The Greatest Show on Earth
"Anna, I want peanuts! Please?” a young Hyoo whined. He looked up at his owner and pouted, knowing she couldn’t resist his big green eyes.
Hyoo, a Plushie Buzz, was only seven years old. A funny, sweet, and charming Buzz with a lot of charisma, he learned from a young age what he wanted and how to get it – a trait he would continue into adulthood.
Anna, who was already carrying a stuffed animal, cotton candy, and a balloon, all because they were things Hyoo convinced her that he needed, prepared herself to say no. But, as usual, one look at those eyes and she was powerless. Why did I have to paint him Plushie? It’s way too cute of a color, she found herself thinking for the millionth time since she adopted him. Rolling her eyes but smiling, Anna bought her Buzz some peanuts, and handed them to him. Hyoo clapped excitedly, eating them immediately.
It was an exciting day for Hyoo. His owner was taking him to something called a circus. He didn’t know what it meant. Anna explained to him that it was a fun show filled with different types of Neopets that had interesting talents and wore cool costumes. Hyoo, who was on a superhero kick and currently had several Defenders of Neopia action figures, asked if they were going to see superheroes. “In a way, we are,” Anna had answered. That’s all she needed to say. Hyoo was sold.
“Hey, Hyoo, what do you think about these petpets?” Anna asked him.
Hyoo looked up, mid-chomp through a peanut. His owner was pointing to an enclosed cage area where petpets were running around. But they weren’t petpets at Hyoo remembered them. And Hyoo knew a lot about petpets, because he was constantly begging Anna to go to the petpet store.
These petpets were different because…well, they looked like him. They were plushies. But even though they were plushies, they were very much alive and animated. There was an Angelpuss who sat in the corner, grooming herself and looking at the other petpets haughtily. There was a confused Babaa kept running into the side of the cage, baa’ing as he did so. There was a Doglefox barking at a Puppyblew, who cowered in the corner.
Hyoo had wanted a petpet forever. It was the one thing he wasn’t able to convince his owner of getting for him. Anna explained to him numerous times that they were a lot of work – you had to take them outside to go to the bathroom, they needed to be fed and given water, they needed to be entertained. She said that maybe one day, when he was older, she would get him one. But Hyoo had given up years ago – he was from the school of thought that if he wasn’t getting it from Anna now, he wouldn’t get it ever.
Because of this, Hyoo looked up at her suspiciously. “Why are we looking at petpets? I thought I wasn’t allowed to have one,” he added, a little bitterly.
“Well, you weren’t,” she answered. “You were too young, and petpets are a lot of responsibility. But I think you’re ready now for one.”
“Really?” Hyoo said, lighting up. “Does that mean I can have one of these?”
“Sure does,” Anna said with a smile. “Any of them that you want.”
Excitedly, Hyoo walked around the cage, trying to figure out which petpet he liked the most. Although there were so many cute, interesting ones, none of them really stood out to him. None of them made Hyoo think, Yup, this is my petpet. Disappointed, he was about to tell his owner as much, when something interrupted him.
It was a Pawkeet. And it was currently perched on his shoulder. It was also eying his peanuts with its big, bulging button eyes. It was amazing how an inanimate object like a button could be brought to life in such a way. While Hyoo was pondering this, the Pawkeet took a peck at his peanuts, grabbing some.
“Hey, those are mine, back off!” Hyoo said, snatching them away.
“Brrak, those are mine!” the Pawkeet repeated, taking another swipe at the peanuts. Hyoo moved it out of reach again. The Pawkeet merely jumped back towards the peanuts, not phased in the slightest. Much like Hyoo himself, the Pawkeet knew what he wanted and planned on getting it.
They spent a few moments comically fighting over the peanuts, until Hyoo eventually gave up. The Pawkeet sat on his peanuts, munching away to its heart’s content, while Hyoo sulked, glaring at it. Anna couldn’t help but giggle at her Neopet’s predicament.
“Well, isn’t that something,” came a voice. Hyoo and Anna looked over. The voice belonged to an older man, the owner of the petpets. He had grey, scraggly hair, inquisitive blue eyes, and wore a white shirt under red striped overalls. “That there’s Polly,” said the man, gesturing to the Pawkeet that was currently chowing through Hyoo’s peanuts. “He doesn’t normally like anybody. He’s been with me the longest because nobody would adopt him.”
“Gee, I wonder why,” Hyoo said sarcastically. As if in response, Polly brrak’d again. Polly had eaten his way to the bottom of the peanut bag, where he was nestled currently, fat and content with a full belly.
The man smiled. “No, you see, Polly isn’t normally like this,” he said. He held his hand out, saying, “Polly, come here boy!” As if trained, Polly immediately pushed himself up, flying back to the man and landing on his shoulder. Anna and Hyoo watched the interaction, confused.
“So what does he normally do, then? Besides eat everything in sight and annoy everybody?” Hyoo said.
“Gee, sounds familiar,” Anna teased. Hyoo scowled at her, and Anna’s eyes sparkled impishly. She and Hyoo enjoyed taking jabs at each other, and it was all in good spirit.
The man laughed. “Well, Polly has had a hard time bonding with anyone other than me,” he explained. “He’s been with me for about a year, and he never leaves my side. Every time I bring my petpets to find new homes, he stays with me. When anybody tries to come up to him, he often pecks at them and scares them away. But with you, he came right towards you.”
“Yeah, because I have peanuts!” Hyoo protested. “He just wanted my food.”
“Then why didn’t he go to anybody else?” Anna asked. “Lots of Neopets here have peanuts.” Indeed, as she said this, a blue Aisha holding some peanuts walked closely by. Polly didn’t even look in her direction, its button eyes still fixed on Hyoo.
Hyoo frowned. Even though he was young, he knew when he wasn’t going to win an argument “Ok, so what are you saying?” he asked. “He likes me?”
“He does,” the man said. He paused, then added, “Polly is a very special Pawkeet. He might not look like much, but he’s the most loyal and protective friend you could ever ask for.”
The man paused, almost as if he was contemplating saying something. The Pawkeet on his shoulder looked up at him, tilting his head sideways comically as he looked at his owner. The man continued speaking.
“I’ve had a hard time letting go of him because of it,” he admitted to Hyoo and Anna. “I’ve been secretly happy this last year when nobody wanted to adopt him, because I wanted him for myself. But I’m old, and this Pawkeet has a lot of years left in him. He needs to go to somebody who is young and excitable, just like him.”
Hyoo’s annoyance at the small Pawkeet had started to fade, and instead, he found himself feeling flattered and touched. He looked at the Pakweet with a new appreciation. As if sensing this, Polly coo’d, ducking his head bashfully under Hyoo’s gaze. There was a connection between the two of them. Polly jumped off the man’s shoulder and onto his, burying his face into Hyoo’s neck. Hyoo giggled, tickled.
Anna looked at her Neopet and this strange Pawkeet, feeling a calm sense of satisfaction that an owner feels when she sees her Neopet happy. “Well,” she said matter-of-factly, pulling out her purse. “How much for the little guy?”
“I can have him?” Hyoo asked, his excitement growing. Polly screeched happily, as well.
“Of course you can,” Anna answered. “It seems you two were made for each other.”
As Anna handed the Neopoints over to the man, and exchanged a few more words, Hyoo petted his new Pawkeet on the top of his head. Instead of feathers, the Pawkeet was made of silk and stuffing, and was soft to the touch. It truly was a marvel, unlike any other petpet he had ever seen. He found himself being happy he waited for the right petpet, instead of buying the first one he saw when he was younger and just wanted a petpet.
Suddenly, the lights in the circus tent flashed a few times. Anna gasped. “Oh Hyoo, the show is about to start! We need to get to our seats!” They had completely lost track of time, excited by the new Pawkeet. Anna grabbed her Buzz’s hand, walking briskly through the crowd towards their seats. Their seats were facing the middle of the stage, in perfect view of the show.
They sat down in the knick of time. The show had begun. An Acara wearing a bright costume and elaborate mask walked towards the center of he stage. He didn’t look like a superhero like Hyoo expected, but he certainly looked cool. Spotlights beamed onto him. “Ladies and gentleman, boys and girls,” he boomed. “Welcome…to the circus!”
For the next two hours, Hyoo was wowed by an experience that was unlike anything he had seen before. There were acrobats that flew through the air as if they had wings, and contortionists that bended their bodies as if they were made of jelly. There were Elephantes that stood on tiny little stools, balancing themselves in ways that seemed impossible. There was a fire dancer who danced with a flaming hula-hoop around her waist in a seemingly impossible and dangerous stunt. Hyoo watched the whole show on the edge of his seat, his eyes wide, face flushed with excitement. The closest way Hyoo could describe the show was magic.
And when the show was over, he stood on top of his seat, clapping until his hands went red. Polly clucked happily next to him, also loving the show. Hyoo didn’t know it at the time, but one day, when he was older, he would be living the lavish, colorful, and exciting show he admired so much.
To be continued…