Pinc trotted up the path towards her best friend Crystal's house, deep in the snowy mountains where Happy Valley lay. Poogles loved the crisp white freshness of the ice and snow. They were both very happy there.
As she got to the shimmering silver door of her poogle friend's house, she knocked and waited.
“Hang on, I’ll be right there!” came the voice of Crystal. Pinc could hear a muffled shuffling noise coming from inside then a click of the lock. The door opened and a purple Poogle stood in front of her, her mouth showing a gleaming white smile.
“Pinc! You’ve got to see this!” she exclaimed, beaming at her blue friend. Pinc grinned and entered the cosy Neohome.
“Wow! Where’d you get that?” Pinc gasped as her eyes rested on the beautiful luxury sofa newly settled in the living room.
“You won’t believe it. I didn’t believe it myself!” Crystal beamed again. “I was down at the market and I came across a little shop. Well, it was really cheap inside. This sofa was only 50 neopoints!”
“Wow, that is good. You’ll have to show me where it is so I can replace some of my worn furniture.”
“Oh, well, I think the shop keeper was shutting... for good... sorry.” Crystal said lowering her head.
“That’s typical.” Pinc sighed. “My sofa’s on the way out as well, I could’ve done with a new one. Never mind, I’ll just have to dip into my savings for the Pink Paint Brush and buy a full price one. Where’s your old one? That was okay, wasn’t it?”
“Oh.” Crystal's ears dropped. “I erm... gave it to the Money Tree... sorry again...”
Pinc looked at her friend and smiled. “It’s okay, some pets are more needy than me. Trust you to think of them.” They sat down and began to chat about the day's events.
“Nothing much happened to me today. I saw some Chias on the way to a Tyrannian Concert and heard some chanting. I did find a trading card I didn’t have on the floor, though! That was the highlight of my day! Oh and I finally sold that Blue Aisha Plushie that’s been sitting on the shelf in my shop for months!” Pinc reeled off her daily events. “What about you? Won the Fruit Machine, again?” She rolled her eyes, then laughed.
“Well, now that you mention it.” Crystal paused, a smirk creeping onto her face.
“You didn’t! That’s the third time this week!” Pinc cried. Crystal had won a Spotted and Speckled Paint Brush in the last two days.
“Yep, I got another Spotted Paint Brush today. Sold it already. Bet I don’t get anything for a month now, though.” She laughed. “I also won two codestones on Tombola and saw the travelling library with a lovely Moehog who gave me a book worth fifteen thousand neopoints.”
Pinc glared at her friend. “Why are you so lucky?” she asked.
“I’m not that lucky,” Crystal said, handing her blue friend a cup of hot chocolate. “You get good things as well sometimes. What about that Secret Laboratory Map Piece you found the other day?”
“Yeah, I guess,” Pinc replied, knowing full well what the three Paint Brushes were worth that her lucky friend had won in the last week. It got her down sometimes but it wasn’t her friend's fault. She smiled at the worried look on Crystal's soft face. “Want to have a go at the Story Telling competition today? It’s a good one about a Skeith bodyguard and a mystery note.”
“Okay, sounds good. I’ll get the pens and paper.” Crystal dashed off to her bedroom and came clambering down, arms full of supplies. Pinc took out a piece of crumpled paper with the first chapter of this week's story printed onto it that she’d taken from the Story Telling office earlier that day and placed it down on the coffee table so that they could both read it.
Pinc was first to put pen to paper as the brilliant idea whizzing around in her brain came spilling out onto the paper. She was sure she must be onto a winner. There were similes, metaphors, and lots of interesting twists that she was sure would catch the eye of the publisher. Crystal finished reading the chapter and picked up her notepad, then frowned and looked around.
“I can’t think of anything. This is stupid.” Crystal sighed. Pinc glanced up in between jotting down words in her masterpiece.
“You always say that, but you always write something great.” Pinc winked at her. “And besides, if you can’t think of anything, it gives me a better chance.” She laughed.
“Right.” Crystal laughed back. “Okay, I’ve got an idea, but it’s not great this time.” And she started to write slowly onto her notepad.
Pinc carried on scribbling down word after word, then when she had finished, counted every word. “Six hundred and fifty-seven words. That should do it.” She smiled at her work. She was very proud of it and thought she must be in with a good chance.
Crystal smiled weakly. “I’m nowhere near finished yet.” She looked down at her writing then started to scrawl a bit more.
Pinc looked at the shiny silver clock on Crystal's bright yellow wall and gasped. “Is that the time?! We better get these sent in!”
“I’m not finished!” cried Crystal. “Hang on, give me two minutes!” And she rushed down a few more words before quickly skimming over her piece for mistakes and counted the words. “Hmmm, three hundred and ten words. Do you think that’s long enough?” she asked Pinc.
“It will have to be; we haven’t got any more time,” she told her, taking the stories and sending them to the Story Telling office over Crystal's neomail. “Well, now we wait.” She grinned, unable to keep the excitement in about her fabulous story. She had a really good feeling about this one.
“Oh, great!” Crystal groaned. “Spelling mistakes!”
“Don’t look at it now,” Pinc told her. “You’ll just make it worse.” Pinc looked around and caught sight of something in the corner of the room. “Did you get that from that cheap shop this morning as well?”
Crystal looked past her friend's shoulder. “Oh yeah, I almost forgot. I better put it in my gallery before I forget; it was only ten neopoints. Can you believe that?” She smiled to herself as she picked the Magical Electric Lupe Plushie up from the floor and placed it carefully into the cabinet at the far side of the room, then closed the clear glass door before locking it securely. Pinc rolled her eyes again and took a big gulp of hot chocolate before standing up and stretching.
“Come on, by the time we get down to Neo Central, the next part of the story might be up,” Pinc suggested, already putting on her warm coat for the cold weather outside. “I could stop by the Neopian Times office on the way and see if my short story got into this week's paper. It would be about time; I’ve submitted it six times!”
“Okay, let's go.” Crystal giggled. Pinc had tried comics, short stories and series in the past but none had gotten into the Neopian Times as of yet.
They started the trek down to Neopia Central, fighting against the icy wind that had picked up a bit since Pinc had arrived at Crystal's house. On the way down the mountain they caught a glimpse of the Poogle racers lining up for another race and a red Blumaroo jumped across their path shouting ‘Hi’ as he went.
By the time they finally made it to Neopia's Mainland they had even found a bag of one hundred Neopoints, which they split between them evenly. As they made their way up the high street into the Plaza, they were greeted by the wonderful sound and smells of the main shops. Pinc had to force herself past the Chocolate factory to stop herself from drifting inside amongst the aroma of chocolate and endless types of sweets.
“There’s the Neopian Times office.” Crystal pointed. “Let’s see if you made it.” Crystal practically dragged Pinc toward the little brick building as she placed some neopoints into a small blue box guarded by a White Weewoo and grabbed one of the papers off the pile next to it.
Crystal scanned through the pages, glancing at articles and comics. Then when she got to the end, she started again, glancing awkwardly up at Pinc, whose face had fallen.
“Maybe next time?” Crystal encouraged her friend.
“Maybe... Let's see what happened with the Story Telling then. It might cheer me up.” Pinc started across the street, ducking as a Blue Shoyru whizzed over her head.
The Story Telling building was a small straw hut at the edge of the clearing. The little blue door was locked, but that didn’t matter. New parts of the story were placed in the plastic containers hung on the outside walls. This was so that anyone that wished to take part could take a leaflet with them and either send it in by neomail or post it in the box by the door. Pinc stood at the new part of the story, gobsmacked.
“How?” she whispered, her cheeks starting to turn a little pink. Crystal stood behind, starring at the paper on the wall.
“Erm, are you okay?” Crystal said hastily, reaching out for Pinc's hand to pull her away from the building.
“Yes... Perfectly... Why wouldn't I be?” Pinc said, turning to Crystal, gritting her teeth as her face became a little pinker. “Want to see what the prize is?”
Crystal shrugged, turning away from her chapter of the story, now on the wall. “Okay...”
They knocked on the door and a tall Kyrii answered. “Why hello, do come in; I have your prize. Well done, by the way, Crystal; I always enjoy reading your entries. They’re so creative,” she told her, motioning to the door at the far side of the room. “Go on then, open it.”
Crystal stepped toward the door and moved her paw to the door handle. It opened with ease into what seemed like a clothes cupboard. Crystal gasped. “A Paint Brush?” She swirled around to face the Eyrie. “Wow!”
The Red Eyrie grinned. “It’s always nice to see the rarer things that come out of there. Totally random, you know. Most people get Codestones.” She giggled and then patted Crystal on the back. “Well, I really must be getting on now so if you wouldn’t mind? Keep trying, Pinc; your writing’s coming along nicely.”
As the door shut behind them, Pinc turned to Crystal. Now a very deep shade of red, her eyes fixed into a horrible glare. Crystal whimpered. “Erm... Wanna come with me to the Rainbow Pool?”
“NO, I DO NOT!” Pinc spat out, then turned on her heels and stormed off, leaving Crystal and her new Pink Paint Brush far behind.
“I can’t believe it! I can’t BELIEVE it! How could she? How dare she?! She knows that that’s the one thing I want most! To be pink! Apart from getting into the Neopian Times! Why is she so lucky, and I’m so, so, NOT lucky?” Pinc ranted to herself all of the way to her house deep in the Ice Caves. The door was small and brown. She opened it and slumped down onto her old tatty sofa. After calming down a little, Pinc went to the worn cupboard propped against the wall and prized open the doors, taking out her paper and pens. She sat back down on the old sofa and began to write. She scribbled and scrawled all afternoon. The whole of her life, splattering onto the page. Every Lucky event her friend Crystal had had, and every not so lucky one she had had. After what seemed like minutes to her but must have been hours, something snapped her from her thoughts. Her stomach was grumbling. She looked at the clock and realised it was tea time. Had she been writing for that long?
She looked back down at the paper in front of her and smiled. Well, at least with all of her feelings out, she had realised a few things. She wasn’t that bad off really. Crystal might be more lucky than she was, but at least she shared her fortune when she could. And to be completely honest, Pinc did have her fair share of lucky events as well, like the time she fished up that broken bag of neopoints. She had been a little unfair to Crystal and she knew it now. “I’ll take around a smiley pizza for tea,” she said to herself. “But first stop, the Neopian Times!” She grinned down at her life story in her paws.
That night, Pinc and Crystal had a great time, eating Smiley Pizza and playing games like, Kacheekers and Armada. They forgot all about who was lucky and who wasn’t and enjoyed their friendship instead. In the morning, Pinc got up early and made a big fried breakfast, which they both got stuck into. Everything was back to normal.
Crystal hadn’t painted herself after Pinc had stormed off the other day, so they decided to go together a week later. That morning Crystal was really excited. Pinc grinned at her friend jumping around like an excited Anubis. “You’re looking forward to this, aren’t you?” Pinc laughed.
“Yes!” shrieked Crystal. “I haven’t told you before, but I’ve always secretly wanted to be Pink. It’s such a cool colour.”
“I know.” Pinc laughed, holding in her own longing to be the same colour. “Let’s get going then.” They opened the door and they were on their way.
Crystal looked magnificent and glowing as she stepped out of the Rainbow Pool a little later on that morning. Pink suited her. She smiled. “Now we just need to save up for one for you.” She grinned at her friend.
“Yeah.” Pinc frowned. “Let's go get a sandwich or something,” she said, changing the subject.
As they crossed the square, they passed the Neopian Times office, which reminded Pinc that she had submitted her rant earlier that week. She gave the White Weewoo some neopoints and took a paper, not expecting anything. She had gotten used to being rejected now. But there on the second page was a familiar story. Pinc beamed. She couldn’t believe it. She’d gotten in!
“I’m in! I’m in!” she shouted at the top of her voice. She turned to Crystal. “Can you believe it?!”
Crystal beamed too. “That’s great! It’s your dream come true! Can I read it?” she asked.
When Crystal had finished her friend's story, she smirked. “You wrote that after I got my Paint Brush, didn’t you?”
“Erm, yes, how did you know?” Pinc laughed. She had done it. She had finally done something that Crystal hadn’t. She was so proud. Crystal had never tried to get into the Neopian Times before, so she had a while to gloat about it before her friend inevitably did, as she was better at everything. It was hard, though, so she knew it would take her friend a little time.
“Oh yeah, that reminds me. I thought I’d have a go since you’re always going on about it. I wonder if I got in.” She started flicking through the rest of the paper.
“Yeah right; you know how long it took me to get in. They’re really tough on what they let through. Keep trying, though. You’ll get it eventually.” Pinc laughed at the fact that Crystal thought she’d have a chance of getting in the first try.
“Oh, there I am. Look, the Jelly article. Cool.” Crystal looked up from the page to her friend...