A Walk in Anothers Paws: Part Two
I'm not sure what time I woke up. All I know is that
it was a lot darker than it had been, and I was very uncomfortable on the cold,
hard floor. But I didn't stir. I heard voices, and I was about to get up and
ask them to shut their yappers since I was trying to get some shuteye, but then
I heard my name mentioned.
"Who does that Cassandra think she is? Saying
she's a princess and demanding gourmet food and her own furnished bedroom?"
an unrecognizable female voice asked disdainfully.
"Don't be so hard on her, guys," the pleading
tone of Peya replied. "She's new here, and we should try to make her feel more
"We were trying, Peya! And you were trying the
hardest. But did you see how she treated you? She said we were all unpainted
low-lives! Now remind me again why in Neopia we should make someone like that
feel welcome...?" A lower, male voice asked.
"She thought she was too good for us the moment
she stepped into this place," a bitter voice, Ernie's, cut in. "Hopefully she
will be adopted soon so we can go back to living in peace without someone turning
their nose up at our every move..."
Other voices that I didn't recognize, but assumed
they were the voices of the other pets in the Pound, chimed in their agreements.
I closed my eyes again, but this time it was more out of anger than tiredness.
They want to get rid of me? No on wants to get rid of Cassandra! They
should be thankful they have such an important, rich pet staying with them!
Except... I really wasn't rich. Not that I would
ever admit it or anything, but now that I had no owner, I had no Neopoints.
It was really odd... but that didn't mean I wasn't better than all the others.
After all, by tomorrow I would be rich again. I would be sitting back at home
with Mommy and that wretched Jillian would be gone. I was sure of it.
"Rise and shine!" I was awoken the next morning by:
a) An annoyingly loud clanging bell resounding
throughout the Adoption Agency, and
b) Rose was walking down the middle of the room,
yelling "Rise and shine!" in a way-too-cheery voice for so early in the morning.
I yawned widely and rubbed my eyes with my dirty
paws. My back was stiff from sleeping so long on a hard surface. I made a mental
note to demand at least a bean bag chair to sleep in for tonight, since from
what I had heard from the other pound pets gossiping about me, a real bed was
obviously not an option.
Just thinking back to the conversation I had
heard from this yesterday made my fur bristle. I decided to give them all the
cold shoulder today, so that they would finally realize what an important person
I was and that I demanded respect. They would be apologizing before long.
Other pets around me were stirring sleepily.
They each got up with wide smiles on their faces, stretching and wiping their
eyes. They all passed along morning greetings to each other, laughing merrily
as if they hadn't a care in the world.
I didn't understand. How could they be so happy
when they were stuck in the pound with no beds to sleep on, no decent food to
eat, no owner, and no Neopoints? This place was way too weird.
Rose came around to let us all out of our cages.
When she said "Good morning," to me in this chipper voice, I just ignored her
and ambled out of my prison cell hungrily. I wandered where we all went to eat
breakfast. Probably the Dining Room.
You can just imagine the shock I was in when
we were led through swinging double doors to another all-cement room filled
with rickety tables and cracked chairs all cluttered together. A long line was
forming at a buffet-like setup, where pets stood in a single file line holding
chipped trays in their hands waiting to be served by some unfriendly-looking
Blumaroos behind the counter.
"Ohmigosh!" a pet in front of me in line exclaimed.
"They're serving SAUSAGES! And Orange Juice! Can you believe it?" I raised my
eyebrows. Was that really such a cause for excitement? Sausages and orange juice?
These pets truly were pathetic.
I stepped up in line. A plump green Blumaroo
with a hairnet on and a huge hairy wart on her chin stared down at me before
plunking two sausages on my plate, along with a jiggly cold substance I could
only identify as old scrambled eggs. But I was so hungry, I wolfed the sausages
down and drained my orange juice. It was disgusting, but at least my stomach
had quit growling. I sat along at a squeaky table in the far corner of the vast
room. Pets were talking animatedly with each other and sharing jokes and laughing.
I still didn't get it. Why were they acting so joyful when it was way too early
in the morning and they were stuck eating cold breakfast in this depressing
joint? I shook my head sadly. These poor souls had been canned up in this Pound
for way too long, and it was getting to their head.
Oh, well. I'm sure they won't be adopted anytime
soon while I'm around to adopt. I mean, any Neopian would obviously pick me
over them any day. No question there.
After breakfast, we headed back to the room where
all the cubicles cages were. Rose re-entered the room as well, shutting the
door behind her. "Okay everybody," she announced, standing in our midst. "I'm
now opening the doors to all the Neopians looking to adopt pets. I will show
them around, so please be on your best behavior and get into your individual
cages!" And with that, she pranced out of the room to go and show all the owners
into the Agency.
There was an exciting murmuring in the room,
then all fell silent as the door slowly opened. Rose walked in again, about
50 jabbering humans following in her wake. Rose began showing some around, while
others went straight to a certain pet to look at it. It was only a matter of
time, now.... I scanned the bustling throng for my own owner. But... she wasn't
there. I double checked. Nope, still not there. Maybe she was running late...?
A young boy was walking towards my cubicle, along
with an older girl. Well, I would certainly be adopted before you could say
'Princess Cassandra.' They were only a few steps away, and I stuck my chin up
in the air and smoothed my wrinkled, stained, ripped dress. But then, they walked
up to the cubicle right next to mine, the one with Peya and Ernie in it.
"Oooh, I think I'll get this one," the boy told
Rose, patting Peya softly on the head. The girl scooped up Ernie in her arms
and cuddled him affectionately, while he smiled up at her. Both owners paid
a few Neopoints to Rose, and then left with their new pets.
I was in shock. Why did they pick those two when
I was right there? Well, sure, my fur was a bit dirty and my hair was slightly
tangled. My dress wasn't in the best condition... but, I was still so much better
than them. What gives?
Another thing that slightly bothered me was the
way those owners had treated their two new pets. Mommy never cuddled me or patted
my head back when it was just us two. Sure, she'd go out and by me clothes and
toys, but when did she ever scoop me up in her arms and smile at me? I felt
a small pang of longing.
The Neopians continued browsing around for about
another hour. Some would leave empty-handed, and many took home a pet. As soon
as some left, more owners came in. It seemed they would never stop coming. But
the funny thing is... as they walked by me, none stopped. Didn't they see me?
They should be all tackling each other just to adopt me!
And.. I didn't see my ex-owner come in the entire
time. By 12:00, she still wasn't there. My heart fell. Suddenly, the realization
hit me like a ton of bricks. She wasn't coming back for me.
I bit my lip, eyes downcast, surveying my dirty
paws. I curled miserably up in the corner of my cubicle and huddled against
the wall. She's not coming. I'm all alone. The words tormented me. I
closed my eyes and cried silently as owners everywhere rushed about, adopting
their dream pets and leaving. But no one came for me.
Eventually I must have drifted back to sleep against that cold, hard wall.
I had been doing a lot of sleeping lately, it seemed. Strange to consider since
I didn't have my plush Heart Shaped Bed to lie across.
The sun was slanting golden rays of light through
the dirty, smudged windows of the Pound. I blinked slowly. It appeared to be
about 4 in the afternoon. Had I missed lunch? Why hadn't anybody woken me up?
I curled my lip slightly. How could they just leave me and let me sleep by myself?
I hopped slowly to the front of my cold cage
and pressed my face dejectedly against the hard metal enclosure, peering out.
I saw Rose at the far side of the room, reading a book to a group of delighted
pets clustered together and giggling. Well, who needed them anyways? I could
have plenty of fun on my own.
My eyes, instead, drifted out the grimy windows
at the front of the room. Through them I could see the tall wooden desk at which
Dr. Death sat, his head bent and his hand moving furiously across a piece of
paper, the pen he was holding scribbling uncontrollably. It was then that my
eyes fell on a tall, willowy man approaching the desk. He had on a large cowboy
hat and boots. As he strolled quickly forward, Dr. Death looked up. The man
came right up to the desk. And when he moved, I saw a small form cowering behind
him. I squinted. I was unable to make out what type of pet it was. The man,
after negotiating with the Techo, turned back around to the quivering Neopet.
He lifted a large hand and brought it down on the Neopet's head, hard. The pet
probably gave a cry of pain, because it shrank back and darted away to follow
Dr. Death into this horrid prison. And suddenly, I felt this tingly wave of
prickliness rush over me. It took me a few seconds to correctly identify it:
My eyes followed the pair as they trudged up
to the entry doors. Dr. Death pushed them open and escorted the young pet through.
He sneered down at its cowering form, as it limped cautiously behind him. The
pair approached my cage. "Here," Dr. Death growled, undoing the lock and letting
the pet that was hiding behind him in. I now saw it was a tiny yellow Lenny,
her light honey colored feathers ruffled and her wide liquid brown eyes staring
in fear up at the Techo. "You will be staying with her." He sneered at us both
and walked away.
The Lenny leaned up against the side of the cage
and slowly sunk down to the floor. Her huge eyes were shining with tears. She
leaned her small head against her knees, which she had drawn up to her chest.
She wrapped her arms around her legs and began to sob quietly. I instantly felt
sorry for her.
"There, there," I said soothingly, hopping over
to where she sat. "It's okay. It's okay." I put an arm around her shaking shoulders
comfortingly. The Lenny stopped sobbing. She raised her feathered head and peered
at me through her fogged vision, wiping the tears away with a wing.
"T-thank you," she sniffled. "M-my name is S-S-Safron."
I smiled down at her. "I'm Cassandra." I didn't
use the title Princess before my name. That was a first...
"Cassandra..." the Lenny repeated thoughtfully.
Then she gave me a watery smile. "I like that name."
I grinned. "Thanks. You want to go listen to
that story over there?" I asked, pointing to where Rose was reading to all of
the other pets. Safron nodded, looking less sad than she had before. "Alright."
"Cassy, Cassy! Wake up!" my shoulders were being gently shaken and I groaned.
"Five more minutes!" I pleaded, my voice muffled. The wings grasping my shoulders
wouldn't let go. Finally, I rolled over and sat up, swaying groggily.
"There, ya happy now?" I mumbled, wiping the
sleep out of my eyes and staring at the chipper Lenny sitting before me. Safron
was wearing a large smile on her face, looking a good deal better than she had
when she had first come in to the Adoption Center a few days ago. Her feathers
were less ruffled and shone with a dull honey sheen, her eyes sparkled with
excitement and happiness as they stared at me.
"Sleepyhead," she laughed, taking my paw in her
hand. "Come on, we'll be late for breakfast!"
Over the past few days, me and Safron had become
fast friends. She was so nice and funny. We always ate together in the cafeteria.
I bounded out of our cage to follow after her, the delicious smell of hot omelette
tingling my nose.
All the pets had started being really nice to
me. They always greeted me with genuine smiles and we got to play together and
talk. I barely ever thought about my old owner anymore, my dim past of gourmet
meals and luxurious possessions. Back then I had never had this many friends
to play with. And even though they weren't painted or rich, they actually turned
out to be pretty OK after all. It was really weird. It made me think twice about
those things I used to think about the pets that went to the Soup Kitchen or
lounged around the Money Tree or stared adoringly at the rich pets getting painted
at the Rainbow Pool. After all, maybe all those pets were OK once you got to
I sat down at a rickety table in the center of
the large cafeteria abuzz with talk and laughter. Surrounding me were many other
pets, all of whom had become my friends over the past few days. "Here, Cassandra,
you want the rest of my Cheese Omelette?" a tiny blue Yurble squeaked, pushing
her half eaten omelette towards me.
"Gee, thanks, Ana!" I replied, taking a large
bite out of it. The meals they served here actually weren't too bad, once you
got used to them. I felt a bit guilty about the way I had treated Rose when
she had offered me an omelette the first day I came to the Adoption Center.
After all, she was only trying to be nice.
Safron, as usual, was very perky and talkative.
She was chatting away animatedly, her round chestnut eyes gleaming with unending
energy. She was certainly better off here than with her old owner.
With a pang I recalled my past life with my owner.
What was she doing now? Was she perhaps preparing to take her new pet, Jillian?
Thoughts of the Faerie Uni and my ex-owner flooded my head. But somehow, the
visions didn't make quite as much an impact on me as they used to. After all,
if I was still with my owner and baby sister, I would have never made all these
wonderful friends and had so much fun. Sure, we didn't get comfortable suites
and expensive food, but everyone was always cheerful and friendly, all like
one big family. I was learning new things every day.
"Hey, everyone, I'm letting in the people looking to adopt now!" Rose hollered,
standing at the front of our room. "Everyone be on their best behavior and stay
in their individual cages!"
This comment was almost meaningless to me. I
had long since abandoned the hope of getting adopted. Besides, with all the
fun I was having now, I wasn't even sure I WANTED to be adopted. Though it would
be nice to sleep in a Heart Shaped Bed again and go shopping...
"So, Cassy, think today's our lucky day?" Safron
bubbled, turning towards me. I only smiled encouragingly at her. She walked
over and plopped down beside me. "Of course, there's a small chance of you getting
adopted when there'll be ME to choose!" She teased, grinning widely.
I laughed. "Oh yeah? Think again!" I smiled,
reaching over to tickle her. She laughed hysterically and squirmed away, then
lunged at me and began tickling me. I wriggled and twisted and laughed.
It was weird to think that the joke Safron had
made, about someone adopting her before me, had actually been what I used to
actually believe. Now it sounded so..foolish and.. well, stuck up.
Safron and I were still giggling happily when
a figure approached our cage. It took us a moment to look up from our tickle
fight, and when we saw a Neopian owner standing there, we immediately sat up
and tried to look on our best behavior. "Well, aren't you two adorable," the
owner beamed. She was a young girl, about 12 years old. She had fiery red hair
that curled in every direction, slightly subdued by a few bobby pins. She wore
a tee shirt and overalls, and had freckles sprinkling her round face, hazel
eyes twinkling mischievously. Safron and I grinned. She looked like a nice person.
"What are your names?" she inquired, looking
curiously at us.
"I'm Safron!" the yellow Lenny squealed, springing
up. "And this is my best friend Cassandra!"
I beamed. I loved being referred to as someone's
'best friend.' It felt so official, so comforting.
"Ah, nice to meet you both," the owner said.
"I don't have any Neopets, and I was looking to adopt some... Say, how would
you like me to adopt you two?" She smiled even wider, revealing white teeth
with braces across them.
Wow! I couldn't believe it. Why was I all the
sudden getting picked out to be adopted? What had changed about me? Certainly
nothing. I still had the same wavy blonde hair, deep blue eyes, ripped up dress...
But no, that wasn't right. I may have looked the same on the outside, but I
was completely changed on the inside. I used to be vain and snooty and high
strung, but now I was happy and content with who I was. I realized something
in my experience at the Pound: You don't have to be rich to be happy. And just
because others don't have everything you do, it doesn't mean they are any worse
than you. I had finally learned my lesson. I had finally seen life through another
point of view; taken a walk in another's paws.
Safron fluttered her wings excitedly, rising
a few inches off the ground. "Really? Really? Would you? Actually adopt us?
Oh, that would just be wonderful! Wouldn't it, Cassy? Wouldn't it be just splendid?"
she twittered, zooming over to me.
"Yes," I agreed. "Just splendid."
Well, Safron and Cassandra both got adopted and lived happily ever after
in their new Neohome. They still kept in touch with their friends from the Pound,
and have remained best friends ever since. Cassandra learned her lesson, and
is much happier than she was with her old owner. I hope you enjoyed my story!
Feedback is appreciated.