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- Today's Pet Spotlight -



Pet Name: alice_nobreguinha
Owner: dewdropzz
Breed: Kacheek


About alice_nobreguinha:
Morning: right hand palm-up (as she is right-handed), moving in a sort of semicircle over the left hand horizon.

In the front hall of her Neohome, Alice slips on her shoes. It's early, so she's careful not to wake her sister, still asleep upstairs. She can be noisy sometimes, as she goes about her business.

Straightening up, Alice sneaks a quick peak in the mirror. She tucks her fallen forward hair behind her polka-hearted ears, checks for any residual sleep dust she may have forgotten to wipe from her eyes. Does she look fresh? Bright? Ready to take on the day? She thinks so. Sufficiently pleased with her reflection, the little Kacheek is ready to go.

The child sets off, out the door, down the sidewalk, up the street. It's springtime and it's Saturday, and Alice loves springtime, and Saturday. There's an aroma in the air, of new life on the breeze. The trees at the end of every lawn are in various stages of budding, and the grass is green now, after a winter of heavy snow. Alice loves snow, and if you were to ask her, she may tell you her favourite season is winter. But it makes her heart flutter to feel the warm sun, to see her neighbours at work in their gardens in t-shirts and light jackets.

Springtime: left hand held sideways in front of the body with thumb extended, right hand springing out from behind it like a flower springing from the ground. This is done twice. If performed only once, it is read to mean 'grow'.

"Good morning, Alice." A desert Ruki pushes a wheelbarrow of topsoil over his front lawn. With a wave of her hand and a smile on her face, Alice bids him hello.

And in this way the young Kacheek greets everyone on her street. Her dominant hand comes up close to her ear, and then in a brisk movement, like a friendly salute, she jerks her hand out. It looks like a regular wave, but it's a little bit more, and the neighbours know this. Alice has grown up in this neighbourhood, and, in her own secluded corner of the universe, the plushie Kacheek with the streaming golden hair and ever-wide blue eyes is a bit of a celebrity, well-known and loved.

In her community circle, it is believed that if Alice had a voice, she would have a lot of things, [i]interesting things[/i], to say. But the child was born mute. She cannot speak, except with her hands — Standard Neopian Sign Language. Yes, Alice cannot communicate readily with Neopians who do not speak her language. But she hears and understands every word that is spoken, and all five of her senses are alive, [i]so emphatically alive[/i].

Before long, Alice has come to the end of her street. Where the complex of cozy houses and familial neighbours leaves off, there is a corner with a Shenkuuvian restaurant, and then there is an intersection. A busy one.

And each of the streets it connects are busy streets; busy with Neopians coming and going, hurrying into shops, loitering about with the morning paper in their hands. Even at this early hour the city is abuzz with life, for the world outside Alice's quiet neighbourhood is Neopia Central, that infamous shopping capital of Neopia where time never stops and millions upon millions of Neopets throng, to live, to work, to play... and to shop.

There is one particular shop a few buildings down from the Shenkuuvian restaurant that Alice passes every day on her way to Neoschool. Sometimes she goes in. She loves to go in, when she's able. At this very Petpet shop she adopted her Abominable Snowball, Creamy, not so very long ago. Today a large square cage stands outside the building, a small crowd of Neopets gathered around it. Over the excited chatter, laughs and shrieks, a tiny [i]mew[/i] greets Alice's open ears.

"Mew!"A litter of Tasus is what's captured the mass' attention. The Neopians coo and ogle their cuteness, sticking their fingers through the cage bars, trying to lure the darling Petpets over, only to have them shy away, overwhelmed by the commotion. Alice kneels down quietly beside the cage. She doesn't shriek and she doesn't coo... and she wouldn't if she could.

A spotted Tasu walks slowly up to the silent child, gently butts his head against the cage wall, says good morning with a soft [i]mew[/i]. The Tasu's litter-mates look curiously on. Then one follows suit; then another, then another.

"Aww!" The crowd closes in on Alice, elbowing and shoving and jostling for a closer look. Feeling like frosting in a tube, the Kacheek backs away. She gives a wave to the Tasus before she turns and continues on her journey.

Rude: non-dominant hand flat and palm-up, middle finger of dominant hand sliding forward across the length of non-dominant.

Alice walks on. It is time to cross the road. She stands at the crosswalk with a grocery-bag-laden disco Lenny, and a Christmas Kougra woman pushing a baby Kougra in a stroller. They wait for their turn to cross.

"Isn't it a beautiful day for a walk?" says the Kougra mother to her two fellow pedestrians. The Lenny utters a muffled word of concurrence from behind his shopping bags. Alice grins and nods, but the Kougra's eyes are lovingly turned towards her baby, and she has no way of knowing that the plushie Kacheek has even replied.

Sometimes it can be difficult for Alice to interact with strangers who aren't aware of her circumstances. In her community circle, her neighbourhood and her Neoschool, everyone is familiar with the little Kacheek and her unique ways of communication. In the wider world of Neopia Central, however, she is only one of a million faces in a crowd. And how is the crowd to know of her situation, her struggle to be like others, her endeavours to express herself?

At just the right time, before she gets too deep, Alice is drawn out of her daydream by the scent of something sweet and spicy wafting on the wind. She lengthens her stride, her gold hair flying wild behind her as she picks up speed. There's a bakery nearby, and she hasn't eaten breakfast...

[I]Ding ding![/i] the bell on the door of the Breadmaster's shop rings as Alice comes strolling out a few moments later — a cinnamon bun (her favourite!) in a brown paper bag in her hand, and a mini croissant in her mouth, courtesy of the generous Breadmaster.

Delicious: middle finger touches the lips, hand then moves upwards and flicks out so that the palm is facing forward.

Alice bites her croissant as she walks. The cinnamon bun she's saving until she's reached her destination. She isn't far now. Once she has arrived at the Money Tree, she knows she's almost there. Alice has been this way countless times before. She knows the road by heart, and she's come to be familiar with many of the Money Tree's regular visitors. She knows many of their stories, and the items they need most. She has never spoken to any of these patrons, and of course she never will. But she listens. She [i]listens[/i], and she [i]observes[/i], and she [i]understands[/i].

One visitor Alice has seen several times in the past few days is a young man: a handsome blue Lupe with a gentle demeanour. Alice has overheard that the Lupe has been out of work for some time. Now, any food is received with gratitude by a Neopian under such circumstances, though Alice has just happened to notice that whenever baked goods appear on the Money Tree's branches, this Lupe seems to jump at the chance to nab them.

There are no eatables on the tree right now. The last Blueberry Roll has just been snatched up. And the Lupe walks shyly 'round the circumference of the tree...

Alice scurries forward, reaches up, tucks her packaged cinnamon bun into the budding branches, and hastens away so that the Lupe does not see her. He sees her anyway.

The wan, sunken face casts her an imploring look, as if to ask, "Is this for me?" The Kacheek smiles, and nods. No words need to be spoken for this simple, loving transaction to be understood.

Charity: fists knock together, then move in an almost cycling motion, index fingers extended and curled.

And it's like charity, Alice feels, like a gracious gift of nature, [i]the day[/i]; this beautiful spring morning that she has chosen to take a walk. There is a path behind the Money Tree that not a lot of Neopians know about. It's long and it winds, and the dirt is yellow like sunshine, and it leads through the minutest stretch of forest — the only the metropolis has left. At the end of this path lies Alice's destination.

A meadow. It spans out before her, a field of tall, verdant grass surrounded on all sides by towering trees. As the leaves come in, it's growing harder and harder to make out the tops of the steel grey buildings, and there is only green. And the noise and the hustle and the bustle of the city is nowhere to be heard or seen. It is an oasis, in the heart of Neopia Central.

They call it Kacheek Meadows. Here, away from the choking hold of the crowded city, Alice sits barefoot in the grass. She picks wildflowers from a hilltop and weaves them through her messy, golden hair. Around her, families are having picnics, and she feels happy just to watch. Beekadoodles swoop from the trees, singing as they build new nests to lay their precious eggs. A Ladyblurg lands on her hand, and Alice sits ever so still. It makes a short flight to a wildflower on the crown of her head, and begins to munch on the petals. Alice rolls her eyes and makes a laughing face.

Peace: flat hands form the shape of an X, come together, then press down and apart, as if to say, "There is no more."

How, dearest reader, can someone with such restricted means of communication with the majority of the world be more in tune with it than so many of us?





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