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by riverpond


Most carefully plan their pet's dip in those magical waters centered in Neopia Central. Well, my girl may have slipped. That is the current hypothesis, anyway. A reason why Cal, a frightened little Kau, has not said a peep since the ride back from the pound a week ago.

     The receptionist at the pound told me a story she heard around Neopia central after they picked Cal up near the Rainbow Pool.

     I can see it in my head now: the line at the pool the usual, busy mess. Owners carefully cupping their Eventide brushes in their hands like it was worth more than their pet -- the usual. To the lovely pets in line, however, it's an indescribable visit down Neopia Central. Cal walks the perimeter of the pool, eyes darting side-to-side as new shapes conjure in the water, colors melt into fur, into skin.

     I wish she could tell me the experience herself, but I would probably spit if I heard another word about her past owner. No, she was not alone that day, though she would have been better off.

     In the receptionist's story, her shrewd ex-owner's cradling a new Rainbow Paintbrush, having to trade off half a kitchen's worth of furniture to own a treasure that will garner the attention he craves. He wants to look lavish, he wants Cal to be a trophy to his wealth. On the more innocent hand, Cal just wants to look pretty. Cal has a silent nature about her, an excitable force hidden beneath that green gas that is a spirit pleading to be rainbow. The paint brush was the only desire or interest the owner shared with Cal, they say.

     Cal's still transfixed on the waves of color lapping up remains of paint brushes. She digs her hind legs into the ground in anticipation, as if to prevent her from floating from happiness.

     She turns to her owner happily. "Do you think it'll be much longer?"

     Her ex-owner grunts, expressing the same old human sentiment about Rainbow pool wait times. He turns to talk about trophies with an equally unlikeable owner with an Ogrin.

     The Ogrin, Rusti, is not unfamiliar with the Rainbow Pool. Rusti works hard to keep the whipped cream enveloping his ears from dripping into his eyes, his snarl is almost as big as the swirl encasing his back. Rusti is known for his toughness, a Battledome-type that picks on lesser pets-- so the Lab Ray paid the rest of Neopia a kindness and turned him chocolate. The ray stayed firm about this decision. Usually, he sports a menacing persona. He was last seen modeling a coat of magma.

     "Really, Cal?" The Ogrin takes notice of Cal's stare and awkwardly walks towards her with his chocolate paws. "Rainbow? That color screams, 'I want people to notice me a little bit too much'."

     Cal looks at the ground and says quietly, almost to herself, "Better potentially melting."

     Rusti stares at his delicate form before adopting a more defensive stature.

     "Lab ray!" His voice is higher than usual. "It was the Lab Ray. Anyways, my owner's turnin' me into some sort of swamp monster."

     "Monster?" Cal is inquisitive, she can't place the idea of a swamp in her mind. Tentacles, beasts with sharp teeth, what is usually in a swamp? What would Rusti become?

     "Yeah!" His whipped topping tuft swishes in pride as he sticks his nose in the air. "One of the first in all of Neopia!"

     Cal sits herself on the soft ground, eyes dazed in imagination like I've seen her do through her muted days at home. She could be taller, and strong enough to win gormball. She imagines the darkest shades of green, and how she would look when the Rainbow Pool transformed her cherry-colored fur into a menacing green. She would not even mind an extra limb, or an enlarged eye -- whatever Rusti claims to be monstrous.

     "No one's going to look at your Rainbow, when I'm going to be the most unique thing our part of town has ever seen," Rusti remarks.

     Cal is quiet, she does not doubt what he says. She thinks she's awkward and invisible to the other boys and girls who have wings, chocolate fur, and now genetics from swamp lands.

     She hears her name mumbled and steps forward without looking, she gathers it's her time for the Rainbow Pool. She gallops into the warm water, her eyes still focusing on her hooves instead of the wonder she's been waiting for, before Rusti crashed her spirits.

     Then Cal's ears perk up as she hears Rusti give a high-pitch shout. "What are you doing, Cal!" The rumble of their owners match his volume. She cut in the line, an unspoken rule of the Rainbow Pool has been breached. She lifts her head to see the mob in line groan and shake their heads at her.

     Rusti jumps in next to her as if ready to strike. "It's my turn," he growls.

     With a mixture of embarrassment, a soaking wet coat, and speed, Cal leaps out of the pool and scatters to the ground -- taking both owners out on the ground with her.

     She coughs and sputters as a substance fills her snout with a putrid smell. "Gas?" Rusti's owner and Cal choke out in unison. The Ogrin's eyes widen as he watches from the water and throws himself into the pile for good measure. "I have to save the brush!"

     Cal slides off the men underneath her, as if she weighed as much as a feather. Her head pounds, and then feels hazy. Her pain matches her physical form as she turns into a haze of sorts.

      "Cal?" Rusti cries, as he swipes his paw through her torso. It's like cutting through fog, a faint green gas that took the place of Cal.

     "Rusti?" She sputters, watching the Ogrin grow stripes, his chocolate form ironically melting as he turns shades of pink, green, and the rest of the spectrum.

      He's shocked, but Rusti begins to laugh almost maniacally. "Thanks for taking a bullet for me, C. Swamp gas? Now you'll be even more invisible than you were before!"

     "We'll get a wraith brush next time," his owner quips before the repulsive duo duck from sight.

     Even her own owner decides to spare himself embarrassment and flee the scene, though some she through the crowd to hide her translucent nature.

     That is Cal's story, why she refuses to speak and the reason why I adopted her in the first place. What I've learned is that Cal is a dreamer, and a feisty Kau after my own heart. She will warm up to our home in due time, but first she needs to learn some things.

     I wish I could tell her this:

     1. Be unique because it fits you, trying to please others is the loneliest activity one can participate in.

     2. Swamp gas may not have made you into a bizarre creature for spectators to marvel at, but the color has the potential much more beautifully unique. While you're "transparent", this gives you the chance to shine in so many other different ways if you'd be true to yourself!

     She could learn to love it, Swamp Gas. Sure, I've absent-mindedly plugged my nose the first couple of days around her because of swampy smells but the color can be a beautiful thing.

     I have a Rainbow Paintbrush waiting for Cal in due time, but for right now, I need to see my amazing Kau for the colorful neopet she really is inside.

The End

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