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Bon Voyage, Harv & Chip


by iambunna

--------

The Skeith scratched his big grey stomach, and looked out over the hills. The abysmal nighttime stretched out before him, and the stars barely speckled the black canvas above. He slung his meager bag over his shoulder, packed with scraps of food and a few Neopoints. The journey had taken its toll on the large traveler, and with great relief in his bones, he knew he was finally almost home.

     This is a textual representation of a heart:

     <3

     This is what Harv's heart looked like at the start of the journey:

    </3 

     He ran away from everything because it had looked like that, and he figured traveling would help cure the pain he had endured. But now, as he neared his homecoming, his heart looked more like this:

     ?

     See, what Harv didn't know was even though his travels had helped him temporarily forget his troubles, even for long periods at a time, running away would never completely absolve them. I know that because I just wrote it. You know that because I just told you. Harv didn't know it at all, but he was on his way to figuring it out.

     A little while earlier than the day Harv returned to town, he and a grey Kacheek named Chip had been the very best of friends. They got along because they were both grey, and therefore different than most of the other folks they saw every day. They were friends despite their differences, Harv being a giant Skeith, and Chip being a tiny Kacheek. When they were friends, Harv’s heart looked like this:

     <3

     Harv and Chip did everything together. They explored the hills around Neopia Central, and found a secret cave there. They called it “Our Secret Cave”, because it was secret and it belonged to them. Twice a month, they would travel out to Our Secret Cave and camp there for the weekend. Harv would make a fire, and Chip would bring marshmallows to roast, they would write messages and draw pictures on the cave walls, and they would each take turns telling scary stories until they fell asleep. On one trip, they stayed up so long that late became early and they saw the sunrise from Our Secret Cave. On that day, Harv and Chip both looked like this:

     :D

     As they grew older, they began planning longer trips. The duo made a vow to each other that one day they would see all of Neopia. They wanted to climb Terror Mountain and battle the Snowager; they envisioned swimming the glorious waters of Mystery Island; they sought to shop in the markets of Sakhmet in the Lost Desert. Ambition filled their hearts and inspired them, instilled in them the confidence that they could and would do anything together, because they were a team.

     Life caught up quickly, but it did not break their spirits. Harv and Chip got jobs together working for the National Neopian. They handled massive quantities of money together, and worked for an old orange Blumaroo named Larry. On a good day, Larry looked like this:

     :/

     On a bad day, Larry looked like this:

     >:(

     Larry didn’t like his job very much, but he had found it a comfortable way to live, and didn’t aspire to anything grander than mild comfort. Larry was not very much like Harv and Chip. Harv and Chip wanted as much from life as they could get.

     When it came to working, Chip did much better than Harv. Chip was better organized, and managed his time better. Additionally, Chip was more comfortable in the tiny office he shared with Harv, because Chip was tiny and Harv was enormous. Environment has a lot to do with comfort. You and I know this. Harv knew this too, because he worked in an uncomfortable environment. Chip never found this out, because he was always comfortable enough that it never became a problem. Harv tried to remain positive, but while Chip looked like this:

     :)

     … Harv often looked more like this:

     :/

     The resemblance to Larry had a positive correlation to the amount of time Harv worked at the National Neopian. (Meaning: if "resemblance to Larry" could be expressed as an integer, the number would get higher as the number of days got higher. ) Because he didn't like going to his job, Harv didn't work to the highest quality that he could. Chip did. Because they shared an office, Chip was often able to help cover up the errors in processing due to Harv's lack of focus.

     Chip noticed. It made him very concerned for his lifetime friend. One day, Chip asked him about it. It was not a very interesting conversation, because it was a simple series of questions and answers with no real subtext, but it advanced the plot rightly enough, so I should mention that they concluded by planning a trip that weekend to Our Secret Cave.

     It had been a long time since they had voyaged to Our Secret Cave, and the return was the nicest feeling Harv had felt in a long while. No longer did they stay up all night telling ghost stories, but now stayed up talking of life and ambitions. The grind of Harv's everyday life wore on him, and he confessed over the campfire that he never again wanted to enter the doors of the National Neopian. This news didn't surprise Chip. Chip talked of wanting to stay at the bank and work to the upper levels of management. This surprised Harv. He wondered what implications this would have on their dreams of traveling Neopia.

     Whichever way their ambitions began to shift, they decided they would still spend the first weekend of every month at Our Secret Cave, as a way of staying connected to their traveling hearts. They watched the sunrise that morning, and it looked like this:

     ☼

     The following Monday, an unfortunate thing happened.

     Upon coming into work, Larry looked like this:

     >:(

     He confronted Harv and Chip, screaming until his face turned red, but they could not understand a word he said. Eventually, Larry's voice settled from a barrage of vicious white noise to only regular screaming and the duo made out something about a clerical error leading to the loss of thousands and thousands of Neopoints. More words came and informed them that the error was traced back to the branch of the bank that the duo and Larry worked for, and then further shouting told if they didn't explain who messed what up, they would both lose their jobs.

     It's clear to me, and probably to you as well, that this error was probably Harv's fault. It was also clear to Harv and Chip. The only person who didn't know was Larry, because Larry didn't do a very good job of keeping personal tabs on his employees, so coupled with Chip's marvelous picking up of the weight Harv couldn't dragged, he had no idea that Harv was not a very competent employee.

     Harv didn't know what to do, but Chip did. Chip cleared his throat and calmly explained to Larry that it must have been a small error on Chips' part, and that he was deeply sorry for it, and assured Larry it would not happen again. Larry said that he was also certain it would never happen again, and then terminated Chip's employment at the National Neopian. Chip had until the end of the day to clear out his desk and vacate the premises.

     Chip was devastated. His heart suddenly looked like this:

     </3

     Harv knew it was his fault. He knew it, but had not the courage to tell Larry he had messed up. Chip had the courage, and his reward was losing the job that actually mattered to him, whereas Harv still had the one that meant nothing. Harv tried to talk to Larry before the crazed Blumaroo left the office, but Larry couldn't be reached. His head was on Kreludor as he muttered to himself about the hopeless state of lousy workers these days. Harv couldn't get through to him, no matter how hard he tried.

     Chip didn't say much else. He refused Harv's offers to help clear out the office, and was quickly vacated from the premises by the fuel of his broken heart. Watching his friend saunter away made Harv's heart do this:

     </3

     Chip became reclusive. He did not respond well to Harv's attempts to contact him. Sometimes, he did not respond at all. The following month, Chip missed the trip to Our Secret Cave. Not long after that Harv quit his job at the National Neopian and also became reclusive. He poked around in the Neopoints he had been saving, and decided the best thing to do would be to leave. The waiting was over. The traveling needed to begin.

     Chip, however, decided life was just waiting now. Harv tried his hardest to convince Chip to come with him. He wanted to bring his friend on the journey they had planned since they were young. Chip had no interest. He decided to stay in Neopia Central and search for work. Losing his job devastated him, and he felt the only way to fill that void would be to find new work. So, he declined Harv's invitation to travel Neopia.

     Harv left and didn't look back for a long, long time. He climbed to the peak of Terror Mountain and saw the Snowager (he didn't battle it because he was scared out of his skin of the beast's massive size); he swam in the glorious waters of Mystery Island; he shopped in the markets of Sakhmet in the Lost Desert. He liked all of these things, but the entire time, his head filled with a cloud of regret from leaving his friend behind. It made him feel like this:

     :/

     The day he returned from his journey was the first Friday of the month. He scratched his big grey stomach, and looked out over the hills. The abysmal nighttime stretched out before him, and the stars barely speckled the black canvas above. He slung his meager bag over his shoulder, packed with scraps of food and a few Neopoints. The journey had taken its toll on the large traveler, and with great relief in his bones, he knew he was finally almost home.

     He walked to Our Secret Cave from muscle memory, and arrived there shortly before sunrise. He sat between the walls, and his eye caught one message he and Chip had written a long time before. It said:

     "Bon Voyage, Harv & Chip"

     Harv built a fire. He didn't have any marshmallows to roast, but he felt at home. He knew his friend probably wouldn't come to Our Secret Cave, but the hope that he might kept Harv there. He started to fall asleep. Because he fell asleep, he did not see the sunrise that morning. The sunrise looked like this:

     ☼

     He sat upright while he slept, and dreamt of his friend. He dreamt that he had returned to Chip's home and told him all about his adventures. He dreamt that Chip had become the manager of the National Neopian like he had always wanted, and had saved up enough Neopoints for a trip around Neopia, and that Chip wanted to go with Harv, who would never want to stop traveling.

     The sun rose high over Our Secret Cave, and Neopia Central. The day was born, and new possibilities abounded. Harv wasn't sure whether or not he would go back to Neopia Central. For now, it was enough to stay in the cave. Even if only in a dream, it made Harv happy to see his friend again. It made his heart feel like this:

     <3

The End

 
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