Caution: Quills may be sharp Circulation: 98,096,637 Issue: 194 | 10th day of Relaxing, Y7
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Lydia


by 3dcourtney12044

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Kyleigh straightened a mirror that hung on the wall and gazed at her reflection. The red Usul smiled and tugged at the red bow around her long, Usul ears. There wasn't a speck to be seen in the mirror, and Kyleigh, now satisfied with her work, made her way back to the counter to deposit a sack full of Neopoints that her most recent customer had paid.

     "Thanks, Kyleigh," said Junna, the Wocky that ran the register, as Kyleigh handed her the pouch. Junna looked slightly exasperated and tired all in one as the register made a rrring sound. "Some Meerca asked for a makeover -- just a few moments ago, you know."

     "Which one?" asked Kyleigh, leaning on the counter with a politely interested expression on her face.

     "She was green, pretty young, I'd say," replied Junna with a dark look. "Anyway, she marched right up to me and said she wasn't satisfied with our work and that she looked like a clown with a bad hair day. She wouldn't pay, either."

     "Oh!" exclaimed Kyleigh, a light of understanding and shock in her eyes. "Did she, really?"

     "She said she'd never come here for a makeover again," continued Junna, drumming her paw on the counter. She sighed and shook her head. "Pets, these days..."

     Kyleigh nodded in agreement and turned to stare at passersby through the glass. The Grooming Parlour had a fair amount of customers that day, and Kyleigh looked glassy-eyed as she slipped into a daydream.

     The red Usul was dimly aware of the chatter around her and the chime of the bell over the door as a new customer entered. Junna prodded her friend's arm uncertainly and said, "Ky!"

     Shaking her head to clear her thoughts, Kyleigh jumped a little. "What?"

     "You -- err -- have a customer." Her words became a snicker as Junna spun around and busied herself with the cash register, apparently keeping her face averted.

     Bewildered, Kyleigh turned away from the Wocky and found herself face-to-face with blue Kacheek. Kyleigh blinked for a moment as she tried to back away, but her paw hit the counter and she merely stood there, unaware that her mouth had dropped open, for this Kacheek wasn't her typical customer.

     The Kacheek's pale blue fur was slightly dirty and ruffled. On one paw she wore a white but slightly gray glove, and on the other there was no glove at all but a bracelet with plastic gems. She wore an odd-looking plaid skirt and one long lime green sock along with a short pink and blue sock. The material on her sandals was fading, and the Kacheek was quivering with excitement, beaming at Kyleigh.

     "Hi!" the Kacheek exclaimed. "My name's Lydia!"

     Kyleigh blinked and snapped her jaw shut. Although the pet looked about the age of both Kyleigh and Junna, she acted like a young child. Lydia smoothed out her skirt, and dug her paw into her right pocket, gazing intently at Kyleigh but occasionally her eyes darted for her pocket.

     "Is there something I can help you with today?" Kyleigh said kindly after the awkward silence.

     Lydia smiled broadly and pulled out the contents of her pocket; a keychain, the other glove that was tattered and fraying at the edges, and a tube of lipstick. She put away the keychain and glove, and presented Kyleigh with the tube.

     "I need a new one of these! Do you have one of these? I need a new one!"

     Kyleigh did her best to put on a smile, trying to close her eyes to the uncontrollable sniggering that came from Junna behind her. Lydia seemed oblivious to the stares that the two were receiving; Kyleigh's co-workers (whether they be giving makeovers or merely organizing shelves) stopped to watch. They didn't bother to hide what they were thinking; it was obvious that they were torn between relief at being spared the chore of assisting Lydia and humour at watching Kyleigh take up the challenge.

     The Usul nodded, still doing her best to grin. "Yes, we have that colour," she replied, and nodded in the direction of the tall shelves towards the back of the store. She guided Lydia down the aisles, quickening her stride in an attempt to regain her personal space, but Lydia skipped right along beside her.

     "What's your name?" chirped Lydia.

     Unsure how to react to Lydia, Kyleigh replied, "My name is Kyleigh."

     "Kyleigh," repeated Lydia in awe. "That's a pretty name, Kyleigh. I like you, Kyleigh. You're nice."

     A bit puzzled, Kyleigh politely replied, "Thank you."

     As the pair neared the correct shelf, Kyleigh pondered her newest customer. It was clear to the Usul that this Kacheek was no ordinary Neopian, and she felt uneasy. Kyleigh halted in front of a shelf that had every colour of lipstick imaginable.

     She now stood slightly to the left, away from Lydia to attain her personal space yet again. The Usul now examined the tube of lipstick; it was a light pink, and the top was quite dirty. She chanced glances at the Kacheek, inching to the left.

     "What is your favourite colour lipstick, Kyleigh?" asked Lydia breathlessly, her eyes wide as she stared at the lipstick as the smile across her face widened.

     A thought struck Kyleigh suddenly.

     "Err -- red," answered Kyleigh distractedly.

     What was stopping Kyleigh from leaving Lydia here to look for the correct shade herself? She was sure Lydia would be up to it. There was nothing wrong with that, anyway -- Kyleigh was sure there was a mess somewhere in the shop that she was needed in assistance of cleaning up. It would not be entirely impolite, at any rate. Junna could probably use her help...

     Kyleigh's insides squirmed uncomfortably at that thought. She had no doubt that, as soon as she returned to her friend, the Wocky would laugh herself stupid as Kyleigh relived the scene when she assisted Lydia. The awkward questions, the smile, her acting like a two-year-old... There was no mistaking it; Lydia wasn't normal.

     But Kyleigh didn't want to stoop to that level; she didn't want to make fun of Lydia.

     About to excuse herself anyway, Kyleigh uttered, "Err -- "

     Lydia perked up at once and cocked her head. "Yeah?"

     Kyleigh shook her head, opened her mouth -- and closed it.

     It was then that she realized there was no excuse to leave Lydia there. Sure, Kyleigh knew that the Kacheek was capable of locating the correct colour, but conviction washed over and realization hit her. Lydia was simply beaming at her, and Kyleigh couldn't bring herself to leave.

     The Usul felt an untraceable sort of warmth overcome her, and she knew that, just like there was no excuse to leave Lydia, there was no excuse to have something against her. Lydia had nothing wrong; Kyleigh realized she had been prejudging someone without realizing it, something she despised and worked tirelessly against. Furious with herself, Kyleigh's brow furrowed and she chided herself in her mind, feeling miserable about judging Lydia.

     "Nothing," she said quickly to recover the awkward silence. She examined the tube of lipstick again, took a look at the shelf, and reached for a new tube. She held it out for Lydia, who looked overwhelmed with joy. "Here you are."

     "This is the right one?" asked the Kacheek excitedly, taking it in her dirty paws and surveying it closely, the smile never leaving her face.

     "Yes," said Kyleigh, and she smiled -- a true smile. Not just a smile that she was polite enough to wear, but a grin of gratitude towards Lydia. Lydia had shown Kyleigh to look at others through new eyes, eyes that could only see the good in people. For Kyleigh knew there was no reason not to like the Kacheek -- though Lydia was a bit different, Kyleigh felt herself smile wider in spite of herself, for this Kacheek -- although she didn't know it -- had just taught her an important lesson.

     "Yes," repeated the Usul, nodding. "This colour will look pretty."

     Lydia fumbled with the lipstick as they made their way back down the long aisle, and out of the corner of her eye Kyleigh saw her eyeing it eagerly. As they rounded the corner and Junna caught sight of them, the Wocky couldn't conceal a mocking look.

     "So, how was it?" she muttered as Kyleigh stopped to lean against the counter. Junna had on an expression that made it look as though it were taking all of her self control not to burst out laughing.

     Kyleigh watched Lydia as the Kacheek, who had been staring hopefully at the pets in the corner of the shop receiving a makeover, turned to face Junna, reaching deep into her pockets for Neopoints as payment.

     "It was great," Kyleigh replied, a sense of bitterness ebbing at her voice as she threw her friend a sharp look. "I learned loads."

     Junna instantly stopped sniggering and stared at Kyleigh.

     "You learned -- loads of what?" she stammered, unaware of Lydia, who had placed her lipstick on the counter. It rolled across the surface and into Junna's paw that lay on the table. "You were gone only five minutes!"

     Kyleigh shook her head and smiled at Lydia, and she was sure that Junna received the message that she wasn't about to explain anything. Junna, looking dumbstruck, turned to help Lydia. Still gazing at Kyleigh, she took the Neopoints from Lydia rather sharply and deposited them in the cash register without thanking her, but trying evidently to ignore Lydia.

     In a last attempt to figure things out, Junna stuttered, "What -- ?"

     Lydia interrupted as she spun on her heel to leave, the pink lipstick in hand.

     "You're sweet, Kyleigh. Thank you, Kyleigh." Her face split into a lopsided smile.

     Kyleigh waved and grinned, too. "No problem."

The End

 
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