Behind the Smile: Part Four
“What is it that you want with me?” the smiley asked, looking into my eyes. This smiley’s eyes were even more chilling than the first’s. The depths of its sadness were so strong and intense that I would have gotten lost in their eternal spiral of despair if I had not looked away. This was, indeed, the most depressed creature I had ever met.
“I just wanted to ask you... do you remember how you got here?” I looked over at Hy for support, but found that she was cowering, standing slightly behind me. Great. I was on my own.
“Yes, I do,” the smiley replied resentfully. “I wish I could forget, but it will forever haunt me.
I may not
Have been the best to you
But why did you have to do this to me?
I may not
Have been the person you wished me to be
But why did you have to hurt me so?
I may not
Have been the kindest, though
Why did you have to leave?
I may not
Have listened to all you said to me
But did you ever even care?
I may not
Have always been there
But why must I suffer through this pain?
The voice, strange yet hauntingly familiar, filled my head with a wonderful, yet sad and eloquent poem. Flitting through my mind, it filled me with thoughts of anguish and pain. I could feel nothing but a cold angst in my heart.
I shuddered. “What was that?!” I exclaimed as the effects of the words began to wear off, leaving my psyche still somewhat perturbed.
“That,” stated the smiley matter-of-factly, “was my past. Nothing more.”
“Could you... could you please tell us... ex... exactly what happened? That... poem... wasn’t very clear. I still don’t know what happened to get you here.” This may have been totally creeping me out, but I was determined to get a straight answer out of this disturbing little sphere.
“Fine. You want to hear about my past? You’ll get to hear about my past. But be warned. It isn’t happy.”
That was probably the understatement of the eon. I nodded, resting my arm against the edge of the cage for support.
“Let me begin by saying that I was a plain old female red Bori dubbed Sarroe. I watched sadly as all of the painted pets paraded past our neohome, which I shared with only my owner. I was struck with the longing that every plain neopet has of wanting to be painted.” It looked down at Hy and sniffed. “Others, however, have the gift of being painted fairly early in their lifetime,” it said disdainfully. I moved closer to my beloved Lupess, slightly pushing her behind me.
The smiley continued, and I could sense a touch of (even more) sadness in its voice at my reaction, which indicated that I loved my pet sincerely. “Days went by, then weeks, which turned into months. Soon years had gone by, and still I was just a plain, unexciting crimson Bori. I’d begged my owner hundreds of times to paint me, even if it was just a boring, cheap colour like white or brown. He always said that we didn’t have the money, and that he would paint me something special, like pirate or faerie, when he got the money. I knew that we were poor, but I always thought that he secretly had a huge income from his shop, and that when he left every morning it was to play games and make lots of neopoints. Of course, this was all nonsense. I was blinded by my own ambition to get painted.
“Eventually, I got fed up with all of the waiting around for my owner to make neopoints. So I went off into Neopia Central, to earn my own paint brush. Yes, I was definitely determined. All of my thoughts, my entire being, were focused on getting a paint brush, and making sure that it was a good one. I went to the games room every day for about two or three months, each day earning over fifty thousand neopoints. I played every game, and spent my day playing from dawn to dusk. My owner really didn’t care where I was anymore, but I was too intent to notice that I was seeing him less and less. By this point, I had made enough for the most expensive brush at the time: a Plushie Paint Brush.
“I traveled all the way to Mystery Island to get to the Trading Post, and there I found my prize. It was a beautiful thing. A brush with a newly polished handle that gleamed in the bright morning sunlight. The bristles were soft and squishy, and the paint was as huggable and cuddly as the stuffing of a new plush toy. It was fluffy, stitched at the seams, and the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. And I owned it. I had spent months working towards my goal, and I had completed it. I was so full of satisfactory, I can barely even imagine such contentment now. I doubt that anyone in Neopia’s entire history could have felt as good as I did then. The future seemed bright. Standing there in the fresh green grass of tropical Mystery Island with the sun beating gently upon my face, I felt like I could do anything.
“I took the first ride to Neopia Central that I could catch. I was both excited and very nervous about painting myself for the first time in the Rainbow Pool. I stood in line with the other pets, who the gawked and stared at my magnificent Plushie Paint Brush. Not one of them had a paint brush so fine as mine. When my turn came to step into the Rainbow Pool, I puffed out my chest proudly, and made a move to touch the tip of the brush to my left paw, when all of a sudden, a rogue petpet darted out from amongst the crowd, straight towards me. It jumped up, bowling me over.
“I dropped the paint brush, and watched, stunned, as the paint slowly washed off the brush, seeping into the water, like a dark cloud slowly forming in the sky. It was torturously slow, spreading across the surface of the crystal clear water, staining it an inky black. The water hissed when it made contact with the magical paint and began to steam. The wisp of steam turned into an all-out fog, clouding the surface of the pool, creating a rather ominous and foreboding feel to the air.
“Many pets were starting to crowd around me, hemming me inside of a threatening circle. They wanted me to go, and go quickly. So I ran. I ran as fast as my four feet would carry me, and soon I found myself paying the fare to get back home.
“As soon as my feet touched solid ground, I fled to my neohome. I didn’t care that I was still sopping with wet brownish black stuff that was still steaming slightly. Many a creature stopped to stare after me as I sped past them, determined to get home.
“Finally, after what seemed to me like decades, I was home. I thrust open the door, and threw myself down on the floor, panting. I had never run so fast and for so far in my life. I was totally exhausted. And I stank. Really badly. Who would’ve thought that magical paint plus water would equal rotten egg smell? Well, I guess nobody until I came along.
“Suddenly, I heard a door slam behind me. It was my owner. I cringed in fear, afraid that he was about to yell at me for being gone for so long. But instead, he grabbed me roughly by the scruff of my neck, and said, ‘You’re going to the Pound. I’ve had enough of this stupid place, and you’d just wreak havoc upon everybody when I’m gone. I blame you for all of my problems. You’re never here when I come home. All you do is beg for a paint brush. You only care about yourself. Your name is Sarroe. Quite fitting. You’ve cause me nothing but sorrow! And that is why, little runt, I’m leaving you in the Pound and I’m never coming back!’
“I was terrified. I had never seen my beloved owner like this before. He had always been so kind to me. He had understood my desire to be painted. He was always my best friend, and helped me out when I was down. But now... he was a monster. He carried me by the scruff of my neck all the way to the Pound. My neck was really getting sore, and it felt as if my flesh were going to rip from my bones. He told the Techo at the desk that he wanted to be rid of ‘this little brat.’ That stung more than anything he had said to me before. I wanted to cry. In fact, I did. Right there in front of the entire Pound, I cried. Sobbed. Wept uncontrollably. But my owner just tossed me into the nearest cage, turned away, and never came back.
“All of the memories, the jokes, the words and moments we had accrued over fights and our agreements. They meant nothing to him anymore. But they had been and still were, everything to me, I could see now. I had left my owner behind in my obsession to be painted, and he hated me for it. All I had really given myself was a space in the Pound, and an owner that no longer wanted me. Sinking deeper into depression, all I could do was weep silently behind iron bars for all I had lost in a single afternoon.
“You can’t possibly know how hurt I was. I was dumped in the Pound after having lost my wonderful Plushie Paint Brush to a freak accident. My owner had betrayed me really badly. It was so painful to watch him walk out on me like that, after all of the years we had spent together. He had been my friend, my father, my mentor in life. And he had left me, sobbing and drenched and stinking, in the Pound.” The smiley, thinking back on all of this, looked even sadder than I could have ever thought possible.
“Somewhere in my misery, I noticed that there was a faint blue light emanating from inside me. Soon, still bawling my head off, I was engulfed in the light. I was confused and lonely. I didn’t know what was happening to me. I was so scared, but helpless against this strange magic. I had nowhere to go, so I let it take me on its invisible path to nowhere.
“I awoke here in this cage, surrounded by all of these other smilies, which must have come from me. Little pieces of my sorrow, all trapped into little blue balls. I was confused as to why I was here and what had happened, but after a while things started to come into focus, and I accepted my fate sullenly.” The smiley sighed.
“I’m so sorry to hear that,” I said sympathetically.
“What is done is done. I have given you what you wanted; now leave me to sulk in peace.”
“Alright. Thank you so much for your time,” I answered gratefully.
As Hy and I walked out of the building, on our way home, Hy said to me, “Mom, can we please not go back anymore? I don’t want to hear any more sad stories. They’re depressing me.”
“Okay, Hy,” I replied, agreeing completely. I was now satisfied as to how the smilies got here, and had no more desire to hear of any more pasts. They all led to one state: the pet feeling the complete emotion of that which they represent, then they are engulfed in the light of their colour. Other smilies spawn from them, and they wake up in a cage.
And that is how the smilies came to be here.