Tales From Elysian Fields: Amelia Abbreviated
You're entering a world as real as you make it out to be; there are no limitations to the possible inputs and outputs. But unlike an equation, you can't chart relics of a time yet to come — an opening into the dark matter before us. Free from the shackles of reality, you are about to take a walk in Elysian Fields.
Amelia Usul is your ordinary Usul. She's a yellow colour with green fur around her neck, if that says anything, and she lives alone at her small house in Neopia Central. Amelia isn't any smarter nor prettier nor stronger nor better than anyone else. In fact, there is absolutely nothing special about her.
Nothing. Nothing at all. "She's just another victim."
Usuls are predominantly furry creatures with large, fluffy ears and tails. They walk on their hind paws, and at an average of seventy centimetres in height, they are largely considered medium-sized throughout the scientific community.
Amelia may just as well be the exception — the outlier. She stands at roughly thirty centimetres short with generous rounding. This does not make her special, of course. Amelia is an oddity of nature, nothing more.
Throughout her entire life, Amelia has been tormented and shamed for her height, or lack thereof. She is picked on, called names, and on one occasion, her so-called friends threw pebbles at her. (The term "so-called" is used here not only to avoid emphatic quotations, but to subtly indicate that Amelia actually has no friends.)
Amelia is very much aware of her Unfortunate State of Being, as many kind-hearted folks will often remind her.
"You make me feel so tall!" Oh, yes, wonderful. You're most welcome.
"Awww, I just want to put you in my pocket!" Sorry, you want to do what?
"You're so tiny and fun-sized!" Artificially Flavoured Banana Snacks are fun-sized. Mini Chocodrops, as well. You can't eat Amelia, as Hank Skeith would later find out, although that certainly did not stop him from trying.
What you are about to read is a mere glimpse at the life of Amelia Usul; she is much more complex, although she may not initially appear to be. This is not a tale of the supernatural and this is not one that requires much imagination, as you've witnessed these next events before. Use this text as a mirror — one that reflects a world disturbingly similar to your own. Understand this is nothing new, as this mirror shows much more than Elysian Fields.
The stories start out so similar.
It is a fine winter morning indeed when Amelia decides to sit at a table outside of the General Store in Neopia Central. She tends to her light breakfast of Neowaiian bread with a carton of Kau Kau Farm milk as her beverage. This is routine for Amelia; she does this every day.
On the other side of town lies Hank, a white Skeith with pompous, blond hair. At one-hundred centimetres, he is a towering mass who just so happens to be the only member of his family at home. He is bored and hungry — Hank is always hungry, it seems — and seeks a means to divert both his mind off of his stomach and his large body away from the empty refrigerator.
Hank, willing to experience new things, has recently heard from his younger sister of a concept that would allow images into his mind, which would then produce a story that he could follow along at his own leisure. His sister referred to these stories as "books" and even brought one out of her own collection, titled The Cowardly Tuskaninny, to demonstrate its abilities. She then left this book with Hank while she went out to go shopping.
Flipping through the book, Hank is fascinated with the character of Jaared, who is so unlike that of Hank, as Jaared was afraid of everything; according to the back cover, he was "so scared he couldn't bear to open his eyes." Hank has never put himself in someone else's shoes before (figure of speech, as his feet rarely fit), so reading about Jaared's life fascinates him.
But Hank isn't watching where he's going. He doesn't see the chest of toy dubloons on the floor, consequently trips over it, and watches in dismay as the book flies from his hands and plops into the porcelain toilet.
Panic quickly takes over him. What will his sister say? How will she react? He quickly rushes in the direction of the General Store — again, unaware of his surroundings — and crashes into Amelia and her morning meal. She's so little, Hank doesn't know what he's hit.
But then he sees her.
She doesn't have time to scream. In a combined fit of rage and hunger, Hank swallows Amelia whole. Eyewitnesses point and ridicule her. She doesn't stay inside of him for too long, though, as Hank begins to choke shortly afterwards and is quickly sent to the Neopian Central hospital to, quote: "Remove the blockage." (Korson the Kau, chief analyst of the stock exchange, reliable.)
Naturally, the blame was shifted onto Amelia for this matter.
"She should not have been standing in the doorway," says Jalick Usul, Esq., unrelated. "It's a very popular store that gets lots of traffic. She was just asking to get run over!"
"You know what they say, brother," begins Dr. Barold Techo, head surgeon of Neopian Central. "Skeiths will be Skeiths, yah?"
"He's ate more than the Usul girl, though," Jalick notes.
After the operation, Amelia is fined not only for the surgical procedure, but for the damages she has caused, as well. It takes her nine long months, but after many grueling hours as a Petpetsitter, she finally manages to pay off the debt. Hank Skeith happily takes the money and never runs into Amelia again.
Except in her nightmares.
Look at you.
Yes, you, reading this short story titled "Tales From Elysian Fields: Amelia Abbreviated" in issue no. 630 of the Neopian Times. What have you learned — what do you know about Amelia Usul, thirty centimetres of height? Do you know that she likes to write and has a twelve-part series for the Times awaiting rejection? Are you aware that her favourite colour is a pastel blue despite the chartreuse-coloured bows she normally wears? What about her prized gallery of team water bottles from the Year 8 Altador Cup Tournament (which she sold to help pay for the operation)? Better yet, where is she most likely to hide in a game of Kacheek Seek? Nowhere. She has no one to play with, remember? They scare her. Everyone scares her, and she doesn't need a silly game for a reason to hide. Not anymore.
The realisation — it's hit you, now, hasn't it? It's hit you hard. There is so much you don't know: tomorrow's lottery numbers, how long until the Royal Pandaphant stock starts to rise, when and where Myrvin Mynci passed away. ("Myrvin Mynci dieeddd innn Yeeear Fourteeeenn. Geett mee morre foodd anndd I wwiill telll yoou thee pllaaceee...") There is so much off of the written page, as Amelia is more than a short passage in a newspaper or a description in a hospital report for filing. She is an individual, and her unexpected confrontation with Hank Skeith cannot be allowed to define her.
You've experienced what Amelia has felt — the humiliation, the ignorance — and yet you still laugh. Maybe not at her, but at someone similar.
How does it feel?
Remember that feeling. Remember and react upon it. Don't be a bystander. Don't watch and laugh at the helpless person alone. Why? Because you, too, were once as alone as she is.
Amelia Usul's story is, unfortunately, quite common and not at all fictional; there have been many more tragedies like hers. But know that she is not a victim of an assault. Instead, she is a survivor in an ongoing, unacceptable society that desperately requires a deeper look into the mirror.
A brief exercise in empathy... from Elysian Fields.