Do You Still Love Me?
I sat in my bedroom, gently stroking my silky blue fur and staring in the mirror. Looking back, I saw a young Xweetok with luxurious brown and blue fur and icy blue eyes. I loved my eyes. I wished then that my whole body could shimmer icily like my eyes did.
I cringed. “Coming, Mom.” But I didn’t want to come. I knew what was happening. Only that morning my mother had come home with all nine pieces of the map that would lead us to the secret laboratory. And now that she was calling, it meant she had found a rowboat we could use.
Dejectedly I dragged myself from my room and went to the front door. “Xeeva, grab a coat, sweety. It’ll be cold out on the water.”
“I don’t want to go.” And I didn’t. All my friends had been there and all of them told me it wasn’t fun. Sure, there was the chance of getting painted, but I didn’t really want to change my colour. I was happy just the way I was. And many times my mom talked about how much she loved me, so I figured she must have liked me the way I was too.
“Why ever not?”
“Because my friends said it’s scary there.”
“Nonsense. Come on.” And so I was bundled into a coat, scarf and hat and dragged halfway across Neopia.
When we finally caught sight of the island, I shivered, though not because of the salty ocean spray. The island was covered by high mountains and looked rather spooky to me. We rowed ashore and got out, me feeling terrified and Mom looking thrilled.
She hustled me into a dark room where a scary guy in a white coat looked me over. His skin was sickly yellow and his hair looked as if it had been caught in a toaster. I didn’t want to go anywhere near him.
And as it turns out, I didn’t have to. He came near me. He shoved me hard until I was standing on a red X on the floor. I looked up. Suspended above my head was something that looked rather like a death ray. All around me machinery that I knew I would never understand buzzed and clanked.
The crazy guy (I was beginning to think he was a supposed to be a Scorchio) went over to some controls. My mom was looking down at me with a dreamy look on her face and I suddenly knew what she must be thinking. She talked often about wanting a faerie Peophin. Called it her dream pet. She had also told me she had another dream pet, but she always refused to say what it was. She wanted me to become that faerie Peophin, I was sure.
The insane scientist flipped a switch and I closed my eyes tightly. I felt a tingling throughout my whole body and suddenly I felt a little weak. I opened one eye. “Is it over yet?” My voice was squeaky.
My mom nodded and moved to look at a little screen. I looked too. I read it aloud.
“The ray is fired at Xeeva and she loses three strength points.” I frowned; no wonder I felt weak. I looked up at Mom to find her frowning too and suddenly I felt afraid and sad. I wanted her to be happy with me. I didn’t ever want to be pounded or given away.
I thought about this during most of the trip home and finally brought up the question, “Do you still love me?”
She looked shocked and I felt relieved. “Of course I love you, Xeeva. I loved you when I created you and I love you just as much now.”
“What about your other pets?”
“Xeeva,” she gave me a look, “you ARE my only pet.”
“What about that Peophin?” I grumped.
“Ammi was only with us for a short while. When she got zapped by Boochi I gave her to a friend. You know that I still loved you best.”
I thought for a few more minutes. “Would you ever give me away?”
“No.” Her voice sounded truthful, but she wasn’t looking at me. I knew then and there that I was going to have to do whatever it took to make sure that she loved me as much as she had on the day I was born.
Thus for two weeks I went with her to the secret laboratory. Every day I let myself get zapped and didn’t say a word of complaint. And then one day it happened. The ultimate horror.
I was feeling the usual tingling sensation when I started to feel something else. I felt like I was... changing. I felt myself getting even more slender than I already was. My teeth felt like they were getting longer and my arms were widening, flattening out. Suddenly I couldn’t even feel my legs anymore. I crashed forward onto the floor and instantly became aware of how cold the hard steel floor actually was.
Mom rushed forward and lifted me off the ground, cradling me in her arms. Walking over to the screen, she held me in front of it so I could see.
“Blah blah blah and she turns into...” I halted. No. It couldn’t be! I looked down at myself and saw to my shock and horror that it was true. I was a Hissi. I tried to twist around to see Mom’s face but could not. She carried me out of there and back to the boat while I cried.
Carefully she put me into the boat and then got in herself and began rowing. I lifted one wing and looked at it, then the other. I swivelled my head and looked at my long tail. Then at my body. It was long and lean. My wings were powerful and my eyesight was better. But I had no legs! I had no clue how on Neopia I was supposed to walk.
Suddenly a horrible thought struck me. What if Mom didn’t want a Hissi? What if she only wanted a Xweetok? Swallowing my fears, I opened my new mouth. “Mom, do you still love me?”
She turned around and looked at me, her eyes appraising every part of my lithe body before replying, “Yes, Xeeva, very much so.”
I wanted to believe her, but I could not understand the look on her face. I had not seen a look like that before, except for the time when I told her I wanted a plushie and she pulled one out from behind her back and handed it to me. I still don’t know how she knew that.
Mom carried me the rest of the way home and finally set me down on the floor. I tried to move forward and toppled onto my face. Placing my wings on the carpet, I pushed up only to find my fangs caught in the fibres. After freeing my mouth from the carpet, I planted my wings firmly on it and pulled forward. It worked, I moved. I also made Mom laugh.
“No, not like that. You have to slither.”
“Well, how do you do that?”
She looked thoughtful. “I don’t know. Stay here a minute.” She left the room and I resumed trying to figure out how to slither.
Suddenly she was in the doorway again, holding my last plate of sushi. “Hey, Xeeva, I’m hungry. You don’t mind, do you?”
The next thing I knew I was on the other side of the room, clutching the plate of sushi to me and hissing at her. She grinned. “I thought that would do it. Now that you know how to slither, why don’t you try flying?”
And so I did. I broke two lamps and knocked over three flower pots before I was shooed into the garden. Before I finally got the hang of it, I smashed two gnomes, ran through a hedge, knocked a few limbs off of some of our trees and effectively demolished the flower bed. But by the time all was said and done, I didn’t care. Flying around, feeling the wind whipping around me, was the most wonderful thing I had ever experienced in my life.
But the euphoria quickly faded when I went to bed and saw myself for the first time in a mirror. Instead of silky fur, I was covered in hard, red scales. My fangs stuck out of my mouth and looked rather silly. And worst of all, my beautiful blue eyes were replaced by yellow.
I was crushed. That night I fell asleep while crying salty tears.
Another week went by. I learned how to do most everything as a Hissi, though I still had not figured out how to ice skate without feet. We went to the laboratory every day.
At the end of the week I was getting zapped as usual when I suddenly found myself having trouble breathing. Mom didn’t even stop to look at the screen. She ran towards me, scooped me up, and ran back towards the ocean. I screamed when suddenly she dumped me in. Or I would have screamed, if I could have even breathed.
But surprisingly I found that as soon as I was in the water my breathing problem was gone. I poked my head out of the water and looked at her. “What happened to me?”
“You got painted.”
“I did! What colour?” Oh, how I hoped it would be purple or pink or something else just as beautiful.
“Wh, what?” I couldn’t believe I had heard her right. If being a Hissi was bad, being stuck in the water would be worse. But I realised she was right. Even my precious wings were gone. I looked up at her. “Do you still love me?”
“Yes, Xeeva, and I always will.”
Mom built herself a hut right there on the beach of that spooky island. She slept there that night and I slept in the water. In the morning she rushed me back to the laboratory. I was zapped quickly.
I felt a change again. I wanted to cry. How much longer would this go on for? Why was I never good enough I wondered? My breathing problem went away and I figured I was no longer Maraquan. Mom would be disappointed; that was an expensive colour. But when I looked up at her, she didn’t look disappointed at all.
Grinning ear to ear, she picked me up again and walked out of the lab. “Um, I can walk, er, slither.”
She ignored me and carried me down to her little hut. I was sweltering. She sat down in front of me and smiled at me. “Xeeva, remember I told you that I had another dream pet? Besides a faerie Peophin?”
I nodded, wondering if she was about to say she was going to trade me for another pet. “Well, I think it’s time I told you what that pet is.”
“More than anything else, I have always wanted an icy Hissi.” She paused and I let the gears in my brain do their thing. I put two and two together and looked down. I was a shimmering, icy blue in colour. And I was roasting.
“Am I? Can I have-“
“A mirror?” She pulled one out and gave it to me.
I looked at my reflection and almost cried, but not because I was sad. I was beautiful. I was smooth and shiny, my whole body an icy blue like I had always wanted. And I had my wings back.
“You mean, I’m your dream pet?”
“Yes, Xeeva, you are. I didn’t want my dream pet to be just any pet; it had to be really special. I knew it had to be you.”
“So, you still love me?”
She laughed and hugged me. “Oh, Xeeva, I have always loved you. I love you more than all the neopoints in Neopia.”
I smiled as we went home that day. As it turned out, we had to move to Terror Mountain so that I didn’t melt. And buying a Snowickle for me proved to be somewhat of a challenge. But I didn’t mind any of it. I was beautiful. And more importantly I knew I was loved, and always had been.
If you are reading this, then it's my first time in the Neopian Times! *dances*