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||You are on Week 643
Every week we will be starting a new Story Telling competition - with great prizes! The current prize is 2000 NP, plus a rare item!!! This is how it works...
We start a story and you have to write the next few paragraphs. We will select the best submissions every day and put it on the site, and then you have to write the next one, all the way until the story finishes. Got it? Well, submit your paragraphs below!
Story Six Hundred Forty Three Ends Friday, February 14
|Ivan hated this time of year.
The grey Ruki sat on a bench in the plaza of Neopia Central, watching various other Neopets go about their day. Almost all of them had big smiles on their faces as they ate candy and chocolate with their Valentines. Every day, the holiday grew closer, and every day that passed just made Ivan more disgusted.
In all of his years, he had never gotten a single Valentine. No one else offered him any candies or chocolates, not even a lousy moldy chocolate heart. It had been like that ever since he made his first handmade Valentine card, only to have it laughed at and ripped apart right in front of him.
When his card was destroyed, so was his enthusiasm for the holiday.
Now, every time Valentine's Day rolled around, it reminded him of how selfish and undeserving other Neopets could be. As time passed, his bitterness grew and grew until he just utterly despised the entire idea. Ivan couldn't even look at anything pink without it ruining his mood.
Speaking of pink, a gaggle of Neopets all colored pink were walking by, laughing, and exchanging candies and chocolates and Valentines with each other. Ivan turned away and got up from his seat and walked off. He could practically feel the bile rise up in his throat from watching that scene.
"Lousy holiday..." he muttered to himself as he walked the usual path back to his home. He kept his head down, staring at the ground, hoping it would limit his view of all the happiness and pink that was everywhere.
As he walked, his eyes caught a glimpse of something shiny at his feet. It was a single gold Neopoint. Well, if some messy person was just going to leave it behind, there was no reason for him not to take it, and Ivan picked up the gold coin.
While he looked at the Neopoint, just before he put it in his pocket, Ivan noticed that he was right by the Wishing Well. He thought for a moment and then flicked the found Neopoint in the well. It landed with a tiny splash at the bottom.
"I wish there was no Valentine's Day..."
Date: Feb 10th
...Ivan waited a second. He wasn't quite sure what he was waiting for, but he was hoping that something would happen. Something that would assure him that his wish would come true.
After a bit more of waiting with no results, Ivan shook his head and moved on. The only thing that had happened was that he could add a wish to the list of wishes that hadn't come true. He turned around and headed home. He'd had enough pink for one year.
Ivan yawned as he stretched his arm out to silence his beeping alarm. Rubbing his eyes, he sat up and got out of bed, mentally preparing himself for the onslaught of pink and red that he would soon be met with.
He opened his front door, squinting his eyes as he stepped out. His neighbor Rosey was typically the first one to put up her Valentine's Day decorations and the last one to take them down. His eyes widened when he saw on her front yard... nothing. The decorations that had been up for weeks already were gone. Where colorful hearts and cupids had stood before, there were now only rocks.
Shaking his head, he continued on. Maybe Rosey had moved and forgotten to tell him? Yes, she had gotten a wonderful deal on a new house and moved in the middle of the night. In fact, she had been so busy with the sudden moving that she hadn't had the time to tell him. That had to be it. His decision made, he moved on.
Neopia seemed... different, somehow. He couldn't place it at first, but as he walked down the street, he realized what it was.
Decorations. The Valentine's Day decorations that seemed to be plastered on every available inch were gone. It didn't make sense... and, unlike with Rosey, he couldn't come up with a reason for why Neopia had decided to take down all of their decorations.
He walked up to a pair of Lupes. "What happened to the decorations?" he asked.
The Lupes gave him a confused look. "Decorations?" one asked. "Decorations for what?"
Now it was Ivan's turn to give the Lupes a confused look. "The decorations for Valentine's Day..."
"Valentine's Day? What's that?" The second Lupe was looking at Ivan with concern.
No Valentine's Day? Ivan was then suddenly brought back to the Wishing Well. "I wish there was no Valentine's Day." Had his wish really come true?...
Date: Feb 10th
...He looked around at the green hedges without silly pink ribbons on them. The sensibly dressed Neopians. The storefronts displaying things that were actually useful and not cloyingly sweet.
A feeling of elation came over the usually moody grey Ruki. He almost whistled as he walked down the path toward the Neopian Bank. For once, he was not dreading his workday in the teller's booth. There would be no customers coming to withdraw Neopoints for their silly Valentine's shopping, no Usuls dressed in frilly pink dresses or Gelerts sporting roses in their collars.
There would be no Valentine's crowds today. Just plain, sensible Neopets.
Ivan glanced at his watch. He had anticipated having to avoid groups of happy Neopets, but since the streets were now nice and clear, he was actually early for work. He strolled toward the General Store to get a leisurely breakfast.
"Some Neowaiian Bread, please, and coffee with marshmallows," he told the glum-faced Kacheek shopkeeper.
"Here you are. That will be 503 Neopoints."
The exchange was straightforward and no-nonsense, just the way he liked it.
As he looked around for a place to sit, however, he noticed his neighbour Rosey sitting alone at a table near the window. She appeared to be, for some strange reason, crying...
Date: Feb 11th
...Ivan frowned slightly as he looked her, quietly weeping all alone. Normally the Cybunny was rather happy and upbeat, to the point that Ivan found it a bit annoying. He now found that he'd much rather see her happy than upset. Carefully, he walked over and stood uncomfortably by the empty chair across from her. "Hey Rosie," he said, "is something wrong?"
She quickly wiped her eyes and looked up at him, but the traces of her tears were still evident on her face. "Oh, hello Ivan," she said, attempting to smile, "I'm okay. Nothing's wrong."
He sat down. "Then why were you crying?" he asked sincerely. "I've never seen you cry before."
She sniffed softly and shrugged her shoulders. "I don't know," she answered, and her confusion was evident on her pretty face. "I honestly don't know. When I woke up this morning, I just felt like something was wrong. Something seems to be missing, but I can't figure out what. Everything is perfectly normal. Everything except for me, that is." New tears formed in her eyes and hung on her lashes like tiny, imperfect diamonds. "I don't know why I feel this way."
Ivan's heart broke for her. "Maybe you're just having an off day," he offered, "I know I have days when I just feel sort of blah. Could that be it?"
"I don't know," she answered. "That could be it, I guess." She picked up her purse, which had been sitting on the floor, and rummaged through it for a moment. "I have to run," she said, "but I want you to have this." She placed a small box of chocolate on the table. Without saying another word, she quickly stood and left the General Store.
Ivan stared at the box of chocolates and his hands began to shake. It wasn't in the shape of a heart, nor were there any ribbons, but a part of him knew the truth. This had been a Valentine's gift, and perhaps one that Rosey had always intended to give him. Like everyone else, she could no longer even remember that Valentine's Day had ever existed, but the absence of it still made her very sad.
When he had made his wish, he'd never really put much thought into it actually coming true. It had just been a silly thing that he had done in the spur of the moment. Even when he had first realized that it had somehow worked, he didn't think there could be any harm. In his mind he couldn't imagine how all of Neopia could be affected by the lack of one silly holiday. He had seen how heartbroken Rosey was, however, so it no longer really mattered if it affected anyone else. Rosey was the nicest individual he knew, and he had to do something to help her. He had to get back Valentine's Day.
Scooping up the box of chocolate, he left his own breakfast on the table as he hurried off to the Wishing Well. Without counting, he threw a handful of Neopoints into the well.
"I wish there was a Valentine's Day again," he cried as he heard the coins splash.
There was silence for several moments, but then a voice spoke...
Date: Feb 11th
..."It's not that simple."
Shock made Ivan jump. His pulse accelerating, he spun and looked for who had spoken. "Who's there?" he demanded, twisting wildly. "What do you mean?" The desperation in his questions was obvious even to himself.
"You can't simply wish away a wish," the voice answered. The words were faint, as though spoken from a distance. However, Ivan heard them as clearly as if the speaker were standing right at his side. The Ruki scanned the trees but it was impossible to pinpoint their exact source.
"What do you mean?" Ivan repeated, more loudly. He fixated on the coins at the bottom of the well as he waited. The Neopoints flashed gold in the sun with a brightness at odds with his churning thoughts.
"They won't help you." A figure, slight and stooped, emerged at last from behind a nearby bush. The Usul pushed back her purple cap to reveal a face lined deeply with age.
Ivan appraised the other Neopet, who returned his gaze steadily. "How do you know that?"
A strange smile tugged at the corners of the Usul's mouth. "Because I've tried it. For years and years, I came to this well and un-wished a wish I'd made. It never worked."
"What kind of wish?"
"I wished away Tetraberry Day." The light in the Usul's eyes was reflective.
"What's Tetraberry Day?" Ivan asked before he could stop himself.
The Usul's smile grew sad. "Exactly."
Ivan felt a sinking feeling take hold of his stomach at the openness in her gaze. There was no guile, no deceit, but every nerve in his body shrieked at him to reject what she was telling him. "No," he said, fingering the chocolate in his pocket. There had to be a way.
The Usul seemed to wink as she turned away. "If you want a wish undone, then I'm starting to think that you must undo it yourself."
Ivan stared at the ground. Undo it himself? He glanced back up, but the Usul was already gone.
Ivan woke the next day with the hope that the Usul had been wrong. His disappointment was intense when he opened his window and saw that Rosey's lawn was as empty as it had been the day before.
He could think of nothing but the Usul's parting words during the hours he spent at work. When he arrived home, he saw Rosey at her letterbox. The Usul's words scrolled out again in his mind as he met the pink Cybunny's reddened eyes. Her attempt at a grin didn't fool him; she wasn't happy. Ivan wheeled and went back the way he’d come.
Footsteps clattered on the pavement behind him. "Where are you off to?"
"I'm going to buy some things for Valentine's Day." He didn't know what he was doing, exactly, but he knew he had to cheer her up. That meant embracing everything he'd hated.
"Valentine’s Day?" Rosey blinked. "What's that?"
Rosey caught up to him. "Valentine's Day. It has a nice ring to it, whatever it is..."
Date: Feb 12th
...Ivan took them to the local party supply store. He ushered her past the paper plates and cone-shaped hats to the balloon section. He scanned for a second before his eyes found the largest heart-shaped balloon. He held it before her eyes.
"What do you think of this?" Ivan asked her.
Rosey hopped up to it and sniffed, her Cybunny ears twitching. "Its... pretty. I like it."
"How does it make you feel?" Ivan prompted.
Rosey cocked her head. "I'm not sure. Is this Valentine's Day?"
Ivan smirked. "Not quite."
An hour later, Ivan had decked out Rosey's house in every shade of red and pink imaginable. There were strings of confetti on her shrubs and roof. Rose petals littered her yard and cut-out hearts hung from her windows bearing phrases like "Hug me" and "Be mine."
Rosey had watched at first, somewhat doubtful of the Ruki’s sanity, but after a little persuasion from Ivan she pitched in and started to help.
Halfway through, Ivan noticed that she seemed more upbeat and her ears didn't droop quite as much. Her sniffling dried up and she looked to be enjoying herself.
"Now what?" Rosey asked after the last bit of confetti had been thrown.
Ivan took out the box of chocolate she'd given him and opened it to share.
"This is Valentine's Day!" Ivan said, throwing his arms out wide, his mouth full of caramel.
Much to his surprise, she burst out laughing. "Ivan, you're smiling! In all the years I've known you, you've never smiled! Who knew decorating my house would be so much fun for you."
"It's not just decorating, it's--" Ivan faltered. In the past, he’d have said Valentine's was a pointless holiday for excessive giggling and overindulgence in sweets, but now he felt his opinion changing. He found that he missed Rosey's laugh.
"Wow!" someone said behind them.
The red Aisha that lived several houses down had paused in the effort of walking her Puppyblew to gape at Rosey's house. "What's this all about?" she asked.
Ivan was about to answer before Rosey cut him off. "It's Valentine’s Day..."
Date: Feb 12th
..."Valentine's Day?" the Aisha asked, inquisitively. "What's that?"
Ivan paused for a second, taking in the whole absurdity of it all. Who'd have thought that he, of all Neopians, would be explaining what Valentine's Day is? He didn't quite know where to start.
"Well, um... it's just a day where everyone is full of love and happiness. We give gifts to our friends, have a laugh and a joke, and just enjoy life for one day."
"What about all the decorations?" the Aisha asked.
"Well, think of it as a celebration, just like the Day of Giving," Ivan replied. "Putting up decorations is all part of the fun, and this is just the same. Why don't you give it a go? Perhaps you've also got a special someone in mind? You could get them chocolates or flowers. Oh, and make sure to tell your friends."
"Isn't it Valentine's Day now, though?"
"It is, but you've still got the whole day to celebrate it."
The Aisha gasped. "I'd better get a move on, then! Thanks for letting me know," she finished with a smile. She headed back in the direction she'd come from and was soon out of sight.
"You're really something, you know that?" Rosey said to him, her eyes gleaming. "I just think it's so awesome that you could invent such a beautiful celebration. You should be so proud of yourself."
He should have felt elation. He'd finally found someone who appreciated him, who actually wanted to be his friend, but all he could feel was guilt. His stomach did cartwheels and his mouth went dry. He was fooling her. He was fooling everyone. He was nothing but a fraud.
"You're looking sad again," Rosey whispered, her eyes full of sympathy. "What's the matter?"
"Oh, it's nothing." He giggled, albeit it was a false one. "I am grey, after all!"
"I guess you're right, but even grey 'pets can smile. You're proof of that -- so come on, cheer up! It's Valentine's Day!"
It's Valentine's Day! The phrase was already going through his head over and over. It was such a lovely thing to hear.
It wasn't long before the other residents in the street were decorating their own houses. In no time at all, the street was suddenly blooming with pink and red decorations. The sound of joy and laughter filled the air and Neopets of all shapes and sizes were embracing and walking arm in arm.
"Hey!" a white Tonu chimed as he trotted up the road, licking his chocolate-covered lips. "Are you the one?"
"Sorry?" Ivan asked.
"You know, the one who invented Valentine's Day?"
"Um... I... I..."
Before Ivan could finish his sentence, however, another Neopet came whizzing down the road. He was holding a bouquet of flowers and wearing a smile that could match the brightness of the sun.
"Thanks to you, I have a reason to spoil my best friend. You're the best!"
A wave of disgust hit the Ruki, knocking him for six. They were treating him like royalty. If only they knew the truth...
Date: Feb 13th
...He soon found himself sprinting toward the Wishing Well. If he dared to stop for even a moment to catch his breath, he was bombarded with the cries of thanks from Neopians that thought he'd been the mind behind Valentine's Day.
All Rosey could do was try to keep up with the Ruki as he ran forward with a burning passion. He couldn't take all the credit for Valentine's Day -- he wasn't that kind of Neopet. No, he was a shy, introverted Ruki who personally preferred the company of a book than that of someone else.
"Ivan..." Rosey panted, pulsing forward to catch up to him. "What in the name of Fyora are you doing?" The Ruki didn't look back, but squinted his eyes as the Wishing Well came into view.
"I can't live a lie for the rest of my life, Rosey!" He began to slow down so he wouldn't fall headfirst into the well. The Cybunny to his side mirrored him, but a confused expression was plastered on her face.
"What do you mean, live a lie? It's Valentine's Day, for goodness' sake! You, more than anyone, should be happy!"
Ivan forced a smile, his eyes gleaming with sadness. "You don't know the half of it, Rosey." He grimaced as a group of Scorchios began to approach the two, most likely to thank him for his invention. "I'll explain later, but right now, I'm looking for--" A voice cut him off mid-sentence.
"Me?" Ivan jumped and, turning, he saw the withered face of the Usul from earlier that day...
Date: Feb 13th
..."I thought I might find you here," the old Usul creaked. "It looks like you've had some luck, by the sound of it. You've brought back your holiday!"
She winked, and Rosey looked to Ivan, confusion shadowing her pretty face. "Brought back?"
"No, no!" Ivan wailed. "It's all wrong. This isn't the way it's supposed to be! I never meant for it to happen like this..." Ivan's shame overtook him and he cursed himself bitterly for his selfishness.
"Didn't you, though?" The old Usul flashed a quick, knowing smile. "You got exactly what you wanted. Twice! Don't you find some comfort in that? Although, why you would wish away such a beautiful holiday..." she shook her head. "I'll never understand. Hearts and candy are so much nicer than Tetraberries."
"Wish away?" Rosey glanced at the Wishing Well and her jaw dropped as slow understanding came to her.
"Is this why I've been feeling so sad? No wonder you knew so much about this new holiday!" She gaped at Ivan, bewildered. "A day for love and happiness, isn't that what you said? Gifts and laughter? And you... you wished that away?!?"
Her eyes filled with tears. Ivan watched as they slid down her cheeks and dampened her fur. He could not recall ever feeling so miserable.
"Rosey, how could you ever understand... what it's like to be alone, year after year? You were always surrounded by admirers, your mailbox stuffed with cards and candies! Meanwhile, nobody ever spared a thought for me." Ivan turned away, his eyes welling up. Why should they, he thought. Look at what I've done.
He felt a soft paw rest on his shoulder. "Oh Ivan, poor dear. I never thought..." He turned to see Rosey's soft, sad eyes, no longer crying but now filled with compassion. The old Usul approached and patted his hand. "I understand now," she sighed, "more than you know."
Ivan sniffled and stuffed his hands in his pockets, and his fingers struck upon something small and square. He pulled out the contents, the little box of chocolates Rosey had given him before. His eyes flashed.
He had an idea.
"I think I know a way to fix this mess," he said to his companions. "It was selfishness that got me into this. Everyone comes to the Wishing Well asking for favors and gifts, but does anyone ever give something back? Not just a paltry 1 NP coin, but something meaningful? Does anyone just come to show the old Wishing Well some... love?"
The old Usul's eyes sparkled, and Rosey let out a squeal of delight.
"Ivan, that's brilliant!"
"And perhaps long overdue," the Usul added. With hope in their hearts, they raced back to town...
Date: Feb 14th
..."So, what exactly is your plan, Ivan?" The Usul questioned once they'd arrived in town.
"I need you and Rosey to gather as many Neopians as you can and bring them to the Wishing Well," Ivan said. "Tell them... it's for a Valentine's Day event."
"Okay," Rosey said, "and what are you going to do?"
The Ruki smiled. "I'll meet you at the well within the hour. Make sure to gather as many Neopians as you can!"
"Where's Ivan?!?" the Usul hissed under her breath. "We can't keep them all here forever!" she declared while gesturing toward what must have been hundreds of Neopets gathered around the well, holding flowers and balloons while engaging in chit-chat about the new holiday.
"Don't worry," the Cybunny reassured, "he'll be here as soon as he can. I'm sure of it."
Indeed, a few moments after Rosey had spoken, Ivan came running toward the energetic crowd of Neopians holding a bouquet of fresh roses and a Valentine's Day card.
"Excuse me, everyone! Can I have your attention, please?"
The crowd immediately directed their focus toward the Ruki. They were excited to be face-to-face with the creator of Valentine's Day himself, and eager to find out what he had in store for them.
"I'm glad you all are enjoying this new holiday," Ivan began nervously. This was greeted by a good deal of cheering and chatter. The Ruki then cleared his throat. "I've gathered all of you here because, in the spirit of the holiday, I... uh..."
His throat swelled. He had spent so long wallowing in misery for being unnoticed, but now that he was the object of attention for so many hundreds of Neopets because of something he didn't even do... well, the thought made him feel ill. He found himself unable to carry on.
"We want to spread the love by thanking the Wishing Well for its kindness!" Rosey shouted. "Let's all show the Wishing Well how much we appreciate it!"
The crowd of Neopets took to this immediately. A small group of fashionably-dressed Usuls strutted up to the wall and began decorating it with flowers and ribbon. Other Neopets walked up and set chocolates on the cobblestone around it. From within the crowd, shouts by the Neopians voicing their gratitude could be heard.
"Thank you for giving me a Neggitus Injection when I was sick!" A spotted Gelert declared.
"Fank you fow giwing me my Teddy Beaw," a small baby Acara mumbled, running up to the Wishing Well and hugging it. "I luff him vewy much!"
"And thank you," Ivan chimed in, "for showing me what Valentine's Day is really about." He stepped forward and set the card and bouquet against the base of the well.
It didn't seem like anything had happened, although for some reason no one in the plaza now seemed to know why they were there. They began to wander off without sparing so much as a glance at Ivan, much less thanking him profusely for inventing a holiday he'd wished away. Soon, Ivan, Rosey, and the Usul were the only ones left standing there.
"Well," the Ruki said, breaking the silence. "I don't know about you guys, but after all that, I just want to relax and forget that it happened." He turned to face his friends with a bittersweet smile.
Rosey exchanged a confused glance with the Usul. "After all what?" she asked. "What are you talking about, Ivan?"
"You really don't... remember?" Ivan stuttered, surprised. Had his plan worked after all? "You don't remember anything that happened today?"
"I remember waking up... and... I remember...." The Cybunny struggled to find words, realizing mid-sentence that she, in fact, could not remember the events of the day. "Huh."
"I don't remember, either," the Usul said, speaking up. "Why are we here?"
Ivan blinked. "I don't know. Maybe we should go do something..." He hesitated before speaking his next words. "...For Valentine's Day."
At this, Rosey instantly brightened. "Oh, that's right! Today's Valentine's Day!"
"Oh yeah!" the Usul said.
"You know, there's this sweet little Kacheek who runs his own ice cream stand in Neopia Central, and he serves the most delicious Valentine's Day sundaes," Rosey said, walking away from the well. "I get one every year. You guys should try them!"
"That sounds great!" the Usul said, following close behind. "Coming, Ivan?"
"Yeah, I'm coming." He took one last look at the well before joining his friends, ready to celebrate Valentine's Day for the first time in a very, very long time. He was looking forward to it, and on his way back to Neopia Central, he could have sworn that he heard a voice say, "Thank you."
Date: Feb 14th
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