“ARG!” A cry of distress came from the cardboard room, followed by a small clink of a pencil being dropped to the ground. I sat on the floor, listening to the rustle of papers indicating that they were being tossed around the room ruthlessly. I sighed.
With a flushed face, my dearest owner stormed out of the room, ripping the cardboard door. I flinched slightly, knowing that this would result in only more frustration.
Treekofreako sat down on her premium dung chair. My siblings and I looked up at her, but seeing her angered face, immediately avoided eye contact. I exchanged a look with my sister. Not just “a look.” “The” look.
This was the third time this week the routine had occurred. First... cry of anger. Pencil to ground. Papers fly around room. Storms out. Doesn't feed us. Tries again.
My owner, Treekofreako (such a hassle to say all that, isn't it? We just call her Tree, like the thing that grows out of the ground) was a writer. She believed she had talent and one day soon, the Neopian Times would tell her that her stories and articles were genius. She would spend all day writing, finish a short novel, then thrust the peanut-butter stained rough draft into the mail. Less than a day later came the rejection letter. Then... the routine.
You might be able to tell by now that we had a hard time supporting ourselves. Tree dedicated so much time to her books, there was no time for other work. And no work meant no food. No food meant, you guessed it, the Soup Faerie.
So our two room cardboard neohome wasn't exactly a palace. But it was home, however low the roof sagged during thunderstorms. “Spiffy, go down with Scorch to the omelette and see if you can snag a piece,” demanded Tree. We scurried out of the room, I bouncing on my Blumaroo tail and Scorch flying at the speed of light.
* * *
I gasped for air as we arrived in Tyrannia. Sabre-X gave us a suspicious look, growling under his breath. We scurried by and snatched a bacon omelette. Splitting the omelette into thirds, we sat by on a nearby rock.
“Extra, extra! Read all about it!” cried the newspaper boy. I gave him a neopoint and grabbed the weekly issue of the Times. Browsing through the articles and stories, I noticed the familiar “Write for us!” ad that had so often been involved in a bonfire behind our humble neohome.
Scorch nudged me. “C'mon...” he muttered. “We should be heading home.” I hastily shoved the crinkled paper into my bag and started the walk home.
* * *
“Ugh...” I muttered. Tyrannia was no short walk from my home, and I was starving. “Can we please stop at the Soup Faerie's place?” I begged.
Scorch shot me a look of acid. “No!” he hissed. “Tree wants us back at 6 sharp. It's 5:52, and we're at least 20 minutes from home.” I gave him a questioning look. He sighed and explained, “We're late enough as it is.” I slouched and continued walking, muttering things under my breath.
At last, the glorious cardboard hut came into sight over the horizon. I threw open the door, only to have it rip. Groaning, I walked in, only to meet Daisy's glare. “What's your problem?” I asked her casually. Too casually.
“My problem?! My problem?! You wanna know what my problem is?!” she demanded. I shrank back in fear. “My problem is that I've been here all day, withering away into nothing out of starvation, while YOU were out snacking on omelette and having a nice stroll through Neopia! I got to listen to Tree lecturing me all day on the importance of grammar, only because the Neopian Times editors said that there were to many grammatical mistakes and sent it back to her! Why must they reject her?! It's more punishing us! Why?”
I shivered slightly. Daisy may look like a sweet little Xweetok, but get on her bad side and you're toast. If you get on Daisy's bad side, you better move before she finds out where you live and eggs your house while you sleep. No joke.
Suddenly, before I could make a rude reply to her short speech, Tree walked in. “What's happening here?” she cried, pencil behind her ear, lead smudged on her face. We silenced. Do not upset Tree. Where do you think Daisy got her personality?
“Nothing,” I replied, seeing as all eyes were on me. Tree shrugged and walked out.
Daisy made a gesture and mouthed, “I'm watching you.”
* * *
I woke up with a start, rolling out of my itchy straw bed and meeting the dirt floor. “Oof-!” I had a crash landing. Shakily getting up, I decided I would sneak a trip to the Soup Faerie and see if she would serve an unaccompanied neopet. Door... My sleepy eyelids were having trouble staying open, and that door seemed so far away. My feet... bricks. I figured I would fall asleep and not get to the door. I was halfway right.
Uttering a short cry, I slipped on some papers scattered about the floor. “Tree...” I muttered under my breath. I knew her stupid stories would kill me one day, and this time they nearly had. I began to pick them up, and sat down in the soft dirt. My eyes briefly skimmed over the story. Good grief! No wonder the Neopian Times rejected these! This was by far the most poorly written story I had ever seen. My eyes wandered over the paragraph...
... “And I have a Wocky named Cvg80. He is pink. It is a funny story because this one time I went to the pound and I saw the wocky and I liked it because it was pink and I thought it was cute so I bought him and now I love him and he is a part of our family and he is still pink because I can't afford a paintbrush but I will someday that will be nice I eat cheese a lot my pets are lactose intolerant though so they can't...”
Oh my goodness. Tree claimed she was a genius. Wow. Someone was misinformed! I shook my head in disgust. Although the writing itself was wretched, I noticed hundreds of editors marks. Perhaps Tree was no writer, but she might not be half bad as an editor...
Considering this thought, I walked out the door for a late night stroll to the Soup Faerie.
* * *
“Tree!” I cried. “TREE!”
She poked her head out of her study. “What it is, Spiffy? You know I don't like to be disturbed. After all, I am-” at this point she fixed her hair smugly and put on a conceited expression -“an artist.”
I had to get the idea of her being an editor to her without telling her I hated the writing (or that the rest of the world did too.) She needed a writer to edit for! But who...? No one would have her edit theirs; she was pretty infamous around town for her ways with the quill. Me? I couldn't write, but I had to give it a shot. For Tree.
“Erm... I know this... erm... writer.” Tree gave me a “so-why-do-I-care” kind of look. “She- erm- wants you to- uh- edit her work so she can submit it to the Times. Uh... Would you like to?”
She put on a smug expression. “Well, I suppose I could give some amateurs a few tips. You get the writing by tomorrow- I'm very busy, you know.” I nodded and raced out the door.
* * *
Madly, I scribbled down various phrases onto the newly purchased paper. By tomorrow?! Ugh. I didn't know if I could manage this. I sat on the park bench, thinking of what to add next to the plot. Plot? This story was poorly written, and I didn't think Tree would even read it. But I jotted things down, crossed them out, and re-worded sentences. This would be hard.
Hours went by, and before I knew it, the sun had set, eliminating my source of light. I groaned. I scurried into a small coffee shop, adding a few finishing touches to my work of... art? Oh well. At least this might open Tree's mind to her potential as an editor.
I thrust the pages into our cardboard mailbox, scurried inside, and screeched “Mail's here!!” Tree sighed and walked out, hating to destroy her train of thought.
She walked in, reading the message I had scribbled down about the editing. Slamming the door into her office, she emerged several hours later with a wild look in her eye. “This story... your friend...”
“What?!” I demanded. Was it really that bad? Was it bad enough to make even Treekofreako look down upon it in disgust?
“It's... it's amazing!” she gasped. I choked on the soup I was chugging. Amazing?! What... but.. how? “Of course, there were countless grammatical errors, and the spelling was treacherous, but the writing.... I couldn't stop reading! Tell me, Spiffy, who is your friend? I must know! We can work together as writers!”
I stuttered. “She... uh... isn't around here much.”
Tree looked puzzled. “How do I send it back to her if I don't know her name?”
Think, Spiffy, think! What could I use as an excuse? A... a... pseudonym! “She actually takes on a pseudonym,” I said with my voice warbling, “so I'll just give her the edited version.”
Tree's face fell, but my heart was too shaky to notice.
My work... amazing?
* * *
Tree pestered me all of the next day like a lovesick puppy. “So when are you gonna meet her? Huh?” It started off amusing, but then it just got plain annoying. “Not until later,” I said through clenched teeth. Her shoulders would sag and she would return to the office, only to spring out the next time I walked by. I sighed.
Sneaking out the door in the middle of the afternoon was no problem. After all, the door wouldn't close- I'd ripped the cardboard last time I came in. Sitting on the park bench once again, I organized my thoughts. I could send this in under a pseudonym, but why hide? Why? I mean, if I was really that talented, shouldn't the world know? But Tree... I would be in the pound before you could say “Quill.” She would loathe me, despise every little characteristic. I was supposed to be her humble pet, simply there because I was just a pet. But if I came through with this genius, then what? I assumed the worst.
By sunset, I had made up my mind. I would send it in to the Times and hope for the best. If it got in, then I could only pray nothing awful would happen. If not, then no worries at all.
I walked into the post office with the brown envelope. After addressing it to the Times editors, I watched it being dumped into a box of postage with an ache in my heart.
And thus, the beginning of my career started.
* * *
Daily, I checked the news to see if the newest issue of the Neopian Times was out. Then, came that faithful day. I snatched up the Times and thrust to the “Stories” section. Savagely, my eyes tore through the words until- there it was. My entry- and my name in lights! Or ink, rather. I browsed through my story, my eyes widening. I hadn't given myself enough credit- the story was rather amusing.
Then, my heart plunged into my stomach. An acceptance letter would have arrived by now, for sure. Oh dear Fyora. Tree would read it. There was no way to break it to her lightly- my writing was more accepted by the public than hers. Oh dear. I braced myself and started that walk home.
* * *
“Spiffy!” The roar was so loud I'm sure the neighbors jumped out of their houses looking for the fire. “What is this?!” Tree's voice was so full of intensity that I thought I was about to start bawling. “A letter from the Times? For you?” I looked at her with my sappiest eyes possible.
Please, Fyora, don't let her kill me! I shivered. This might be the end. I couldn't see Tree's eyes; her back was to me now.
“This... letter... my dream.... you have....”
She stopped. I was expecting words like “Crushed my dream,” or “ruined my life.” Then she turned around.
I saw tears in her eyes. Of rage? Of misery? All of the above?
No. No, it was neither rage nor misery. The emotion pouring out of Tree's eyes in tear form was pure joy. Nothing but joy.
“You've fulfilled my dream, Spiffy. I always wanted to see you pull through, to see you do something amazing. You were always quiet and humble, you know.”
I blinked twice. Confused does not begin to describe my feeling.
Tree ran at me and embraced me in such a tight hug that I couldn't breathe. But from that moment, I knew she would support me. From that moment, I knew we were a team.
* * *
So now I write to you, my fellow Neopians, from my luxurious desk in my no-longer-cardboard neohome. I'm proud to say that I'm a writer- not something you often come across in Blumaroos! But, yes indeed, I am glad to have taken the risk! To have spread my wings!
So, fellow Neopians all of all shapes and sizes, please... Take a chance! Fulfill your duties! Don't, don't, don't hold yourself back because of what others may think about you. You never know.
So, Neopians, follow your dreams!