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Revisions


by extreme_fj0rd

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Janet woke each morning with a luxurious yawn and a cry of exultation that echoed through the rafters of her pleasantly large farmhouse just outside Neopia Central. She dressed and went downstairs for a quick mug of tea, and then retreated to her study, where she wrote for precisely three hours before leaving the house to make her daily trip into the city for food, among other things.

      But this day -- the ninth day of Swimming, she noticed, her gaze wandering back to the calendar on her desk for what had to be at least the seventh time -- Janet's pencil was not only paused; it was fully stopped and lying beside her notebook on the desk.

      The Cybunny heaved a sigh and picked up the pencil. She got through three words -- Once there was -- before her inspiration ran out and she slammed the fragile implement back onto the desktop.

      She glanced out the window to her right, hoping to garner some idea from the Babaa herders or the pattern of sunlight on the grass, but it was an overcast day, and apparently the Babaa herders hadn't wanted to venture outside and possibly be caught in the rain any more than the Babaas themselves did. The rain hadn't started yet, but it was clearly threatening to.

      Janet looked back at the nearly blank page and sighed.

      "Maybe I'll get an idea if I leave it alone for a while," she said aloud, and slid off her chair to pad down to the living room.

      An hour and five pages of Cybunny Down later, she threw down the book impatiently and stomped back up to her study.

      Ten minutes after that, she descended the stairs once more, this time to the kitchen, and made herself another cup of tea.

      It was almost eleven o'clock when she finally went back to her study and sat down, ready to do some serious writing.

      Nearly an hour later, her page remained untouched, save for the few words she'd managed to put down earlier.

      Frustrated, the Cybunny flung her pencil across the room. It hit the far wall and bounced off behind a filing cabinet; she made a face and scuttled over to retrieve it.

      It was broken, snapped cleanly into two pieces.

      Janet stared at it for a moment, and then turned back to her desk. She set the broken pencil down calmly and hopped downstairs to get a jacket, and let herself out the back door -- remembering to latch it firmly behind her and take a key.

      She set off down the road to Neopia Central, fuming and hugging her coat close to keep warm.

     "Janet!"

      The Cybunny smiled wryly, having (mostly) gotten over her anger on the long walk. "Hello, Robert," she said, stepping up to the counter of the Food Shop. She dug in her jacket pockets for her shopping list.

      "What do you need today?" the Chia asked with a friendly smile, resting his paws on the counter and raising a brow inquisitively.

      Janet scowled in response, still turning out her pockets for the paper. At last she had to admit defeat; she asked simply for a loaf of bread, which she knew she needed, and paid for it quietly, saying no more than the occasional "mmhmm" in response to Robert's small talk.

      She swung the bag angrily as she walked down Neopia Central's Main Street, and thought vengeful thoughts at her forgetfulness. For all that she was well-known in Neopia Central, no one stopped her to ask how she was; her scowl was clear enough, and everyone knew not to speak to a writer with writer's block.

      The Cybunny glimpsed the familiar red-brick exterior of the Book Shop just down the street, and her expression relaxed into an easy smile.

      She spent a happy half-hour there, browsing among the many volumes, and finally purchased two to add to her collection at home -- already forbiddingly large. But the spending helped her overcome the fear that lay dormant within her, somewhat.

      Approaching her home along the path of packed dirt, she couldn't help but feel dread creeping over her. What if she never could write again? What if she was cursed to never have any ideas, what if she got back and couldn't think of anything, or worse, had ideas, but no words to put them into?

      She shook her head firmly. She would write when she got back.

      She had to.

     Fifteen minutes later found her once more gnashing her teeth over her writing -- or lack thereof. There seemed to be nothing she could write about; everything was too mundane, or too fantastical, or too farfetched, or too cliche.

      She rested her head on her paws, staring down at her notebook. At long last she picked up her pencil and wrote the rest of the sentence:

      Once there was a Cybunny who was named Janet.

      She left the room, came back with a small hand mirror, and tilted it so she could see her face.

      She lived by herself in a rambling house outside of Neopia Central. She had a wry smile and a pleasant laugh, and her eyes sparkled like sapphires in the clear morning air.

      She began each day with a cup of tea, and finished it reading a good book; in the middle, she wrote stories and occasionally walked in to Neopia Central for necessities.

      She wrote on, filling first one page, then another, with anecdotes about herself and description; of her house, her gardens, the road that led to the city, of anything and everything. She didn't stop until late in the evening, and even then she merely closed her window against the chill night air and lit a lamp to see by before once more picking up her pencil.

      At long last, when the sun was clearing the forest to the west of her, Janet lay down her pencil and looked at her last sentences.

      But one day, Janet's inspiration died. She could no longer come up with ideas.

      And, slowly, she picked up the pencil, but held it upside-down; slowly, she erased the paragraph before those last two sentences, a story from her childhood.

      More and more frantically, she erased her words, brushing bits of eraser off her page every few minutes as they piled up too high for her to see the lettering.

      She grew fainter with every word she obliterated, until, at last, the only sentence was that which she had started with. She was merely...

      Once there was a Cybunny who was named Janet.

      The rosy dawn light now shone around her, above her, through her. She had no shadow; the brightness spilled through her to crash upon the floor in a wave of light. She had no memories of her life, her childhood; she was simply a Cybunny who was named Janet. Her only recollection was of the one sentence, blankly staring up from the paper.

      And she began to erase the last sentence, starting at the end.

      Once there was a Cybunny who was named...

      And she forgot her name, and laughed in the joy of it, and went on.

      Once there was a Cybunny.

      And there was.

      A Cybunny.

      That was all.

      And Once there was...

      There was. There was. There was.

      Once there...

      Once.

The End

 
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