Stand behind yer sheriff Circulation: 192,109,998 Issue: 631 | 7th day of Awakening, Y16
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The Trouble With Being Joe

by pillarbox


Peeking cautiously from behind the net curtains in her living room, Joe spied a cloud Uni and baby Poogle having a pretend tea party in the park in front of her house. The mesmerised Kau watched avidly for a few moments, wishing she could taste some of that plastic cake and imaginary orange juice. She knew both of the girls outside, being her classmates in the local Neoschool, and yet in all the time she had existed alongside the pair she had barely spoken two words to them, and she doubted they had even spoken to her once. Yet, she admired then, for they were completely different from one another but still they had the strongest friendship she had ever witnessed. Kay, the Woodland Uni, was a girly girl, obsessed with dresses and bows and the hottest boy band around, M*YNCI. However, Dylan, although baby in colour, was far from soft and cuddly and was more of a Twisted Roses kind of girl. And yet, they made it work. Maybe if they could love each other so much even with their differences, they could love her too?

     She knew that they had never been particularly fond of her in the past, much like the rest of the population of Krawk Island, and, most probably, the whole of Neopia, but she hoped that maybe if they got the chance to know her they could look past her slight... problem. The issue was, no one would ever get near enough to her to talk to her properly. She'd been trying to figure out for years how to overcome this problem, but to no avail.

     Sighing deeply, she began to mentally prepare herself for another day alone with a book, trapped in this bare house void of any warmth and homeliness, a feature that she was entirely to blame for. Feeling utterly defeated she turned from the scene outside, only to trip over the petpet at her feet. Flying forward, she knocked over a table and lamp with her flailing arms and lay sprawled, with her face mushed into the plastic-covered seat of the couch and the rest of her body lying in a heap on the wooden floor. She lay there dazed for a few minutes before hauling herself up and turning to glare at the laughing Slorg.

     "What were you doing there? I have the mind to call the Defenders of Neopia, you know, get them to come and collect you. You're a danger to us all," Joe grumbled, roughly dusting herself off.

     Julian, Joe's best friend and the only companion she had ever had simply kept laughing, amused tears rolling down his cheeks. Occasionally he tried to find it in himself to speak to his owner but could not keep himself from once again dissolving into hysterics.

     "How long were you standing behind me anyway, Julian?" A slice of worry now tainted Joe's voice, concerned that Julian might have embarrassingly seen her staring longingly at all the groups of kids playing outside together.

     Struggling to rein his guffaws in, the Halloween Slorg managed to gasp out: "A while... hahahaaa.. Why? Haha ack..." Julian proceeded to choke on his laughter, whilst Joe fidgeted nervously. An awkward silence settled between the pair at this, punctuated only by Julian's coughs and sputters, as Joe kept her eyes trained on her feet.

     Finally managing to control himself, Julian looked at his friend sorrowfully.

     "Look, I know it's been hard for you ever since that lab ray disaster, Joe, but you can't let this dictate your life. Forget them, forget what they think. Just go outside and play and have fun like every other kid your age is doing right now. People will get used to you being around them, like I have."

     Joe scoffed, unbelieving of what she had heard. "Get used to it? Get used to it?!? You can't be serious, Julian. Oh, sure, you can stand to be around me daily, but you aren't them. They actually have noses!! Why'd you think my mum stopped zapping you when you turned into a Slorg? Because a noseless petpet was perfect for her stinky daughter, that's why! I've been around these people ever since I got zapped Swamp Gas; I go to school daily with them, spend most of my day around them, have known them all my life. And yet, guess what Julian? They still can't stand to be near me. There's nothing more I can do, I'm destined to be alone for the rest of my life. No one will ever be able to accept me." She turned to the window once again, gazing wistfully at the mass of giggling children chasing each other around the park.

     Julian let out an aggravated groan, fed up with Joe's ongoing obsession with wallowing in self-pity. Okay, even he could admit that her situation would be hard on her; first, the traumatising visit to the lab ray scientist, after which her mother vowed never to bring her back even though the colour she had become was less than ideal, then the sudden change from being a moderately liked person to a complete loner, with all of her friends abandoning her and now this current life of solitude, a far cry away from the life she had been used to. Yes, her life wouldn't be easy, but that doesn't mean she had to make his life miserable too.

     Clearing his throat loudly, he jerked his head towards the coffee table once Joe had returned her attention to him. A book lay there, one that Julian had seen by chance in the window of the Book Shop on a trip out to the Battledome one day and had searched and searched the local library to find.

     Turning her gaze to where Julian had indicated, Joe's eyes fell upon a brightly coloured book, entitled 'The Sneaky Purple Bruce'. Perplexed, Joe turned back to Julian, then to the book, and then back to Julian again.

     "I've already read that one, Jules, but thanks anyway," Joe said slowly, still unsure of what was going on.

     Her Slorg sighed exasperatedly. "Well, if you've already read it you should have caught on to what I'm proposing. The story's about a sneaky Bruce who sneaks into other people's houses, right? What I'm saying is, maybe you need to borrow some of his qualities."

     "I still don't get you."

     "Ugh, Josephine, concentrate! I thought you were supposed to be smart or something? I mean, I did repeat the key word about 3 times. You need to SNEAK Joe. You know? Like a sneak attack. You say that people aren't giving themselves the chance to get to know you. So, sneak attack them, force them to be in your company until they see the light! Now, the only question is, have you seen the light yet? You get what I'm trying to say?"

     "Yeah, yeah, I understand now. That doesn't mean it isn't a load of rubbish, though. I've tried things like this before. They always see me or smell me before I get to them, or they know that I'm around so they're watching for me. What makes you think it'll be any different this time?"

     "Well, for one, your mum just bought a boatload of Kau Perfume on half price day, and it might just be enough to mask your swampy stench to give you enough time to sneak up to those girls. Secondly, that Uni, Kayla or whatever her name is, I've met her mother at one of your mum's Yoga classes. She'll have been brought up far too properly for her to run away from someone once they are in her company. The fear of being rude to someone's face would far outweigh her disgust at your smell. And, lastly, you've been reading all those ninja books lately; surely you must have learnt some stealthy moves by now. See? The perfect plan."

     "Umm, I wouldn't say perfect exactly, I can see some flaws. For example, my mother would kill me if I used all her new perfume and I doubt it would even cover my smell for long, then there's the fact that Kay is with Dylan, who is a total bad influence, and then you've got to realise that while books may talk about people doing ninja moves, they don't exactly teach you how to do them and even if I tried, I doubt my execution would be all that great."

     "So, you'll try it then?"

     "Of course! Lemme get my shoes..."

     Letting out a tired laugh, Julian went to find the perfumes with an amused roll of his eyes. Solitude had had a really weird effect on his owner. Straining to push the large, heavy cardboard box down the hallway and into the living area with his forehead, he heard the sound of Joe humming all the way upstairs in her room. Even though putting up with his owner annoyed and exhausted him at the best of times, it was all worth it just to see her happy again and with that glint of hope in her eyes.

The End

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