The Problems We Face
"I'll have one Strawberry Spice Tea, please," I said to the waitress.
Nodding and jotting my order down on a notepad, the yellow Shoyru took my menu and left. I lifted a copy of the Neopian Times and scanned the short story section to see if there was anything good this week. It was a cool autumn morning, and it was the first day in a while I had to myself, and I was intending to enjoy it.
After a couple minutes, the waitress came back to my table with my tea. I placed the newspaper down and took a sip. I felt serene and at ease, relaxing in the catacomb's coffee shop by myself.
I took a glance around the shop. There weren't too many pets here for a Sunday. Only five or so tables were taken. My eye stopped on a Cybunny sitting by herself in a corner with a dismal look on her face. Her eyes were cast downwards, staring into the mug in her paws. Her ears were folded back, and they twitched every so often with apparent agitation.
I pondered for a moment if I should do something. She looked so lonely, so in need of a friend. I started to feel pity for her, and deciding that I too could use someone to converse with, stood up and made my across the room towards the Cybunny, hoping that I could somehow help this dejected-looking pet.
"Hi," I greeted her politely, taking the seat across from her.
She glanced up at me. A look of surprise crossed her face momentarily, but was immediately replaced with a bored expression.
"Hello," she responded coolly.
"I'm Ayumisyn, but you can call me Yumi. I thought you looked a bit lonely, and needed some company. Mind if I join you?" I asked, keeping my voice pleasant.
"Sure I guess." She shrugged indifferently.
As good at reading people as I usually am, I found I couldn't quite tell whether she was happy I had joined her, annoyed, or simply indifferent. Her sharp eyes portrayed no emotion.
"So, what's your name?" I asked.
"Melina," she replied.
She continued to stir her coffee mindlessly, ignoring me. I pushed her negativity aside and continued my attempt at helping this lonely girl.
"Are you upset about something?" I asked.
She glanced at me, then away again.
"What makes you think that?" she muttered.
Before I could reply, she cut me off.
"Or, even if I were, what makes you think it's any of your business?" she asked; her voice suddenly defensive. Her brown eyes flashed as she kept her gaze locked on me.
I smiled gently.
"You don't have to tell me if you don't want to. You looked lonely, and I felt bad. I'll leave if you want me to," I answered.
She sighed and dropped the spoon.
"I'm sorry, I was rude. I am just annoyed. I got into a fight with my owner this morning. We both yelled, and I stormed out and came here," Melina explained, looking at me again.
"Oh, that's okay. I'm sorry to hear that." I smiled at her encouragingly. She didn't smile back.
"Well, what were you fighting about?" I asked.
"It's kind of long, but she basically has been trying to control my life, and I told her I don't need her to anymore. I'm not a baby, but she tries to treat me like one. She thinks I need her to constantly worry about my grades, and make sure I'm eating healthy, and a bunch of other unnecessary things," Melina ranted.
Sighing again, she took a sip of her coffee for the first time.
"Sorry. I know you probably don't want to hear about this. You don't have to stay with me, you know. You probably have stuff to do, right?" she asked, leaning her head on one arm.
I shook my head. "No, no, it's fine. I don't mind. I like helping people," I replied honestly.
Melina gave me a slightly odd look, but shrugged it off and sipped at her coffee again.
"It can be hard, sometimes, with owners. You know she's just looking out for you, right?" I asked.
"I guess," she muttered, hardly listening.
"Well, she just has to adjust to you getting older. You may feel like you're much older and more independent, but she probably still remembers when you were little, and misses those days," I said.
When Melina didn't respond, I continued.
"Maybe it's something you can talk out with her. Maybe not today, but on a good day, just sit down and have a mature conversation. I guarantee it'll work," I explained.
At this, Melina scoffed slightly and shook her head.
"She won't listen," she said simply.
"Sure she will; she still loves you, and I'm sure she wants to sort things about, but just doesn't know how," I said.
"You don't know what it's like, for me. She doesn't listen," Melina said again, this time more strongly.
"I'll bet you're wrong. You look like a loved neopet," I replied with a small smile, hoping she'd return it.
"How would you know?" she asked.
I shrugged. "I can tell. You're well fed, groomed, painted skunk..." I trailed off, hoping she would catch what I meant.
"So? You're painted faerie," she pointed out.
"Yes, but... well, does your owner trade neopets?" I asked.
"No. What does that have to do with anything?"
"Neither does mine. And trust me, there're plenty of owners who'd make offers on a well-named faerie Eyrie. But she never accepts any of them, because she cares about me. There're many pets that aren't painted at all, without owners in the pound. And many painted pets are treated like items or trophies. We're both much luckier than those pets," I explained.
Melina glanced downwards. "Maybe, but still..." she replied, more quietly.
"I'm not saying you shouldn't be allowed to feel unhappy at times. I'm only saying that you should always be happy with what you have. If you are ever feeling sad or angry, once you've cooled off, just remember the good things in your life, and you'll feel better and be able to make a better decision."
Melina's sharp, penetrating gaze softened a little as a small smile crept onto her face, finally. But the smile was small, and it looked unnatural on her solemn face.
I smiled back, hoping that I'd finally gotten through to her. She glanced at a clock on the wall, and grimaced.
"I have to go," she muttered, standing up.
"Oh, alright then," I said, standing up as well.
"Bye," she said, and the agitation in her voice had returned.
"Bye," I replied, suddenly feeling like our entire conversation was already out of her mind, and replaced by foul thoughts of having to return home.
Melina hesitated before she walked off, and turned around and looked at me.
"Yumi... thank you," she said quietly. Her voice was suddenly less cold, and sincere.
"No problem," I said, slightly happy she'd at least thanked me, even though I hadn't been counting on receiving it.
She nodded. "Not a lot of people really take the time to sit down and help a stranger. I do appreciate it. Thanks again."
Before I could respond, she turned on her heels and made her way out the door of the coffee shop, and disappeared into the crowd outside.
I sat back down, wondering if I'd actually helped her or not. I always loved helping others; it was just a part of who I am. Unfortunately I couldn't help but feel as though the Cybunny was going to go home and act no different than she would've before my advice.
"The problem with everyone is that they only see their own issues. They look at the world with only one view: their own. If everybody had a little more compassion and understanding, Neopia would be such a nicer place. Everyone has problems, yet they only focus on their own, and don't have a care for what others might be dealing with. They should think about that, and feel stronger and happier with who they are, and then try to improve their lives. Why do I seem like the only one who does that?" I was speaking out loud, to no one in particular.
I glanced around to see if anyone had heard me, but no. Everybody was going about their own business, not paying any attention to the young Eyrie sitting by herself.
Suddenly realizing that I hadn't touched my tea since I'd sat down, I lifted it up with a sigh and took a sip.
It had gone cold.