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Rejection: Part Two


by shadowcristal

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"Priscilla!" Julia shouted in my ear for the fifth time. "Off to la la land, weren't you?"

     "Err... Sorry to keep you waiting." I poked at her. "So, what practice job are you getting?"

     "Practice job? Why do you call it a practice job?" my friend asked.

     "Well, because we get to practice working for a week..." I trailed off.

     "I know you don't like it," Julia said, "But it's a requirement for finishing that class... Anyway, you go and get a so-called practice job first and then I'll find mine."

     "Thanks."

     We walked around the Rainbow Pool a few times to rest our minds. The sun was shining brightly, I was kind of annoyed at myself and my Jubjub friend was trying to help me to choose the next store. While listening to the sounds of pets being painted, I promised myself to do better next time.

     "Hmm... How about the Food Shop?" Julia suggested.

     "Too popular," I said pessimistically. "I'll bet there are already two or three from our class working there. Anyhow, I'd like to something I really enjoy..." I stopped and gasped. There it was! Another perfect practice job had appeared right in front of my eyes!

     "Um... Priscilla?" my friend said when I jumped up from the bench. Then she saw what I had seen and just uttered a small 'oh'.

     "Excuse me," I said, stopping right in front of the pet that was handing out the current issue of the Neopian Times.

     "Yes?" the Kau asked.

     "Umm... A-are there a-any..." I begun, incredibly excited at the fact that I might get another one of my dream practice jobs. With a little less stuttering and muttering than before, I managed to get my message through. "...So, I'm wondering if there is a chance for me to get a practice job like that at the Neopian Times." I finished.

     "I'm sorry, but I only stand for distribution," the Kau said kindly. "If you want a practice job, why don't you go and contact the head office down at the Deep Catacombs?"

     "Deep Catacombs?" Julia and I repeated in unison. I shuddered. That place was scary, an artist's cave full of stalactites and stalagmites, dripping icy cold drops of water on your skin. And it was way too far away from our NeoHome...

     "Well, I'll bet you want some nice practice job at the Submission Form Department, Lettering Department or something like that. Well, just so you know, the head office is down there."

     "Umm..." I said, still shocked. "Thanks." I quickly analyzed the situation. Getting down to that creepy place every day and actually working there... then I thought of Janie. No. It'd be too much trouble and time, since we did not have any vehicles and the Eyrie Taxi equaled the Soup Kitchen...

     For a second I wondered if I could convince my owner to just play games and restock her shop like she used to, instead of trying so hard for the Neopian Times, which was pretty much a dream.

     Then I felt the shame. She had supported me when I had taken that extra-credit class, even though she seemed somewhat against it because she thought it would be too much of a burden. Here I was, mentally criticizing her for doing what we both did... chasing a dream and trying to make it come true.

     Well, Janie was trying hard right now and so I had to do that too.

     "I kind of live a little bit far away," I admitted, "So I think it'll be hard for me to go to the Deep Catacombs."

     "Okay," the Kau said. "I'll mention about this to my boss... Perhaps there'll be more things in the future." She smiled kindly and left.

     "That went a little bit better, didn't it?" my friend said.

     "Yeah, but I still got rejected," I stated, sighing. However, the disappointment didn't hit me so relentlessly and hard as it had done the first time. Perhaps I was getting used to it?

     No! I couldn't think that way! If I did, then... perhaps I wouldn't be able to get out of rejection because of those depressing thoughts. Think positive, I told myself and plastered a smile on my face. There's always a next time and since I hadn't gotten a practice job, I supposed that I'd just have to try again...

     "So, where do we go next?" Julia asked.

     "I'm not sure," I said. "Look! We're at the Bazaar!"

     "Oh yeah," my friend said, "We must've wandered here..." She pointed to the closest building, which was the Chocolate Factory. "Why don't you try there?"

     "Well..." I hesitated a little, but decided to give it a go. "I've always wanted to try and work for a candy store..."

     "Then what are you waiting for?" Julia grabbed my arm and dragged me off to that magical building in the middle of the Bazaar.

     Standing in front of the gigantic factory, I gawped. The fear of rejection was nothing compared to watching this building in work. Even though it wasn't one of my choice jobs, I felt that it would definitely be an experience to get a practice job here. Then I took a look around the bazaar and noticed that there were at least seven other stores. At least one of them would give me a practice job, right?

     Then I thought of the way I had gotten rejected, trying to get my dream jobs. Perhaps those picture-perfect, dreamlike illusions just aren't supposed to be fulfilled. Well, this was something more down-to-earth for a change.

     Looking around again, I felt a new feeling awaken inside me. Sometimes when I read books too long and actually wanted to try out the things in the books, I'd get this crazy feeling and occasionally do something nutty. But most of the time I stopped before I embarrassed myself. It was this feeling that was coming to life now, only much stronger and much more real.

     The winds murmured in my ears and encouraged me. We went inside. The Kiko had already sold all his stuff, and Julia whispered to me that this was my chance.

     "Um... Excuse me, Mister..." I said politely.

     "What is it?" he asked, taking out a handkerchief and wiping some sweat off his bandage.

     With this new feeling inside me, I confidently explained my situation and asked for a practice job. I still stuttered, but only intermittently. When I finished speaking, I forced myself to smile, since I had read several books that said smiling was the best thing to do when nervous so one could glow from confidence. I certainly didn't feel confident when the Kiko just blinked and said nothing.

     I'm stupid, I told myself but instantly regretted that. Positive thoughts! That crazy side of me just kept the smile and my head high up, even though the fear in my heart wanted me to run out there, to that stupid teacher and yell at her for giving such an idiotic assignment.

     "Excuse me," the Kiko said after a long moment of silence. "I'll have to check my planner."

     "This is called 'extended rejection'," I said jokingly to Julia, perhaps to reassure myself and make this whole affair less serious.

     That feeling bubbled inside me again, and it just got worse (or better, since I was turning into someone who dared) when the Kiko returned with his planner.

     "Sorry," he told me. "I'm afraid that I already have a few for practice jobs and two assistants for the next two months."

     "Can you give me any recommendations?" I said, smiling and hiding my disappointment. All books stated that if you just gave an inch, then you had already lost. Still, it was that crazy, daring side of me who asked the question.

     The Kiko looked a bit surprised, but said, "Yes, I believe that there are two shops, one selling gifts and one selling Neogarden items just around the corner. I don't know if they are in need of helpers, but you can try."

     "Thank you for taking your time," I said politely and walked out of the Chocolate Factory with shaking legs. Something inside me wanted to say hooray, because this time, I had really tried. I hadn't stuttered so much and talked smoothly. As the books say, practice makes perfect.

     "You're getting better," my friend commented when I took a deep breath of fresh air. "Still... I'm sorry about that. Guess third time isn't the charm, eh?"

     I closed my eyes and took a few deep breaths. That shaky, nervous side of myself calmed down, and the daring part of me grew stronger. I turned around and smiled at Julia.

     "Well, there are lots of stores here," I said. "Just because I got rejected from a couple doesn't mean all of them will refuse me. I'll try with... ten shops!"

     Julia gave laughed and patted me lightly. "That's the spirit, Priscilla!" She pointed to a nice little decorated shops that had lovely plants around it. "Well, shall we see if the fourth is the charm?"

     We entered the shop, and again my blood began to rush faster because of the excitement of it all. I had tasted rejection thrice, and now I was getting used to it. It wasn't so bad, but each and every rejection made me disappointed. Still, I knew that I had to try and I could just imagine the look on Janie's face when I tell her that I got a practice job.

     "Excuse me," I said, tapping the green Blumaroo's shoulder.

     "Yes?" he said, arranging an Atrabud.

     Again, I asked him about the practice job, getting better and better as I talked. Once that feeling and the rejections (that I didn't fear so much anymore) loosened my tongue, I even made some jokes.

     Fortunately I didn't get an extended rejection this time. The kind shopkeeper quickly told me that some other pets already had asked about practice jobs. Actually he looked rather sorry while telling me that.

     Maybe I was getting good? Nah... I couldn't be that good, having been a bookworm for the larger part of my life and not really socializing. But that feeling, the compound rejections and everything that I had just experienced had opened a door inside me, to someone whom I had hoped, wanted and tried to be.

     And I was successful. I exited the shop not with a withered look, but with positive and hopeful thoughts.

     "I guess you were wrong," I told my friend. "But I'll try again!"

     Julia smiled. "Gift shop next?"

     "Yeah," I said, and this time I was the one to drag her off to the shop.

     The handmade golden bell, attached to the door, rung ever so cheerfully when we entered the small shop. The red Scorchio greeted me kindly and I went right on explaining. Quite hyped up, I don't think I was really myself the whole time I was talking so smoothly and making jokes.

     "Wait a sec," he said when I had asked the good old practice job question. He went in to the back of the shop, probably getting his calendar or something.

     "This is extra extended rejection," I muttered and Julia giggled. "Well, if..." That daring side surfaced again. "If I get rejected, then I won't stop until the twenty-fifth shop!"

     "You're nuts," my friend said. "But it'd be good for you. Then again, maybe there aren't another 25 shops around here..."

     "Then I'll travel Neopia... Ask for practice jobs in Meridell, Terror Mountain..." I said excitedly.

     "Well, there's always something new to try, right?" Julia smiled.

     "Yeah..."

     A few light steps, and I knew that the shopkeeper was returning. This was it. My moment of gloom, doom... or success.

     I turned around and looked at him. The serious look on his face and the way he stoutly walked towards the counter... Every bit of strength, confidence and whatever good feelings I had gotten from my daring side was now gone. Left was a nervous little Purple Poogle wondering if she would get a practice job after all, running around crazy like this...

     "Well," the Scorchio begun. I felt like putting a pair of earmuffs on, but decided to listen to my fifth declaration of rejection. "I looked in my planner..."

     I gulped. It was coming. It was coming all right, probably hitting me full-force on the nose...

     "...And I don't have anything booked for the next two months. You can work here if you want." He smiled.

     Surprised, I gasped and dropped the confident posture I held for the last few minutes. "O-of course!" I exclaimed. Apparently the daring side only surfaces when really needed, and disappears once the business was done. "I'd love to work here!"

     "You don't mind?" the shopkeeper asked. "It's kind of small... Well, you asked, so..." he smiled. A slight shiver running through his hands told me that perhaps he was just as nervous as I was.

     "Am I the first?" I asked. Even though I was elated and everything, that special daring thing didn't return. But still, it felt like I both was and wasn't asking that question. I knew one thing for sure, though. I was changing.

     "Yes," he said. "This shop isn't so popular these days, so why don't you come by at 10 AM the week you start work and we'll discuss the time then. I promise to not work you like a bunch of nutty Meepits."

     "Thank you," I smiled. "Well, then I'll be dropping in soon!" Julia grabbed my hand, and together we left the shop.

     I couldn't believe it! I had actually gotten a practice job, after trying here and there and getting rejected.

     "It's great, isn't it?" Julia asked.

     And then it dawned on me. "I got a practice job!" I shouted happily, making several heads turn around. "Oops..."

     "What about you?" I asked my friend, realizing that she was also in the extra-credit class and needed a practice job.

     "I already got one," my friend said.

     "You little liar... You told me we'd deal with my job first and then yours, but you already got one?"

     "Well, I'm moral support, right?" Julia smiled. "If you feel like you owe me something, give me a gift after finishing our practice jobs."

     I shook my head. Typical Julia. "Well, thanks for the support," I said.

     "You're welcome. Well, I've got to get going now!" My friend waved and skipped off to her NeoHome.

     Standing there, I watched my friend walk away and realized yet another thing. If Julia hadn't been there for me, I wouldn't have been able to get a practice job at all. I knew exactly what I would give my best friend in the world. A nicely decorated handmade thank-you card with lots of glittery, sticky things on it.

     "Priscilla?" my owner said, holding several letters in her hand. "What are you doing here?"

     "Janie!" I exclaimed happily, hugging my owner. "What did you do?"

     "Just got my mail," Janie said. "And I got rejected again."

     "You know what?" I said, squeezing my owner's hand. "I got rejected four times today, and it isn't that bad." In fact, I believe that if I had stayed in the zone, I probably would've enjoyed going to twenty-five different shops and perhaps getting rejected the whole time.

     "Yeah... I'll just have to try again, don't I?" She started walking, and I did so to. "Anyway, tell me all about your day and that practice job. Might make a story out of it."

     "Well," I begun, "the whole thing started when you got that rejection letter for your short story..."

The End

 
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