A Change of Name
“Hey, Hayden! Or Miley! Or Crystal, or Cat, or whatever you’re calling yourself this month!”
I awoke to the insane-sounding shouting of my owner, Danielle. I groaned inwardly; she didn’t even remember the name I had chosen for this month!
Once I was downstairs and eating breakfast, she asked through a mouthful of food, “What are you calling yourself this month with your new look?”
Yeah, I’m a lab rat. Nobody knows my true name. With every look, I change my name. Last month, when I was a fire Lupe, my name was Hayden. This month, I’m a rather pretty Faerie Lupe. “Danielle, can’t you remember? I’m Holly this month.”
Danielle sighed. “Well, do you want to re-enroll yourself at Neoschool?”
I nodded eagerly, my face brightening. “Can I?”
She nodded, poking at her cereal with her spoon. “Yeah. Whatever. Look, I’ve got to go and get Lucy” [my younger sister, a pink Kougra] “from the neighbor, since she slept over.”
I shrugged. “I’m going to Neoschool. See you.”
I grabbed my backpack on the way out the door, noting that I needed a new one. This lilac wouldn’t do; it was the color of my wings.
I walked briskly down the sidewalk, waving at random people strolling by. After a few minutes, I realized that I really had to get used to my new look. I hadn’t even remembered I had wings to get to school!
I let a warm thermal of air push up on my wings, lifting me higher. It seemed to take a short time to actually get to Neoschool.
Walking into the hallway, I looked around. I saw the usual - Jonathan slamming his shadow Lupe fists against his locker, once again not able to open it; Oliver (a blue Poogle) strolling over to Tiffany (a white Poogle) and fixing his hair; Kayla (an evil yet pretty Christmas Zafara) strutting about the halls as if she owned the school...
I sighed as I hurried to my homeroom class. Or at least, I think it was now. Since I was going to re-enroll myself, I might be thrown into a different class.
Taking my chances, I trembled up to the teacher, immediately deciding I would be shy. I stuttered, “Uh - I - I’m new here...”
The teacher, Mr. Edwards, smiled. “Hello. Are you sure this is your homeroom?”
Silently I prayed to myself. A few days ago I had released a Light Faerie in a bottle. Hopefully she would help me out by enrolling me here. “I think so.”
Mr. Edwards frowned, looking down his nose through his glasses at the roll sheet. “Hmm. What is your name?”
“Uh - well...” I thought quickly to come up with a last name. “Uh - my name is Holly, and my last name is... Cook. Holly Cook. My owner’s name is Danielle.”
My brown Kau teacher shrugged. “It looks as if you are enrolled. Go, have a seat.”
I silently thanked the Light Faerie.
When Mr. Edwards called the roll, I almost raised my paw to answer to the name Hayden. I quickly restrained myself.
In front of me, I could hear Jonathan whispering to Oliver. “Hey, where’s the fire Lupe, Hayden? She was funny. I liked her.”
I felt a searing pain within me; it was guilt. I had thought none of my classmates liked me much, even including my pals. Jonathan had been one of my friends. I hoped it would be the same way.
I raised my paw to Holly, and Jonathan looked at me strangely. He snorted to himself. I could hear him whisper to Oliver again. “She looks like she’ll be like Kayla.”
Once again, I felt that guilty feeling. It looked as if I would have to find a new friend.
Lunch was horrible.
I needed a table to sit at.
Unfortunately, that was nearly impossible.
Kayla waved at me, and I acted like I didn’t see her. Oliver and Jonathan leaned over a table that included Tiffany, Vira, and there was an empty seat. For me. At least, for the old me.
I already missed the old me.
In a way, I missed the fiery part of me. The part I had decided to lose. Apparently my friends missed it too. And for that, I felt guilty.
Like it was my fault.
When I walked into the house, slamming the door, Danielle glanced up quickly. “Hay - er - I mean, Holly, I just got a bill for you to go to school as Holly. Are you sure you want it to be this way?”
It took a while for me to answer that.
Danielle cocked her head. “Are you okay? You’ve never doubted yourself before.”
At the worried look on her face, I felt a strange feeling. It was like I didn’t want anyone to worry about me. I felt a strange angry feeling. It was weird; I’d only felt that way when I was Cat, or Catherine.
I made a choking sound before answering. “Danielle,” I growled, “It’s FINE.”
She shrugged. “Okay. I’m paying it tonight, okay? You still have a chance for the rest of the day...”
There was a decision to be made. A huge one. So I ignored the large pile of homework papers on the floor in my room and grabbed something to carry my Neopoints in. It was time to head for the Marketplace.
Winging it to the story-telling campfire, I sat down in a chair nearby. I wasn’t listening to that. I was talking to an old friend of mine, one that knew my secret, someone besides Lucy and Danielle.
Unfortunately, a certain Christmas Zafara was there also.
“Midnight, this is so weird. I can’t answer to Hayden anymore. I have to answer to Holly. I mean, I like changing things up a bit, but...”
“Maybe you shouldn’t be a lab rat. Stay in a color, gender, and species you like,” suggested the shadow Uni with a shrug.
“But it’s too late for that. I liked being Hayden, I just didn’t realize it until it was gone. I don’t like being shy little Holly. I liked fiery friendly Hayden. And before that, when I was Allison and a golden Kacheek? That was no fun. I was weaker than I was as a Lupe.”
“Well, I guess there’s nothing you can do about that now. That is, unless you free a really special Bottled Faerie, or get a magical fire Lupe plushie...”
I smiled, and if it was a cartoon I swear a lightbulb would have clicked on over my head. “You know what? You’re right...!”
Not having enough time to buy anything at the Marketplace that day, I just finished off my homework and ran to school the next day.
I walked into the classroom happily, looking forward to this afternoon, when my change would be. That is, if I had enough Neopoints.
But when Hayden was called, somebody else shouted out.
“She’s in here.”
Everyone looked around. “Where?” questioned Jonathan, one eyebrow raised.
“Right behind you, silly. Don’t you recognize her? Yeah, that one.”
I turned around and looked around, really wanting to save this. “Who’s Hayden?” I asked, trying to be convincing.
Jonathan said loudly, “Yeah, where is she?”
Kayla stomped her foot. “Behind you, buffoon! The Faerie Lupe!”
He stared at me, Holly, for a long time. I returned the intent look.
The shadow Lupe gasped. “It is!”
I gawked at him, my eyes widening in concern. That intent look must have given away a bit of the fiery me. Before I could stop myself, I gasped out, “No!”
Jonathan glared at me, angry. “You never told me!”
“This is going too far!”
Everyone stopped at the huge bang. Mr. Edwards brandished a stick over his desk. “Much too far! Enough! Holly, are you Hayden or Holly?”
Kayla added, “Don’t forget Allison!”
Veronica, on the other side of the classroom, gasped. “I thought Allison moved!”
“That’s what we all thought!” shouted Kayla.
That’s what I thought, too.
Everyone hated me.
That was it.
I ran to the store and stared through the window at the Bottled Faeries. Pity welled up in my stomach. Their problems are worse than mine.
Trying to buy as many as possible, I bought over five. I freed them all before I got home.
None of them stopped to thank me.
Danielle didn’t know what was wrong with me. She tried everything. I stayed locked in my room for days. This was horrible. I hated the world.
On Monday, I didn’t hear the fluttering of tiny wings outside my window. Fortunately it was open.
A bright ball of light bounced inside my room, nearly blinding me. I blinked, attempting to clear my eyes.
Tiny Faeries were fluttering everywhere.
And again, through my window, came the Queen herself.
“Fyora!” was all that came out of my mouth. She smiled dazzlingly and replied.
“Hayden, Holly, Allison, Crystal, Catherine. Whichever name you are, you were incredibly helpful to the Bottled Faeries today. You freed more than five, which is more than many people do.”
I shrugged, shy like Holly.
She continued. “Here, can you try and lift this ball of light?”
I tried, but I was weak, like Allison.
“Can you dazzle me?”
I thought hard and a crystal landed in my paw, like I had been able to do like Crystal.
“I feel sorry for you.”
That same strange feeling surged through me, like Catherine.
“Hayden, I hope this helps your friends forgive you.”
She waved her hand over my head, and continued, “This is your gift... from all of the Faeries.”
I changed into a fiery Lupe, friendly like Hayden.
That day, I went to Neoschool. When I showed up, people ignored me. I didn’t care. I was happy being me. It didn’t matter what my name was. In fact, I wanted to use my true name.
In class, Mr. Edwards had us write our signatures on the white board. When I went up, I felt all eyes on me. Everyone wanted to know what my real name was.
“Use your real name for once!” I heard Jonathan yell.
So I signed the board in flourishing letters.
Zyla Kallie Scarblade