For All the Abandoned Hues
Part I: A Defining Complexion
My name, my essence, my being, is Saphira_15-not the best, not the worst. I don't mind that I'm not Sapphire, Sapphy, Sapphira, or some other name with no numbers. I don't even mind that Saphira is spelled wrong. Jennie gave my name to me. It is the one thing that can never, will never change in my long and tumultuous life. It's permanent. It's me. And in a world where nothing is permanent, where your species and color can change in mere instants-say nothing of the intelligence and abilities you work so hard for--that's important. It really is.
I won't sugarcoat things-I was abandoned by Jennie. You probably saw that coming. Most Neopets get abandoned multiple times in their lifespan. It's a sad fact.
Actually, I was traded. The point is, I'm not going to string you along. I've had enough of that. There will be little suspense, and even less of a plot. The reason is, it's a life, not fanfiction. You will find, that, for some people, they are one and the same, but not for me. You may think that my story isn't worth reading, then, that it's just meaningless words scribbled on paper. That is your choice. I will not try to persuade or cajole you.
If you do end up reading it, my life's story is a sad one. It may leave you different than before you read it. It may soften your heart, or it may harden it. I have learned, through my many trials, that every life is precious and special. I hope that this story changes you as well: into something just a little bit different, so when you look at your pet you may see that they are something to be treasured and loved always. It changed me to live this, but it also changed me to write this. And now I ask you to change.
I started out as any Neopet does: Created. In that one click, I was brought into the universe, fully formed, fully aware. As any Neopet would, I explored the world with open eyes, learning, growing, and feeling everything. I lived with my first owner, my Jennie, for two and a half years. I watched her age from the eleven-year-old who named me and brought me into the world to a fourteen-year-old who was starting to get moody and just a little bit greedy. But so is life in this world; we are all groomed to grab at the best of the best, to race for objects that signify riches. I do not fault the young and impressionable among us.
To be fair, Jennie was an amazing owner when she was involved, which was most of the time. There was nothing she wouldn't do for me, or I for her. It's just that she saw my world, and me, as a game—and if you play any game for too long it is inevitable that you tire of it, or at least try to change the playing field a bit. That may be part of what she was thinking when she traded me.
The realization that I was being bumped down on her list of importance didn't come quickly. It took a while of going hungry, then being fed too much, and then going hungry again for me to realize she was drifting away.
Not too far away, though. Not enough that I would actually suspect her of anything. We had a lot of wonderful times together. We explored the faraway lands of Maraqua and Shenkuu, kept Petpet after Petpet, and journeyed to Faerieland, back in the times when it floated freely in the wind. Flying is such a beautiful feeling. It's strange; I am a Uni, one of the only pets with usable wings, and yet I have flown very rarely. It's just not something you can do in the Pound or Post.
We loved each other so much. Jennie was everything to me. She never created any other Neopets and never seemed to want any. I'm now glad that she never did, and that I got to enjoy the first few years of my life with her complete attention focused on me, without distraction. I know that that's selfish of me, but I'm a natural 'only pet', and she felt the same way. That proved to be my ultimate downfall, however; she only wanted one.
When Jennie was eleven something amazing happened: she stumbled upon a Striped Paint Brush. She said someone dropped it 'on the floor.’ With those three words, "Something has happened!" she received the instrument that would change my life forever. I didn't know it then; neither of us did. Jennie called it a "miracle" and a "wonderful, wonderful thing, Saphira!" I should have known that it was my doom in the disguise of a gift. But I didn't. How could I have, when she was so happy?
"Saph, do you think I should paint you?" She asked, imagining me in stripes.
"Do you know what I will look like after?" I asked excitedly, considering the many options. I had by then seen painted Neopets and I knew how great a painted pet could look. However, I was cautious by nature (she had chosen 'Approach with caution' for one of my personality traits) and knew that paintbrushes could look...odd...on certain Neopets. I'm not pointing any hooves, but 'Christmas paintbrush' came to mind. I wasn't vain; far from it. Yet, I would never wear anything as horrid as an Ultra Fashionable Potato Sack—and Fyora forbid I be dressed in Wax Lips. I was somewhat fashion conscious, like most my age. That was soon to change.
"Oh, yes, I found a picture. If you want I can show it to you. I think you would look lovely." Handing me the picture she smiled a huge grin at me. "Although, you look good as you are. You know I love you even though you're not painted, right?"
I knew. Oh, how I knew.
"Oh, Jennie, I know. Really, I’m fine with whatever."
"Then I will keep the brush in my Safety Deposit Box, for when you want it."
"Thank you so much, Jennie. I love you."
Oh, how I remember that sweet, caring trust! That feeling of love that I have not felt for so long. Even now my heart leaps for joy, in remembrance.
A month or two before her thirteenth birthday she suddenly decided to get me painted with it. "Saph, you'll look so sweet, and it's been sitting in my storage for so long. Do you mind?" Of course, I said it was fine. We went to the Rainbow Pool and I came back striped. I felt the texture, color, and shape of the hair, and decided it wasn't too different from my old blue coat, which I had secretly loved. Jennie exclaimed, "Saph, you look better than I ever imagined!" and Jennie’s pleasure was enough – always enough.
Unfortunately, all that changed. It was a change in Jennie, not me. Jennie began to slowly… slowly...drift…away. I saw her less and less, and when I did she was busy trying to earn Neopoints. Always more Neopoints. My scant meals began to consist of omelettes, jellies, and the occasional handful of croutons. I know now that she was saving for another paintbrush. She had become tired of my stripes, as pretty as they were.
And then, late in the Month of Awakening, disaster struck. One of Jennie's outside friends asked if she wanted to trade (yes, trade!) me for a split Usul named Annealea_125. I was horrified. Jennie was too, at first. I was completely trusting of her, until I caught her looking at split Usuls. And figuring how many Neopoints a Split Paint Brush would be. And shaking her head in defeat.
I knew about the pound, trading, and the boards somewhat. I didn't have a Ph.D. in it, that was for sure, but I mostly understood the purposes of each establishment, and I knew the basics. I just never thought any of it was going to affect me personally.
Nothing really seemed that important then. I didn't pay too much attention to what was going on outside my little bubble. I was busy playing games, drinking Borovan, trotting behind Jennie. Leading a happy and carefree lifestyle was great, for the years that it lasted. But Jennie started to get bored with me. Once I realized this, I tried to win back her affection. I played as many games of hide-and-seek as she wanted, picked berries for her (even taking the gross rotten berries in my mouth to carry more), fished for endless boring hours and spun wheels. But I had picked up on her feelings too late, and though she brightened for a few weeks she slowly, incalculably moved away from me. I know now she was slowly deciding to trade me off, even though I had never shown her anything but love. `
Well, it turned out that the particular Usul was already traded by the time Jennie made her decision. But there was a Starry Hissi that she had been admiring, whose name has been lost in my old age. She talked to me about it, giving me excuses, telling me I'd be happy, telling me she'd write. Yeah, right. Since when do pound pets have addresses?
Transfer day was a beautiful, sunny, glorious day. Completely opposite my mood. Even though I understood, sort of, what Jennie was doing to me, it didn't really sink in until I saw the pound. Then I almost panicked.
Jennie had always been the one I turned to in times of need. I remember the time one of her friends tried to feed me 'Tasty Fungus flavored with Spicy Pepper' or something and I gagged. I couldn't get the feel of that slimy, spicy slop out of my throat. Even today I shudder at the memory. The point of this story was that Jennie held me, gave me Sugared Borovan to get the taste out of my tongue, brushed me, and sang to me to comfort me. I calmed down and trusted her all the more.
But that day I couldn't be comforted by her; she had broken our years of trust. I swallowed my tears and felt my heart break for the first time.
We went through a door to an...untidy (I’ll be nice) desk with a pink Uni running it. She looked kind but very, very busy. There was a long line and an even longer wait until we got to the front of the fray. We received a ticket; it was a particular color, but I have forgotten it now. "Here you are, go over there and wait until I call your number, if you've any questions I'll answer them then, NEXT!"
We waited for what seemed like an eternity. To pass the time I gazed at the surrounding Neopets. The ones that were being adopted were mostly happy and playful, giving off waves of gratitude. Except, however, for a select few. Some of those ones who were waiting to go to their new home looked magnificently bored. I wondered why--shouldn't they be happy? Puzzled, I looked at the transfers. Some looked as I felt: nervous, excited and expectant. Others looked like weathered wood. Bored, stiff, and lazy, they looked like they had done this too many times.
I had glanced to my right (away from Jennie) and saw a Royalgirl Kougra who managed to look gorgeously miserable, proud, haunted, dignified, burdened, and righteous all at once. She stood, refusing to lower herself to the dirty, trampled floor. It was that season of the year when most of Neopia was swimming in mud. I had looked at it and finally resigned myself to cleaning myself later. Obviously, she had felt differently.
I had not seen her come in, so I had to assume that she was here when I arrived. We had been here for hours. How long had she been here, standing, waiting? Surely her paws were aching. I would never know, because right then a young owner with red hair motioned for her to follow him. She looked at the person standing next to her--who I can only assume was her previous owner--with such a sorrowful, pleading look that my heart almost broke for her. To no avail, however, because her previous owner looked away, with more than a little guilt on his face, and picked up a slight Pirate Krawk. My heart crumbled. "Thanks," he had said in a slightly hoarse voice, and walked away.
I knew then that I would really be leaving Jennie. If that sweet Kougra couldn't persuade her owner to keep her, how could I? I steeled myself for the inevitable sorrow that was to come, or at least tried to. I would like to say that I stood proud and strong, or that I made Jennie take me back, or that I at least made a good first impression with my new owner. But I didn't. I was inconsolable.
Jennie handed my leash to the new owner, a brown-haired gentleman, and looked into my eyes. "Thank you for all of the good times we had." then she looked away. Suddenly all I wanted was a hug and a kiss. I begged, "Please don't give me away. I'll do anything-anything! I'll let you paint me any color you want-" by now I was sobbing, great, heaping tears that ripped at my heart. My new owner looked very uncomfortable. So did the starry Hissi.
But it didn't help. Jennie felt guilty, I think, but a little bit angered; I now believe she felt embarrassed. "Oh...Please don't do this to me. We had our good moments, but...change is good…" She trailed off, thinking that there was no more to be said. She thought it was all right for her to trade me. I just wish I would have told her differently, or been more forceful. When she saw my gaze harden, she finished, "You're just being selfish. I had you for years. I want to have a different pet, and you'll just have to live with that. Goodbye." And with that final, devastating word, she trotted out the door with her new pet, not looking back.
My new owner took me to his home. He was a fair owner, sure. Unfortunately, he had three other pets-all Hissis-and just didn't have the time for me. He too decided to bring me to the pound. It was fine with me; I was still not over losing Jennie, so his rejection was a moot point.
He spoke softly to the frazzled Uni at the desk, and the next thing I knew a silent, angry-looking green Techo was leading me through an unfamiliar door. The mean-looking green Techo was pretty scary to me (the white, spiky hair and the wacky sneer didn't help). I was half expecting him to turn into some crazy wizard or something. But Dr. Death isn't as bad as you think-however, his story is his own, and I can't tell it here.
I gasped when I saw what was beyond that: a wall of dots. Not just any dots-when you stared straight at them, they weren't there. However, if you tried from the corner of your eyes, they appeared in all of their glory. Spinning, twisting, changing color and size and even depth, it was a very strange sight. They were bizarrely beautiful but seemed unnatural. My eyes went crazy trying to follow them.
I've now gotten used to what I now know are pixels. They keep everything running right, and make sure no one leaves or enters against the coding. They are impossible to evade-or at least I've never seen anyone do it. Dr. Death just checked his wristwatch halfheartedly and we walked through them-they felt no different than air-and into another world.
This new world was pain and sorrow, anger and hurt, betrayal and loneliness. There were scratches and dents on the dark walls, and there was little light. The hallway was long and miserable; the floor was damp, and I had to avoid stepping on the Spyders skittering here and there.
I was led by Dr. Death into another hallway, lined on all sides by tiny barred doors. "This is the isolation area," rasped the white-coated Techo. “You'll stay here until we have time to check you out, make sure you're not sick."
"B-but, I know I'm not sick, I just got a check-up at the Neopian Hospital and..." I trailed off. He wasn't listening. He was opening one of the doors and motioning for me to enter.
"Well, in you go. I'll be back later." He said, checking his watch for the umpteenth time.
"M-me? In t-there?" It was tiny. There was no way I could fit.
"Yes. I have to go fetch another Neopet, in you go." He impatiently tapped his foot.
I sighed. The cage was barely larger than I was. There were some ugly scratches along the sides. I shuddered and stepped in, awkwardly twisting and turning to face him. He clicked the door shut and left, grumbling about clients and pets and not enough time for a cup of Borovan in between shifts.
I would never know a time as lonely as that first couple of hours – actually, that’s a lie. But they were indeed miserable. I wept inconsolably, not that anyone tried to soothe me. I was all alone. Tears ran through my fur and wet my hooves. Occasionally I heard other cries and sobs, or doors banging shut, or other unnamable noises but, really, there was no one else at all.
But not for long.
To be continued...