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Stars


by _ducky_dude__

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Aldon had stopped caring years ago.

     He had stopped caring about other people, about life, about money, even about himself. Sure, he grabbed food when he saw it, but if he died, what difference would it make? He had never loved anyone and no one had ever loved him. That was it. He accepted it. To him, life was no more than a torment, so why did he not just starve himself? He had asked that question many times, but had never received an answer.

     He wandered the streets alone, looking in at the displays in the shop windows. One showed a Starry Paint Brush, but he paid it no more than a glance. After all, what had stars ever done for him? Why would he wish to be coated with them?

     A passer-by dropped a couple of Neopoints. He picked these up quickly, stuffing them into his pocket. The Aisha who had dropped them suddenly stopped and started to fumble around in her pockets. A look of growing alarm appeared on her face. He didn't feel guilty, but he didn't laugh either. She could manage, after all, she was painted Cloud. A few Neopoints wouldn't change her life.

     He entered the food shop and bought a loaf of bread. The shopkeeper stared at him, pity shining in his eyes. Aldon gave him an icy look. He didn't like to be pitied. People only pitied the weak. Aldon was not weak.

     He exited the shop and bit into the bread. In a few moments he had devoured it. Looking up, he saw that the dark night sky was covered with dark rainclouds. He groaned. Rain. That was all that he needed. The first few droplets appeared on the Acara's blue coat. He shivered and looked around for shelter and a place to spend the night. After all, it was getting late.

     He went down a short alleyway to where a few old cardboard boxes lay. He chose the largest of these, and scrambled into it. He pulled his coat around him and closed his eyes. He liked sleeping. In his dreams he could escape, get away from reality. He liked to sleep for hours on end, days even.

     He soon drifted into slumber.

     *

     "Um, excuse me mister, but this is where I sleep."

     Aldon forced his eyes open. "Wha..." he groaned.

     "This is where I sleep."

     "Whoa!" Aldon jumped. There was a small yellow Aisha leaning over him. "Hey kid, don't sneak up on people like that." He paused. That was the first time in ages that he had spoken a sentence to another Neopet. And probably the first time in his life that he had spoken to somebody younger than himself.

     The Aisha jumped back. Obviously she had only just realised how much older than herself he was. "S... s... sorry mister, it's just that I sleep here. Not five star accommodation, as you can see, but I need somewhere to sleep and apparently the Royal Neopian isn't accepting homeless beggars at the moment." She grinned.

     Aldon stared at her. Was it his imagination, or had that child just cracked a joke?

     The Aisha saw his face and laughed. "Wow, you look as though you've never heard a joke before!"

     The truth was that Aldon had never heard a joke before, apart from ones he'd overheard from other people. He'd never really seen the point. He was homeless, poor, hungry and dirty. Laughing wouldn't solve any of his problems, so why bother with it?

     The girl laughed again and sat down beside him. He shuffled away from her. She smiled. "My name's Alicia," she said. Then she studied him a bit more closely. "You're very sad. I can sense it. You've led a very lonely and sad life."

     The older Neopet flinched. "How... how did you know that?" he asked.

     Alicia shrugged. "I don't know. I can just pick these things up. I'm not sure, but I think the stars gave me the gift."

     "The stars?" Aldon was shocked. How could the stars give anyone a gift? They were just useless bits of twinkling light in the sky. Nothing important. He remembered looking at the Starry paint brush in the shop window. He hadn't changed his mind. Stars were, and always would be, useless and pointless.

     Alicia seemed to be able to read his mind. "Well, I talk to the stars a lot, and I wish upon one every night, even when the sky is covered in cloud and I can't see them."

     "But that's so pointless! Stars have never done anything for me, and they never will. It's just coincidence if a wish comes true. Stars have nothing, absolutely nothing to do with it!" he yelled.

     Alicia looked hurt. "Perhaps they've never done anything for you because you never asked them to," she whispered.

     Aldon was silent. Perhaps she was right. There were so many things in his life that he had never given a chance. Perhaps if he gave the stars a chance they could help him.

     "Look... Alicia... I'm sorry. I didn't mean to hurt your feelings. It's just, well, nothing's ever gone right for me in life, so..."

     "It's alright," the Aisha said. "I know how you feel. I've had pretty rotten luck too. But I've learnt to look on the bright side of things. If I wasn't homeless, perhaps I would never have met my best friends, the stars." She smiled.

     And for the first time in years, Aldon smiled as well. It felt strange. Strange but good. He smiled a bit wider, hoping to make the feeling last. He suddenly made up his mind about what to do.

     "You know, life on the streets gets a bit lonely sometimes," he said. "Perhaps if you came along with me..."

     "Oh, that would be great!" Alicia beamed. Her face was lit up. "I get lonely too, you know. As hard as I try to be optimistic, there's always a part of me that's sad, and lonely." She sighed.

     "Don't worry," Aldon said. The Aisha smiled, and yawned. She lay down, and Aldon put his coat over her. In a matter of moments she was asleep.

     But the Acara didn't lie down beside her too quickly. Instead he sat awake and thought. He thought about his life, and how Alicia had changed his impression on it. For the first time in a long time he felt hopeful. He felt that he really could do something with his life, if he wanted to.

     Looking at Alicia lying on the ground beside him, he realised that he did care for someone. And that some on had turned his life around. And that someone was lying right in front of him. He pushed one of her fine brown locks off her face and smiled at her.

     He yawned and prepared to lie down to sleep. Then he remembered that there was one more thing that he had to do.

     He looked up at the sky. The clouds had cleared, and the stars were shining down brightly. He looked up at their lights, lights that were guiding a lost traveller on his way. One seemed to shine more brightly than the others.

     Aldon picked this star out and concentrated on it.

     He smiled.

     And made his wish.

The End

 
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