her face into her coat sadly, with her shoulders hunched up cold and snow bitten. As Bawarria stared longer, she also noticed a scary, Gothic-looking Shadow Lupe holding something in his arms stare at the window of a music shop adjacent to the Bakery. They seemed simple, she thought sadly.
Perrie watched her humbly. Her coffee was very lovely, as were a few of the articles in the Neopian Times, but she noticed something interesting happening right before her eyes. She patted Bawarria softly and the Kougra looked from her to the window curiously.
"There are interesting things hidden behind the most simple disguises," she said happily.
"That Krawk is considered nothing other than homeless - that is his name to the passersby," she said observantly.
"They do not know that once he was a great Swordsman in Brightvale who served the King and fought valiantly. They do not know his story, of how a malevolent thief stole everything he loved, and drove him to a life of sadness, age and loneliness..."
Bawarria glanced back at the Grey Krawk, and saw him as a Knight in brilliant silver armory, wielding a sword. But the Pets that walked past him as he read wearily on had only looks of pity, disgust and overall indifference. Bawarria thought curiously for a moment. It was strange seeing a pet that looked so simple have a story that was interesting.
"No one would know that the Spotted Gelert was awaiting the Bus that would carry her Father; that when she was six she had lost him in a crowd of panic-driven villagers and had lost his grip as he fled on a train. No one would known how he had been locked up in jail for a crime he did not commit, and after all those years of wondering who she was, this seemingly simple Gelert would find out."
Bawarria looked sadly at the Gelert as a bus appeared in the distance. Perrie breathed in deeply and watched too.
"I suppose pets would look in disgust at that Shadow Lupe. He is, after all, probably one of the most obvious, simple looking pets in the street." Perrie folded the paper and leaned closer to the window as the Lupe suddenly placed the thing he was holding onto the ground, and Bawarria realized it was a little Pink Lupe about her age in a periwinkle coat.
"Pets don't know that he is actually a loving and widowed father, sacrificing all his needs and desires to care for his daughter, and give her all the love she deserves. He might look dark on the outside, but truly, he is a loving artist with a passion for music and sings to his daughter every night, promising things will be better one day.."
Bawarria looked at Perrie with an expression of excitement and astonishment.
"I think there's something extraordinary in every simple thing," Perrie chuckled merrily, giving Bawarria her marshmallows.
"Do you think I'm extraordinary?" Bawarria asked.
"I think you are extraordinarily extraordinary!" Perrie replied.
"But I don't have an interesting story, like they do."
Perrie snorted happily.
"There's a story in us all," she said, looking outside.
"You just need to write it! It doesn't matter if no one knows your story; after all, we're all just faceless characters in an infinite world here to learn and discover who we are. As long as we don't lose sight of what's important, you will never, ever, be simple."