Life Through the Eyes of a Lab Rat: Part Three
Things then finally started to get better for me, especially when the laboratory turned me into an orange Hissi. As much as I knew I would probably be in the lab by the next day, to be painted a new color helps you a lot to improve your self esteem. My new home also slowly started to seem like a home. The other neopets that lived with me were odd, of course, but they were also receptive and nice and I started, slowly, to feel at ease between them. I even came to start talking to them. We have never had long conversations but we surely had some pleasant dialogues.
I also began to allow me to feel happy, even if initially only for a few minutes per day. I was still a lab rat, but it seemed that now I was in a place where I felt and I was seen as a neopet with feelings and personality like any other, not just some kind of toy, or tool. And for now, that simple feeling was enough to fill my heart with joy.
On my first birthday in that family, a surprise: the mad scientist's ray painted me another different colour. When I came out of the secret laboratory, I was a Darigan Hissi. While a colour like Darigan would most likely make my previous owner not quite pleased, at that new home that occurrence was celebrated by everyone.
No doubt it was a bizarre colour, but it matched my new species and my new home quite well. At the beginning I hated being a Hissi, but at that point I felt good about myself. My owner was also satisfied and, for two months, I got rid of the laboratory and I lived happy with the recent realization that I was no longer a lab rat.
And then it all changed dramatically one certain afternoon where my owner invited me for a ride and, for my experience, I knew very well what it meant. I said goodbye to the other neopets of the house, still shocked, and crawled behind him. The path was scary because I've already been there before and I knew very well where it would take us. What I could not understand at that point was "why". Why would he leave me? I thought he was satisfied. I thought we were happy. I was happy. None of it made sense.
When we finally arrived at the scenery of some of my scariest nightmares, the surprise: we ended up not entering through the third door. We got into the second door, that one made of metal. Inside there were people waiting for us. Papers were signed, my owner went out with another neopet and I was left with that person: a new owner. I was at the same house for so long; I was not ready for a change of that magnitude, and yet, I was just about to make one. The whole thing was overwhelming.
My new home was just as strange as the old one, but at the same time, completely different from it. It was a messy but incredibly cozy place. There were already other neopets living there, of course: a shadow Draik and an orange Grundo. It was strange being away from the neopets that took me so long to start considering as my family, but as lab rat, I was simply not entitled to have stability and I was naive to believe I could have such thing.
The following day I was back to my old routine: every day I was there, at the laboratory, being the guinea pig of a grumpy Scorchio to maybe one day be enough to be loved by someone. It was frustrating to be there, back to that routine after having had a taste of how it was to have a different life, but I was not surprised. I was, in the end, only a lab rat, and I was foolish to imagine that that fact could be changed.
However, never before in my lab rat experience I suffered so many drastic changes as during my time in that house. For starters, I was not being zapped in order to become something specific, but for pure fun; for the possibility of perhaps becoming an interesting neopet one day. That itself was already scary, since there was no time limit or defined reasons for my suffering. I walked day after day to have that mad Scorchio's ray fired at me without reason and without many chances of, one day, being able to be a neopet like the others.
I started out being a Darigan Hissi. I then was turned into a faerie Hissi, a yellow Chia, a green Chia, a blue Cybunny and then a Halloween Cybunny. After one or two days without being zapped, I went back to the lab only to become a yellow Xweetok and, three days later, as if to mock my luck, I was turned into a faerie Xweetok, I swear I cried that day, without knowing if of emotion or anger.
After a while being a faerie Xweetok I was turned into a yellow Poogle, a red one and then a green Nimmo. The time between one and another change were different; some happened one after another but some of them were at least a week or two after the preview change. My last change while in that house was into a pirate Aisha, thanks to a morphing potion. A week later, though, I found myself walking the same way back to the place I hated the most in the world after the secret laboratory: she was taking me back to the pound.
For a moment, I thought she would go through the second door. I wished so much it was the case, but it was not. Shocked, I could do nothing but watch her signing the papers quickly and, in some minutes, I was all by myself once again. I was abandoned.
My first night at the pound was like Luke's the first night: I was trembling shrunken in the corner of the room, unable to assimilate that, yes, I was back. I had the chance to experience an almost normal life just to have everything taken away from me soon after. And then, there I was: I once was on top of the world and now I was back to the depths of despair.
Although I was a pirate neopet now, not just another basic neopet, that meant nothing in a context where even painted neopets like me were left in the pound for weeks, even months. In less than two weeks I had no hope anymore: I felt numb, I felt aimless.
I could not deal with being there again without Luke or Helen. I also could not deal with the possibility that, at some point, someone would adopt me only to turn me in an experiment again. I wanted so badly to be someone, to be treated as every pet deserves to be treated!
Two weeks became two months. Neopets arrived, neopets departed. Some of them were back some days later. The Neopian life became more and more unstable and neopets like me, who have never been the dream of anyone, were the ones that have felt it the most. More than being afraid of never being adopted, the neopets around me were also afraid of being adopted and soon abandoned again.
Autumn had come and gone. The winter was coming and we all received charitable donations of coats and blankets. One morning I was there, wrapped in my blanket, sulking, when my name was called. Someone then came inside and stared at me, but I was way tired and could not even get myself to look back at them.
"She's perfect!" the person said right before going out of the room. I opened my eyes in shock.
Someone quickly handed me my belongings: I had been adopted. I walked to the door and my new owner was out there, waiting for me. She smiled at me; I, still half asleep and suspicious, could merely follow her. On the way, I started thinking about my chances. Maybe I would came back being a lab rat. That person might decide to turn me into a lot of things until I she was pleased (or displeased enough to give me another destination). Maybe I was being picked for some specific purpose and I would be back to the laboratory soon, as several other neopets I've met. Maybe I would have to drink another morphing potion that would turn me into another neopet. There were many options and none of them were quite pleasant. When we finally arrived to my new home, though, I found out that I was wrong.
To my surprise, I was enough. When I heard those words I swear I widened my eyes in shock. Apparently that new home needed a certain neopet, a dream of my owner, a pirate Aisha. She apparently adopted me... for me. Not because of my name nor because of the possibilities that the laboratory could provide her if she started zapping me day after day. She could try to turn me into an alien Aisha, or maybe a chocolate Aisha, a transparent Aisha... But in the end, apparently what she wanted from me at that moment was that I was myself.
For three days, I could barely speak. All the previous informations seemed impossible for my head to assimilate. I was raised to be lab rat. I was a neopet who has lived under the expectations of others for all my life. That winter I finally had received the best presents I could ever receive, the two things that I had always dreamed about but at the same time never really believed I could receive.
One of those things was the fact that I was finally being treated as a neopet like any other within my home. I read books, I played Cheat, I ate the same as the other neopets of the house. I could play in the garden and I had a room of my own. I relearned to smile. I was not just a lab rat anymore, I was someone.
The second thing that I had earned that winter was a home. I lived with three Draiks and another Aisha. They never looked me as if I was inferior to them, they treated me as one of them. They cared about me. I was loved. Even being created to be a lab rat, even having gone through everything I went through, I was wanted. I was accepted, I was part of the family.
I finally mattered.