"Today's the big day!" an obnoxiously cheerful voice rang out as the curtains were violently jammed to the side, exposing the Neopian Sun that beamed its bright energetic rays down. It should have woken Pandraka with enthusiasm. Today was a big day after all.
Today was finally the day she had been looking forward to. She woke up a blue Draik, but what she would go to bed as... that was the decision.
It was a huge choice – her owner Mira, had warned her that it only happened once, or maybe twice if you were unlucky like her sister Klym – who had made a rash decision based on a style trend. Glowing was an obnoxious color... for everyone else in the house. Mira had begged her to switch to another coat after three weeks of relentless lime green nightlights shinning through the house.
Today was finally her turn... and Pandraka frankly didn't have a clue. She had been tossing and turning over the decision all night. And of course everyone had an opinion.
Jhinn had unkindly told her mutant was actually very pretty, and very ancient noble dragon looking – but when Mira had shown Pandraka a picture, she had nearly leapt up six feet into the air out of fear. Kylm was tired of being the only aquatic pet out of the bunch, so she had been constantly pressuring Pandraka to turn to the Maraquan style. Mira, who had raised her from a tiny egg had been hinting all week how nice it would be for Jhinn to have someone to fly with and she just might have enough to purchase a faerie paint brush.
It was all too much. Whatever Pandraka chose, she knew she would be letting down someone. Her feet were heavy as she climbed out of bed and walked downstairs. She could hear the commotion all the way from the living room.
"No! No buts. No ifs. No how comes. Let her chose on her own just as all of you did."
"What if she does something really stupid?" Jhinn asked.
"It's a paint color, there's no wrong choice," Mira said.
Jhinn snorted, "Maybe you've caught up on your sleep, but I'm still deprived from three weeks of somebody glowing at all hours of the day!"
"Oh my god! It was a style trend! Okay Marnie from next door said it was all the rage!" Klym huffed, "At least I didn't accidently walk into some one's secret lab and end up a fruit!"
"Strawberries are delicious okay!"
Pandraka swallowed thickly as she walked into the kitchen, just as the argument was silenced by a sturdy look from Mira. There was a plate of herbal eggs to help her stomach as she slid into the chair and heaped a mouthful onto her fork. Her stomach twisted and churned as she swallowed them.
They were tasteless and clumpy in her mouth. All she could concentrate on was the soon to be new reflection in the mirror. Faerie. Maraquan. Her friends at school had suggested Island or Pink like her sister. She wasn't sure there was a color for her.
When Pandraka closed her eyes and tried to imagine what each design would feel like... how it would change her... she couldn't decide. None of them felt right. This was harder than the time she had picked a Petpet. Even that had nearly turned into a disaster.
She couldn't do anything right. She couldn't pick a color as quickly and confidently as her family had. It had literally taken Klym eight seconds to decide on Glowing – even if that had turned out badly, she still had been pleased with her look until Mira begged her to let them get some shut eye. It was true that Jhinn had accidently walked into some creepy underground laboratory. Mira had nearly passed out when she walked through the door – not only a different color, but also a different species! It hadn't mattered to Jhinn, she kept whining to go back and try and find the weird place again.
"Okay everyone!" Mira clapped her hands, smiling broadly with the door held open with her foot. It was one quick walk down to the rainbow pool, and then it would be time to decide.
While Jhinn and Klym jumped readily out of their seats to follow out the door, Pandraka moved slowly. She thought about the difference of walking into school the next day. Would she be expected to suddenly love water and swimming if she chose Maraquan? Would she be required to be a flyer, to be one of the melodramatic ones at school along with Jhinn's friends?
What about her friends? What if they thought the color changed her too much? What if nobody liked it?
"Pandraka, come on!" Mira called, smiling out from the mailbox.
Pandraka swallowed thickly and followed nimbly behind. It would be the last time she walked through the door the color she had been born, hatched out of her tiny little egg. A blue Draik.
The walk down to the rainbow pool had never happened so quickly. She had been debating over the choices, a nervous buzz running through her system when suddenly the line of Neopets halted and Mira wore a big smile on her face.
She had never gone to the rainbow pool before. The first time Jhinn had been painted (apparently she had been an island Kougra before Pandraka had hatched) and with Klym she had been sick in bed with the neezles.
Nobody had really wanted to go with Klym the second time, it hurt everyone's eyes to keep starring at her brightly neon glowing coat.
"So, what do you think?" Mira asked.
"Uhm...." Her tongue became unexpectedly dry as she walked forward to the crystal clear waters. There were so many choices... she stared at the paint brushes, all waiting to be applied to her skin the moment she was dipped into the magical pool.
"Oh for the love of Marak," Klym groaned, "Just pick one!" Klym grinned, shoving her hands out and giving Pandraka a helpful little push towards the pool.
"Hey don't shove me!" Pandraka stumbled, her arm catching on the beautiful brushes and the paint, she wobbled as Jhinn and Klym rushed forward to grab her. There was a moment of suspension, her eyes wide as her heart fluttered while trying to grasp her sister's hand. Mira looked on in horror behind them.
She felt Jhinn's hand slide off her wrist, just as she, and several bottles of paint all fell into the magical pool. There was a sudden splash, and she was suddenly sinking deep to the bottom of the legendary waters.
The instant coldness washed over her as she was submerged into the pool. The inky paint colors swirled around her, bright cerulean and vivid olive's as it swirled and dyed onto her scales. The brightness of the water blinded her to her own skin and little air bubbles popped out from her mouth as she started to swim upward. As she went the color continued to swirl and swirl, slapping itself onto her skin. She felt hesitation as she neared the bright gleaming surface, the sun casting a white reflection onto the pools waters. She could see the swirling blues and greens before she broke over the surface.
When her head popped open, Mira, Jhinn and Klym were all starring at the edge of the pool, each one in a state of shock. They all stared with wide eyes as Pandraka became more and more self-conscious. Was it bad? What were they looking so horrified at? Oh god... was she some mutant version of mutant? Was that even possible?
She didn't... feel any different.
"What? Is it bad?" her eyes widened as she started to climb out of the pool. She didn't feel wings, or a second tail... when she glanced down at her scaly paws they were different, but not bad different. She marveled at the swirling colors on her skin.
"Erm... well it's... unique," Klym offered, smiling brightly as she grabbed a reflective mirror out of her pocket. "See for yourself!"
Pandraka took the mirror, unsure as she held it up to see what was cast in the reflection. There were no awkward wings or fins that had never felt right to her. She wasn't unrecognizable, some horribly disfigured creature from the multiple bottles of paint falling into the pool.
A subtle shocked gasp of relief left Pandraka's mouth.
She was beautiful. Every swirl of color, beautiful. Her eyes watered up as she took the mirror down, a big grin splitting across her face, "It's perfect!" she exclaimed. It was her – not a single unrecognizable feature in the mirror. It was her skin. It was herself, reflecting back and she felt wonderful.
Her family broke in a sigh of relief. "You're sure you like it?" Mira asked. "No changing your mind?"
"Definitely not!" Pandraka grinned. "I like being... me."