Finding Kourage: Part One
Someone uttered a sigh. No one could tell if it was a satisfied
sigh or a frustrated sigh. But, then again, no one cared, either. It wasn't that
no one cared if the owner of the sigh needed comfort, it was the fact that no
one cared about the owner of the sigh at all. It was probably a satisfied sigh
because the owner of the sigh was not normally unhappy. But, one never knows.
One will never know, truthfully because no one cares about Maieben, the striped
Maieben didn't need friends to be happy. She
didn't need comfort, defenders or necessities because for Maieben, simply living
the day to its fullest was all that mattered. Every day that Maieben had lived
she greeted the Sun with a warmer welcome than even the Sun's brightest rays.
She didn't see the reason in living if you didn't enjoy what you were doing.
She always put others first and caring for them made her happy. They returned
her favour sourly and arrogantly. But, Maieben didn't even flick her tail at
this. She simply went on doing things her way. Her philosophy was different,
opinionated, and above all, WRONG. Or so they said.
Who are 'they'? Well, 'they' are all the Neopets
Maieben had ever met. Her classmates, neighbours, teachers and fellow citizens.
Everyone looked down upon Maieben's way of doing things. They all had comments
to make and they all judged her behaviour towards things most unfairly. But,
then again, that's an opinion, too.
If this were to happen now things would be handled
much more differently. I'm sure you, right now, are cooking up your own idea
of what should be done to right this wrong. Or maybe you think these people
are in the right. It doesn't really matter because there is much more I have
to tell you, so I must ask you to wait before you become a judge, too.
On one particularly beautiful day when the Sun
and sky were at their best, something peculiar happened. The Sun was wrapping
the world in an elegant coverlet of beauty. It was baking the hills in its glory
with pinks, oranges, yellows and reds, like the paints on an artist's pallet.
The grass glinted in the midmorning light with pride. The dew drops resting
on them were as lovely as a prize collection of the king's finest crystals.
The lakes were so clear and sparkling that they were like mirrors to the world
below the surface. If you looked hard enough and you were willing, you could
see more than pebbles in the dazzling lakes. The sky was a blue so deep and
true that it was mesmerizing. Just one look at it gave you a sudden feeling
of trust and respect for Mother Nature's Wonders. It almost seemed to splash
the soft, feathery clouds with sea water from the clearest ocean. Just these
simple things got Maieben feeling wonderful. All the other plants seemed to
stand out with more vivid colours than usual. Maieben walked to school with
a skip in her step.
But, she was not greeted with the same rush
of joy as she arrived at the Academy. The other Aishas turned up their perfectly
pointed noses at her rather large and diamond-shaped one. Maieben either didn't
notice, or decided to ignore this fact. She continued over to her seat and began
her assignment. From behind her, furious whispers and gossip floated around.
Guilty and pompous eyes glanced at her, indicating the subject of their talk
most obviously. Maieben's mood was not affected at all, once again. Her positive
attitude remained genuine.
"Class, listen up! I am assigning a ten-page
report on the fundamental importance of quests in Neopia, due tomorrow. I expect
all of you to do your absolute best on this project. Good luck! Class dismissed!"
Ms. Alabaster, her professor, always made everything sound worse than it really
was. The numerous eager students in Maieben's class filed out of the classroom
anxiously. Maieben was not one of them. She stayed behind, pondering about her
report. She loved being creative and wanted to get a good mark. As she staggered
behind the others she lost consciousness of those around her. She was caught
up thinking about her new challenge. She was very interested in quests… WHAM!
A large ball went whizzing past her pointed ears. She snapped back into reality.
Some particularly annoying classmates of hers had been trying to get a good
laugh and had decided to laugh at her. They snickered behind freshly
clipped paws. Their idea of fun was taunting and humiliating her.
"What ever is the matter, Mopey Maieben?" The
Aishas had given her various nicknames, Mopey Maieben was among them. Maieben
ignored them and proceeded on her journey. This was normal. But, today they
did not give up. Taunts and teases followed her home, putting her in a bit of
Maieben began occupying herself around her Neohome.
She did her chores and then set to work on her report. Reagan, her owner, was
the only one who loved her for who she was. She was proud and fascinated by
Maieben's originality. Reagan had adopted Maieben at the Pound. The workers
there had told her no one wanted her. Maieben's friendly greeting had gotten
Reagan's attention. Even the way she looked was different. She was a striped
Aisha, with forget-me-not blue eyes and a smile that was worth a thousand words.
Her long, slender, spade-shaped ears were a sort of different that is beyond
words. A uniqueness that is beautiful and memorable. Reagan respected and loved
Maieben like no other creature in the world. And Maieben loved her just as equally
Maieben really got into her project. She did
all the research and compiled it evenly. She even made a model shield that represented
the dangers of a quest. She worked extremely hard and was very satisfied with
her work. She prided herself on a job well done. Reagan came in to look at one
point and she had encouraging comments by the dozens for Maieben. Maieben blushed
The next morning Maieben woke to the divine
and embracing tune of a Pteri. It lifted the corners of her mouth until she
was grinning from ear to ear. It was a delightful day outside her picture window.
The rolling, green hills sparkled handsomely in the meager, morning light. Mother
Nature had yet again outdone herself. It seemed as if she had spent the whole
night painting the sky to look extravagant. Maieben got up and groomed herself
until her coat looked glossy and gleaming. She had a good feeling about today.
Something inside her was twisting and flopping around. But, in a good way. An
excited way. A tense, anxious and wonderful way. It made her shake with pleasure.
She flicked her tail nervously as she woke up Reagan with a loving lick-kiss.
They enjoyed a delightful breakfast of omelettes together before Reagan sent
her off to school.
Maieben couldn't wait to get to school. She wanted
to present her report so badly that she almost couldn't stand it. When Ms. Alabaster
told the class they would be presenting their reports next, Maieben nearly fell
off her chair in excitement. She asked Ms. Alabaster if she could go check on
her report; she wanted to go see it for reassurance. The sight she met in the
hall where her beautiful shield had been was devastating. All Maieben could
do was stare in shock and grief. Her shield lay before her, or rather, what
used to be her shield. It was in shreds and tatters at her feet. It was beyond
repair. Her shield was destroyed and ripped up as if someone had torn it down
the center and attacked it.
This was too much. She felt numb, the twisting
sensation inside her crumbled…Her former anxiety was ebbing away painfully.
She felt worse than she ever had before. A new, powerful emotion was coursing
through her catlike body. It was antagonism and resentment. She felt very bitter
and frozen inside, like she had forgotten how to be nice. She didn't like this
new feeling and she tried to control herself, but it was too hard not to let
out her hatred. It was almost tempting; she couldn't get a grip on these feelings,
but they were too powerful and too great to overcome. She erupted like a mad
volcano as she heard giggling behind her. 'They', her rivals, were in the corridor
nearest her, laughing at their idea of a good tease. Apparently they were the
attackers. They had dismantled her report for fun and with evil glee. Maieben
was beside herself with loathing and disgust such as she had never felt before.
They had hurt her project, her grade and her pride. This was the last straw.
Before Maieben could speak, one of them spoke.
His name was Talkom. "Well, well, well. What do we have here? Did wittle, Maieben
have an accident?" he prompted angelically. He was giving her sad eyes that
were really malevolent eyes in disguise. The other Aishas had burst into a fit
of endless giggles. As another, Morella, began to speak, Maieben took a wild
chance and swung her paw, claws extended, vigorously. She didn't care who she
hurt or what got injured, she just wanted to scratch and wound as many of them
as possible. All her hard work was completely ruined and it was all for their
pleasure. Maieben walked away, leaving them speechless and her, fuming.
This was the exact moment that Ms. Alabaster
chose to inspect her pupils. "Maieben, are you finished checki-" she let out
a sort of muffled scream that sent chills down Maieben's spine. "What are you
doing? Don't you EVER strike a classmate of yours, Maieben! I am astounded and
utterly shocked at your behaviour. This must be dealt with! I'll go fetch Headmaster
Quinch." With that she marched off. The group of Aishas who had tormented Maieben
frowned disapprovingly. Maieben was so traumatized from the day's events that
she stood glued to her spot in the hallway. She managed to shuffle back to the
classroom, but after that her memory of the afternoon was very blurry. It was
as if everything had been in slow motion, but the talking was speeded up and
everyone was speaking something foreign. All she remembered was being punished
and watching the real delinquents walk away without even a scolding.
To be continued...