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Taking The Limelight


by yatomiyuka

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The house looked so inviting from the outside, though obviously deserted. Even so, you're starting to wish you'd just stayed at home tonight and enjoyed a hot cup of borovan or something. Then you wouldn't have been so curious, and you wouldn't be here now, jumping at every shadow, every slam of a door in the far distance.

     It's not too late to leave, you realise, and turn back towards the dusty old entrance hall. The carpets muffle your footsteps as you creep towards the door... closer... closer...

     No, wait! What if the answer to a great mystery lies within these walls? It would be too good to pass up... you can't leave now, anyway! It's just a stupid old house, and it's not beaten you yet. With a small sigh, you turn around again, and head back for the door into the lounge.

     You're nearly at the end of the passageway when something catches your eye. A small, brown book is lying on the floor, obscured by dust and age, and almost impossible to see next to the dark wood. Could this be what led you here? The answer to that great mystery? Or... well, there's only one way to find out. You flip the book open, and scan the first page.

     "This diary belongs to 'Tin, Starry Lupe Extraordinaire"

     Oh. Just an old diary. Still, there might be something of worth in it, so you settle into a moth-eaten red sofa and start to read...

     ***

     May 7th, 2004

     Dear Diary,

     I'm sitting by the window, watching the dusk draw in. It's been a warm, lazy kind of day, and not one you'd call remarkable. It would have been a boring day if it had been raining, or if spardels didn't exist. I saw a spardel today. Funny little things, but smarter than they look - much smarter. They're a little eccentric, that's all. Oh, and they hate the rain, like me. I've always kind of wanted one, but I've never had the money, really.

     Seeing that spardel earlier made me remember my new years resolution - to get out there and make myself known, and maybe make some spare change while I'm at it. I wish I had the nerve to take up a career in singing or acting - but I don't. I also wish I had friends who could give me advice on things like this, but I spend all my time here instead of socializing. It's a nice room, though. You've gotta give me that. Painted a nice, calming forest green, with pictures of hornets and flies on the walls.

     So, anyway, I've decided that I'm going to get a job of some kind. If it leads to something better, fantastic! If not... well, it doesn't matter. At least I'll have my spare change. Yep, I've decided - tomorrow is job-seeking day!

     -'Tin-

     May 8th, 2004

     I went out jobseeking today, as I promised, dear diary. No luck, but I found someone who can help me look again tomorrow, and the next day, and the day after that... well, until I find something. She's called Suzy, and she's a Lupe, like me. She's into writing poems, apparently, and she's wonderful at it. I read one of them today. I wish I had a talent. Maybe I just haven't found mine yet? I've got to keep looking... maybe tomorrow will hold the answer.

     It's getting late, but I can't sleep. The moon isn't out tonight, but I can see a few stars... or are they just fireflies? I should try and rest. Tomorrow will be long. I'm meeting Suzy pretty early at the catacombs; she knows a few places with job openings, so I'll keep my ...fingers... crossed. Goodnight, my hornet friends! And wish me luck!

     -'Tin-

     May 9th, 2004

     Success! I found somewhere to work, dear diary... it's a jelly factory on the outskirts of Neopia Central, only a few minutes walk from where I am. It's ideal, really. I wish I'd known about it earlier, it might have saved me the work of applying for work at all the other places. I'll be sorting through and picking out defective products. Long, tedious work, no hornet pictures, and the pay is low... but it's leaps and bounds better than nothing. I have to pay my way somehow, after all - I hate sponging off society.

     I saw a spardel again today. A Tyrannian one. It was interesting, but I don't think I'll be getting that kind of spardel... I like the red ones best. I start work tomorrow, and I really need to make a good impression... so, until later,

     -'Tin-

     May 12th, 2004

     I'm so sorry for not writing sooner, diary, but things have been so hectic and troublesome. I'm not really cut out for work at a factory, I don't think - they said I was daydreaming too much. it wasn't a big deal, until they tried to sell three jellies with flies in them, and lost their best customers. Needless to say, I'm not working there any more.

      Maybe I'm not cut out for working at all. I like my hornet pictures, and I can't see them when I'm at work. I miss them. Maybe if I worked in an office, they'd let me bring one with me? I'll drop Suzy a line tomorrow and see what she thinks. I need rest...

     -'Tin-

     May 13th 2004

     Dear Diary, I sent Suzy a 'mail this morning, and she replied immediately. There's an office job in the catacombs, sorting through submissions to the art gallery. It sounds more like my kind of work. I don't think they'll mind a daydreamer as much, anyway, and Suzy promised to talk to them about letting me take a small fly picture, if not a hornet one.

     I'm going for an interview tomorrow. Wish me luck, diary...

     -'Tin-

     May 14th, 2004

     Well. I went for the interview, and I think it went okay. They said I can go work there for a short while, and they'll assess me to see if I'm fit for the job. I owe Suzy a lot. Maybe when I'm rich, I'll buy her a spardel to make up for it. I haven't asked if she likes spardels, though, so it might not be a good idea. A fly picture in pink or orange would be perfect - she loves those colours. I'll make a mental note.

     I have to start work at 6:30 sharp, so I'll be off to get some sleep now. Thanks for everything, diary...

     -'Tin-

     May 15th, 2004

     Well, that was a bit of a disaster, diary. Everything was going fine, until I submitted my choices for the gallery that week... and got told that Buzzer day wasn't for a while yet. They don't want me to go back tomorrow. Do they have something against fly pictures?

     Oh, well, it doesn't matter much. Some things never change. I'd sooner leave behind paid work than my hornets, so I guess I'll just stay here now, diary. You've been really good to me through all this, and Suzy has, too. Oh, I forgot to take her picture... I'll have to give it to her tomorrow, or whenever I get the chance. Thanks again, diary, and good night!

     -'Tin-

     May 16th, 2004

     Oh, it's been a wonderful day, diary! The green on my walls seems all the brighter... Suzy came home with me, and we talked about job-hunting. I said I was about ready to give it up, and she told me that she understood. Apparently, she's been through a similar thing in the past, and she'd come to the realization that not all pets are good at working for others. I think I must be the same way.

     I showed her the picture I'd picked out for her. She really loved it, so that's another success. It was the perfect orange, she said, to complement her collection of orange and pink pictures. I talked to her about spardels, and she thinks they're kind of weird, but charming. It's been warm and bright all day, not a drop of rain - my favourite kind of day. The sun's asleep now, though, and I should be too. Thanks for hearing me out, diary. 'Night.

     May 17th, 2004

     Another good day. It's been a bit stormy, but that doesn't matter much. The lightning is pretty, even though the rain is depressing. Suzy woke me up early this morning, almost before it was light, saying she wanted to show me something, and I followed her to the catacombs. She'd been up all night writing poems, and she read some of them to me. I clapped, as did the few others who were there. She really is talented...

     When she sat down again, she said it would be good if I could take the limelight for once. I'd been hiding in the shadows forever, scared of the world, almost, and I'd never taken the time to discover myself. She reminded me that not too long ago, she'd been the same, and she could help me. I agreed to meet her at the catacombs again tomorrow. Thanks for listening again, diary - you're the only one I've always trusted with my secrets.

     -'Tin-

     May 18th, 2004

     I woke up at the same time, and went down to meet my friend at the catacombs, as we'd agreed. She told me that the first step was to express myself, and that she did it by writing poems. Maybe I should try writing a poem, or a song? It doesn't have to be good, she said. It just has to feel right. I said I'd try it later on, when the weather was better. So we paid for our borovans, and departed quietly.

     When I got back, I decided to try writing a poem immediately. It didn't go too well. I kept getting stuck on the rhymes, so I gave it up after a while. I wish I could do something well. I'm going to try again tomorrow morning, and I'll definitely produce something, no matter how bad it is, so I can show it to Suzy. G'night, diary, hornets and flies of all colours.

     -'Tin-

     May 19th, 2004

     Well, today was... strange, diary. It was cloudy, but the clouds were pretty for a change, instead of being grey and dull. Summer's on the way! I tried writing a poem again, and failed again - but I did write something. It's sort of turned into a short story. Not a long one, but not really short either - I spent all day writing it. It was a really relaxing experience. I'm definitely going to try it again. Maybe I've found what I've been looking for..

      I'm going to show the story to Suzy tomorrow, and see if she likes it. I really hope so. Either way, she'll be glad I took her advice seriously...

     Early start tomorrow, so good night to all you fine flies and hornets! Not forgetting you, diary! 'Night.

     -'Tin-

     May 20th, 2004

     I went 'round to Suzy's place as soon as I was awake, and showed her what I'd written. She said it was really brilliant, and that I could write stories for a living - but that I should write about something other than hornet pictures. Honestly, no appreciation for hornet pictures!

     Still, this is really exciting for me... I've always failed at everything, or not been up to scratch, or just not enjoyed it much. But this is something I really could get into - maybe I'll be buying a red spardel after all! Thanks again, diary - and good night.

     May 21st, 2004

     I wrote another short story today, about spardels, and sent it to Suzy in the mail. She was a while replying, and by the afternoon, I was wondering if it had been lost in a glitch. Thank the fly pictures that I had a copy safe in my room, in case of something like that! As it turns out, though, it wasn't needed.

     Suzy wrote back at around 8:00 pm, telling me that she'd sent my story into the Neopian Times. I was slightly shocked, and a bit annoyed that she'd left me out of her plans for my story, but also thrilled that someone so talented would consider my work worth a second glance.

     I just have to wait now. This could be my big break. Wish me luck, diary...

     May 22nd, 2004

     It got in! I was really amazed - I was expecting a rejection, and when I opened the letter my eyes nearly fell out of my head. It'll be published in three weeks time. Maybe it'll get fanmail. No, I mustn't think like that - it'll be reviewed long before the day of publication, so there's still a chance it might be rejected. I'll be wishing on that star... and in the meantime, I'll be writing up more stories.

     June 13th, 2004

     Well, this is it, diary. I would have written if anything interesting had happened, I swear it. Still, thanks for being so patient! I've bitten my nails right down. I was sure something would happen, and it wouldn't get in, but when I went to collect my weekly issue, there it was on the front page!

     'A Spardel Rainbow' by Justin P. Herald.

     It was wonderful to see my name in print. One of the artists had even drawn an eye-catching picture of it, which was displayed just above the first column of print. I've got a backlog of stories now, but I think it might've been a one-time thing. Still, maybe if I keep at it, I'll get that spardel I've been wanting...

     -'Tin-

     June 16th, 2004, morning

     This is fantastic! I may not get recognized on the street, but everyone's talking about my story, and I was sent a present this morning. Guess what it was. Go on, purple fly picture - I bet you can get it! No? well, I'll tell you then.

     I was woken up by a knock at the door this morning. The postman had a parcel for me. It was quite a small box, with a blue ribbon tied around it to keep the lid on. Whatever I was expecting to find in the box, it wasn't as good as what I found - it was a red spardel puppy! And it already had a name, too. I read the label on the box, and it said,

     "Thanks for being my closest friend and an inspiration, Justin. Don't forget me when you're rich and famous, K? PS: I hope you like my present! His name's Lou."

     From now on, I think everything will be okay. I have everything I could want, and I'm never going to stop writing now that I've started. If you're reading this, just remember - you have talent, too. You just haven't found it yet.

     ***

     The diary stops at that point. Maybe this Justin was a little too busy to write after that. That didn't explain why he was gone from the house, though, and you're hoping to find the answer one day. Disappointing that you didn't find any treasure, eh?

     You decide it doesn't matter that much. The diary is a kind of treasure all its own. Feeling kind of odd, and not at all like you've spent the night reading an abandoned diary, you stuff it into your bag, and set off for home.

     ***

     Funny thing is, the diary did turn out to be worth something - Justin grew into one of Neopia's finest writers, and his diary sells at auction for 100,000np. Not too bad! You'll never be as scared of haunted houses again.

The End

 
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