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Only a Blanket


by yellowsugardog

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I remember that first day as if it was yesterday.

      I was sitting inside of a shop, minding my own business, when I heard the bell above the shop door jingle slightly. Someone was there, and perhaps it was finally my day to go home. To be bought and held dearly, as all blankets should be.

      I listened intently, seeing as that was all I could do, and all I thought I’d ever be able to do. I couldn’t see. Blankets don’t get much credit, you know.

      The shopper said no words. As I felt the fall air rustle as she walked up, she yanked me off the shelf and stuffed me into a bag. I felt her take out a bag of Neopoints from beside me and scoop out less than a tenth of what was in the bag.

      That made me feel loved and high in value.

      She placed the coins on my shopkeeper’s desk and rushed me out of the shop. I felt the warm, familiar air of the shop overwhelm me one last time before saying goodbye for good, seeing as that place had been my surroundings, my home, for days. I’ve learned that not many people go out of their way to buy a Baby Security Blanket, and I had been sitting in there for ages since I randomly appeared in Neopia.

      The shopping bag I was stuffed in was made of paper. Not only did the bag and I get thrown against her leg every few steps, but I also heard a loud paper-crinkling noise every few seconds. By the way her feet were pounding against the road, I could tell she was in a rush to get wherever she was going. I could also tell she was a bit excited, seeing as her feet danced slightly as she pounded into the dirt.

      I heard many busy, hurrying Neopians around me. Some talked in high pitched, beyond annoying voices, while others were trying too hard to sound tough. And some were normal. Well, most seemed normal to my ears. I’ve learned that you never know with those Neopians - they could sound like a red Mynci, but when you hug them, you realize they’re actually a Mutant Elephante.

      After what seemed like eternity, and after passing what seemed to be all of Neopia, this impatient child finally came to a stop. It was a relief to stop worrying about flying out of the bag, but the feeling of nervous curiosity replaced my concern. Where were we?

      “I’d like a Gelert, please.”

      She speaks! I could tell, by her voice, that she was excited, but I couldn’t tell about what. Yet.

      “What colour?” A Neopet spoke softly and encouragingly, and I could hear him scribbling on a clipboard.

      “Yellow.”

      “We have plenty of Yellow Gelerts to create.” I could feel his smile beaming on me, although I still couldn’t see anything. “Why don’t you walk over to this booth over here, and pick the other details, like your pet’s gender and name.”

      I had understood by now. The Impatient Child was creating a Neopet. I didn’t mind her walking to the next booth and flinging my bag, seeing as I was now absorbed by curiosity.

      “Male. Those stats are fine. Exploring the land, smiling sweetly...” she had been listing off characteristics of her Gelert, when she realized she had forgotten the most important part - the name. As she stopped, the Neopet scribbling down on the clipboard also halted. “And his name will be... Daemoon.”

      It didn’t take eyes for me to realize the Neopet with a clipboard was now staring at Impatient.

      “That’s a really... unique name. I’ve helped Neopians create thousands of Neopets, but never heard that one...” He scribbled it down on his clipboard, and other feet shuffled into the room. I could hear those feet taking the clipboard, and closing a door.

      “Just wait a few seconds, and your new friend will be all ready to go...”

      The door opened again, and this time I could hear clumsy new paws patter against the floor.

      Impatient squealed happily, and I could feel her drop my bag to the floor with a thud. Ouch.

      A tiny “Ooof” escaped from the new pet’s mouth as Impatient collided with him in a huge hug. Daemoon was silent as he searched his environment, soaking in everything he could about Neopia and life. My bag was picked up, and we began to walk once more.

      This walk was much shorter. Within no time at all, we were next to a fountain. And as young pets squealed, “Look Mom! The Paint Brush really did work!” I decided we were at the fabled Rainbow Pool, and Daemoon was about to get painted.

      Sure enough, I could hear Daemoon exclaim his first words happily, as Impatient dropped my bag (again) and reached into her pocket.

      “A Baby Paint Brush?!” Daemoon hopped into the air excitedly.

      Then, with an action that did not take eyes or ears to understand, I could tell Daemoon was changing. Sparkles traveled throughout the air and enveloped me gently, proof that the magic was working nearby. Warmth tickled my brand new cloth, and a strange sense of happiness overwhelmed me. We were in a bubble of magic in the gentle autumn breeze... a gasp escaped Daemoon’s mouth as the sparkles faded away. He stared into the pooled water, admiring his changes.

      “You look so amazing!”

      Daemoon laughed slightly. “Thank you, Mom. I couldn’t thank you enough...” Then, with his new baby colour kicking in, he yawned and I could picture his eyes flickering.

      “Oh dear... you look so sleepy! Here, we’ll skip the tour of Neopia for today, and instead I’ll give you a tour of your bedroom.” Impatient sounded so much more patient now that she had a tiny Gelert to care for.

      Impatient grunted slightly, but still managed to cradle Daemoon in her arms. I could feel the air move as she rocked him gently, a compassionate lullaby to help him sleep. Impatient’s gentle fingertips lifted me out of the bag, and placed me on Daemoon’s warm belly. He stroked me gently, admiring my fuzzy exterior, and his breathing began to slow as he approached dreamland. As his clumsy, feeble paws clutched me for protection and comfort, I nestled as close to him as possible.

      As he finally drifted asleep, I promised him I’d always be there for him, even if I was only a blanket.

      Before I knew it, Fall had been long gone, and Winter had now dominated.

      And when I had thought that Impatient seemed more patient when Daemoon had been around... boy, I was wrong. Four months after Daemoon, or Moon as we began to call him, came into Impatient’s home, he was almost wishing for a way out. Note the almost.

      You see, Impatient had started out adoring how tiny and dependent Moon was. He must have looked so adorable those days. And he still probably does. However, Impatient was angry that he wasn’t growing up. She was beginning to get frustrated that Moon still acted like he was a baby, which of course, he was. So Impatient piled on the chores, limited the free time, and stopped giving any attention to Moon whatsoever. She had her eye on another Neopet, a different creature to call her own. The gentle fingers that had caressed Moon in the beginning were about to slam the door in the end. Slam the door leading away from the house.

      Which is precisely what happened the day before Christmas. Cheapskate.

      Moon had been sleeping soundly when I felt Impatient fling the door open. I felt Moon jump at the noise of snow and wind rushing through the door, and I could feel him tremble when the sting of the flurry hit his face. Yet Impatient lived up to the nickname I gave her once again. I was expecting to feel anger and rage radiating off of her as she picked Moon and me up, but I felt nothing - her once gentle fingers were now callused, and her once warm heart was now cold. With no change in emotion, no change in decision, she placed us on the freezing doorstep and closed the door.

      Tears flowed from Moon’s eyes as he stood there, confused, cold, and heartbroken. He did not make a sniffling noise, nor reached to wipe the tears from his eyes. Instead he began to plow his feet through the rapidly forming snow, with me draped around his back like a cape. I radiated as much heat as I could, although I am still unsure to this day if he felt it. I knew we were going toward the pound, for that was the only place Moon could think of to go next.

      I began to get soaked as Moon’s paws began to freeze, and I suddenly began to wonder and fear what was to become of us. Fortunately the snow had just started falling when we were thrown out of Impatient’s home. He could still see the major landmarks then. But now, an hour later of walking, everything was becoming much more distorted to his eyes. I could tell by the way he doubted his every step, and looked around at his surroundings more frequently.

      Moon was getting tired. I could sense it. If we didn’t get somewhere warm and sheltered, he would... I tried not to think about it. Instead, I acted.

      I could feel warmth coming from not too far away. It was a very gentle warmth, and not extremely close, but it could end up being something of use.

      Desperately trying to save Moon, I allowed the wind to catch me. The snow drift’s wind blew me right out of Moon’s tired paws, and I began to fly toward the warmth.

      Moon, realizing his only comfort was being carried away, found strength he didn’t know he had in this frigid storm. Bolting after me, he bounded in the snow as if he naturally belonged in this environment. I could hear his perfectly calculated leaps and gentle paw steps coming toward me from the snow.

      Suddenly I hit something. It felt like glass. The wind spread me out my full length against the glass, holding me in position. And bringing Moon toward this place.

      The warmth was greater now. In fact, it was inside whatever this glass was protecting.

      Moon came seconds after, and nearly crashed into the glass himself. But that was right before he gasped.

      “An old abandoned shop.” Moon gently picked me off of the glass, and with the hand he was holding me with, he rubbed snow off of a bronze sign. I felt the number six engraved in the sign. “The sixth shop. The one that doesn’t exist anymore.”

      If you don’t believe Moon, try finding the sixth Neopian shop. The Beauty Shop is number 5, and the Main Books Shop is number 7, but there is no sixth shop.

      He walked over to the ancient door, and jiggled the doorknob handle a bit. It seemed locked at first, but then, without warning, the door creaked open with an unwelcome tone.

      Moon walked inside, dragging me. There was obviously nobody else in there. So, without another word or any question, Moon crawled to the corner of the abandoned shop. He covered himself with me for warmth, and closed his eyes to escape the cold. As I reached up to his face, I found that the frigid ice I had felt from his back was not only snow, but his frozen tears brushing against my cloth tips.

      Yet Moon slept soundly and peacefully, temporarily forgetting about all that had forgotten him. He twitched slightly in his sleep, but overall was still.

      Morning brought rude awakening.

      An old Lenny slowly walked down the creaking stairway leading to the storage room above. I had bumped into one of his feathers the night before, and now I realized that we weren’t entirely alone. I could feel the gentle dawn sunlight streaming in through the old windows, so I knew the snow had stopped, if temporarily.

      But we weren’t safe yet.

      I couldn’t wake Moon up. It was a hopeless feeling, waiting for the Lenny to harm my friend, harm the one I was supposed to watch out for. But blankets aren’t supposed to move. The Lenny dragged Moon up the stairs, and Moon dragged me. The entire time Moon was thrashing and trying to escape, but he still clung to me, and I tried my best to tell him I was going to help.

      How, I didn’t know.

      Slam. The door to downstairs shut. We must have been in some sort of storage room, or perhaps a bedroom, either of them belonging to a Lenny who had been out of work for ages.

      “Kid, what were you doing in my shop?”

      Before he could even answer, he was running. I felt him leap, and felt the fresh air surround me...

      An open window. He had jumped through an open window.

      I spread myself out as Moon tried to use me as a parachute. It didn’t work too well, seeing as we didn’t start out from that high up, and I’m a blanket, not a parachute. But it still broke his fall a little bit. Enough that he didn’t break any bones.

      Moon didn’t stop when he hit the floor. He kept running. All the way to Neopia Central, which was a mile away. Pretty tough for a baby. I felt him swing open the doors to the Pound, and shyly walk on in.

      “Hello. My name is Daemoon. My owner doesn’t want me anymore, and...”

      “Ahh, follow me this way. I’m truly sorry about your situation, and I promise I’ll do the best I can in helping you find a new owner.” I could sense exaggerated kindness in his voice, but he still seemed willing and ready to help. “You can call me Dr. Death. I know, creepy last name. Whichever one of those humans that decided to name me thought it’d be funny.” He snarled slightly, but then continued acting happy.

      Both I and Moon were slightly creeped out at this random display of outgoing happiness. After all, he did work at the pound, and did have to deal with depressed Neopets all day.

      Suddenly Moon was screaming, and I heard a strange noise. It sounded like liquid swishing around. He leaped into the air, dodging something, as a stream of liquid missed him and hit the floor inches from me.

      Suddenly I realized; it was the container for a shot, filled with medicine. Dr. Death had missed him. And I’m pretty sure Moon didn’t sign up for that.

      “It’s just a shot to make transporting you to the cage easier!!”

      I tried to lift myself, but it was no use. Once again, I am only a blanket. But Moon got the idea. Flinging me in the air, he threw me at Dr. Death’s face. I made sure I blinded his eyes, refusing to let him see anything.

      Dr. Death yelled in rage, while Moon scurried to spin him around in circles, confusing him and disorienting him like it was a game of Pin the Tail on the Peophin.

      I heard shoes squeak against the tile floor, and the movement of long hair, implying that a girl was charging at us.

      “What is going on here?”

      I could tell by her voice she was both compassionate but cautious, wondering what was going on in this crazy hallway with these crazy fighting Neopets being covered by a *sane* blanket.

      Both Moon and Dr. Death backed up, me now in Moon’s shaking paws. Moon was the first to speak, rudely interrupting Dr. Death.

      “He tried to give me a shot! I was trying to defend myself. He says it’s to make me easier to transport or something, and I get the feeling I’d be forced asleep.”

      I could feel the girl’s caution fading, and I could tell it was replaced with rage.

      “Is this true, Dr. Death?”

      Without giving him time to decide what to say, the girl grabbed Moon’s other paw and shook it gently. “My name is Kathleen. And I’m looking for a pet, seeing as I’ve never had one. You’re adorable... and willing to stand up for yourself, two things I haven’t seen in all the pets I’ve been looking at.” She paused and I could feel her smile, her genuine excitement. “Would you like to be my pet?”

      I could feel Moon tighten his grip on me, but he still nodded his head. More genuine excitement. Hey, at least this girl introduced herself, so I didn’t have to make up a name for her.

      “You seem much better than my last owner...”

      As Moon’s voice trailed off, I heard Dr. Death grumble as he left the room, and promptly return with another set of clomping feet. These feet belonged to a Uni, seeing as her footsteps were obviously lined with hooves.

      “So, you want to adopt Daemoon?”

      I sat there for the longest time, wondering how well this ‘Kathleen’ was going to end up. Would I have to drag Moon back to the pound, only to have his hopes shattered once more?

      “You’re now ready to take your wonderful new pet home!” The Uni was also faking happiness, but it was too late to worry about her way of dealing with pets. They were almost out the door. “If you have any problems, let us know.”

      “After that display?” Kathleen laughed slightly and then shut the door, jingling a little bell that sounded identical to the one I had heard on my first day. “Not a chance.”

      As soon as we left the pound, she scooped both of us into her arms. Instead of letting a grunt escape, her smile seemed to get more compassionate as she cradled us. “You’re going to love our home. I’m not rich or anything, so it’s not exactly a mansion, but it’s cozy and the perfect place for a baby Neopet as yourself.”

      We were walking right past the Money tree, past that place with the loud beggars and poor, scrawny whiners. The breeze ruffled the leaves of the trees slightly. If I could see, it probably would have been a beautiful day. The Beekadoodles were chirping, the children were playing joyfully, the Weewoos were... wooing...

      Along with the loud whining, I almost didn’t hear voices from almost directly below us. Quiet voices from a tunnel Moon and Kathleen were about to tumble into.

      I let myself get caught on a branch.

      In fact, I got caught so well Moon and Kathleen tumbled backward. I ripped. Yet I didn’t complain - only listened more intently to see what exactly was going on. Moon and Kathleen were safe, and although I was now stained and torn, I felt safe as well. (See how I like this part of the story? So humble.)

      “Sorry, my blanket got caught and ripped.”

      “Moon, look a foot in front of you.”

      I felt Moon move forward and then gasp quietly. “That... there’s a shovel sticking up in that hole. If we would have taken one more step, we would have fallen and...”

      “Hey!” One of the men inside the tunnel shouted at Kathleen and Moon. “Are you alright? Didn’t you see the sign?”

      “Warning, large tunnel built for no apparent reason is right below.” Kathleen muttered to herself. “Lovely sign I might add. It’s smaller than a meepit.” Now she was shouting calmly down to the workers, wondering exactly why this sign was placed there.

      “Sorry about that. We were asked to build this tunnel, no idea why.” I could tell the worker shrugged at that point, simply because of how he paused. “It’s twenty feet deep, though. And some of our tools are sticking straight up. Good thing you didn’t fall in... it could have cost more than a medical bill.” I heard the worker move some of the tools away, obviously now worried about putting others in danger.

      “Your blanket.” Kathleen picked me off the tree branch, and gently rubbed her hand against me. “I don’t quite know how, but your blanket jolted us enough off the ground to fall backward. Just by getting stuck to the Money Tree.” She rubbed my newly formed scar, and then handed me to Moon. “I think it’s safe to say that your blanket somehow saved us. Wouldn’t give it *too* much credit though, seeing as I don’t usually talk to inanimate objects.”

      Heh, if only she knew.

      As we walked home that night, I made sure they were more cautious. And that first night, the first night that I’d love to remember, brought me my first patch. My first non-matching, sewn on defection.

      But I sure am proud.

      You see, I have at least fifty of those now.

      That summer was the best of my life. Moon took me everywhere, and although I looked like I had been everywhere BUT the washer machine or the sewing machine, I had a blast. Water park? The slide was a blast. Beach? I still smell of salt. Park? Don’t throw me like a basketball ever again.

      I could end my lovely little story right here, and finish it off very satisfying. Kind of a cheesy ‘Happily Ever After’ ending, but most stories do that now anyways.

      But I won’t end my story here. After all, I hadn’t been sitting on that shelf for two years, untouched, for nothing.

      Moon grew up.

      You see, Kathleen painted him Shadow. She decided it was time for a colour change after having for six months, and he’s been that way ever since. But along with not being a baby, came the fact he couldn’t act like one. So I was put on that shelf, my scars and patches and stains and all, put there permanently.

      But my story doesn’t end there either.

      In fact, as I cradle you in your crib, I realize this might be yet another beginning. Yet another first day to remember.

      I can’t believe you accepted this weathered Baby Security Blanket, Niteluna. Or just Luna, as these people call you. I am disgusting, falling apart, and some might even say ruined.

      Yet you’re holding me just as Moon did on his first day, cuddling me as best as a baby Kougra can. I see the sibling resemblance. You’ll make a great friend for Moon, even if he’s a bit older now. Even if it’s only been your first day, and I was taken off the shelf as soon as this story began, I know you’ll be amazing.

      I know I smell of dust. I know I look like I was in the Tyrannian War. But I can assure you I’ll be as loyal to you as I was to your brother. You do remind me so much of him; after all, it is even the same season I met him.

      You know, I can’t even tell if you’ve heard anything I’ve told you. I might have just been rambling my story on and on to myself, hoping for an audience.

      If you have been ignoring everything I’ve said, please open your mind for these final words. Please listen to what I say next, for it is a promise I have never broken. Even with your brother, when I tackled an angry Techo.

      I promise you I’ll always be there for you, even if I’m only a blanket...

           ***

      Luna woke up quietly. A patched blanket had been draped over her fuzzy Kougra belly. Something, she could tell, was special about this artifact. It seemed to vibrate from all the secrets it held, all the past and potential it contained. Snuggling closer, Luna decided to give this old blanket a chance, just a chance to be only her blanket...

The End

 
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