Faeries Among Us
The Second-Hand Shoppe is something of a joke compared to the colorful array of buildings around it. Nothing but a cardboard box, fashioned into some semblance of a building. A tattered awning offers a bit of shade, while the ancient brick chimney leaks smoke.
I step through the doors, the weak tinkling of a bell announcing my entrance. Through the dim light and overwhelming smell of mothballs, I can make out some of the free items offered here: A dusty pink boa thrown casually over a coat rack, a pirate outfit (complete with hook) crumpled in a corner. And dung. More dung than I have ever seen in my life laid out neatly on their own shelf, giving off a powerful stench that makes my eyes water.
“Can I help you?” The soft, slightly weary voice belongs to the yellow Ruki that mans the cash register. He is the Neopet that has given his time and resources in an effort to provide even the poorest Neopians with clothing.
“Um, I'm looking for...” I consult the slip of paper in my hand, “Annika.”
The Ruki smiles.
“Yes, she's in the back. I unfortunately can't afford to leave the register, but if you would just go through there.” He motions behind him to a ragged green curtain.
Most Neopians, myself among them up until recently, thought that every grey faerie spent most of their lives obsessed with getting their new name and, consequently, their powers and a new set of wings. However, several eyewitness accounts have claimed that that there is in fact one such faerie by the name of Annika who has chosen to abandon the faerie life and instead live and work among us regular folk.
When I step through the curtain, I am immediately overwhelmed by the sheer amount of items in this room. Boxes upon boxes of clothing with things like 'Shirts' and 'ballet tutus' scrawled on them in permanent marker are everywhere.
Annika has her back to me, showing the remains of her wings like tattered gray silk. She is muttering feverishly to herself, consulting a clipboard every once in a while.
I clear my throat nervously and she turns to face me, her annoyed glare at being interrupted replaced with one of surprise.
“Who are you?” she asks.
“Um, I write for the Neopian Times and was wondering if you would consent to an interview.”
At first, it seems that she will refuse. But then she sets her clipboard down and perches on one of the many boxes. “Go ahead.”
“Alright.” I sit on another box opposite her, pulling out a pen and pad. Here is our conversation, written in classic interview style, of course.
Viz: So, Annika--did I pronounce that right?--what caused you, first of all, to become a grey faerie?
Annika: Well, I used to be a fire faerie, but I've never really been good at it. I mean, I was decent, but... Okay, I was very bad.
V: How so?
A: Well, there were many... incidents. But I think the last straw was when I set Fyora's gown on fire by accident.
V: Fyora? The queen of the faeries?!
A: The very same. Most Neopians I've met think that grey faeries get their wings taken away because some villain wants to take away their power. But really, if enough of the faeries agree, they can be removed as a punishment.
V: And what did the other faeries expect you to do?
A: Probably just mope around for all eternity, I guess.
V: So what brought you here?
A: To tell the truth, I never did like Faerieland much. You wouldn't believe just how uppity the other faeries can get. Plus, it's so boring. What do they do for society, anyway? Heal pets? Feed them? Their owners should be able to do that.
V: I see. So you just went around asking for a job?
A: Basically. But of course, the shopkeepers are nearly as bad as the faeries. They said they didn't need any help; they could do it themselves. A few even went so far as to say I looked too shabby to work for them. So one day, I was just wandering around, when I saw this little shop. It seemed like we almost had something in common—not very flashy, not very attractive. So I went inside and asked for a job.
V: Uh-huh. The owner seems to be very generous.
A: Oh, he is. Very much so. He didn't really have any openings, and he couldn't pay me even if there were any, but I could help sort through the donations if I wanted to. Eventually, he took me on full-time once I got the hang of it.
V: Where do you live?
A: I don't need to sleep, so shelter isn't much of an issue. I can eat, but again I can go without food. But I suppose it's important to all creatures just to have somewhere to call home, you know? So I stay with the owner. He lives upstairs in a little apartment.
V: Do you feel like you're making a difference to the people and pets of Neopia?
A: Yes, I do. Maybe I don't provide a service as essential as the Soup Faerie (who by the way is not as nice as you might think), but every pet deserves to feel special, to have something that sets them apart, no matter how much money their owner has.
V: How long do you plan on staying?
A: As long as I feel needed here. If the owner no longer needs my assistance, I could always catch the next boat to Jelly World.
V: But Jelly World doesn't exist.
A: And neither do white Weewoos. But then again, no one thought that a faerie would end up working at the Secondhand Shoppe, right?
V: Touche. Thank you for doing this interview. I hope I didn't make you fall too far behind.
A: Well, you could always help me sort through this box we just got in...
So there you have it, folks. I got an interview with the elusive Annika, a grey faerie working and living among us. I will be searching for other unappreciated faeries who make their living outside Faerieland. In the meantime, there was a rather large box of plastic tiaras calling my name, and I was too polite to refuse. Unfortunately, I'm kind of deathly allergic to dust. And fake feathers. And rhinestones.
Join me next time for an insider's look at the Neopian Hospital!