Faithful Friend: Unwanted
I wake up to footsteps. I wake up to footsteps coming my way. A large Nimmo walks over to the cell and carelessly he throws a bowl of cheap food through the bars. He never smiles. He never speaks kindly to the pets who are under his care. However, the pets cannot hate him because they depend on him.
A few pets trample over me to run to the bowl of food that has just been put down in front of the bars and I join them. It's not because I am hungry. It's just because I know it's all I'll get today. I am in this cell with ten other pets. Well, it used to be eleven, but one was a Krawk who was adopted immediately. When I first arrived, I thought that I might be able to make friends with at least one of the pets with whom I shared this cell, but no, this is not a place for friends apparently. It is my second day here in the Neopian Pound. And I know I hate it.
A long time ago, my owner was going on vacation and couldn't bring me along, so she put me in the Neolodge. It was wonderful there. There was a pool, a spa, and so much more. The only problem was that I missed my owner. Now, I missed her more than ever, but even worse, I knew she wasn't going to come back, and if she did she wouldn't want me. Please understand this: I wasn't abandoned because I ate too much, stole food, or was rude. I never lied, or hit my brothers and sisters. The only reason I was put in the pound was because my owner could only take care of four pets, and when she got her fifth, one of us had to go.
And why me? Simple. Because not only am I a JubJub instead of a Draik or a Lutari, but I'm unpainted. Not worth anything. But, I asked her, why me? Don't you remember a time before all the points? Remember? It's me, Willow, your best friend! She didn't. I was my owner's first pet, and up until recently, her only. When she first started Neopets she created me - her favorite species and her favorite color: a blue JubJub. I remember when she opened her newbie pack. Times were tough back then. But although she didn't have many points and only collected 1 NP interest from the bank every day, every once in a while she would bring me things that I knew she shouldn't have bought - toys, books, and when Neopets introduced customization, clothes.
But it was one day that it happened. We were on a boat on a trip together to Mystery Island. My owner's neofriend had told her about something called Tombola. She saw something in the water. "Stop rowing, please," she said. When she took it out of the water, she gasped.
"What is it?" I asked.
"Willow." She took out her bag. "It's a Faerie Paint Brush!"
After that, things changed. My owner sold it for a lot of neopoints. I'm not sure how many. But she bought many other different paint brushes, but instead of painting me like I had always wanted her to, she resold them for a lot more than she had paid for them. Suddenly, I realized we were rich. My owner sold our neohome and bought a new one on Roo Island instead of Neopia Central, and built it with all sorts of things like chocolate, gold, and silver instead of cardboard and wood like our old neohome. Then one day, she brought home a Draik. I remembered, that day, how she used to tell me how she loved Draiks. At first, I was excited to have a new brother, but that was before I realized he was stealing all the attention. The time I became extremely jealous was when she painted him, not me, with a Royal Paint Brush. Then, came Nessa, a baby Lupe that my owner had adopted from the pound. Babies are a lot of work to take care of, so naturally my owner was always too busy taking care of Nessa to play with me. The fourth addition to our family was another Draik, this time a girl also painted with the coveted Royal Paint Brush.
I admit I was glad when I realized there were four pets in the family. That meant that my owner couldn't get any more pets. And when her neofriend offered her a Faerie Poogle, while I expected her to say no, but she said yes.
"I thought you were only allowed four pets, " I said to her when we got home. "How are you going to fit the Poogle in?"
My owner looked at me, guilt in her eyes. She looked straight at me, and gave me an answer. And that is how I ended up here. Why was I the one cast out of the family? I had been my owner's pet through thick and thin. I stood beside her when her bank account was completely empty. I comforted her when the green Skeith who owns the bank told her if she didn't get some neopoints soon he was going to need to take our neohome. No matter what happened to us, we got though it together.
I look through the bars of my pound cell that I share with a bunch of other pets in my position. I watch how we unpainted pets stay here for days, weeks, months, and sometimes years, while whenever a painted pet comes into the pound it is out within seconds. The two Draiks and the Lupe Nessa never stood in Pet Central with our owner for hours trying to guess the answer of the Daily Puzzle. They never forgave her for only feeding them omelettes, jelly, anything that was free for months at a time. They weren't with her to comfort her when she was too scared to pull the lever of doom. They didn't look over her shoulder as she painted my picture for the Beauty Contest. They didn't sit with her and laugh away the hours when we realized mine had lost by two votes (two votes!). That was me. So why did they get to stay? Because I'm not some rare kind of pet, right? Because I'm not painted? So why didn't you paint me?
I hear a bright and cheery voice. "Here are the pets up for adoption!" It is the Adoption Uni. Her job is to lead prospective owners through the pound. Her job is not to suggest pets or try to get the Neopians to adopt this one instead of that one - just to lead them through.
As the Neopian passes by each cell, the pets inside run to the bars as if she is a magnet and they are iron. I tap my feet and smile. That used to make my owner giggle. For a moment, she smiles back at me, but then looks past me into the next cell. I know my hope of finding my forever home today is gone when a starry Scorchio steps out. If only I were painted! I hope that someday I will find my forever home. I hope that someday Neopians will love pets even if they aren't painted some expensive color. Most of all, I hope that someday I can somehow go back, back to the days when it was just my owner and me. Back to the days when I wasn't fed as well as I was after my owner got rich. Back to the days when I had all the attention. Back to the days when I was loved. Those days are what I think of when I think of the word home.