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Neopia's Fill in the Blank News Source | 6th day of Eating, Yr 22
The Neopian Times Week 102 > Short Stories > The Littlest Pteri

The Littlest Pteri

by beau_lis

It was the best of times and it was the worst of times for this one little orange Pteri. Curio as he was called by others, was flying quickly through the air. He was in a race to get back to the Neopian Pound before the bell chimes to signal supper. Curio was in a hurry because he’d flown too far away from the pound. There was a standing rule that pets could only go so far away from the pound to play. But before he knew it, he was soaring high above the clouds, looking at the world around him. Up there in the sky, Curio was at his best. And he wasn’t too little to do anything.

     Curio’s mind wandered to the earlier memories of that day. There was a baseball game going on with the other pets. He had tried to join in the play, but this one mean blue Wocky, Chester, had said that he couldn’t play because Curio was too little. Curio tried to fight back and said that other Pteris were playing. But Chester reminded him that Curio was smaller than even the other Pteris.

     Tears burned in Curio’s eyes as he remembered the humiliation of being told what he already knew.

     “Why!” yelled Curio as loud as he could. “Why am I the littlest one!”

     Curio continued his flight back to the pound. Soon he could see the old brick building in sight. No one was outside in the yard. Curio knew that he was going to be very late for supper and decided not to go.

     He had missed supper almost every night that week, as well as the majority of his other meals. He just could not face sitting with all the big pets who teased him, especially Chester. They would make fun of little Curio when he was given a big portion. They told him that someone so little could never eat that much. Curio became the entertainment at dinner, so it was just easier not to go.

     Deciding to fly upstairs to his room, Curio knew he would be at peace for a while. His roommate would not be back for several hours yet.

     This little Pteri always ended up alone somewhere. He was too little to play anything with the other pets. Most pets wanted to play baseball, or swim, or go on adventures, but Curio was never invited. Since he couldn’t play with any of the other pets, he never seemed to be able to get to know them. Tonight was no different. Curio took out a deck of cards and played the one thing he knew he wasn’t too little to do, Sakhmet Solitaire.

     Curio loved this game, because no one told him he couldn’t do it. In fact, no one ever really noticed him playing it. He seemed to disappear completely when he played. While the other pets finished their dinner and went out to play, Curio sat in his room, playing Sakhmet Solitaire for hours and hours. He would play until it was time to go to bed.

     No one seemed to notice that Curio was missing until his roommate, a red Zafara named Michael, came in the room for bed. Michael noticed Curio was focused on his game of solitaire and shook his head.

     “You know, you’re going to shrink and get even littler than you already are if you keep missing dinner,” Michael muttered as he tucked himself into bed.

     Curio glared at Michael, but went back to playing his game. By now, Curio was holding back tears and was trying to focus more on his card game. If he could just keep playing, he would soon forget about it all. Before long, Curio was so absorbed in his game that he did not even notice when the lights in the room turned out. He was seeing the cards by the light of the full moon and didn’t seem to be aware of anything else.

     “Curio! What are you still doing awake?” Ms. Snowflake asked with concern.

     It was now well after bedtime and all the pets were sleeping soundly.

     “Come out here with me so we don’t wake Michael,” Ms. Snowflake instructed as she motioned for Curio to come out into the hall.

     Curio let out a big sigh and reluctantly followed Ms. Snowflake out into the hall. They sat down on the floor against the wall.

     Finally Curio spoke, “I was playing this game and sort of lost track of time… I’m sorry.”

Ms. Snowflake was very worried about Curio. She noticed that he wasn’t interacting or playing      with the other pets very often. Instead, Curio spent most of his time alone, playing solitaire.

     “You may not think that anyone has noticed you, but I have. I see that you are not happy. I’ve also noticed that you are quite a good player of Sakhmet Solitaire. I’d like to make a little deal with you,” Ms. Snowflake suggested with a smile.

     Curio looked at Ms. Snowflake in surprise.

     “What kind of deal?” he asked with hesitation.

     “Well,” responded Ms. Snowflake, “you need to start coming to the dining hall for meals. We can’t have you going hungry. So if you start joining us for meals, The Neopian Pound will enter and sponsor you in the Sakhmet Solitaire Championship Games.”

     Curio was shocked. People who played in the Sakhmet Solitaire Championship Games were really good! Some even got trophies! He did not like the idea of going to meals, but if he had solitaire on his mind, he was sure he could manage.

     “Okay Ms. Snowflake! I can do that!” Curio excitedly agreed.

     The two shook hands to bind the deal. Ms. Snowflake helped Curio into bed and tucked him in. That night, Curio slept with thoughts of winning the Sakhmet Solitaire Championship. Maybe this would be one thing he was big enough to do.

     That next morning, Curio woke up extra early. He wanted to keep his promise to Ms. Snowflake. So he decided to have an early breakfast in the dining hall before most of the other pets arrived there. Curio located an empty table at the far end of the dining hall. Taking a seat at the table, he began to help himself to some sticky stacks. Unfortunately, Curio’s pleasant thoughts of the upcoming championships could not carry him all the way through breakfast. Feeling the stare of others, he kept his focus on his plate. He hoped to be left in peace, but there was no such luck.

     Chester and his friends came up to Curio and sat down at the table with him. Curio knew this was not a gesture of kindness. Nelson, a green Chomby, looked at Curio, pretending to act surprised.

     “Oh, I didn’t see that someone was sitting here,” Nelson said. “I suppose you were just too small to notice!”

     This brought those in the dining hall to laughter. Devastated, Curio quickly shoveled the rest of his food in his mouth and flew up to his room. Instead of crying, however, Curio took out his deck of cards and began to play solitaire.

     Several hours later, there was a gentle knock at the door. Curio looked up to find Ms. Snowflake.

     “Hello Curio,” said Ms. Snowflake as she entered his room. “I know this is short notice, but it turns out that the first round of the solitaire tournament will be held tomorrow morning. I was wondering if you were still interested.”

     Curio’s heart jumped with excitement. “Yes, I definitely am!”

     Curio had good dreams that night. Dreams of him being more than the littlest Pteri.

     The next day at the tournament, many pets and Neopians turned out for the Championship. Curio didn’t think there would be so many others there! Not only were there a lot of people, but his opponents were tough!

     Finally, the end of day one for the tournament came. Curio surprised himself. He did better than he thought and was asked to come back for the finals! Only a third of the pets were asked to return, only the very best. Curio was beaming!

     By the time Curio and Ms. Snowflake came home to the pound, it was supper time. Curio was so focused on the events of the day that he was able to eat without a thought of the other pets teasing him. When Curio got up to leave, he walked past Chester and his friends with a smile on his face.

     “Hello!” Curio said cheerfully as he passed them and went up to his room. Chester and his gang watched, speechless, as Curio left the dining hall.

     Instead of playing solitaire, Curio went to bed. He had to wake up early again for the rest of the tournament tomorrow. He fell asleep with more pleasant dreams…

     When Curio awoke the next day, he quickly flew into the dining hall to eat his breakfast, not caring what anybody else said to him. In fact, no one made fun of him at all. Not even Chester. Many of the pets even seemed to be noticing Curio. A few pets even smiled at him and said hello! This was a very new feeling for Curio.

     A bit later, Ms. Snowflake and Curio stood off to the side of the tournament room. Ms. Snowflake was offering words of comfort to a very nervous Curio.

     “Just do your best, Curio,” Ms. Snowflake encouraged. “Play for the love of the game. You’ll do fine.”

     It was time to go out into the tournament room and play the final rounds of Sakhmet Solitaire.

     This is it, Curio thought to himself as he went out to take his place in the tournament.

     Then the most amazing sight caught the attention of Curio. Up in the stands sat the entire pound! They were holding home made signs colored with his name on it. When they caught sight of Curio, they all stood and cheered for him!

     Silence followed as Curio took his place at the table to play his game.

     “Good luck Curio!” cheered a little yellow Acara named Sarah. She was quickly shushed, because noise making was not allowed during the game, but it made Curio smile.

     Curio played great at first, but later fell behind. It was a lot harder competition today! The winner of the gold trophy had to win 2 games in a row! He just couldn’t seem to concentrate like he could before, and he couldn’t win as many games. In the end, he ended up placing second. He got a shiny silver trophy and a round of applause, but somehow, this did not help Curio. He wanted first place. He wanted to be more than the littlest Pteri.

     Later that afternoon, he joined the bus with the rest of the pets to go back to the pound. Sarah, the Acara who cheered for him, even sat next to him on the bus! Once they arrived at the pound, they entered the rec room for a celebration cake, all in Curio’s honor! Curio was heartbroken! Didn’t they know that he lost? He didn’t come in first place.

     “Speech! Speech!’ came the chants from others in the room.

     “I… I didn’t win,” Curio said softly, fighting back tears.

     “But you went farther than most of the others did! And you won second place! And you tried! That’s more than most can claim!” said an excited little Sarah.

     “She’s right,” agreed Ms. Snowflake. “You took a chance and you had fun. That’s what matters.”

     After everyone enjoyed their fill of cake and punch, many of the pets decided to get a game of ball on. Curio knew what was coming next, so he picked up his trophy and turned to go to his room.

     “Hey, where ya goin’!” called Chester. “Aren’t you coming to play ball?”

     Ms. Snowflake smiled and took the trophy from Curio.

     “I’ll place this in your room for you,” Ms. Snowflake said with a smile.

     Curio handed her his trophy and flew out to play ball with the others.

EPILOGUE
     Curio kept his trophy up on the highest shelf in his room. It was a reminder of the fun he had playing his favorite game. And it reminded him that the only size that ever mattered was the size of his heart.
     He still occasionally played solitaire, but not nearly as often as before. He did not enter another tournament, but instead spent his time with his new friends. He no longer felt he was too little to do everything, and let others know this as well.

The End

Author’s Note: I hope you enjoyed our story. Please feel free to offer us comments.

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