Endless happily hummed to herself as she bounced along the familiar path towards home. She loved the feel of the dirt road beneath her hooves and the sounds of the forest all around her. She shifted her pack, now loaded with fresh art supplies she'd just picked up from the market, as she carefully followed the trail down the side of the mountain. She'd traveled this path so many times over the years she'd come to know it as well as her own reflection, and with her Ixi hooves it was no challenge at all to make it to the bottom.
She let her mind wander as she trotted along, towards the cottage she shared with her owner Jill. They certainly weren't rich, but living on a small farm in the outskirts of Meridell seemed pretty amazing to the young Ixi. It was a great place for her to really focus on her paintings without any distractions. There were days when Endless wouldn't emerge from her room until late into the evenings, completely consumed with her current work of art. She loved getting out a fresh canvas, blank until she covered it with her thoughts, and setting to work. Colours mixed together at her will and changed themselves into whatever she pleased, the soothing strokes of her paint brushes as the canvas came to life, and the feeling of satisfaction and pride when, after slaving away on a painting for days or even weeks, she finished and could just stand back and admire her hard work. Jill would often boast to her neofriends about what a terrific artist Endless was, and how incredible and detailed each of her paintings was. Endless would always smile and blush at the praise, but secretly be pleased at her owner's kind words.
Endless paused as she passed a small stream and carefully walked up to the edge and peered in at her reflection. She let out a happy laugh as a cheerful rainbow Ixi peered back at her. Yesterday, after months of hard saving, Jill had finally presented Endless with a rainbow paint brush, something she had wanted since she had first started drawing. Now she could finally be as colourful as her paintings! They had immediately rushed over to Neopian Central and painted Endless at the rainbow pool and since then every time Endless caught sight of her reflection she couldn't help but grin. She was no longer a simple red Ixi that could easily be overlooked, but instead a bright and cheerful rainbow Ixi that Jill could be proud of. Endless smiled and absentmindedly pulled on her bracelet. Jill had given it to her right after Endless had been created; it was a light blue band with waves at the top and ENDLESS written in bold blue letters across it. "I would have put Endless_Hiccups on it, but it was too long," Jill had explained, mentioning Endless's full name. All the same Endless had loved it and had never taken it off since. Lost in her happy memories, Endless turned and trotted towards home.
As the cottage came into view Endless picked up speed, eager to see Jill and tell her about her day at the market. She bounded up the front steps and loudly slammed open the front door. "I'm home!" she yelled as she sauntered inside.
"In here," Jill called from down the hall. Endless dropped her bag by the door and trotted into the kitchen. Jill was at the stove cooking dinner for the two of them. She turned and smiled as Endless stomped in. "I'm making spaghetti," she announced cheerfully. "How was your day at the market?"
"Good. I actually got some really great deals," Endless answered as she dropped into a chair. She happily watched Jill as she finished draining the spaghetti and started mixing in the sauce. Endless quietly got up and started setting the table.
As they we're finally sitting down to eat, Jill suddenly stopped. "Oh! I almost forgot. I just wanted to let you know that I have some friends coming over tomorrow," Jill announced. "No one you know, but I'd really like you to meet them, and maybe show off some of your paintings."
Endless shifted uncomfortably in her seat. She started to fiddle with her bracelet, but quickly stopped herself; Jill didn't like it when she fiddled. "I was actually going to start a new painting tonight," she explained. "I was kinda hoping I could keep working on it tomorrow."
Jill chewed quietly for a second and then said, "I guess that's alright. You'd probably just get bored with us talking anyway."
Endless grinned cheerfully. "Thanks!" She happily finished the rest of her dinner, pleased that problems between her and her owner could be solved so easily.
A few days later, long after Jill's friends had come and gone, Endless was in her room putting the finishing touches on her latest creation. It was a painting of their cottage for Jill's birthday, with the forest and the mountain in the background and Jill's vegetable patch out in front. Endless sighed as she leaned back to admire her work, content with what she had done. She tossed her paint brush into a jar of water and flopped onto the bed.
Just then, there came a quiet knock at Endless's bedroom door. "Um, can I come in?" Jill called as she turned the doorknob.
"WAIT WAIT WAIT," Endless shrieked as she rushed to cover Jill's present. She quickly grabbed a bed sheet and threw it carelessly overtop of the painting so that it could not be seen. "Okay, come in," Endless called. She plopped down on the bed as Jill shuffled in. "What's up?" Endless asked.
Jill looked slightly nervous. She glanced around Endless's tiny room. Endless had her bed pushed up against one wall and her easel set up under the window, but what really stood out in her room was all of the paintings; landscapes, portraits of petpets, still-life pictures, and everything in-between covered every available space on the wall.
Jill sighed and sat down on the bed next to Endless. After a moment she stood up again and began to pace the length of the room. Endless raised an eyebrow; this was not normal for Jill. Finally Jill sighed and turned to Endless. "Look, I don't really know how to say this, so I just will." She straightened her shoulders and looked coolly at Endless. "My friend Mackenzie offered her well named baby Lupe for you, and I accepted."
Endless just stared, unable to make sense of what Jill had just said. Somewhere in the back of her mind she remembered that Mackenzie had been here the other day, but Endless had been too busy painting to meet her. "She..... offered...?" Endless stuttered, not really understanding what was going on.
"Yes. A well named baby Lupe." Jill crossed her arms, still keeping that cool, uncaring gaze on Endless. "This is really for the best. It'll be good for both of us in the end." Jill turned to leave, and just as she reached for the doorknob did Endless finally find her voice.
"But, but you can't trade me!" She scrambled off the bed and hurried after Jill. "We're a family!"
Jill sighed and turned around. She still had that indifferent look on her face, as if none of this mattered to her in the least. "Look," she snapped, cutting off Endless's panicked pleading. "It's been great, but now I have a chance to get a really awesome pet. You should be happy for me!"
Endless stared, unable to respond.
"After all I've done for you over the years," Jill continued, oblivious to Endless's shocked silence, "the least you can do is show some gratitude. I mean, you're not very well named, and you don't have an expensive colour. It's not like we never knew this could happen someday."
On the contrary, Endless had always assumed that this could never happen. Not to her. "But I...." Endless found herself once again at a loss for words.
"Make sure you're packed by morning," Jill said, interrupting Endless. Anticipating Endless's pleas, Jill sighed and continued, "We're both going to be much happier after this. Just let it go." With that she turned and left without another word.
Endless slowly sat down on the bed. She felt numb all over as an understanding of what had just happened slammed into her full force. Jill was getting rid of her. Jill didn't want her. Jill was trading her for someone better. Their whole life together had been a lie. The shock slowly began to leave her, replaced by a sudden rage. Endless stood up. What right did Jill have to do this? How could Jill have lied to her all these years and said she truly cared about her? No loving owner could do this to their pet. She stormed over to her easel and ripped off the bed sheet. Underneath stood her painting for Jill, the painting Endless had done to show Jill just how much she loved her. She slowly picked it up and stared. Fury began to fill her, until she felt as if she would overflow with anger; anger at Jill for lying, anger at herself for believing, and anger at the world for letting this happen.
She raised the painting above her head and quickly brought it down against the wall. The delicate painting snapped in half and both pieces fell to the floor. Endless quickly brought her hooves down on the painting, smashing it into a million pieces. She trampled and battered the painting until she was panting from exertion. She stared at the fractured canvas, lying dejected on the floor. She doesn't want you. She doesn't want you. The words pulsed through Endless, over and over until it was unbearable.
"NO!" she shrieked, leaping across the room and clawing at the paints on the wall. She was like a hurricane, tearing around the room destroying everything in her path. Finally, having ripped every painting from the wall and smashed them to pieces, destroying every creation she had every love, Endless sank to the ground with a sob. "No no no no no no...." she cried. As quickly as it had come, all the fight had gone out of her. Anger was replaced with despair.
Misery filled her up until she felt like she would drown. She couldn't breathe. Sobbing, Endless turned onto her side and curled up into a ball. She doesn't want you. She doesn't want you. This time Endless let the words flood through her. Deep down, she'd always thought that maybe she was too plain for Jill. Now Jill seemed to think the same.
The next day Endless dragged herself down the stairs, desperate to discover that Jill had changed her mind overnight. Jill wouldn't trade her. She just wouldn't. It was ridiculous to suppose otherwise. But when she looked up expectantly into Jill's eyes, all that returned her was polite disinterest. The doorbell rang and Jill rushed to open it, dragging Endless along behind her. The door swung open and there stood a smiling girl with long blonde hair. She grinned down at Endless "You must be Hiccup," she said, using the other short form of Endless's name, the one she despised. "Are you ready to go?"
Endless gave one last hopeful look at Jill.
"Oh, she's ready." Jill pushed Endless out the door and quickly shut it before she could protest.
"Come on then. You'll get over her," the girl said as she started striding away from the house. As Endless followed behind her, she glanced back one last time at the cottage, and felt her shattered heart break into yet another piece.
Years wore on, but Endless did not forget. With each passing day, the intense pain of Jill's rejection seemed to increase by thousands. She was passed along from owner to owner, never staying long enough to even bother learning anyone's name. Her first owner, that Mackenzie girl, had bought her an easel and tried to interest her in painting, but it was no use. Endless continued to sink into a deeper depression every day, until she finally stopped getting out of bed. If an owner decided that enough was enough and dragged her out, she just lay on the couch or sat around, not listening or talking to anyone.
As time passed, her once colourful coat began to fade. Endless had stopped bothering to take care of it, so it became ragged and dirty. Her vibrant colours faded, soon replaced with paler versions of themselves. Finally she lost her colours all together. She was no longer a cheerful rainbow Ixi but a lonely grey one.
CRASH. Endless looked up from where she had been sitting, not really doing anything. Outside, a storm had been raged for some time, but the crash had come from nearby, inside the house. Dazed, Burro glanced around the room of her current home, looking for the source of the new noise. To her surprise, a little ways away from where she was sitting was a small grey snowbunny. It had managed to climb onto a nearby table and was casually sitting next to a stack of plates. The source of the crash was a plate that the snowbunny had carelessly knocked over. It looked at Endless with those sad eyes and then turned and pushed off another plate. CRASH. The plate shattered, sending pieces across the dining room.
"Hey," Endless tried to say. It came out as more of a cough. When was the last time she'd spoken out loud? "Hey, cut it out," she called in a raspy voice, a little clearer than last time but still not great.
The snowbunny sighed and stared at her.
"She's yours," a new voice said. Endless looked up in surprise. There leaning in the doorway was a girl. She had curly red hair and wore a faded pair of jeans and a T-shirt. She spoke carefully, as if Endless was a startled animal that might spook at any moment. "I bought her for you. I thought you might need someone to relate to." With a final look, the girl turned and left.
The snowbunny hopped down from the table and padded towards Endless. She stopped and settled down a few paces away, never taking those big blue eyes off of Endless.
Endless sighed and looked at the shattered plates, realising what a perfect analogy they were for her life after Jill. She'd never wanted to see kindness again, had shut out the world to ensure it, but here it was; a gift from a stranger who didn't even know her. Endless leaned over and picked up the snowbunny. She carefully placed her on her lap and waited. The snowbunny shot Endless a suspicious look, but settled down all the same. "Someone to relate to..." Endless murmured as she stroked the snowbunny. Outside, the rain had stopped and the wind had settled down. A single ray of sun broke through the thick grey clouds that blanketed the sky. Endless smiled as a sunbeam hit the floor nearby. The storm had finally passed. Maybe now there'd even be a rainbow.