Sanity is forbidden Circulation: 190,649,045 Issue: 581 | 8th day of Awakening, Y15
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Jewel's Journal: Summer - Part Two


by gelert548

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Art by gelert548

Dear Journal,

      Things did get worse since my last entry.

      It looks like we are stuck with each other for now. I'm back to my journal-writing days. There is completely no one to rely on.

      Before I get to my horror story, let me enlighten you with some things. I am not going to let this journal become all about Silva. That would totally discourage me from writing any more on you, just because you might end up being a conflicted, twisted fan-girl's book about her. I'm not a conflicted, twisted fan-girl.

      I tried neomailing Trot a dozen times after I wrote 'Help me' in my last entry. Conclusion: It was about as reliable as betting on the chance of the Lost Desert running out of sand. I really had no idea what she was doing. I only knew about a radio station contest, but I think that was over a week ago? She probably lost that one. Her lack of communication was unsettling though. What if she actually won and one of her 'sworn enemies' was Jhudora – jealous and disappointed that some funny-looking Peophin beat her to it? I couldn't let poor Trotty get hexed. I went to her house.

      It's a simple house: one storey, quite cosy, and just right for a family of five. Her life is not as extravagant as Trot would like it to be. She thinks that if she was just, a little bit richer she would be showering in all the popularity that Neopoints could buy. Unfortunately, her theory is flawed, because by her definition, I live in a more 'extravagant' life than her. Mum's job as 'Something' in the Kreludorian Innovations Co. pays well; we live in a good house (large and pretty enough to have a party in the living room), we don't have to worry about food. Yet I am not a popular person.

      Nobody was home, except Roxanne and Daila. I like to think of her sisters as a younger, alternate dimension version of Trot and I, if we were a Cloud and Christmas Peophin respectively. Daila is more like me, taken to the extreme: we don't find Voltage special, and she talks to herself (out loud. I talk to myself, quietly.). Roxanne is just... Trot 2.0 (real, not a cardboard cut-out, and no squiggly arms). Her brother, Joey, was probably out with their mother, who happens to be best friends with Mum.

      That's actually how Trot and I ended up as eternal best friends. We saw each other plenty when we were tiny, which was enough foundation to develop our eternal friendship when we got sent to Primary Neoschool. We only started talking then, about our dumb Neodaisy project first, and then about Adrien, and on and on, until all that Trot could gush about was Voltage and her obsession with popularity, and all I could do was listen and play along.

      "Oh, Jewel! Trot's not home," said Daila, already suspecting my intentions for being at the door.

      "Er, yeah, I tried neomailing her just now, but she wasn't answering..."

      "There's a dance-off today at the town square!"

      "Trot can dance?" Oh messy Meowclops, was I surprised. If you wanted a winner for the World's Worst Dancer, or some commotion to disgust a crowd of strangers into running away from a certain thing, Trot is your Peophin. In fact, I think Trot can be Voltage's bodyguard because of that.

      "Well, no, she can't. I think she's just going there to scare the judges and other participants off, and then she can claim the prize for her own without any competition." Daila and I laughed at the mental imagery.

      "Wish I could go, though," said Roxanne. "I'm too young; I really don't have the money to get the tickets."

      I mentioned that Roxanne was exactly like Trot, but I haven't heard Trot say something like that about a concert in so long.

      Of course, both of them go to Primary Neoschool. They didn't have to worry about figuring out the secrets to becoming popular, or their 'future, duh' depending on what minimum social requirements they achieve. Neopian Central Neoschool is a weird place like that. We have Kings and Queens, but we don't know how they ended up there. Your level of Popularity, and how easy it would be to ascend, is determined according to how well you did in the first month of the first year of school.

      Trot, in her scientific and highly obsessive research, came up with 5 levels of Popularity that you start with.

      Level 1 – You are a nerd, and a target of bullying.

      Level 2 – You are a quiet, unnoticeable student.

      Level 3 – Trot

      Level 4 – You don't need to wait for people to talk to you.

      Level 5 – People are talking about you.

      I don't know why Level 3 exists, but according to her, I am in between Level 2 and 3. Well, that was my mistake: I was quiet and totally unaware about the Social Weirdness of NCN. I wanted to concentrate on attaining a smooth academic sailing and getting adjusted to the environment. So, she made a special Level for me:

      Level 2.5 – Jewel and her journal

      Well, at least I knew where Trot was anyway. I hoped she wasn't in a dance-off with Jhudora. Since she was giving off that 'I really think you are a distraction in my unselfish quest for a better future for the both of us' vibe, instead of heading to the town square to give her my support (and to witness the mental imagery I had earlier), I went home for early dinner.

      U5nit made some pizza. We gathered in the dinner room for Daily Talk-About-Your-Day, and Safey managed to arrive home in time for it. I wanted to use that opportunity to talk to Mum about the Soup Kitchen Horror Story.

      "How was the photography jam today, U?" asked Mum, biting into the cheese.

      "Awesome!" said U5nit, taking a photo of his dinner. "But I can't be doing this all summer, or all my life even. It seems ridiculous. I'm looking into Higher Education courses. Dr. Griffin's Academy sounds good..."

      Wow, Dr. Griffin's Academy. That's a bit of a high shot, even for U5nit. Higher Education still isn't the most popular choice for Neoschool graduates.

      "What about you, Xavvy?"

      He presented the Jewel 2.0, seated between me and him, with a slice of pizza in front of it. It's not a bad likeness; I could always use Jewel 2.0 as my replacement to attend school, or P.E classes, or in this case, to the Soup Kitchen where I am forced to be with Silva. Not being able to join the Voltage concert does have its benefits.

      Mum chuckled in amusement at Jewel 2.0, before looking at me, skipping Safey entirely (we all knew what trouble he caused even without talking). "Jewel, how was your day at the Soup Kitchen?"

      I chewed my pizza, buying myself time to prepare. "Can you find me another place to volunteer? I REALLY don't want to go to the Soup Kitchen."

      "Why? What happened?"

      "No, it's just... I really don't want to volunteer there." I am fighting a losing battle. I can't tell Mum that it's because of SOMEBODY there. It's like making a big deal out of nothing at all.

      "Jewel, even if you want out, I haven't looked at the alternatives yet. The Soup Kitchen is all you have until we have more options. Besides, you need to learn how to volunteer in undesirable conditions. That's the point of it."

      So that's it. I tried, but I can't get out. I have to spend I-don't-know-how-long with that Silva. Speaking of whom, now that I have cleared some things up with you, let's begin my horror story...

      Remember how Silva said that there is always a new duty every day? When we were chopping vegetables (well, for me, in my imagination, I was chopping other things), that was Tuesday. Wednesday, we actually make the soup; Thursday, we pour them into bowls and hand them over to the poor; and Friday, we wash and clean the pots and cutlery. And every single day, I had to hear her talk about this and talk about that.

      I like Thursdays a lot more than other days. Since we have to tinker with the soup, the both of us are quite occupied, which means that I get to hear Silva talk less. In exchange, I have to witness the poor showering attention at her, just like in Neoschool. Some poor, misguided souls even go to Prison (the Soup Kitchen) just to savour her appearance. It's absurd.

      I gritted my teeth. Hopefully my natural kindness and generosity are racking up those karma points. I needed enough to break Trot out of her losing streak for us to get those Voltage tickets. The leftovers I can use selfishly to be that Cool Chick with Tons of Inner Beauty. Some kids from our Neoschool have passed by us, and since Silva is attached to me at the hip like some kind of parasitic, beautiful fungus, it's very likely that if they are looking at Silva (like everyone else is), they are looking at me.

      The weekend was great. I finished one extremely dramatic novel and cried at the ending. Xavvy managed to finish Jewel 2.0, and we danced with her to the entire Voltage album just for practice. I didn't even think about calling Trot. I gave up trying to save her from the bottomless pit of her Voltage obsession in the bottom of the sea of popularity.

      Too bad Monday came. It tricked me for a while into thinking that Silva fell ill or fell down a cliff; I walked into the storeroom expecting a pretty, blinding smile, only to see the seat beside me empty, and the sack of potatoes she was supposed to be packing still full. Oh well, no loss.

      It was strangely relaxing picking out those chickpeas. Trot hates chickpeas. If you hid one in a mountain of beef rouladen, she would actually rather spit out the chickpea instead of the rouladen. I tried that before; the chickpea flew straight to the cafeteria monitor, and the cafeteria monitor had to stay out of school for a week to get that eye patch done.

      A knock on the door woke me out of my memory. A green Chia (I think his name is Anthony? There are many volunteers like him in the Prison.), thank goodness, peeked into the room.

      "Hey! Come out! Silva's got something to show us!"

      No thank goodness.

      Silva stood in front of the pot, stirring its contents, with everyone and the Soup Faerie watching. Aha! The greatest day of my life: Silva wants to jump into the boiling hot pot, and everyone is congregating to witness this event! Alas, that was only a fantasy.

      The Soup Faerie tried out her soup, and to my sadness, didn't get poisoned from it. Instead, she seemed quite happy, so, hmm; maybe she did get poisoned after all. "Silva, what's in this soup?"

      "It's a Shenkuu recipe! Lotus root and peanuts, scallops, carrots, and pork ribs!" said Silva, obviously glowing in the light of a dozen, singing angels. "My friend gave it to me, and I thought: the Soup Kitchen does need a new menu, so..."

      "It's great!" said the Soup Faerie. "In fact, this is exactly what I should have been doing!" She handed the ladle to Anthony the Green Chia. "I will be right back! Carry on ~"

      Well, I admit that the soup tasted nice. The same old Minestrone and Mushroom and Chicken bore everyone to no end (nobody wants to complain because it's free. What insane hooligan complains about free things??). The menu never changed, just like the cafeteria monitor.

      It was back to me and Silva sitting side-by-side packing chickpeas and potatoes together. She glowed so much from earlier that the light was practically cleaning the potatoes, and hurting my own eyes.

      This time, she was talking about Voltage.

      "Do you like Voltage, Jewel?" What a silly question. As a teenager, I am OBLIGED to like Voltage.

      "Erm, yeah, I do?"

      "I think he's just alright," said Silva, juggling a potato. "I can see why other people like his music. It's cool, hip... but nah, I can't resonate with it. At least he isn't irritating."

      Silva summed up my feelings about Voltage exactly. Funny how she didn't mention about liking Voltage being the minimum requirement for popularity; every popular I have eavesdropped on always says the same thing. "You have to like Voltage; you ain't cool that way." "Ew, I haven't heard that band before. Voltage is so much cooler!"

      "Well, to be honest, I prefer listening to other musicians..."

      "Oh, really? You got to recommend me some!" said Silva, reaching over to dig at the bottom half of the sack. "So, does that mean you are going to his concert?"

      "No, actually," I said, drowning a feather-finger in my chickpeas. "Trot and I didn't manage to get them on time. They all sold out. Trot is out there trying to win these... contest thingies. So far, she hasn't had any luck."

      "Oh," said Silva. Even her heavenly self got short on trying to sympathise with us. "I would have given you my ticket, but I promised my friends I would go."

      "Aw, pft, that's okay. I don't mind the ---"

      My Neomailer rang.

      "Sorry." I dug through my pockets. A name I almost erased out of my memory flashed across the screen as obviously as Silva's angelic glow earlier: Trot.

      Finally! That buffoon of an eternal best friend had the courtesy to call me! If she knew her absence drove me to my last resort of having to buy you, Journal, she would go cuckoo. Well, she isn't going to know about my alliance with you.

      "Oy, Trot! You abandoned me for centuries and now you want to crawl back to my warmth and comfort. Well, I am –"

      "Shhh, shh, ohmigosh, Jewel!!!" shrieked Trot. Judging from the tone of her shrieking, she was levitating up and down. "Guess what? Guess what? I got the tickets!!"

      Queen Fyora, ruler of Faeries, did smile down upon me today (though she didn't spare me from Silva's moment of glory)! I racked enough karma points! Congratulations, me!!

      "You got the tickets? H-how did you even-?"

      "Singing contest by the Tyrannian Music Group!" Well, that explained a lot of things. Trot's a horrible singer, second to being a horrible dancer. "See, I told you I can secure us our future! And I did! We are going to be popular! Get this: second row, in front of the stage, with seats!"

      Well, to be honest, I don't get how our seating position is going to change our popularity level. In any case, I'm glad Trot is finally out of that bottomless pit, and that the Tyrannian Music Group wasn't primitive enough to make Trot sign a contract to become her label. That is just AWFUL.

      Silva clapped her pretty, glossy wings at me, in the same way one would clap the back of an adorable, sleeping Aisha kitten. "Congrats, Jewel! Looks like I will see you at the concert after all!"

      Anthony the Green Chia came into the room.

      "The Soup Faerie wants to see you, Silva."

      "Oh, the Soup Faerie, oh dear, I hope it isn't anything too serious!" Silva stood up. "Please accompany me, Jewel! I don't want to see her alone, haha."

      I was a little too excited of my karma points being high enough to achieve the impossible of breaking Trot's losing streak. Following Silva to the Soup Faerie won't even dent my day (I was so dumb).

      So we met the Soup Faerie. She held a folder in her hands, and she was giddy and jumping around (Silva really did poison the soup!). I wondered why the Soup Faerie even called her here. I was hoping that she realised that there was something funny with the soup.

      "Silva, your Shenkuu soup gave me an idea." She opened the folder and handed us a couple of notes. "You're right; the menu does need to be changed. I was thinking... why not hold a contest?"

      "Oh, and then you can make it into a charity event!" said Silva, being the gorgeous angel she is. She looked so excited.

      "Yes! That's it! And I am making you in charge!"

      I gasped. What? Silva is in charge of a charity contest? Oh my Fyora, Silva is really rolling this time. When she comes back to Neoschool, she will be that Cool Chick with Tons of Inner Beauty and OUTER BEAUTY instead.

      "Eee, thank you!" said Silva. "I'm going to try my best!"

      She turned to look at me.

      "Wow, am I glad I brought you here! I want you to be my assistant!"

      The worst day of my life: I want to jump into the boiling hot pot, and everyone has congregated to witness the event.

To be continued...

 
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» Jewel's Journal: Summer - Part One
» Jewel's Journal: Summer



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