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
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
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
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.
Kyleigh shook her head, opened her mouth -- and
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
"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
"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
"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
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."