Two years ago today, my life had been changed forever. It had been apparent to me as a young Scorchio that I might not get much out of life. I’d live, and then I would become a remnant of yesterday, another King Coltzan. But maybe the revelations I learned are too important not to share with others who feel like no one cares or no one hears. But there is always life seeking life. And that life came as a Zafara.
I was never one to openly divulge my Neopet soul out to other Neopets. I preferred the quiet life and simplicity. By faerie intervention, I sought the Neopian Plaza two years ago today. I look every day at the Red Hissi Plushie, sitting high above my books. You wouldn’t see it on first glance. It’s for my eyes and the eyes of those worthy of the experience, the reverie...
It was a fine summer day, those years ago. I hadn’t been planning on going anywhere or doing anything. I had been urged by my neighbors all along Wishing Well Drive to join them at the Poogle Races that day. I was tired, I complained. I was too bogged down to make the journey. They protested slightly, but gave up and went along with their daily plan.
I always felt the odd one out. Fire Scorchios sometimes have to live up to their given identity – brave, heroic, stoic. But not I. I’ve never felt color dictated the soul.
The flowers were in full bloom, the grass of the neighborhood cut tight. My porch was simple – two wooden chairs and a Lupe Gnome statue. It was too nice of a day to sit out here all day, I said. Trying not to be a hypocrite and go outside, I went inside but soon found myself bored. And so, I grabbed my wicker basket and walked down Wishing Well Drive, hoping to avoid any eyes, and hurrying along to the Neopian Central.
At my arrival, a Yellow Chia slightly smiled at me and ahhed over my wings. I smiled back, hardly able to notice I had passed my destination. Walking back, I entered the Fresh Foods shop and picked up some things: five Kacheek sticky rice cakes, a few peanut butter bones, and the shopkeep (who turned out to be the Yellow Chia) stirred up a hot Meerca tea for me.
Having such a time, I stumbled into the Neopian Plaza. Not having much business there, I never proceeded into it. But the sun was shining, the Neopets were out in full swing, buying left and right. Young Eyries waltzed out of the school supply shop; Poogles and Lupes were outside of Pizzaroo, delicious Megapepper pizzas in hand; hip looking Myncies were jazzing outside of the music shop.
But my eye was drawn to the Plushie Shop. I can’t explain its appeal even to this day. It was a magical pull, an imaginary rope around my waist. The looming Rainbow Aisha plushie beamed down at me with pure delight. It was tempting and almost too intriguing to resist. I pushed the pink doors in and stood for a moment between the threshold and the store floor. I was stunned.
The magnitude of plushies was beyond anything I had ever seen. I instantly fell head over heels for the careful arrangement and decadence of the store, perhaps even sweeter than chocolate. I haven’t been back for some time; how I miss it...
There was no shopkeep at the desk. I prodded around, looking at all the plushies from Acaras to Buzzes and Yurbles to Nimmos. It was exciting to see the variety. In the corner of the shop was a large pile of unsewn plushies. I walked toward it cautiously but amazed at the sight. It was delightful, but something about it was odd. I pulled back one of the plushie bodies and –
The noise startled me and I almost fell on the desk behind me. A young blue Zafara poked her head out from under the plushies, laughing manically, her eyes brighter with glee than anyone I’ve seen. She was too amused at my stunned face.
“Oh, sir, that was too funny! A spectacle...”
She went on, but my stunned face didn’t change. She stopped laughing, and cleared her throat.
“Sorry, sir. I didn’t mean to frighten you. I was only playing a trick. My name is Megan P. Strangelove.”
“Hello,” I said, my voice rather tight. “I’m Eli.”
Megan stood for a moment, her face showing her whole thought process.
“I am working here only for today. Eileen (she’s a Cybunny) is in Mystery Island. I am supposed to sew these but it’s hard work.”
Silence was brought out of the space after she spoke. I didn’t know what to say or if I should just go and sit on my wooden chair on Wishing Well Drive.
“That’s grand,” I managed to say, the look on her face not mirroring my anxiety at meeting a new person.
She sat down on a bench and gathered all the materials needed to piece up these lovely plushies. Megan never looked back up at me when she pulled a Kougra body out of the pile and began to sew, her hands keeping with an unheard rhythm. I stood and watched her because it had to be the most fascinating thing. My mother used to knit and I’d watch her large hands making a pot holder for Scorchio Day.
Megan stopped mid-sew and looked up at me, her eyes twinkling.
“Would you like to help me?” she asked.
I sat on the bench and watched her hand movements and skill, trying to memorize the process. I grabbed a Mynci body from the pile and began to copycat Megan’s deft sewing. After I tied the tail to the back, Megan giggled and fixed it for me. After another failed attempt, she told me:
“Why don’t you close your eyes?”
“And risk poking myself with the needle?” I asked, while a rather large Flotsam plushie glared down at me.
“Just try,” Megan urged.
I closed my eyes. Never had I felt so vulnerable, so weak to my own control as in the darkness of my own mind. And as Megan’s small hand covered my larger clawed one, she made a looping motion, and then a tugging motion. She repeated this and eventually the motion became second nature. The darkness felt less of a weakness, my vulnerability shattered like the glass of the glaziers of Brightvale.
She removed her hand and there was silence. My eyes refused to open as I practiced on my own. I groped for the Mynci plushie and continued the motion. It was like magic, the same magic that pulled me here and kept me here with Megan P. Strangelove.
I opened my eyes and witnessed my creation. It was beautiful. The Mynci was all patched up and ready for sale. I turned to Megan and she nodded in deep approval, her smile pasted to her face all the while.
We worked like this for hours on end that day. Megan told me of her life, coming from Market Street in Neopia. She worked tirelessly in the jobs she could find and she had not found solace. But she had her own realization, as she said.
“I remember walking down the Plaza,” she recounted, her voice seeping with energy, “and saying to myself: ‘It’s time to live for me.’”
Megan started traveling through all the worlds, describing Moltara as if it were a place out in some profound galaxy. It was astonishing to watch her expressions, all the while I continued to sew, not looking down now, no fear of the needle.
Dusk was setting then. I had to return home soon – but for what? I lived a meager existence. My face must have said it all, as Megan prodded me.
“I had a great time. Here, have this.”
She handed me a Red Hissi plushie, gems for eyes.
“Don’t take yourself seriously. But take life seriously. Start living, Eli. You’re an alright Scorchio.”
I was at a loss for words but thanked her nonetheless and walked home, goodies in basket. I felt as if something had been taken off my shoulders on that evening, and it was indescribable.
I never saw Megan again. When I did go back, Eileen was there and regretted to inform me that she knew nothing of her whereabouts. But I didn’t grieve. That Zafara had a soul beyond what this life can offer. In such little time, she taught me that life is what you make it, and fun it should be. Her careful dexterity and skill and her compassion toward a stranger forever changed me. I now walk around with love in my pocket – all because of Megan P. Strangelove.