The Story of Me
Children. What a misleading label for the creatures, for it gives you the idea that they're sweet and perhaps innocent. No, no, no! Children are mutants, I tell you, indigenous to the cavernous hills of the Haunted Woods, or maybe Tyrannia.
Yes, that's why I prefer my quiet and authentic neohome here in Shenkuu. It's an old home from back when Bruces somewhat resembled Bruce Forsyth, when Shenkuu was young.
Now its winding waters tell tales of old, and taste bittersweet to me. I remember being created as a pompous green JubJub, to an entirely new owner named Amsurito. I was her first pet, and she was yet to learn how to take care of a neopet.
Ultimately, she starved me and allowed me to roam naked through the Neopian worlds. She didn't know how to play any games, so she couldn't afford food or clothes. That didn't last too long.
Amsurito would adopt other pets from time to time, but she has horrible taste in pets. She adopted a heavyset Tuskaninny who had a habit of throwing things at her. She adopted a monstrous Grundo named Metorithna who was a Grundo clone of Dr. Sloth: mean and nasty and power-thirsty. She even adopted a green JubJub named Kendaralu who tried to steal my identity.
Since then, I've been known to be rather cynical and habitually sarcastic. And my pathological disliking for children was severe when I was greeted by an unexpected and frankly unwelcome visitor...
But let's not get too ahead of ourselves. I think it all started out when Kendaralu left and I was living basically on my own. Amsurito was merely a visitor to me, as she was always out earning money playing games. I suppose I could've gone with her to the arcade, but I'm not the patient type. And I was a solitary type of neopet, never liking the hustling and bustling of people all around me, bumping into me, taking up my space. I am also claustrophobic and a self-proclaimed high maintenance JubJub.
I would traipse aimlessly through Neopia, or so I thought. Really, I had a habit of visiting the same places every day, and I worked out a sort of system. Can't say I didn't enjoy the peace and quiet. A fellow like me yearns to obtain a state of Zen where it's just me, myself, and I. Call me egocentric if you want.
But Amsurito worried about me day and night. I could tell, the way she would purposely spoil me when she was with me, and try to make it not obvious. But I'm undeniably a bright JubJub. I've read 102 books. I know when someone's feeling guilty.
So that was why I wished I'd told her not to worry so much when I had the chance. Because one day, around during the Month of Eating, Amsurito sat me down at the table to have an awkward little "talk" with me. It went something like this:
"So, Kejolica, I understand that you have a lot of free time on your hands. It that right?"
"Yes, I suppose so. Can I go now?"
"No, we're not finished here. I'm guessing you're kind of lonely, right?"
"Ah, no. Not at all."
"You poor thing, of course you're lonely. Do you even know how to carry on a conversation with someone?"
"Yes. Can I go now?"
"That proves that you don't. I fail at being a mother, don't I. I've hardly taught you any communication skills. I'm sorry."
"Apology accepted. Can I-"
"And so it is for this reason that I decided to adopt you a sibling. Say hello to your new Koi sister, Ivoreine."
Amsurito had one of those grins on her face that makes your mouth hurt, but you're so deliriously happy that you don't even care. Yes, and I was impervious and critical enough, but not even I could crush her mirth like that.
She stepped aside to reveal a shimmering green Koi. "She's a rare species of neopet. Koi can only be found on Koi Day. I got her so you wouldn't be lonely when I'm gone. Isn't that nice?"
I wasn't going to go so far as to plaster any sort of smile on my face, and I wouldn't even look at my new 'sister.' I just stared at Amsurito, trying to decide what to do.
"Oh, for crying out loud, just say hello to Ivoreine!" Amsurito said after a long pause. I turned to my unwelcome visitor and stared at her. "Hello, Ivory," I said, then walked out of our Neohome.
"Um, her name is IvorEINE," Amsurito called after me. But I ignored her and made a beeline for Shen.
Shen is more commonly known as 'The Old Gnorbu' in the Lunar Temple. He's never actually revealed his name to me, and whenever I asked, he'd laugh and say, "Names aren't important. They're only labels."
He claims to be as old as Shenkuu itself, the founder of it even. So I just call him Shen.
"Shen! Shen, I have a serious problem. I have to entertain a new sister," I screeched, bursting through the doors of the Temple. Shen was in profound meditation, so I waited for him to finish his ritual.
I've always loved the intricate patterns on the walls of the Temple. I ran a hand over them, taking in their beauty, studying their ins and outs. Shen was in a full Lotus posture, with his right hoof resting on his left thigh and his left hoof on his right thigh. He calls it 'Padmasana.'
I've tried Padmasana postures over and over, but I don't think that's physically possible for me, considering JubJubs don't have thighs. Um, anyway.
"What is it, young one?" Shen gracefully redeemed his normal posture and stood. I bowed slightly as a formal greeting (a Shenkuu tradition) and told him my story.
"A new sister, you say?" Shen repeated thoughtfully, fixing us both some Ice Milk Green Tea. I nodded, twirling a lock of JubJub fur, pulling it taut. Shen nodded.
"Yes, yes, yes. I see it now. You are afraid," he said with a knowing look in his eyes.
"What? No! What's a JubJub got to be afraid of a Koi?" I cried. "And I'm a trained martial artist. Just visit my Pet Lookup, and you'll get the Battle JubJub avatar. I've beat numerous Battledome challengers with my eyes closed, including-"
"Afraid not of her strength, but of her presence. You are afraid that she will change your life, that she will change your relationship with Amsurito, that you will have nothing to say to her. I venture to say that you are shy?"
That stopped me midsentence. I stammered over my words for a minute, and then, choosing them carefully, I said, "I just don't have anything to say to her. That's all."
"Kejolica, I expect that you will find new things about yourself in the upcoming weeks. Your fear of change will become an obstacle for you. Just remember this: you must stay strong but wise. Now, I believe someone is waiting for you at home," Shen said, gazing meaningfully at me.
I nodded, bowed slightly, and wandered out of the Temple. It was strange to think of myself as being afraid of something as little as change, when I'd considered myself afraid of nothing for so long.
I hesitated at the door to my neohome. What would Amsurito say to me when I came in? What about Ivoreine? Maybe I was also afraid of apologizing.
I mustered the courage to open the door and walk in, but still not letting go of my pride and dignity. Amsurito and Ivoreine, who had been chatting over a glass of Spiced Pumpkin Coffee, silenced at my entering.
"So you decided to join us," Amsurito said. I nodded warily, never keeping my eyes off of Ivoreine. She seemed to focus on the floor, then her coffee cup, then the ceiling.
I, however, refused to acknowledge her existence. I prided my pride, and without my pride, I'd have no pride. I guess it's complicated, but if you really think about it, it makes sense. Kind of.
"Well, I'll be leaving you two to get to know each other. I have to make a visit to the bank, then make a purchase at the Neggery, and I think I'll make a stop at the Wheel of Monotony on the way home. So I'll be out awhile. Kejolica, be nice. Ivoreine, please understand that she's only trying to adjust to meeting someone new. She's awful shy, you know. Goodbye!" And with that, Amsurito ducked out of the door without giving us a chance to protest. Sly. Very sly.
We spent the next few hours looking each other over. Ivoreine was clearly waiting for me to say something, and I was just making a face because I knew the situation was out of my control.
Finally, she said, "Look. I know you don't like me, and you don't want me here. But it looks like I'm here to stay, whether either of us like it or not, so let's just pretend to make friends when Ammie's around, okay?" Ivoreine said.
"Ammie? You and Amsurito are on a nickname basis?" I said in bitter surprise. That stung. Had Amsurito already chosen her favorite? Hatred burned deep inside of me.
Ivoreine shrugged, and looked down at the floor. I looked up at the ceiling, finding that is was after all a good alternative to looking at someone straight in the face. Then I looked at the ground, and Ivoreine looked at the ceiling.
It went on like that.
"Okay, then. Fine. If you're gonna stick around, go ahead, but don't get in the way of my regular schedule," I said. Ivoreine nodded, so I headed out the door.
She followed after me, saying, "Where are we going?" I didn't look back. "To the Altadorian Archives. I'm allowed to borrow books from there, as long as I return them by sundown."
And so it was that we made our trek to Altador, me leading, ignoring Ivoreine. I picked up four books from the Archives, stopped at the Exquisite Ambrosia to pick up a slice of Lemon Sun Cake, and stopped at my favorite resting point: the Gnarled-Branch Tree, as I call it.
It's a weeping willow with gnarled branches that's real easy to climb and gives off lots of shade, standing just outside of the Hall of Heroes. I sat down on my favorite spot, making sure to hog all the shade, and began reading.
I would often spend hours at a time reading and eating cake under the Gnarled-Branch Tree. And if I didn't have a book with me, I'd play Solitaire. Because that's what I am, solitary and proud.
But that day I let Ivoreine pace beside me, uncomfortable. When she'd reach for a book, I'd pull it away. When she'd reach for a piece of Lemon Sun Cake, I'd move the tray away from her grasp.
I knew I was being unfair, but I wasn't happy to have a sister, and I felt the need to show her that. It was the only thing that satisfied my anger. But whenever Amsurito was around, we pretended to be buddies.
And so our days went on like so, full of silence. Whenever I visited the Lunar Temple, I'd make Ivoreine outside, telling Shen that Ivoreine wasn't with me that day. But I think he knew all along, anyway.
After a full year and a half, something happened. We were sitting under the Gnarled-Branch Tree as usual, me reading, Ivoreine playing with a Plushie that Amsurito bought her.
The leaves rustled overhead, and I looked up. Bam! Something jumped out of the tree and landed on my head!
"Ow! What just-"
"Ha! You, round JubJub, are about to suffer!" Ivoreine and I both looked down to find a gurgling, drooling baby Bruce glaring up at me. I was repulsed.
"Aw, how adorable! Oh, he's so sweet! Come here, cutie-pie!" Ivoreine lifted the baby up from the ground, squeezing its cheeks. The baby squirmed out of her grasp, and jumped onto the ground.
"Hey, you look familiar," I said, inspecting him from a safe distance.
"Of course I do! My name is Boochi!" he exclaimed. A flash of terror rippled through my body as he pulled out a miniature ray gun. He aimed at me and I cringed. "Wait, I've read about you in the Neopedia! Wait, please... noooooo!"
"Bwahahaa!" Boochi exclaimed, and ran away on his tiny waddling feet, stopping once to grab a piece of Lemon Sun Cake. I felt sharp pains run through my body. I twitched and felt the power of the ray gun go through my veins.
"What is happening?" I wanted to say. But it came out as, "Goo-goo ga-ga?" I was mortified!
"Kejolica! You're a... baby!" Ivoreine was astonished. A little pacifier materialized in my mouth. I spit it into the dirt with a "Kaplooey!" and glared up at her.
Ivoreine picked me up, eluding my squirming and tiny temper tantrums, and my pacifier, too, and took my home.
I lived out my days as a hideous baby, with my worst enemy taking care of me. I felt so helpless. My dignity vanished the first time she changed my soiled diaper.
Over the months I was drawn closer to Ivoreine. She went from being my bothersome little sister to my dependable big sister in a matter of days. I couldn't believe she still took care off me after I was so mean to her.
And, as I grew closer to Ivoreine, I also spent a lot of time wondering how Shen knew I would have to go through change and cope with it.
So the next time Amsurito got us a new brother to help take care of me, it wasn't so hard. And as the years passed, our family grew and became happier. I now have Buggybloo, my big brother, and Athagomi, my big sister.
And now I can hardly imagine being a lonely hermit. I quite enjoy my life as a baby. Sometimes I just have to thank Shen, Boochi, Amsurito, and especially Ivoreine for helping me see a new light to life.
I guess I really do love my sister.