Sketch is Only the Beginning
Art by hazellauretta
In a large auditorium, lights dimmed. The seating sloped down towards the stage, filled with the attentive families of participants. An odd number of judges were stationed in the front row, their eyes piercing through all Neopets who dared take their chances on the spacious stage. Any young Neopet who passed their inspection could gain a scholarship to the school of their choosing. As polite applause reverberated throughout the room, a disco Zafara stumbled his way offstage. Following his departure, the clapping died down and the speakers blared to life, announcing the name of the next participant.
Soft clip-clopping of hooves echoed off the wooden stage as she approached with confident strides. Squinting, her angel blue eyes flickered to adjust to the brightness. At the same time, soft azure lines concealing white fur within were revealed by the spotlight. From the furthest seats in the house, the figure on the stage resembled a two dimensional sketch. She glanced from one side of the room to the other, in an attempt to locate her older brother. She found the spotted Ogrin sitting beside the aisle near the back wall and as their eyes met briefly, he beamed and gave her a thumbs-up. Returning the smile, she began to tap her hoof. As if remembering how to begin, the Ixi bobbed her head to an invisible beat. Then, her clear voice filled the auditorium like water trickling down a stream into a lake.
"Hello, I'm Ammy." Her eyes again swept over the crowd. "My presentation today will be a speech. An introduction to me.
"Let me begin by telling you a little about my childhood. I was adopted into a family that was willing to accept me as who I am, however difficult it was back then. When I was a young Neopet, I always wished to become someone, someone exciting and someone who is admired and looked upon by many. I admit, those were childish fantasies created by my childish mindset. Those were times where I could just dream and wish on stars without feeling awkward. The magic still hangs above me even to this day, following me into this very auditorium. As a result, I believe that if I want my dreams to come to life, I must act. Like an artist that pours his soul into his canvas, I can do the same.
"I have ambition and desire. If there were no ideals, the future would be a miserable, colourless place. With my ambition, I will try my best to achieve what I want, when I want. There will be a time when my future will become less sketchy, and I will have a clear path to solid ground.
"Maybe I will find out my true colours by improving my performance in the BattleDome, or maybe by practicing in certain games. At this moment, I am perfecting my skills in rolling cheese. Why not? There are so many trials and errors to overcome, but taking interest in many things is important. I want to use this opportunity to learn the most I can to achieve what I want to be!"
Ammy's voice projected well throughout the vast space, as if she were speaking within a classroom. She dominated the width of the stage with her pacing. The raised platform became her kingdom; the audience, her subjects. Smiling, she attempted to guide the judge's favour in her direction. In the minds of the audience, she had already sparked something deep inside. Excitement shone in Ammy's eyes. She wanted to be acknowledged by others to achieve her dreams. Everyone had had that feeling before. As they regarded that young sketch Ixi, they understood that she held the power to unlock her own future. The judges made eye contact with each other, but their poker faces betrayed no emotion.
"In the field of art, the sketch is only the beginning. This sketch is built upon layer by layer. Line art, flat colours, shadows, highlights. The evolution of a drawing is similar to my own story. So I'm quite sure, this change will cause a chain reaction that leads me to my goals."
The Ixi kept a steady gaze on the judges, but inside, she was flooded with relief that her speech was almost over. She didn't realize that she had captivated the viewers. She didn't notice the judges scribble furiously on to their clipboards. Relaxing her tense body, Ammy bowed.
She trotted out of the spotlight, making her exit. A chorus of claps echoed in the auditorium behind her as she grinned to herself. Blue and white fur was swallowed by the darkness of the shaded curtains. The only thing she left behind was her words that triggered musings in the mind of her listeners.
As she returned to the waiting room, Ammy sighed, a heavy weight lifted off her shoulders. She tried to collect herself, and strained to calm her speeding thoughts.
"It's funny how nerves can catch up with you after the adrenaline rush is over."
She flopped on the hard leather couch beside her bag, scanning the faces of the other contestants that hadn't had their chance on the stage yet. A name was called out through the speakers, and an athletic Kougra hustled out of the area and towards the auditorium. Ammy's eyes followed out. In a flash, a yellow blur crashed through the double doors that led into the lobby. Ammy twisted around, craning her head to look at the figure. In a heap on the floor lay her older brother, Cerephyial.
Ammy rushed over to him, brows furrowed in concern, "Oh no! Are you okay, Cereph? You did know that the doors wouldn't be locked up, right?"
Moaning, the spotted Ogrin scrambled to his feet, enduring glares from the other pets in the room.
"C'mon, let's get you out of here," he mumbled as he stalked back out the double doors. Her hooves clinked on the linoleum tiles as she dashed after him, while her bag swung wildly on her shoulders.
After watching the rest of the presentations, the siblings left the building and headed home in the Neopian Central evening. The street lights flickered on as they passed through the plaza towards the suburbs. Since it was a Friday night, quite a few pets were heading into the city for a night of relaxation. They walked in silence, and the failing light cast long shadows behind them.
"You did great out there, you know?" her brother ventured. "I'm sure you'll be able to win one of the scholarships."
"Really?" Ammy's eyes shone at the possibility. She knew she felt nervous throughout the performance, and dearly hoped it hadn't shown.
"Yeah. At least that's what Sevs and I think." Cerephyial gave her a sideways look, and set a brisk pace as they headed back to their Neohome. "He's heard you practice, and you know he always has the utmost confidence in you." The wind chilled the Ixi's fur, and Ammy shivered, snuggling her snout into the Brown Winter Scarf wrapped around her neck.
As they arrived at their humble little Neohome, the smell of delicious food wafted through the air. Ammy could identify the scent of potatoes amongst the blend of aromas. The two of them peeked around the kitchen doorway. A Lupe was setting the dining table, each utensil aligned and placed with care. His fuzzy yellow ears perked up, and he raised his head to acknowledge the return of his younger siblings.
"Welcome home," he exclaimed. "I'm almost finished preparing the meal. You know, it's a pretty special day today!"
Cerephyial nodded his head with vigor. Ammy looked on, confused. "Sevvy, what's so special about today?"
The Lupe put on a look of mock disappointment.
"Oh, you really don't know?"
The sketch Ixi shook her head, while her eyes widened.
"Too bad. I'd think you'd be the most familiar with it. Now off you go to clean yourself up for supper."
Sevs turned back towards the stove, his mind focused on the art of stirring soup, yet keeping a close eye on the simmering vegetables in the pot beside it. Cerephyial picked up seamlessly from where his brother was setting the table and completed it to the best of his ability.
Days turned into weeks, where every weekday began with Ammy checking the mailbox. One morning, she handed Sevs and Cerephyial their respective letters at the breakfast table, and checked the return address on her own. She gasped and tore the envelope open. Her eyes skimmed the page.
"Oh! Look at this, guys!" In her frantic state, she waved her letter in front of her brothers' faces.
"Stop that, and calm down please," said the Lupe, who was stacking his envelopes neatly for later reading.
Cerephyial ceased eating his cereal and snatched the piece of paper out of his sister's hand, looking it over himself.
"Hey! Cereph!" Ammy exclaimed in surprise.
Sevs shot the Ogrin a warning look, and was handed the letter at once in an attempt to placate him.
"Sorry," Cerephyial muttered, returning to his cereal. "Awesome job, though, sis!"
"Isn't this great?" The sketch Ixi couldn't wipe the grin off her face. "I can't believe it!"
"Congratulations, Ammy," Sevs applauded. "Cereph and I both believed in you since the very beginning."