The Soup Faerie Takes A Vacation
Matilda the Soup Faerie contemplated her kitchen. It was her favourite place in her Neohome, full of warmth, love, and laughter. The counters in the kitchen gleamed and sparkled (Matilda didn’t abide by a dirty kitchen), the shelves were stocked full of rows and rows of canisters of various ingredients, and her cauldron bubbled merrily. Matilda nodded happily to herself and bent to give her petpet Jack a quick pet. She was very happy here, fulfilled.
Of course, it would be nice to go on a little vacation she pondered … maybe visit Mystery Island and talk to Jhuidan about recipes. She hadn’t been on a vacation for years. It was difficult to leave since it was tricky to find someone to fill in for her. Last time she went away for a few days she had gone to Meridell and there was absolute chaos. Some of the Neopets didn’t get served and went hungry. Matilda loathed the idea of any starving Neopets. It was something she was very passionate about. She had felt terrible about it and had been upset for months. She took her Soup Faerie responsibilities very seriously.
There were hungry Neopets to feed and food to give out. While some of the other faeries gave quests - feeding Neopia was Matilda’s vocation even if it was just doing a small part. Kindness mattered, Matilda believed. She even had it on a sign over her doorway. Neopia and Neopians relied on her, but she did have a very good set of volunteers. Matilda had been training a few candidates who could run the kitchen for a few days in her absence. She did think she had one in particular who was ready.
Matilda made a decision. She would go ahead and take a few days to visit Jhuidah. She wanted to make sure she enjoyed her own work and taking even a small break for herself was important. She sent a quick faerie message to Jhuidah, who insisted that she would love to have Matilda come for a visit at her convenience. They confirmed it and Matilda began the process of preparing for a few days away with some trepidation, but with a lot of excitement.
Matilda worked furiously for days in order to create enough stock for the days she would be gone. She had thought long and hard about why things had gone awry the last time. She had come to the conclusion that she simply had expected too much. Matilda had hired on a few junior Neopets that were fond of cooking and had given them access to her recipes. However, the soup never got made since they had trouble finding exact ingredients to make the recipes as they were written. Typically Matilda would substitute seasonal ingredients depending on what Neopian shops had available. If there was asparagus then she’d make asparagus soup, but if there was broccoli she would use that. Starberry? Then there would be a soup featuring that berry. It was all in the ingredients really. The last time the cooks found themselves unable to adapt to the circumstances and in the end, they simply closed the kitchen doors. To Matilda that was unacceptable.
This time Matilda had just made enough soup for the time she’d be gone. Her head volunteer cook was Trixie and she should be coming in any moment. Matilda was so hoping she’d be able to problem solve anything else that would come up. Matilda had made all the bases and all Trixie would have to do is throw in a little extra ingredient to her liking.
The little bell on the kitchen doorway jingled as it opened. “Hello?” A small grey poogle stepped lightly into the sunny kitchen. Trixie had a generally sunny disposition and today was no exception. “Matilda,” she called out with a smile in her voice, “How are you today?” she stepped forward cheerfully.
Matilda adjusted her scarf that tied back her hair and went to go wash her hands. She gave Trixie an answering grin. “Thanks so much for coming and filling in for me. I really do appreciate it.”
Trixie went over to the cauldron and gave the pot an appraising sniff. She was an up-and-coming chef in a Neopia and was trying hard to improve her cooking skills. However, she was very civic-minded and wanted to do her part to help Neopia and Neopia’s disadvantaged citizens if she could. “No problem. I’m so happy you’re taking a break. You deserve it.” Trixie said.
Matilda set down the towel after drying her hands and took off her apron. “Why don’t we have a seat. I’ve made some lists for you.” She said the last part apologetically. Matilda tried hard not to be too controlling with her lists, but in the end she had given up and made them anyway.
Trixie gave a relieved laugh. “Excellent. I feel very comfortable with the routine, but there is a lot to remember so it’s very nice to have something to refer to at the start and the end of day just to center things for myself - or in case things get muddled.” She gave Matilda a quick smile, but Matilda felt a rush of gratitude that Trixie was really making this easier for her. Trixie was obviously so thoughtful and serious about the responsibility she was taking on. Matilda was very grateful and told Trixie so.
“I wanted to check with you first,” Matilda started. “I thought perhaps Joshua and Daisy could assist tomorrow. The next day you could also call in Max and Axios if you needed them. However, I wanted to leave the staffing assignments up to you. I’m sure you know who you would work best with as a manager. Perhaps you have people in mind?”
Trixie bit her lip, “I do actually.”
“Perfect,” Matilda nodded happily. “You’ll arrange it then?”
“I will.” Trixie pulled a small notepad from her bag and turned it towards Matilda. She showed the staffing schedule to Matilda.
“That looks amazing.” Matilda nodded happily.
Matilda was delighted. They finished going over staffing, the soups, and how to augment them, where the additional spices and herbs were stored, and how to close, open, and clean the kitchen. Most of the information Trixie knew - but she listened attentively. She was quite excited that she had the freedom to make decisions on flavouring on her own. By the time the meeting was concluded Matilda was satisfied that Trixie was ready. She was organized and thorough. They made their arrangements for the next day at 11 o’clock for Matilda to leave for Mystery Island and they were both quite excited.
Matilda was relaxed as she and Jhudiah dug their toes in the sand on their last day of holiday. She had had a marvellous time away from the kitchen and made sure not to worry at all about the kitchen. She’d had great fun with Jhuidah and her cooking pot. Although she was looking forward (just a tiny bit to getting back to her kitchen) Matilda did so much like her own kitchen - the smells, her cauldron and her herbs and spices. She pulled her toes through the sand again and eyed Jhuidah lazily.
“So, Jhuidah will you come visit me then?”
Appalled, Jhuidah stared hard at Matilda. She loved visitors and was so happy she had come, but she couldn’t even think about going to Neopia. Honestly, she had nothing but admiration for her fellow faerie’s enthusiasm for Neopians in unfortunate circumstances, but she had certainly needed to get away from it all and have a little girl time. Jhuidah on the other hand wasn’t much into vacations. Was she? Not to mention … she lived in a vacation paradise. Why on earth would she go anywhere at all? Although … now that Matilda had mentioned it ….