I just woke up to what I hoped to be a quiet and peaceful day, but of course, I was sadly mistaken. My name is milly649, more commonly known as Milly to my friends and my sisters. I don't have very many friends though. I'm smart and friendly when I have to be, but mostly quiet and horribly shy.
Anyway, if you don't mind, I'll be getting back to my day.
So I woke up, yadda yadda yadda, and immediately checked the job chart on my door. See, each person in my family (my three sisters, my owner, and I) have a chart taped on to their door to tell us which chores everyone has to do on which week. We change the chart every month or so to mix the jobs around a little. I looked under my name for my job of the week. Immediately, my heart crawled into my throat as I began to panic. Why now? Why couldn't I just make our Spotlight entries or something?
I had to do the dailies.
Oh no, I thought. Why this job? Now, don't get me wrong. Dailies are okay, and I know a lot of pets think it's a fun job. But dailies meant having to talk to other pets. And I couldn't do that. I barely talk to my family! Now I have to go out of my way to talk to people I don't even know?
I've never done the dailies before. Every single time I had managed to wriggle my way out of it. But I HAD to make a New Year's Resolution to stop worming my way out of chores. I didn't expect this. I had to find a way out of it.
Okay, so maybe I'm overreacting a little. I probably am. But the idea of being forced to talk to people just seemed so... awkward and awful to me that I just couldn't take it.
I suddenly realized that I had been standing in the same spot, shivering and moaning to myself for almost an hour. Still shaking, I hopped downstairs on my yellow paws to join my sisters for breakfast.
I find my three sisters at the kitchen table and my owner on the couch with that thing that she calls a "laptop." She says the technology comes from another planet, one that we'd never heard of. Cool.
"Milly, you're late," she snaps at me. "You know you have to be at breakfast by 7:00." She didn't even look my way, her eyes glued to the top in her lap. "Dang it!" she mumbles to herself. "They've cancelled Neoschool again! How can our pets get a good education if we can't even send them to a decent SCHOOL?" The whole time my sister Flo is mouthing her words in exact sync. We go through this everyday.
My owner sighed. "Anyway, so remember that job routine we started during New Year's?" We all nodded our heads, me reluctantly. "Good. So everyone has their jobs, right? Flo, you're on Spotlight entries for the week. Milly, dailies. I'm playing games, and Sky is in charge of housework, and Heather's in charge of our Money Tree Donations. Am I clear?" Everyone nodded, except me. I was too busy feeling sorry for myself to hear the question. "Milly, am I clear?"
I shook my head out of the stupor I was in. "No. I mean- yes. I mean- what?"
"Am I clear? You're job is doing the dailies."
"Right, right." Everyone finished their breakfast and ran up to their rooms. Only Sky and I were left in the kitchen as we cleared our plates of jelly and omelette.
"House work. So gross," Sky said to me as we rinsed our paws. "You're so lucky. Your first job, and you get dailies. I wish we could trade."
"Well, can't we?" I said, grinning.
"You wanna?" she asked. "Alright then. Let's shake on it."
I was grinning like crazy, paw stretched out, when my owner's voice rang through the walls. "NO TRADING! YOU GET WHAT YOU GET AND YOU DON'T THROW A FIT," She said, using this old nursery rhyme she taught us when we complained to her about starving everyday because she refused to feed us.
All my happiness melted. Sky looked glum too, but better than I felt. I was stuck with the job of my nightmares after all. I wonder if I can survive the week at all.
* * *
Alright so I have to admit. Before I was seriously overreacting. Dailies are actually quite fun. I was able to keep conversations to an absolute minimum, only talking when I really had to. I had used a pair of old feathered wings in the closet to find my way from Faerieland to Mystery Island to Krawk Island, but I soon realized a much quicker way to travel from place to place. All I had to do is put my paw on my destination on a Map of Neopia I found in Faerieland, close my eyes, and I was instantly transported to my next destination: Roo Island.
After playing a game of Deadly Dice (and unfortunately, losing) it was time to head to my second to last stop: The Lost Desert.
I was a bit disappointed with my findings there. After my hands mysteriously glowed blue at Coltzan's Shrine (but nothing else) I was about to call it a day and head home when I stumbled into Quasala. Nothing but more scorching heat. I was about to get out the map when I saw three figures holding signs. "Step right up!" one yelled. "Try your luck with the Fruit Machine!" The Fruit Machine! I'd almost forgotten!
"How much per spin?" I asked a Kougra who was walking away, shyness forgotten for a moment.
"For that thing? Free. One spin per day. But I tell ya, it's rigged. Never won a thing I haven't. But if you still want to waste your time there, be my guest," he growled. Touchy.
"Oh. Okay," I whispered nervously. "I'm sorry, sir. I didn't mean to waste your time." But he was already gone. "I guess I'll try this thing anyway," I murmured to myself. "It's worth a shot, ain't it?" I stepped up to the three figures holding signs who were all grinning creepily at me. With a start, I realized they were statues of desert pets.
Slowly, I outstretched my arm and pressed the button marked "Spin, spin, spin!" Amazingly, the signs the statues held began to change symbols in a flash, gradually slowing down and stopping. I recognized the different kinds of desert fruits. The first card stopped spinning on the ptolymelon. The second did the same. Was that good? Do I win anything? I watched the third anxiously as it began to slowly stop. It felt like days were passing as the pressure built up. A small crowd had gathered to watch, and was growing larger by the second. I shut my eyes tight, not wanting to see.
Screams erupted from the crowd around me, and I knew the card had stop changing. I opened my eyes and saw why they were so excited; the third card had landed on the ptolymelon. Was that a good thing? What did I get? Did I get Neopoints? How many? 100? 1,000? 5,000? A dark shadow appeared above me as my prizes... fell from the sky. Yeah, that's right. I ducked just in time as three large sacks fell from above, narrowly missing my face as I looked up. I grabbed the heaviest of the three sacks, filled to the rim with coins and marked 20,000. Awesome! My owner would be so pleased that I made such a large amount of NP!
I was so excited that I almost left with the NP and forgotten about the other bags. Looking back on it, I'm SO glad I didn't. But it would've saved us a lot of trouble...
I plucked another bag off the floor and cautiously opened it. You never know what kind of prizes could be awarded. Something could explode in my face if I'm not careful. But it was just... a muffin. Oh that makes more sense. A BATTLE muffin. Robot by the looks of it. Not much use to me. We don't really use the Battledome. I'll donate it to the Money Tree or something. And finally, the largest yet lightest of the three sacks. It was about the size of my head, but weighed almost nothing. Weird. Inside I find something that almost made my heart stop.
A paint brush. And not just any paint brush. A Maraquan Paint Brush. These sell for like, 4 million NP! We're RICH!
I quickly stuffed the paint brush in my bag. Better not take any chances by letting someone see it. Luckily the small crowd had already dispersed, leaving me alone with the three statues. Was it just me, or did their smiles grow even wider? Why are they looking at me? I ran away in a hurry.
I completely forgot to go to my next stop. Even if I did remember, it would have been far too risky to take a rare paint brush to the Haunted Woods. The Meepits would have gotten it for sure. So I just went straight home to show everyone my findings.
But as I was about to walk through the front door to our Neohome, a thought struck me. Should I show them? I dismissed that thought immediately. Of course I should. They're my family, right? And family should tell each other everything.
But at the same time, another part of me was whispering not to. It would only cause conflict, right? Because everyone would either want to paint themselves, or sell it and keep all the money. But on the other hand, even if it didn't make us rich, I'd love to be a Maraquan Wocky. Maybe I'd just go paint myself in secret!
But there's a slight problem with that. I can't exactly walk (or swim) into the house again and hope that nobody had noticed that I suddenly look like a fish.
But the paint brush is worth a lot of money....
That's it! I'll sell it, and keep the profit for myself! Sure it's dishonest, but no one will have to know, right? And these things sell so well that I bet I can make a fortune in no time at all!
So where to start? Aha! The Trading Post! I get out my map, point to Mystery Island, and close my eyes. I felt the usual relaxing feeling as I began to materialize in another place, but an unnatural force suddenly ripped me backwards and overwhelmed me as I travelled at light speed, back to Faerieland.
What just happened?
"Yo Milly. Done with the dailies yet?" I opened my eyes to find myself on my front porch back in Faerieland, my owner gripping my paw. "Are you okay?" she added, noticing my green face from that strange travelling sensation. I nodded, not trusting myself to open my mouth until the woozy feeling subsided.
"What happened to you back there?" she asked, leading me back into the house. "Your face was so green! You know what- nevermind. I probably don't want to know."
I just shrugged. "Anyway, we're having a meeting in the kitchen to discuss how the first day of our jobs went. Care to join us?" I shrugged again, worried that my secret will slip at the slightest tug of my mouth.
Soon, I was seated at the kitchen table with my family as the meeting commenced. My owner took on the role of leader.
"Alright, so now that Milly's here, we can officially start the meeting," she declared, as if this were a court instead of a family meeting. "Let's just give a brief speech about how our jobs went so far. I'll go first. Gaming went terribly, as I can't bash a kass to find my way out of a box. NEXT."
Sky stood up. "Housework was gross," she said before sitting down. My owner glared at her. "What?" Sky asked, noting the menacing glance. "You said to be brief."
"NEXT," called my owner.
Flo crossed her arms. "What was I on again? Oh yeah, Spotlight Entries. I didn't do 'em. NEXT."
My owner turned her glare to Flo, who returned the evil glance. But the human was no match for a halloween Cybunny.
My owner sighed, obviously stressed out by the fact that her beautiful job idea didn't turn out as well as it could've. "Hey, where's Heather?"
"She's out on a shopping day," Sky said as she put her feet up on the table.
"What? A shopping day? But we need- oh nevermind. It's not like she did anything anyway."
We all murmured our assent.
"You're up, Mil," my owner glumly said, head in her hands.
I stood up shyly. "Dailies went fine. Nothing in particular to note. Did every single one. No great prizes, or anything special. Nothing at all."
"You sure you covered every single one?"
What? What did she say? I can't hear anything other than my pounding heart. I was surprised no one else heard it.
"Good. And nothing to report at all?"
"Just a few cheap prizes. Nothing more." Oh gosh. I was a terrible liar. Could she tell?
"Yo, Mil. Are you okay?"
"Huh?" With a start, I realized that my face was beaded with sweat. I was probably crying too, but I hoped no one had noticed. I bed I was as red as a tomato. "Yeah fine," I lied. I was anything but fine.
"Where are the prizes? If they're useless we'll just give 'em to the Money Tree or something."
"They're in my bag. The blue one," I said without thinking.
"Cool," said my owner. "Let's see."
I suddenly realized what was going to happen at the last minute. "No," I cried. "Don't open it. NO!" I squeezed my eyes shut.
"Nice! 20,000 NP! This will come in handy." Eyes still closed tight, I heard the ching of the coins being set on the counter. "Hey, this ain't useless, Mil! We could use this money! Hmm... a battle muffin and.... Wait, what's this?"
Gasps erupted from the table as the paint brush emerged from the bag. Everyone was overjoyed by my findings, but I knew it wouldn't be long before the arguing started.
My owner was far from concerned. Elated in fact. But that soon turned into anger. Toward me of course. "USELESS?" she cried. "You call this USELESS?"
"Whoops. Guess I forgot about that one," I said, chuckling nervously. I've really got to get better at this lying thing.
She examined the rest of the bag's contents. "Milly! You found some pretty good stuff here! But this..." She gestured at the paint brush, gently lifting it as if it were made of gold. She couldn't even finish her sentence as awe overcame everyone.
Then Sky said something that shattered the moment. "Well?! What are we going to do with it?"
The entire room fell so silent that you could've heard a pin drop as they all considered the new question. I was the first to break the unsettling silence.
"Well, since I found it, it's only fair to paint me. Right?"
No one said right. "Right?" I repeated.
Then Sky jumps in. "Milly, even though you found it, I am the oldest. It's only fair that I should be painted."
We all turn to Flo expectantly. "Don't look at me!" she muttered. "I like being Halloween! Gives me an aura of mystery."
"Well, I don't want to paint anyone!" butted in my owner. "I'll tell you what we're gonna do. We're gonna sell this thing and make a truckload of cash!"
"Will you divide the profits among the five of us?" asked Sky.
"Divide? Are you kidding me? HA!" cried my owner.
Of course, my older sister Heather chose this exact moment to walk in carrying about twenty shopping bags in her paws. "Can someone give me a hand with these?" she called. No one moved. No one even realized she was here; we were too busy squabbling. "Uh oh!" cried Heather. "Going down!" She collapsed under the immense weight of her bags and took a minute to crawl out. "So what's all this about?" she asked as she regained her breath.
No response was necessary. My owner simply held up the paint brush. We suddenly all fell silent for one second, waiting for Heather to begin the arguing again. But she looked unimpressed. "Cool," she said blankly. "So what are we gonna do with it? Sell it?"
"That's what we're still trying to debate. Sky and Milly both want to be painted, and I want to sell it for myself."
We all looked at her expectantly. "What?" asked Heather.
"Well? Don't you want to paint yourself with it or something?" asked Sky.
Heather shrugged. "Nah," she said. "Maraquan's not really my color. You know I've always wanted to be plushie or faerie or something."
My owner jumped in immediately. "Help me sell it, and I'll use half the profit to buy you a Plushie Paint Brush."
Heather shrugged again. "Deal," she said nonchalantly.
"Great. It's settled then. We're selling it," said my owner cheerfully.
"Whoa," said Sky. "This is far from over. We didn't vote on it or anything."
"Fine," said Heather. "We'll take a vote. All in favor of selling it, say aye."
"Aye," my owner and Heather said in unison.
Flo shrugged. "Aye," she added. "I've got no use for it anyway."
"I'll buy you something with the money," my owner promised.
"All in favor of painting Sky?" Heather continued.
"AYE!" cried Sky.
"And all in favor of painting Milly?"
"Aye," I whispered, shyness returning after all of the afternoon's crazy events. I guess I was a bit embarrassed that I was so happy that I found the paint brush, and I didn't even get to use it.
"Three against you guys," called Heather. "We're selling it."
My owner turned to me with a sympathetic expression. "Hey," she called. "It's okay. I was joking before. We're going to keep the profit as a family. It's for all of us. And I'll use it to buy you guys your dream colors. I know what color you've always wanted Milly," she coaxed.
That did the trick. "For real?" I croaked. "You're going to buy me a Faerie Paint Brush?" She winked in response.
"Hey, maybe even I'll get a cool color," said Sky. "Milly, isn't this great?"
"Of course it is!" I cried. "LET'S SELL THIS THING!"
My owner beamed at all of us. "I think it's all time for us to get some rest," she said. I hadn't even noticed that is was already getting dark outside. "I'll put it up for an auction at the crack of dawn tomorrow morning. No doubt we'll have a bid by the time you guys all wake up." She put the paint brush back in the blue bag.
"Hey, I almost forgot," said Heather. "My New Year's Resolution was to do at least one chore a day. What was my job again? Donations, right?" My owner nodded.
"Oh, here!" I called to Heather. I tossed her the blue bag, which she caught easily. "Just the cheap prizes from the other dailies today. Go ahead and donate them using that magic donation bin outside."
I led her outside the the donation bin. "Now, this thing's pretty cool. Just like everything else in Faerieland, it's magic. All you gotta do is place the bag inside, and the contents will automatically transported to the Money Tree!"
"Hey, that's pretty neat!" called Heather. She placed the bag inside and put the lid back on the bin. A flash of light seeped in through the cracks in the bin, as if someone had turned on a light inside. When we took the lid off again, the bag was still there. "It didn't work," said Heather.
"Oh yes, it did," I replied. I picked up the bag and revealed that there was no longer anything inside. Heather grinned, obviously amazed.
"Alright, lights out. G'night, everyone," called my owner from inside. The two of us ran inside the house.
"See you in the morning," she called before she turned off the living room light. We all fumbled up to our rooms in the dark.
"HEY!" called my owner. "Everyone, back down! What happened to the paint brush?"
"It's GONE?" I squeaked. That couldn't be! It caused us so much trouble, and now it's gone? Everyone ran back downstairs as fast as they could, and my owner gestured around the room.
"Okay, okay." Sky decided to take charge, having read so many mystery novels herself. "Maybe we just misplaced it! Anyone have any idea where we put it?"
We all shook our heads. Then Heather spoke up. "Oh yeah!" she said. "I do!"
"Where did you see it?" my owner asked, furiously searching under pillows, clothes, and for some reason, inside the giant grand organ. Why do we even own that thing?
"Wasn't it in that blue bag that you guys gave me?"
"You mean the one for DONATIONS? It was in THERE?" my owner screamed.
"Yup," said Heather cheerfully. Did she not realize that this was a BAD thing?
"Just great," Flo wailed. "We'll never get it back now. There's probably a whole crowd out there trampling each other over for the thing. Let's not even bother." Leave it to Flo to be the optimist.
Suddenly, Heather slapped her paw to her forehead. "Oh gosh," she mumbled, almost to herself. "It was in the bag of donations." Yeah. Excellent time to realize it. "This is all my fault."
Then her face brightened. "But Milly gave me the bag, right? She probably forgot it was in there and told me to donate it! So this isn't my fault!" she cried triumphantly. "Right?"
Everyone turned to look at me. "Wh-what's going on?" I asked weakly, looking into the glares of my family.