Superficial: Part One
I remember that day well. The crisp liveliness of the chill-touched
air, the sun like a diamond hanging among the clouds and glancing golden off my
horn, the breeze threading red-gold-orange leaves through my mane. They kind of
mussed and ruffled it up a bit, pulled strands out of the yellow ribbons that
Rilla, the maid, had helped me plait into it that morning. But for today, at least,
I didn't care. The young autumn day seemed charged with nothing short of brightness
and promise, and my mouth flowed unbidden into a wide smile.
It was the first day of Neoschool.
Rilla bent her blonde head and looked down at
me with her usual cool half-smile. "Well then, Miss Maybellene. Let's get going."
I set off at her side, out of the tall silver
gate of our NeoHome and down the street at a jaunty trot, my head held high.
My pink bag, full of the new stationery and notebooks that Mother had bought
for me in town the day before, bounced on my back between my wings. It was almost
the same colour as my coat, and I couldn't help glancing back now and then to
gaze at it proudly, looking all clean and new in the sunshine. Excitement flooded
my insides in a warm glow that made me tingle from nose to tail, and my hooves
seemed to float above the pavement.
I couldn't wait to get to Neoschool. Meeting
other pets, making new friends, learning new things.. it would be such an adventure!
I didn't know any other pets besides my best friend Satisha. Mother wasn't around
the house much, but she never took me with her when she went. I hardly saw her.
Even though she always made sure Rilla, the other maids and the cook saw to
my meals, and when she did come back she always smiled at me and gave me a present
of some kind, a toy or a delicacy from some distant place. I couldn't really
say that she was unkind to me. But when I was younger I remember I'd oftentimes
sit in the alcove in my room with my nose pressed to the windowpane, gazing
out at the pets and people passing by on the streets, feeling a strange ache
in my belly... but for what I couldn't put my hoof on.
Anyway. It was a beautiful morning, and I was
about to enter a new chapter of my life. Nothing could dampen my spirits at
a time like this.
A squat, brick-built building crouched behind
an iron fence soon greeted us through an avenue of bright trees. As we neared
it I saw the words Neopia Central Neoschool wrought into the gate in curly letters.
I was entranced.
A cheerful, beloved voice hailed me. I whipped
around delightedly to see the familiar form of my best friend scampering toward
me through the carpet of golden leaves, her thick, tawny Wocky fur almost blending
Overjoyed, I sprang at her, vaguely noting that
Rilla had nodded her head slightly behind me, and was making her way back home.
We rolled into a brilliant heap of vermillion, giggling madly in a haze of euphoria.
Satisha gazed at me, her eyes twinkling mischievously.
"Just like old times, huh?"
I had met Satisha in the autumn of the year
before. The times that Mother was at home, she sometimes had people visit her,
and they'd sit in a room and talk using words I didn't always understand and
held no real interest for me. So I didn't think much of it when the doorbell
rang one day and I saw the figure of a tall stranger-lady wearing a wide-brimmed
hat stroll in through the front doors. But then something moved under the lady's
arm, something golden-brown and furry. I perked up with curiosity. Mother's
friends had never brought other Neopets before.
Mother came in then, and the two greeted each
other. Then Mother and the stranger-lady turned to me.
"Maybellene, this is Satisha. She's just about
your age, and she's here to play with you this afternoon. Show her around the
house, and take good care of her for Miss Destineau here."
The stranger-lady smiled, and opened her arms.
A creature, which I knew to be a Wocky from
my picture books, gazed at me with wide grey-brown eyes for a second. The next
I knew, she was in front of me, twitching her fluffy tail excitedly to and fro.
Her rich tawny coat was dappled with round black spots. She grinned, displaying
sharp white teeth.
I found myself smiling back at her. From that
day forth, we had been nothing short of close.
Mother might have told me to take good care
of Satisha, but I often felt that she was the one taking care of me, teaching
me things. Before she came I had never viewed the garden as anything more than
an ornament to the house, something pretty to be admired but not touched. Satisha
enjoyed herself looking at my books, and playing with my toys and my sweet little
Faellie, Crumpet, in my room that afternoon, but after a while she said, abruptly,
"Can't we go and play in the garden?"
I looked at her, uncomprehending.
"The garden. You have such a lovely garden,
I saw it when Mother was bringing me up the path to your house. Don't you ever
"Well... no. I couldn't think what to do there."
"Oh, then I'll have to show you! It's the only
thing that keeps me happy when Mother's away, being out in the garden, in the
sun and the fresh air. It's wonderful! Let's go there now. It's beautiful weather
out. We could bring Crumpet, too, if you'd like."
I couldn't think what we could do in the garden
that could possibly be any fun, but I was curious. And so we made our way down
the marble staircases and ventured out into the sunshine of a brisk autumn day.
Satisha was ecstatic. She dashed joyously here
and there over the grass, kicking up fiery leaves of every shade. Crumpet, yapping
madly, sped off in her wake. Feeling somewhat bemused and silly, I cantered
after them, more to humour my guest than anything else. But then, strangely,
I started to enjoy these new sensations. The touch of wind rushing through the
long hair of my mane and tail, the thudding of my hooves on the soft earth,
the scent of crushed grass. I felt somehow more alive. So when Satisha, with
a yowl of pure exuberance, plunged headlong into a swept-up pile of yellow-orange-red,
I followed her without question. Leaves sprayed up around us, and I felt my
whinnying laughter break from my throat and join with Satisha's happy squeals
and Crumpet's shrill barks. She batted me with a paw, I lashed out with a fore
hoof, and away we went again through the whirl of bright colour.
An angry shout from behind us. Looking up, we
saw the gardener, in his green overalls and black rubber boots, heading towards
us, scowling unpleasantly. Satisha snatched up Crumpet, still barking, and we
beat a hasty retreat to crouch hidden behind a clump of Furrns, giggling madly.
The gardener, grumbling, produced a rake and began to sweep up the mess we had
so unceremoniously caused. Satisha's eyes were sparkling, and I felt weak, both
from the unaccustomed exercise and from the sheer laughter. I had never done
anything quite like that before.
That day we had made our furtive way back to
my room, giggling all the time with the sheer fun of it all, so by the time
Miss Destineau came for Satisha we were ready and waiting innocently enough.
Miss Destineau noted with approval the rapport between us, and arrangements
were made that Satisha should come to see me every week. Both of us thrilled
at the prospect.
Through these visits, I soon learned that the
garden held a myriad of wonders, wonders that Satisha was all too eager to show
me. The garden was our secret playground, for Satisha had told me that Miss
Destineau didn't altogether approve of her "running around outdoors like a hooligan,"
so she was restricted to only sneaking out there when her Mother was out. Satisha
was very fond of Miss Destineau, but the garden had been something she had refused
to give up. Apparently she had been brought to make friends with me in the hope
that I might be able to "tame" her.
"And," Satisha had said as she told me, an impish
grin on her golden-furred face, "it was me who 'untamed' you in the end!"
And so as winter came we raced and leapt in
the soft snow instead of fallen leaves, danced through curtains of softly-falling
flakes. When spring rolled around, melting our magical white wonderland, we
reveled in the freshness of new life, probing for tiny beetles under the riotous
constellations of flowers. Satisha even discovered a Beekadoodle's nest in a
blossom-covered bough, which she pointed out to me excitedly. In summer we sipped
at iced Juppie tea while we drowsed in a lazy golden haze under the Heart Fruit
Trees, watching the Beekadoodles flitting away and back to feed their demanding
chicks. Sometimes Satisha brought her own Petpet, a Miamouse named Squeakles,
who joined in our romps with much gusto for such a tiny creature. She was obviously
experienced in the art of enjoying the great outdoors.
The garden had become a whole other world to
me, and when I was left alone at home I sometimes went for quiet walks there,
unseen in case Mother forbade me from the garden. But it wasn't much fun without
Now autumn had returned once more. I had to
admit that without her, the prospect of Neoschool would have been somewhat frightening.
I turned to her now in excitement. "This is going to be a real adventure, Sati.
I can't wait to see what it'll be like."
The Wocky grinned. "Well, we'd better get inside
To be continued...