Invisible Paint Brushes rock Circulation: 105,225,448 Issue: 209 | 23rd day of Gathering, Y7
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Escape?


by hmlanden

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The young teenage Acara slumped against her locker and closed her eyes, listening to the thunderous chatter of her hundreds of schoolmates. All of them had a name, except her. She was known as 'it' with a capital 'I'. She had never been given a name, since she'd been abandoned at birth and had never had a home. Only charity, like that of the owner of this school, Miss Rainier, who kindly let her come there for free. It was not a public school. In fact, it was one of the most prestigious schools in Neopia. Everyone else had to pay to come here, and Miss Rainier didn't want to lose that money. Thus, if the students wanted to call the Maraquan Acara 'it', that was fine with Miss Rainier.

      Snatching up her history textbook, she scurried, or rather slapped her way to her next class. Her tentacles made a very loud squelching sound as she walked, and because it echoed exceedingly well through the narrow hallways, everyone could tell when It was coming. Not that anyone else cared. Unless they were particularly bored and needed someone to torture, everyone left It alone.

      Her very soul had been crying out for release for awhile now. Every time someone called her It, her heart whispered, "You should have a name. You don't need Miss Rainier. You can live on your own. Find a name." Or "an ugly, nameless Acara can't make it anywhere in this school. Go back to where you belong." But where did she belong? As far as she knew, there was no place for ugly things like her in the whole world of Neopia.

      Mrs. Crim was an ugly old halloween techo. She desperately needed a new paint job, but her meager teacher's salary couldn't pay for it. Mrs. Crim knew she was ugly, which made her grouchy and almost cruel to other Neopians who were perhaps worse off than herself. And, unfortunately, It was one of these unfortunates. But even more so unfortunately, Mrs. Crim was one of the only people who could help It, because she was the history and geography teacher.

      It crept as best as she could to her seat in the back. Her desks in every class were old rickety ones Miss Rainier would never allow any of her other students to even touch, let alone sit at, but It had grown attached to them. "You're just as messed up and ugly as I am."

      It slouched in her seat and silently copied the notes from the boards into one of her two notebooks. Mrs. Crim gave them about a minute before launching into the new lesson and erasing the notes from the whiteboard. It sighed and tried desperately to write down some things about the war in the Lost Desert, but her tentacles were just too slow. She had only written down what the war was about before class ended.

      It steeled herself and squelched up to Mrs. Crim's desk. "Umm…excuse m', ma'am…"

      "What's this now?" Mrs. Crim replied shrilly, adjusting her broken spectacles to eye the Acara. "Why, it's It now, isn't it? Why, I daresay you can't even figure out when I'm sayin' your name, can ye, you stupid thing? Ye can't even copy the notes from the board in time. Yer hands are just too clumsy, I'll say."

      "Umm…they're tentacles, actually, but is there…"

      "You think ye're smarter than me now, don't ye? Them tentacles is used as yer hands, and thus I ken call 'em yer hands. Now, what do ye want? I've got another class t' prepare fer."

      Last chance! "Is there any where in Neopia where…things like me live, Mrs. Crim?"

      "Why, ye? Why'd ye want t' know? Ye be our charity case. Ye can't go nowhere without payin' back all the money that's been spent on ye by this school. Now get out."

      "But Mrs. Crim, Miss..."

      "I said get out!!"

      By now, Mrs. Crim was screaming, her already bulging eyes nearly popping out of her head. It backed up quickly and fled. Her tentacles nearly flew as she ran through the hallways. Other students parted for her, laughing at her misery. They all had names. Misty, the rainbow Lupe. Jonaton, the shadow Gelert. Cara, the pink Cybunny. Laci, the gold Uni. Names. Names. She must have a name!

      It charged out into the gardens and hid in her favorite nook, a hole beneath an upraised root of the largest tree in the center of the garden, hidden by a huge bunch of rowzez. No one had ever found her there, and no one ever would if she could help it.

      Within, her held-back tears exploded from her eyes and flooded onto her few precious belongings: a starry notebook, a mechanical pencil, and a waterproof bag. Miss. Rainier claimed to have found It on the stairs of Glenwood Hall years and years ago, so it was very precious to It. Perhaps it belonged to the parents she never knew. Who knew what secrets lay within it, for the clasp had rusted shut years ago. It was a source of comfort for It. Years and years of hopeless tears had been shed on its smooth cerulean surface.

      So little to her life, it seemed. If it were a story, it would be dull and hopelessly sad. If a poem, all would be bored to tears. The writer would be mocked for its pathetic cliché aspects. But, It thought, life is cliché. Writers only try to make it seem interesting so we all aren't bored to death.

      Voices came from the path outside. The light filtering in through the rowze-laden branches was fading, so it must be around dinnertime. The only people insane and lucky enough to getaway with tardiness at dinner were Miera Castalio, an island Bori, and Fillan, a silver Zafara, the richest pets at Glenwood.

      "Anyway, I can't believe how stupid It is. I mean, I knew she wasn't the brightest blob of annoyance out there, but I never knew anyone so unbelievably dumb. It didn't even know about Maraqua! I can't believe it! Anyway, I heard It's gonna take our duties for a week because of her little episode in Crim's room. She deserves it, to be honest. But, speaking of Crim, did you hear…"

      That was Miera, a hopeless gossip always spouting a new tale about someone, but the sad thing was most of them were true. And It didn't wanna stick around to find out.

      She waited until darkness had fallen before crawling out and creeping toward the dormitories. This would be her last night here, but she needed her things. Now.

      The night guard at the door was half awake. The draik was very poorly paid and in truth didn't think anyone would ever even try to break into the academy. One scream from Miera and the thief would never return. She slipped past him with ease and into the third room on the left. It was the best dorm room in the whole academy, and It was lucky enough to live in it. In the closet. As a maid.

      It grabbed her two books, worn from many readings, a flashlight, her stash of food for when dinner had been taken away from her, and her diary. Her things. Hers.

      After a quick trip to get the rest of her things from the hole, she crept out to the far gate. It was impassable for anyone at this time of night. Two night watchmen, ten feet high, and nasty spikes lining the top made a formidable task for the bony Acara and her tentacles.

      She tried to open it, but all she got was a loud rusty creaking. No!

      "Eh, who's there now? If you're a student or a thief, you gotta wait 'til mornin'."

      "But…I can't! I've got to…to go now. Please, sir, I really need to…"

      "Hey now, aren't you that poor little Maraquan Acara Miss Rainier's always bragging about as her charity case?"

      "Ye..yes sir."

      "Here now, none of that sir stuff. Come on, I'll let you out."

      The watchman fumbled with the lock for a moment, pushed it open just enough for It to get out, and pulled it shut again, with only a soft protest from the hinges. The watchman's teeth shone in the moonlight as he grinned at It. "Comes with practice. Where are you headed to?"

      "Maraqua, but I don't know where it is!"

      "Well now, that's a long way from here. This school's on the north side of Neopia Central, and Maraqua's all the way past Brightvale! That's a pretty long walk for such a young Acara."

      It drew herself up proudly. "I'll do it."

      The watchman chuckled. "I always knew you had spunk. It'll work well for you when you get to Maraqua. However, when you get to Neopia Central, stay away from a yellow techo with frazzled gray hair. He'll put you in the pound and you'll never get home." The watchman pointed down the road. "Just go that way, and you'll get to Neopia Central by daylight. Better hurry now, before Miera wakes up and demands for the maid, who isn't there anymore, to get her a glass of hot earl grey tea."

      It didn't move.

      "Well, go on."

      It couldn't help it; she hugged the watchman with all her strength. "Thank you soo much. But, why?"

      "If we meet again, I'll tell you. Go."

      It turned and scrambled along the narrow road, muddy from a recent thunderstorm. Sharp rocks and thorns jabbed her tentacles, and an icy breeze whipped her damp body mercilessly, but It ignored these hardships, so sure was she that her escape and future freedom would be worth it.

The End

 
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