The Meaning of Beauty
I had always been a pretty weird Poogle.
In fact, all my family used to call me Miptie the Mynci, rather than Miptie the Poogle, because I was always doing such strange things and breaking rules. Not bad rules, just the odd playing with my make-up when I was supposed to be in bed or eating between meals. As I said, they weren’t that bad.
However, every once in a while I went a little too far. Once, just as a joke, I went to the Healing Springs, and then tried to go again. I was wearing a costume and I hoped that she wouldn’t recognize me. She did recognize me. Faeries are so clever. And once I booked myself into that really posh hotel, you know, AstroVilla, when I was really supposed to be going to Ye Old Ship Inn, because it was cheaper. My owner pulled me straight out, though, so I didn’t even get to try the ice cream.
I loved ice cream. I was always begging my owner for coupons at Christmas and birthdays, sometimes even between them, even though I knew my owner was always a little low on neopoints. I always loved it when she had earned one thousand neopoints on something, because she treated us – all four of us – to ice cream. Yum!
Even though my owner was a little short on neopoints, she did have one thing she showed off about all the time. Me. You see, Poogles were considered pretty special, and her and her friends loved them. So they positively adored me. I’m not showing off, really. Just stating a fact...
Anyway, she always kept me looking super-gorgeous, buying new grooming supplies whenever she had a little spare cash. I mean, obviously she got stuff for all the others too; books; toys; stationery, depending on which of them she was buying for.
Privately I always had a sneaking suspicion that she maybe liked me just a teeny bit more than the others, because she seemed to buy me a little more stuff than she bought the others, and she was showing off about me all the time to her friends, but then I mentioned that to my siblings and my bratty sister told my owner that I had said that and I was in such trouble. She even made me go to Fleapit Motel when the others went to Faerie Castle.
I bet she wishes she hadn’t sent me there now – because that was where I did the worst thing ever.
So I was sitting in my hotel room, wishing she had booked me in with the ability to go to the tennis courts or the swimming pool, but no, she hadn’t. I was just expected to sit down and do nothing at all. Of course, I never just sit and do nothing; I have to keep doing something, anything. So can you guess what I did?
It was cold outside; the cold wind was sharp and unpleasant, but there was no way I was going back to the hotel; I had to show my owner that there was no way she could do this to me. So I walked through the wind, and the rain, until I reached where I needed to go: the docks.
I had decided to go to Mystery Island, because it was warmer there, and also that there was a fortune teller there I had never been allowed to go see, and I wanted to see them then.
So anyway, as I sat in the boat, wishing it would hurry up, I saw this weird blue scaly thing in the seat opposite me, and, mustering up all my courage, I walked up to it. “Hello.”
The blue creature smiled. “Greetings,” it hissed in a friendly way, sort of like a Hissi. “How are you?” I couldn’t understand; why was it being so nice? How could something as weird looking as that possibly be that nice? It should have been grouchy at the very least.
But I guessed I had to reply, so I tried, “Fantastic, no, erm, not fantastic, I’m, erm, great... good... okay. Yes, I’m okay, erm, you?” Well, I tried, didn’t I?
“I’m fine,” he replied cheerfully, as if I was an old friend of his. There was a silence as I thought what to say back. Should I ask him a question? Compliment him? Talk about the weather? I just didn’t know. Finally I came up with something to say, though it came out ruder than I had hoped it would. “What are you? I mean what species?” He laughed; and then sighed.
“I’m a Techo... well, I sort of am... I’m a mutant. I’ll go now; you probably don’t want to be seen with me...” And with that he got up and left, even though I called and called for him to come back.
When I arrived at Mystery Island, it was starting to get dark, so I decided I would set up camp on the beach until mourning, and start exploring tomorrow.
When I woke up the next day, the sun was only just starting to get into the sky, so there was a beautiful pink light cast over the Mystery Island Sea. I longed to swim in it and I decided that there would probably never be a better time than now, so I ran straight into the sea, and as soon as I felt the cool water around me I felt so relaxed, so happy, so free.
After I had paddled for a bit, I really wanted to go deeper but I wasn’t a great swimmer so I decided to look for a Flotsam that could keep an eye out over me while I experimented with deeper water. After a bit of searching I spotted one and ran up to it. When I got closer, I saw that it was a beautiful striped Flotsam, pale blue with pink stripes.
“Hello,” the Flotsam chimed. “Going for a swim?”
I smiled. “Yes, and I was hoping that you would come with me?”
The Flotsam nodded his head excitedly. “Oh yes! In fact, grab onto my flipper and I’ll take us out to see the Jetsams!” This sounded like a lot of fun so I eagerly grabbed onto his flipper and he swam us far out at sea, until I saw a Jetsam. “Look! There’s one! I saw one!” I yelled.
After we had been searching for a while, I saw something strange, and I had no idea what it was, so I asked my Flotsam friend. “What’s that thing down there?” I pointed down deeper into the water. “Is that a Jetsam?” My friend looked down too, and then suddenly turned around, taking us back to land.
“That’s not a Jetsam... It’s a Flotsam... a mutant Flotsam... they’re so strange!”
When we got back to land, I said goodbye to my friend and headed into the town; I still wanted to see the fortune teller.
The fortune teller’s hut was tall and yellow, and there was a sign saying “Island Mystic”, but no closed sign, so I walked right in.
“Hello,” a voice purred and out came a yellow Kyrii that had island patterns all over him, from behind a curtain. “So you want your fortune told?” Suddenly I started wondering if all this was a very good idea at all, but then I thought that I had come this far, so I may as well find out. “Yes please,” I said quietly.
“Good,” said the Kyrii. He started doing some island dances, and then finally stopped. “You will change over the next day... for the better or worse, you choose!” I hoped for better, but I didn’t know how to actually make the choice, or who to tell, so I just hoped. Then the Kyrii beckoned me out of his hut, so I left, wondering where to go next.
In the end I chose to go over to Tombola, but I never quite got there.
I had decided to take a shortcut to Tombola, through a couple of alleys, but halfway through my third alley I was stopped by a big guy in a black coat with green skin.
“Greetings.” The green man laughed. “I’ve been waiting for you. You would never guess how long.” I didn’t know what to say, I was stunned. I should have run but it felt as if my feet had roots in them, forcing me to stay in the same spot.
“I have a present for you,” he said, in a deep, amused voice. “You should drink it.” He pressed a fuzzy, almost fluffy green bottle into my hand.
“What will it do?” I asked, and then I noticed the black lumps on it, almost like the lumps a Bori had...
“It will make you special. Your owner will be very proud of you.”
“She already is!”
“She’ll be more proud of you,” he argued. “Now drink it!” If I had gone to Neoschool, I probably would have known what it was, but I had refused to go. “It’s like a Bori...” I mumbled. “It won’t make me one of those, will it? I like being a Poogle!” The big man laughed. “Not quite a Bori, don’t worry.” So, carefully as I could, I pressed the rim of the bottle to my lips; and took a swig.
The liquid tasted foul and I heard the bottle smash on the ground, spilling the rest of the potion, but it was too late now; I had consumed some. I felt my paws grow beneath my skin; my back grow a hard shield over it; and I felt my face morph into a different shape.
The man laughed, “I’ve got you now! You’re like the rest of them! A freak! A monster! You are a mutant!”
I gasped at his last word; I was like the Techo on the boat; the Flotsam in the ocean. “No! I can’t be! Please no!” The green man just laughed and walked away from me; leaving me there, like the freak I was.
I didn’t know what to do; it was dark now and I had no place to go. I felt too sick to walk all the way over to the beach; and I was sure no one was going to welcome me into their home like this, so I curled up into a ball as best I could (my back made it hard), and tried to go to sleep. It didn’t work. I tried to think what the best option was, and after a long time I finally decided to go see my owner, over in Faerieland.
As I headed to the boat I would need to catch, I saw people and their pets both looking disgusted and running away from me, or turning up their noses at me and making mean comments. I felt so sad inside. Mutants had rights too! Or so I thought... but the further into the city I went, the meaner people got, and by the time I had reached the ship; I couldn’t stop myself from bursting into tears.
At least on the boat I could sleep. In fact, I was only awake fifteen minutes of the journey, so I got a good sleep in the end. I don’t know what happened while I was sleeping, but something very strange happened just before I got off the boat; someone came and talked to me. It was a very pretty little Aisha, who was dressed in every ribbon, bow, and bracelet you could think of. Her dress glowed in the sunshine, just like her smiling face.
“Hi!” she said, as if I looked as pretty as her, “What’s your name? I’m Florinth, but all my friends call me Flori, you can too, if you’d like.” She was acting so nice to me, even though I was so ugly looking and she was one of the prettiest pets ever.
I looked down and fiddled with my claws, wondering what someone who looked like me would say to someone like her.
“Hello?” she asked again, sitting down in the seat next to mine.
“Hi,” I replied eventually, “Yeah, erm, my name’s Miptie, I don’t have a nickname, but sometimes my owner calls me Miptie the Mynci rather than Miptie the Poogle because-” Then I realized what I had said. “I mean, rather than erm, what I am now.” I plucked at my own furry skin, wishing it were the short blue hair I had had before...
“You’re a Bori,” she said soothingly, “And you’re beautiful. I wish I looked like you.”
I was stunned. Did she really think I was pretty? And she must have been kidding when she said she wanted to look like me. “Thanks, but why?” I asked, “Why would you want to look like me?”
Suddenly she looked stunned. “Because you’re beautiful; you’ve got thick green fur; a glossy black shell; big, lovely eyes; and most importantly, well, you’re different! There are tons and tons of blue Aishas on this boat, but not a single neopet like you!” She and I smiled to each other, until suddenly someone called out we had to get off the boat.
“Get your owner to neomail mine!” she called as we were pushed off the boat by hundreds of other neopets, all needing to get back to their owners in Faerieland.
I walked through the city, trying to think how I would explain my ghastly appearance to my owner. I had absolutely no idea.
When I walked into the big, posh hotel, even more people made mean comments, and I had to fight not to cry again. I thought that maybe my owner would buy me a paint brush, to stop me looking quite this bad. I could be island, maybe faerie! Or I could be checkered, speckled or skunk! But then I remembered my owner wouldn’t be able to pay for any of those. I was sure she could paint me red or blue or something, though, so I could be a nice plain pet. I was sure she had a starter paint brush tucked away somewhere anyway.
But then I thought of something. I wouldn’t be as as beautiful if she painted me red, green, blue or yellow. Okay, well, I wouldn’t be girly-beautiful anyway. But if I stayed like this, I would be different. I would stay this beautiful. I thought about the Techo on the boat, and the Flotsam in the ocean again. I thought of the Techo’s ice blue eyes, the Flotsam’s long navy tail. They were both beautiful. And I had to show that to the whole of Neopia. I had to show them the meaning of beauty.
As I walked up the steps to my family’s hotel room, I held my breath, wondering what they would say. Finally, I opened the door. No one said a thing until my bratty little sister piped up with, “Who are you?” No one recognized me. Huh.
“I’m... I’m,” I started, “I’m Miptie.”
My owner just stared, trying to think what to say. After a while I guess she came up with something. “Is that you, Miptie?”
“I’ll get that red paintbrush and rush you to-”
“No. Please no.”
“Because...” I took a deep breath. “Because I am beautiful.”