It's Snot So Bad
It was Friday, and Friday is judgement day.
This was the day that Amelia had been waiting for all week. If she were to be truly honest, this exact day was the day she had been anticipating for years, because years was how long she had been waiting to enter this event. Because for years and years and years, Amelia had been begging her owner for permission to enter, just try, have a go, I promise I won’t be disappointed no matter the outcome, please let me just try! And finally, Amelia’s owner had sighed deeply and said yes.
It was Friday, and Friday was the day the Beauty contest was judged.
BRRT! Amelia’s alarm clock rang out, but all occupants of the room were already wide awake. In fact, Amelia was already dressed in her best frock, stockings and shoes. A light blonde wig was placed on her head carefully. In fact, everything was placed very carefully and cleaned at least twice before leaving the house. This wasn’t her just being pedantic, however. This was because Amelia the Usul was an ugly shade of green, dripping constantly and was a huge fright for unsuspecting wanderers. Indeed, Amelia was Snot coloured, and this was the reluctance of her owner when it came to the Beauty contest, but Amelia was entered, for better or worse, and she would rather eat the strangest Kreuldor cuisine than to be late, and so she rushed off to Neopia Central. For better or worse, this was the day that the contest would be judged.
After a brisk walk, no longer than 15 minutes though it usually took 25 at a leisurely pace, Amelia arrived to the brilliant theatre in which the contest was held. She stood outside the ornate stone doors already open wide to any Neopian, contestant or otherwise. Delicately carved were trophies and gorgeous images of almost every species to be found in Neopia. Aishas, Unis, Wockies, they were all there. It took Amelia a good minute to find the Usul, and then she let out a deep breath that she hadn’t even realized was being held. If Usuls are pretty enough to be permanently carved on the door, then she had a chance. The doors showed no paint colours, leaving it up to the interpretation of each viewer and this was a satisfying prospect for Amelia. Peering past the doors into the crimson-carpeted room, she couldn’t help but gasp. Inside were chandeliers, and past that were hundreds- wait, no- thousands of seats and one, singular stage. Despite being early, most seats were filled and dozens of other Neopets and their owners were still crowding around and searching desperately for a seat. The lights were to be dimmed in just a few minutes, marking the beginning of the show, but Amelia was in no great rush. Usuls were considerably down the list.
Instead, she took in every face, brushed her hands against the walls, leaving a slimy, snotty trail, much to the dismay of the staff and cleaners. In fact, she began noticing a similar expression on anyone who noticed her; dismay. What a strange feeling, as if something is so detrimentally out of place in the world that you cannot contain it, so you feel dismay. And this was exactly what their faces said to Amelia. Hurriedly, she kept her hands to herself and apologized profusely to the staff, who gave weak smiles, paper towels in hand. Her excitement began to give way to hot, red embarrassment. It would be just too easy to turn back and pretend she had come into the wrong door, she was looking for the book shop you see, could you point me in the right direction? And the Neopians would laugh and say of course! It’s far, far away from here, make a left turn once you exit. Her face was beginning to match the carpet, quite an alarming sight on a snot pet.
She waltzed quickly over behind the stage, head down in shame and nerves bubbling inside her. Each Neopet she passed she took note of. A Faerie Ixi. Royal Girl and Royal Boy Usuls – this made her very nervous. Grey Meerca, who looked almost just as sullen as she felt at the very moment. The thing was, the further she got and the closer she came to strutting out on to the stage, the more she felt out of place. She collected her number, Usul #2, and sat away from the other contestants who were socializing next to the provided refreshments of biscuits and tea. She sat like this, deep in thought for what appeared to be only seconds. Really, it wasn’t too late to go home, or is it just butterflies? Just nerves. It must be. Perhaps, she thought, just perhaps my owner was right. But still she prevailed, avoiding the eyes of any other contestants until –
“Next up is the Uni category!” the host, a suave Yellow Eyrie boomed into his microphone. Oh no, oh no, oh no no no. Usul is next. Where had time gone to? Before she knew what was happening, Amelia was being jostled in a line along with the pair of Royal Usuls, as well as a Chocolate one who was absolutely beaming, dressed in a perfectly ironed periwinkle blue ball gown. Amelia looked down at her own frock, unsurprised to note that snot had dripped all over it. There was no time to run to the bathroom and fix it now, this would have to do, because the host had just announced the winners of the Uni category and was now asking for the Usuls to join him on stage.
Blinding lights, flashing constantly. This was the sight which met Amelia as she walked out on stage and glanced out toward the audience. There was a piercing silence, shattered by a few murmurs here and there. No one would have suspected this. Is that? I think so! I cannot believe this. Snot, is it really? ‘Fraid it is, or is it ‘snot’? And then a quickly hushed giggle. Of course, the host in all his professionalism had kept a fantastic grin on his face, but Amelia couldn’t help but think he was grinning at her stupidity to enter.
Tears welled up in her eyes, which is considerably worse for any Snot pet than any other colour. She wished it would rain in this theatre, and that she would wash away. Or that the ground would swallow her up whole. Or that the ground would swallow her up and then a Faerie would drop her a beautiful paintbrush. Or that the ground would swallow her up whole and a Faerie would drop a paintbrush and then she’d win first place, not only in the Usul category but overall. Unfortunately, there was no such retribution.
“Thank you lovely ladies and gentlemen for joining me on stage today. Crowd! Have you voted? I hope so, because voting is closing in 5… 4… 3… 2… 1… DONE!” The host winked at the crowd as they erupted in cheer. “And now, ladies and gentleusuls, let us count the votes and determine the winners.” A Shadow Aisha ran quickly through the aisles, collecting voting ballots in numbered cardboard boxes. This was it. This was the defining moment. The Chocolate Usul beside Amelia was waving and blowing kisses to the crowd, but what good would that do once voting was finished? The papers were being counted lightning fast with surprising accuracy, now a quick recount. Here it was, the Eyrie hosting the competition returned on stage holding a gold envelope and three Neopets followed behind him, one a Red Bruce, the Shadow Aisha had followed on stage, and a Faerie Shoyru. They were all dressed in fine black suits, and each held a trophy; Bronze, Silver, and Gold, respectively.
“And here in this envelope I have the results for the Usul category. I am opening it up right now. First of all, the Bronze category goes to…” He trailed off, and Amelia held her breath, sniffling softly and willing her tears to not spill over her cheeks. “Contestant number 4! Our Royal Boy Usul!”
The crowd erupted, hollered and cheered. What a deserving win! I’m shocked he didn’t place higher, what a handsome Usul, I hope he enters next week as well. Amelia, however, kept holding her breath. Bronze was her only hope, but she refused to stand down until the end. Silver is next, technically it isn’t over yet, there is still a chance. As the crowd settled again, the Eyrie took the microphone and read on.
“Second place is… Contestant number 1! Our Chocolate Usul!” This was met with enormous praise from the audience but quiet shock from Amelia. Only second? How could that be? But the Chocolate Usul was jumping for joy, proudly displaying her Silver trophy handed to her by the Shadow Aisha. She waved elegantly at the crowd and blew more kisses, thanking them through silent gesture. Amelia looked to the only other contestant on stage, the Royal Girl Usul. There was no chance now, and it seemed like the other Usul knew it as well because she was already beaming. Amelia kept her head down, steadily breathing. In, out, in, out, in out inoutinout not like that! Closing her eyes, she willed more than ever to be any, any other colour than snot. What a disgusting colour, a despicable shade of green. Like envy, the emotion she held more than any other. Envy.
It was in her self-pity that the Eyrie had read out the final winner, the first place, gold trophy-winning winner. And the crowd was ecstatic, absolutely beside themselves. I voted for her, I did too! Amelia stole a glance at the Royal Girl Usul, accepting silent defeat. What met her instead was a look of utter disbelief. In fact, there it was again – dismay. And then, slowly, a smile as both Usuls met eyes. Suddenly, despite everything, the Royal Girl Usul was clapping alongside the audience as the Faerie Shoyru presented Amelia the golden trophy, the grand prize.
“Ladies and gentlemen, beauty is many things. It is love in all forms, it is happiness, and it is, above all things, defiance. I think we could all learn that today. Congratulations contestant number 2, our Snot Usul. You are our First Place Winner for the Usul category today!” And again, the Yellow Eyrie was beaming. Final pictures were taken as the Usuls were led off the stage.
And all Amelia could think was how beautiful it was to be different, and how much she loved the colour green, and most of all, snot.
It’s snot all bad to be a Snot Usul.
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