The Kreludorian Eclipse
Lilly rolled in her swivel chair away from her writing desk and groaned, throwing her pen onto her Neopian Times writing pad. She was fresh out of ideas. Her striped Xweetok fur fluffed up around her in a frustrated huff. Across the room, her brother, Lertley, was dictating about how he would’ve organized a certain play for Yooyuball if he’d been captain of Team Faerieland. He was talking in a tone reserved for times when the easy going Gelert was angry, and was stamping his feet, a habit, Lilly noticed that played over when her brother was upset.
“The goal was wide open!” Lertely exclaimed, throwing his speckled Gelert arms out wide. “Seriously! All Babolino had to do was shoot!!”
“Give it a break Lertely,” Luna, Lilly’s cloud Kacheek sister grumbled from across the room. “We all know that Faerieland is one of the worst teams in the Altador Cup, and we don’t need to be reminded of it.”
Luna swirled her pink dance ribbon in a beautiful arc, then spun around in a pirouette and leapt across the floor. She finished in a rock solid balance with her leg held high.
“Perfect, Luna!” Autumn congratulated with a clap. “Except for your toe. Point it more.”
Luna nodded, biting her lip, and walked through the motions again.
Lilly looked, absentmindedly at her gorgeous dancer sister, half wishing she could be as graceful. Then she shifted her gaze over to her starry Peophin brother, Capricorn, who was by the window, pouring over star charts and astronomy books, with his ancient bronze telescope propped up next to him.
“There’s supposed to be a Kreludorian eclipse at 3:00 am tonight!” he said excitedly. “Does anyone want top stay up with me and watch it?”
No one volunteered.
“Um... I’m going to go for a run,” Lertley said quickly, putting on a scarf and bolting for the door.
“Fine,” Capricorn muttered, disappointed. “I’ll watch it by myself.”
Lilly sighed again, turning her eyes back to her desk and the empty piece of paper in front of her. White void with black lines running across it. That was her expanse of ideas right now. Zip, zilch, zero. Nothing could have been more frustrating.
“I wish there was some potion that could cure writer’s block,” she groaned.
“Can’t you think of anything to write about?” Autumn asked her. “You’re always so full of inspiration!”
“Well, not now!” Lilly cried.
“How about you stay up with me and watch the eclipse? Maybe do an article about it?” Capricorn suggested.
Lilly sighed. “If it gets rid of this awful mental block, I’ll do it.”
“Great! I’ll get the sleeping bags!” Capricorn whinnied, lunging for the cabinet.
“Wait, we’re sleeping outside?”
“Yep! It’ll be fun and I can explain all of the physics and mathematics behind the Kreludorian eclipse! Oh, let me get my Calculus book!”
Lilly sighed again. Tonight was going to be a long night.
“Hmph. You’d think he was actually going to do something fun,” Luna scoffed. “Really, why does he always get so excited over astronomy? They’re just little dots of light in the sky. BORING!!” She launched into anther pirouette, her ribbon spiraling around her like a planet’s rings.
“Fun is in the eye of the beholder,” Autumn answered. “And don’t tease your brother.”
“Yeah, what’s so great about ballet, anyway,” Lilly muttered, turning back around to her desk. Luna heard her, though she hadn’t intended it.
“What’s so great about ballet? WHAT’S SO GREAT ABOUT BALLET??? Here, let me count the ways...”
Lilly zoned out while Luna launched into an epic speech about how dance let out the inner star within and let you express things that you couldn’t otherwise. Actually, Lilly felt about writing the way Luna did about dance. Most of the time. With the exception of today.
“Got ‘em!” Capricorn called from his room. “Ready to set up camp, Lil?”
“Yeah, sure,” Lilly muttered, already dreading the hard ground and cold wind that she would endure tonight, and she began to regret ever becoming a writer.
“So, what is a Kreludorian eclipse anyway?” Lilly inquired as she threw her sleeping bag out by the front door, letting it unfurl with a snap before pressing it down onto the patio. She clambered onto it as the last of the air puffed out from underneath.
Capricorn pushed out of the front door and dumped the mountain of books and models onto his already set up sleeping bag. “Allow me to show you.” He got out a grey model of Kreludor, and a blue-green one of Neopia.
“You see, when Kreludor circles Neopia, it orbits on a tilt. So when it goes behind our planet, the sun, which is here,” he indicated a place on the patio with his fist, “reflects off of Kreludor and that’s what we see in the sky. But sometimes, the tilt lines up with the line between the earth and the sun like this.” He put all three items in a line. “So as Kreludor moves into the shadow of the earth, it disappears, and then reappears again as it leaves the shadow. And that’s what we call an eclipse.”
“Cool.” Lilly yawned, taking notes on her pad. She found the explanation interesting, but certainly not as enthralling as some of the other things that she’d written about. Usually she wouldn’t be writing about some boring eclipse, or even her nerdy Peophin brother. Usually she would cook up some epic fantasy piece that left readers hooked and neomails poring in. Still, it felt good to fill in that blank void on her paper. “Now what?”
“Now,” said Capricorn, adjusting a knob on the brass microscope that he was carefully moving into position to face Kreludor. “We wait.”
It was a long time before anything started to happen. During the empty time, Lilly doodled some indecipherable scribbles on her notepad. Her Ixi looked, unfortunately, more like a Grarrl. Once, she’d submitted a drawing for the Art Gallery. Unfortunately, that hadn’t gone over very well. Maybe this was part of the reason she was a writer and not an artist. She sighed, and then turned to watch Capricorn, who was excitedly making his own notes and constantly readjusting his microscope. He looked so ready, so on top of things, so involved, that Lilly had to stop and watch. How deftly he wrote figures with the pencil between his hooves. How trained his eye was as it peered though the microscope. Capricorn was clearly the authority on astronomy. Lilly thought back to how her sister had joked about her knowledgeable brother and his quirky ideas. Now, looking at him, she realized that Capricorn was much more than just a nerdy bookworm. He was a talented Neopet.
“Oh! Lilly! It’s starting!”
The two young Neopets watched transfixed as an ominous shadow crossed the silvery sphere in the sky. Lilly peered over her brother’s shoulder at his notes and wrote some things down herself, making sure she would have enough information for an article that she would write later. The shadow moved over the waning sliver until there was nothing left. Then a sliver of light came to life on the opposite side that it had disappeared from and finally waxed out into a full moon again. All of this happened over about an hour during which both Capricorn and Lilly were hard at work taking notes. When it was over, Lilly turned to her brother.
“That was so much cooler than I’d thought!” she ranted.
“Yeah,” Capricorn said. “I just wish Luna and Lertley would see that.” He sighed and sadly looked down at his books. “You know, sometimes it’s hard. Being what I am, I mean. You’re cool because people all over the globe read stuff you’ve written. As for Luna, what can I say? She’s gorgeous. And perfect too. And Lertley’s so fun. How could you not like him? Me?” He shook his head. “I guess you could say that being an astronomer is kind of misunderstood.”
Lilly leaned over and put an arm around her brother. “I think I understand now.”
Capricorn yawned and blinked his eyes sleepily.
“I’m going to sleep now,” he said, pulling his sleeping bag over him. “What about you?”
“Oh, you go ahead without me. I’m going to start writing,” Lilly answered.
“Okay,” Capricorn yawned again and was fast asleep in a moment.
Lilly smiled at the starry colored form in the sleeping bag and ripped the eclipse notes off of her pad and left them discarded next to her sleeping bag. Then she drew up a fresh sheet of paper, and with one last glance at Capricorn, began to write.
A few weeks later, a special story appeared in the paper. Lilly jumped for joy at seeing her name in print yet again and went to show her brother and tell him the good news.
“Look!” she shouted, dropping the paper onto Capricorn’s graph that he had just been engaged in. “Read it!”
The Peophin politely picked up the paper and flattened it out.
“Is this your article...” he began, but stopped short when he saw the title.
“Capricorn: The Life and Times of the Best Astronomer in Neopia! Lil! Oh, I... I don’t know what to say! Thank you!”
“Hey,” she laughed, playfully. “I should be thanking you! You helped get rid of my writer’s block! I guess from now on, I’ll have you to look to for inspiration!”
Just then Luna came in and dropped her copy of the paper onto Capricorn’s workspace as well.
“Wow, bro!” she explained. “I never realized astronomy was that cool!”
“Yeah,” he said, sheepish, but happy. “Thanks.”
“Congrats,” Luna said, turning to Lilly. “I guess you got through that mental block!”
“Yep. Just another day in the life of a writer!”
They all laughed as Autumn and Lertley walked in to join the convivial trio. But it wasn’t the smile on her owner’s face that made her day so memorable. It was the smile that danced over Capricorn’s face like a twinkling dusting of stars on a moonless night. Making her brother happy.
“Maybe this is why I’m a writer,” Lilly thought.