Make a Wish
The Wishing Well sat atop a grassy hill in Neopia Central. A dusty path, which over the years had been worn by thousands of stampeding feet, ran from the well all the way back to the plaza.
On this day, as any other, the path was full of Neopians who had come in their droves to make a pledge to the well. Bustling to and fro were pets of all shapes and sizes rehearsing their wishes and crossing their fingers, claws, hooves and flippers. There were even pets that had brought their entire savings to deposit into the murky depths of the well. Dotted amongst the crowd were those lucky pets with new bounty to take home. Now and then one would see a Neopian playing with a brand new plushie, picking at a Bag of Peanuts and salivating over their extremely rare stamp.
Sitting just a few feet away from this madness was Hero. Hero was a little, brown Zafara with a very anticlimactic name. Exceedingly quiet and shy, he could usually be found watching the other Neopets from afar and wishing he could join in with the excitement. But poor Hero just wasn't one of them. The other Neopets would make fun of the way he dressed and laugh at him for acting strangely. Hero didn't really argue with this. After all, at this very moment he was observing the hubbub from behind a very large rock.
Adjusting his patched blue beret, Hero peeked out from the top of the rock. The wishing well had fascinated him since he was a young child.
"How does it work?" he whispered. He wondered how the other Neopians knew what to ask for and how many coins to toss into the well. Hero didn't have any of the answers, so he had taken to watching the other Neopians at their wishing.
For three months he had arrived every morning before sunrise and watched hundreds of hopeful Neopians toss their coins into the well. For three months he had gone home without making any wishes himself, too nervous to approach it and too fearful of the disappointment that it may not work for him.
"But tonight is the night," he promised himself.
Many hours later, Hero still sat watching the last of the stragglers make their wishes and return to their homes. It was a cool evening. Hero felt the fur prickling up on the back of his neck. But perhaps that was just the nerves, he wondered.
He crept out from behind the rock and slowly made his way up the rest of the bank. The coins he had brought with him felt heavy in his pocket. He felt as though butterflies would erupt from his chest at any moment. He had been waiting for this moment for months.
As he approached, he noticed how very ordinary the well looked. It didn't look at all special or magical. Feeling his apprehension growing, he swallowed nervously and lay his hands down on the cool stone. He had waited too long for this to turn back now.
"Wishing Well?" he called out timidly. He heard his voice reverberating from the belly of the well.
"I've never done this before," he said, "but I see you grant the other Neopians their wishes every day and I wondered if you might help me too.
"But you see, the only thing I've ever wanted is.."
He looked deep down into the dark pit and sighed.
And with that, he tossed a coin into the well and held his breath. It took a full minute before he heard the soft 'plup' of his coin hitting the water. He waited for what seemed like a century but nothing happened.
Tears welling in his eyes, he turned to leave, when a very faint sound caught his attention. A quiet whistling sound was coming from the well! Eagerly, he ran back to take a look. The sound grew louder and louder.
Finally, all of a sudden, he felt something slap him hard in the face and he stumbled backwards. Scrabbling to find his feet, he grasped at it, whatever it was, and stared for a few seconds. It was a card... a rainbow-coloured card with two happy Aishas on the front. Written beside them were the words 'To My Best Friend...'
"Huh?" he said, stupidly. "What am I supposed to do with this? Am I supposed to give this to my new friend?"
It felt rather as though the card were mocking him. How could he give the card to his best friend if he didn't have one?
Feeling confused but not giving up hope, he opened up the card and out fell a letter in a plain white envelope. He tore it open eagerly and started to read. His eyes flew across the page, taking in every word.
"Congratulations! Your wish has really come true! The donation you made to the Neopian Wishing Well was worth it, because you have been granted the following item: Best Friend Card.
"Thanks a lot, and hope to see you soon!"
The feeling of disappointment washed over him slowly. This really was it. He had dreamed of the well giving him a friend for years, but all of his work and his hope had gone to waste. With a heavy feeling in his gut, he turned his back on the well and made his way home.
After a great many months had past, Hero could be found bustling about his kitchen, grabbing his worn old beret and searching frantically for his keys. He had been back to the well every morning and night ever since he first made a wish.
"I have to wish before 7pm and it's already 6.30! Where did I leave my keys?!"
The fruits of his labour lay atop his kitchen table. Well, any outsider wouldn't know Hero even had a kitchen table because of the plethora of 'friend' themed items that covered every inch of wood. His cute Baby Faellie Plushie Friend had been knocked over in the rush, its little arms dangling over the edge of the table. Angry Shoyru Friends lay open, coffee-stained pages fluttering in the breeze that Hero created every time he rushed past. A Kacheek Friendship Basket sat beside it. The presents inside it remained unwrapped; it had been given to him by the well only last night.
After slipping on a Scroll of Friendship that had been knocked to the floor, he spotted his keys under the table.
"Aha!" he exclaimed. He grabbed his keys, jumped to his feet and was out the door in under ten seconds.
As he rushed to the plaza, Hero couldn't help but feel hopeful. He seemed to have been given everything except for a friend so far, but tonight felt different. He couldn't really understand why the Wishing Well gave him every item to do with a 'friend' but refused to give him the only thing he really wanted. But still, he never gave up on his dream.
Hero strode onwards, feeling confident. Thoughts of his new friend were buzzing excitedly around his head. What would they do together? He'd take them to see a concert, for sure! And go underwater fishing! He was lost completely in thought by the time he reached the plateau and with only five minutes to spare before 7pm, he caught his breath, took out a coin and tossed it in.
"A friend!" he said breathlessly, for what seemed like the thousandth time.
He stared into the depths of the well. And minute later, out flew his gift.
His face fell immediately. A Best Friend Card landed in his hands yet again. Tears began to flow as he imagined himself tossing his gift onto the pile of twenty Best Friend Cards that he already had at home.
He threw the wretched card to the ground and fell to his knees. And at that moment he considered that the wishing well didn't care about him at all. He stared at the two happy Aishas on the front and longed to be one of them. The well had been so cruel to throw that card in his face.
Caught up in his misery, he didn't see the little blue Acara sitting on top of the very large rock that Hero had hid behind for so long. She clutched her own brand new Best Friend Card in her hands and watched him quietly. She smiled; her wish had just been granted too.