Invisible Paint Brushes rock Circulation: 186,509,625 Issue: 507 | 12th day of Hiding, Y13
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A Contemplation on the Life of a Baby Pet

by fiddolin


I wasn't always a baby, you know.

      I used to be painted Darigan. With the stunning dark blues and purples, I was a good looking young Uni, if I do say so myself. I had been Darigan for just about as long as I could remember, too. So when that little fiend, Boochi, came by to visit one day, I was understandably annoyed with him. Instead of my usual menacing appearance, I was now hardly two feet tall and the ugly, soft pink color of an unripe watermelon.

      All things considered, I think my owner Mikey took the change pretty well. At first I was afraid to face him, knowing how much effort he had put into my paintbrush. But when he first saw me after the change, and the shock wore off, he just laughed.

      Now, I'm not going to say that it was a psychotic laugh or anything. But if Dr. Sloth was in the area, he probably tilted his head and took a close listen, trying to think if maybe they knew each other from somewhere.

      But as I was saying, all things considered, Mikey really did take it all quite well. And really, it's perfectly fine for an owner to break down and cry every once in a while. Even the tough, macho ones like Mikey. Really.

      I was feeling a little bad for him, though. I hoped his friends wouldn't give him too hard of a time about suddenly having a pretty little baby for a pet. I knew that Mikey would repaint me just as soon as he had the neopoints for it, but with my sister Phoebe's new book craze, neopoints were getting a little hard to come by.

      “It won't be long, Wolfgang,” he told me, grim determination almost masking his humiliation.

      So that very day, we went battling. Just like old times. Except this time, my armor wouldn't fit. My sword was too heavy for me to lift. My attacks weren't even up to half of there usual power. Mikey and I got laughed out of the arena.

      “Pink's a good color for you!” one of his friends hollered as we left. I won't repeat what Mikey said back to him, because it probably wasn't something a baby should be saying.

      Neoschool nowadays is another ordeal entirely. Classes are fine, until we get to P.E. I used to be pretty athletic, so I was usually a team captain or at least one of the first few pets picked for a team. Not now. Now I always get picked last, and that's if I don't end up on the bench. When I do play, I don't have as much fun as I used to. In dodgeball, one direct hit from the ball can send me to the nurse. In kickball, I'm too short to catch anything thrown my way. My legs are too short for me to run fast. The list goes on.

      Home isn't much better. Phoebe will never admit it, but she knows that I've always been Mikey's favorite. Now she takes a special glee in seeing me knocked down a peg. She's pretty tall for a Gnorbu, so I always end up having to ask her to reach things for me. Half the time she'll drop whatever it was I asked for, letting it land on my head. I somehow don't think this is an accident.

      “Don't worry, Wolfy,” she said one day, with her blue nose peeking over the edge of a book. I opened my mouth to remind her that my name is Wolfgang, not Wolfy, but she continued. “I'm sure you won't be a baby forever. Just a really long time.”

      Furious, I told her exactly the same things that Mikey told his friends at the arena that day. Only, Mikey walked in halfway through my speech and turned as white as a sheet. He sent me to my room for the rest of the night. I thought about reminding him of where I'd first heard any of that, but thought better of it. I was already in enough trouble.

      Mikey never sent me to my room before I was a baby.

      The next day, Mikey made me go apologize to Phoebe. I think she could tell that he put me up to it, but she didn't seem to care much.

      In her own special way, I think Phoebe tried to cheer me up. “You could write down all this stuff, you know. Make a book. Nobody would read it, because you know, between you and me, you're not that interesting. But it might make you feel better.”

      That's Phoebe, all right. Ever the encourager.

      I make it sound like being a baby is a bad thing, and in some cases, that's true. But if I'm being honest, it's not entirely awful. There are some good things about it.

      After he got over his embarrassment from our first disaster in the Battledome, Mikey took me to get some better fitting armor. That, along with some lighter weapons, made it possible for me to fight again. Of course, even today I'm still nowhere near my original level, but at least I'm not helpless anymore. I'll keep improving.

      With new armor and equipment, I was determined to make Mikey proud of me again. I had always known that I was still his favorite, but I couldn't deny that he was ashamed that his mighty battler had taken such a fall. Never again.

      I practiced day and night. I became pretty good with my new weapons, and eventually got to the point where I could hold my own against some of my old rivals. But my real weapon was, and still is, my size. My opponents always underestimate me, and that gives me an advantage. Gradually, Mikey started to hold his head higher. The other day, I actually saw him look one of his old friends in the eye. He's come a long way.

      Another good thing about being a baby is all the attention that I get. I thought that I was admired when I was a good-looking Darigan, and I was. But that can't compare to the adoring looks I get now. And if that adoration comes in the form of pinched cheeks and soft cooing, well, it's still more attention than Phoebe gets.

      “I wish I had a pet like you,” says one person.

      “Look how much you've grown, Wolfy!” says another.

      I don't even bother to remind them to use my full name, anymore.

      My Aunt Didi came to visit me the other day. She said that she came to visit the family, but I think we all understand that I was the real reason she came. She cooed and pinched my cheeks like everyone else does. Then she gave me a Warf petpet.

      I had never had a petpet before. Mikey doesn't like them much, so Phoebe and I always had to just look at them through the window at the Petpet Shop in Neopia Central. But since this Warf was a gift from Aunt Didi, and Mikey always insists that he really does get along with her, he let me keep it. I named him Murphy.

      Warfs have the mysterious ability to go into any room and leave it completely destroyed. This happened with Murphy a couple of times. First the living room, and then Phoebe's room. I got a good laugh out of that one. He was pretty thorough, too. There wasn't enough left of any of Phoebe's Usuki collection for us to even figure which one was which. Needless to say, Murphy and Phoebe didn't much care for each other.

      One day, Murphy got into Mikey's room. It wasn't a pretty sight. We walked in, and Murphy was sitting in a pile of garbage, chewing on some papers. Once Mikey got them away, we could tell that they were the soggy remains of his receipts from the stock market. Mikey's face turned a bright red, almost like a tomato. So that really does happen sometimes when a person is angry.

      The next day, when I got home from neoschool, I found out that Murphy had gotten outside and run away. I'm not sure exactly how that happened, since Murphy can't open the door on his own. And even if he could, Mikey was home the whole day. I think he should have seen Murphy if he tried to go outside. Oh well.

      I still miss Murphy a lot. Phoebe and Mikey don't seem as unhappy as I would expect.

      So being a baby pet isn't completely terrible, I guess. There are some good things that come from it. It's nice to see your opponents earning a grudging respect for you, not based on appearance but on actual skill. The attention is nice, but I wish it were a little less cutesy. And I could get used to Aunt Didi bringing me gifts every so often. Yes, babies don't have life so terrible, after all.

      I still hope Mikey can paint me back to Darigan soon.

The End

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