The Silver Lining: Part One
Philesia had brushed her fur so that is appeared soft and lush, almost covering the pink scales that rose up out of her spine. She had groomed her ears until both of them were shiny, although her left ear had tried to bite the brush a few times. She even had curled the eyelashes that protruded from her one large eye. Finally, looking in the mirror, the Mutant Aisha decided she was ready.
She glided down the stairs, looking around rather impatiently for her owner, Lina. The human girl was talking to Kimiko, Philesia’s Desert Aisha sister, about their family-run shop.
“…a whole new bunch of knickknacks. The store is running out of space and I haven’t priced any of them yet, so I’d appreciate if you could run the costs through the Shopping Wizard, make sure everything is priced fairly.”
Philesia coughed at the foot of the stairs, and Lina looked around before seeing her. “Oh, right. I’ll be ready in just a moment.”
Philesia huffed and sat down, her perfectly-puffed tail curling around her. For several minutes she glared at the front door, and finally Lina hurried back from the shop.
“Okay, I’m ready. Oh!” Lina added as Philesia stood up. “Hang on, I want to ask Thunder if he’d like to enter too.”
“Thunder?” Philesia repeated incredulously. Her Ogrin brother had never shown the slightest interest in entering the Beauty Contest.
“Yeah. I mean, why not? I can spend one vote per species, I might as well cast a vote for my only non-Aisha pet,” Lina said. She knocked on Thunder’s door and opened it when he answered. “Hey, Thunder, Philesia and I are going to go enter the Beauty Contest. Why don’t you come and enter too?”
He looked as surprised as Philesia felt at the suggestion, although Philesia felt much more impatient. What did it matter whether or not Thunder entered?
“I mean… I don’t know.” He closed the textbook he had been reading. “The Beauty Contest? I don’t really think that’s my thing.”
“Come on, it could be fun. You’ve been stuck in the house all summer.”
“Well… sure, if you want me to.” He put the book down on his bed and stood up. “Are we leaving now?”
Philesia scanned him over, her pupil moving slowly from the tips of his ears to his toes. “You’re going to go like that?”
Thunder looked down at his Haunted Woods Altador Cup Shirt. “Yeah. This is my favorite shirt. What’s wrong with it?”
Philesia looked as if she was prepared to list several things wrong with it, but decided that they would leave the house faster if she simply remained silent. She turned and headed to the front door, and thankfully, Lina and Thunder followed her immediately.
At the registration for the Beauty Contest, a pretty Red Shoyru wearing a blonde wig and glittery makeup was signing in entries. As Lina and her two pets approached, she smiled at them.
“Welcome! Are you planning on entering the Beauty Contest this week?”
“Yes, I have two entries,” Lina said, pointing to Thunder and Philesia.
“Very good. Full name?” the Shoyru asked Philesia.
“Fyjsdo,” Philesia said.
“And your picture?”
Philesia nodded to Lina, who handed over the portrait of the Mutant Aisha. In the painting, Philesia was perched on a hilltop, gazing fondly at a butterfly that floated past.
“Alright, you’re all registered in the Aisha category,” the Shoyru said, taking the picture. She turned to Thunder. “Name and nickname?”
“ThunderClap37, and Thunder,” the Yellow Ogrin replied.
“And your picture?” The Shoyru looked at him expectantly.
“Err…,” he looked at Lina.
“We don’t have it just yet. Is that alright?” Lina asked.
The Shoyru nodded, making a mark on Thunder’s form. “That’s fine, just make sure to bring it by registration before the contest begins. But besides that, you’re all set.” She flashed another wide smile at them as Lina thanked her.
“What are we going to do about a picture?” Thunder asked as they walked away.
“We have a couple days before the start of the contest. I’m sure Dragon could paint something by then.”
Unseen by either of them, Philesia rolled her eye. Her artistic brother, Dragon, may have produced some beautiful artwork of herself, but she doubted he could manage anything remotely likely to help Thunder win the Beauty Contest. She was the one who had the knack for predicting fashion trends, for applying makeup and for showing herself in just the right light.
A butterfly flew past her, just like the one in her painting. She swatted it out of her face before continuing on.
A few days later, Philesia, Thunder and Lina were heading back to the Beauty Contest building, Thunder’s new portrait in tow. Thunder had sat still in the living room while Dragon
worked on the painting, despite Philesia’s scoffing. Lina and Thunder checked it in at the registration desk before entering the building to start advertising. Philesia fluffed up her tail and followed. She smiled at a passing Draik with golden scales. Many spectacular pets were inside, standing next to incredible artwork.
“Here’s your entry, Philesia,” Lina said, finding the Mutant Aisha’s portrait. “Thunder, set yours up next to it. That way we can advertise in the same place.”
Thunder obliged while Philesia beamed at a pair of passing owners. Lina took out her Voter’s Ballot and wrote down both Thunder’s and Philesia’s names. “There you go, that’s two votes down,” she said, dotting the two “i”s in “Philesia.”
“Oh, what adorable pets,” said a passing owner, stopping to smile at Thunder and Philesia.
“You have my Ogrin and Aisha votes,” she said, writing down their names as well.
“Thank you,” Lina said. “We really appreciate it.”
“You’re welcome, sweetie.” The woman kept on walking, stopping a few feet away to compliment a spotted Ixi.
One week later, Lina packed up the two portraits and exited the Beauty Contest building with the air of one happy that an ordeal was over.
“That was such a long week,” she groaned. “I’m so tired.”
“Yeah, I definitely need a break from the Beauty Contest,” Thunder agreed.
Philesia rolled her shoulders as they walked, working out a kink. It had been a long week, sure, but such a pace was to be expected in the beauty profession. She was already thinking about advertising methods the next time Lina entered her in the BC.
They reached their Neohome gratefully. Thunder collapsed on the sofa while Lina went to the kitchen and grabbed a lemon ice from the freezer. Philesia rushed to the bathroom to touch up her makeup; she needed to reapply some foundation, and she wanted to be ready if her trophy arrived.
She thought that she might finally have a Beauty Contest trophy after this week. They had advertised every day, whenever they had a spare moment. True, not everyone who stopped by had voted for her, but a lot of people had. It was about time she had a trophy, she thought fiercely.
There was nothing to do now but go in her room and wait; the trophy committee would only take an hour or two to sort out which pets won trophies and which ones did not. Like most of the pets in her family, her room was on the second floor. It was filled with vibrant, sparkly colors that made the teal and pink in her fur stand out. In a daring stylistic move, she had chosen to keep the Orange Kreludan Bed Lina had provided her with when she first moved here. It was cheap and common: two adjectives that Philesia tried to avoid at all costs. However, there was no denying that it did fit in the style of the room, and anyway, Philesia had grown fond of it.
Downstairs, the doorbell rang. Quickly, Philesia hurried out of her room, anxious to be the first to answer the door. She could see through the strip of window next to it that it was a Blumaroo from the Trophy Committee; they had been faster than she had predicted. She took a moment to compose herself before opening the door, smiling.
“Hello, is there a Fyjsdo here?” the Blumaroo asked, consulting his clipboard.
“Yes, that’s me,” Philesia answered, her heart racing. This was the moment she had been waiting for! Behind her, she heard movement; Lina or one of her siblings must be watching.
The Blumaroo smiled at her before turning and nodding to his Chia assistant, who brought a silver Beauty Contest trophy out of their cart. “Congratulations!” He said, handing the trophy to her.
Philesia held it by both is handles, her heart filling her chest. She had done it! Her reflection beamed back at her in the polished metal surface.
“And is there a ThunderClap37 here as well?”
The Blumaroo was looking at Philesia for an answer, but she did not speak. She was too busy relishing the moment.
“Yes, there is. I’ll call him,” Lina said from behind her. She turned into the hallway. “Thunder!” She shouted.
After a moment, Thunder’s door opened. Lina motioned him forward. “There’s someone here to see you.”
“Yes, you’ve won a BC trophy as well,” the Blumaroo said. Philesia looked up, startled. “Here it is.”
The Blumaroo took a gold trophy from the Chia and handed it to Thunder. The sun glinted off of it, making his yellow fur shine like fire.
“I won first?” Thunder asked, stunned.
“Yes, congratulations! And I see here that you were 17th overall,” the Blumaroo said, scanning his list. “And this is for you as well,” he added, removing an envelope and handing it to Thunder. “It’s an invitation for you and your owner to attend to the weekly Beauty Contest Banquet. It’s a celebration for all the first-place winners. And, of course, as I’m sure you know, you will be gold-banned for 17 weeks. But we would be delighted if you entered again after that!”
“Wow, thank you,” Thunder said, still staring in shock at his trophy.
“You’re welcome; you deserved it,” the Blumaroo said, smiling back. He and the Chia returned to their cart.
“This is wonderful!” Lina said, beaming. “You both won Beauty--“
But her sentence was interrupted by a door slam. The angry sound caused her to look around and notice, for the first time, that Philesia had left.
To be continued…