A Yurble stole my cinnamon roll! Circulation: 99,276,740 Issue: 197 | 1st day of Swimming, Y7
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A Friend Indeed


by xtrat

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Hundreds of shoppers surrounded me as I hurried through the crowded marketplace. Shops on either side of me advertised a myriad of goods. A large crowd had gathered around one store within which an over-enthusiastic Petpet was attacking the unfortunate Lupe who was trying to sell it. Stay focused, I told myself. I don't have long.

     My name is Jerry, and I am a yellow Kacheek. The reason I was in a rush was simple: I was on a job from the Faerieland Employment Agency. My task was to find two copies of 'Nerkmid Mania' and I only had 16 minutes to find and give them to my boss.

     I had already purchased one from an energetic young Kiko at a fraction of its actual value, but I needed another soon if I were to get back in time. The number of shops around me started to thin out, telling me that I must be close to the edge of the marketplace. I turned around a corner to my right, ignoring a pink Scorchio who was desperately trying to get rid of some suspicious looking potions, and headed back in the direction of the employment agency. Increasing the pace of my walking, I frantically looked from left to right trying to find somewhere that looked like it would sell what I was looking for. Whilst walking I noticed a dark shop to my left that looked promising. A small shop, its walls were covered from roof to floor in bookshelves. Behind the ochre counter at the back of the shop stood an old looking grey Gelert. He didn't seem to notice me when I approached the counter.

     "Excuse me, Phil," I said, noticing his tattered nametag. "I would like one copy of 'Nerkmid Mania.'"

     Silent, the Gelert walked over to the right side of the room and retrieved a dusty book from the lower shelves.

     "That will be 1200 NP," he muttered as he dropped the book onto the counter.

     After handing the coins over, I threw the book into my backpack and thanked the Gelert. Ignoring the fact he didn't reply I left the room and headed as fast as my short yellow legs could carry me in the direction of the employment agency.

     ----

     "Hey, Jerry!" a light faerie sitting behind a desk called as I walked through the arched door of the employment agency.

     I headed over to her. As my brown shoes landed on the polished marble floor they made the familiar tapping sound I had grown to love. The ceiling here was very high, and colorful murals had been delicately painted on the underside of it for all to gaze up at in awe. When I got to the table I took my backpack off. Around us there were lots more tables with other faeries sitting behind them. Twenty-three, to be exact. I know, because I have counted them. You see - I come here every day. I love it.

     "Hi, Aevia," I said, smiling at the faerie as I slid into the comfortable chair before the desk.

     Aevia is the only one of the faeries I have ever gotten a job from. On my first day of work she showed me around and gave me a nice easy job to start me off. We've been friends ever since.

     Unzipping my backpack, I took out the two books and placed them on the desktop. Aevia took them and placed them in a large box behind her chair. As always, she then began to fill out a few forms. I knew this wouldn't take long.

     "All done!" Aevia informed me soon after. "Great work today, Jerry! I think you've a good chance of being employee of the month. Do you know it's selected tomorrow?"

     Of course I knew! I'd only been looking forward to it since last month's winner was selected. I figured I was a shoo-in this time - I'd done more than twice as many jobs as anyone else and had only failed to get back in time once during the whole month!

     "Yeah, I heard," I told Aevia.

     At this, a loud bell rang. The bell signalled that the day's work was over. Knowing this, I collected my backpack, farewelled Aevia and headed for the door.

     On the way out the door, I spotted my friend.

     "Hey, Stitches!" I yelled out to him, and was prepared to shout again until he started heading over to me.

     His name isn't actually Stitches - I just call him that. He is a Plushie Wocky and also works at the employment agency.

     "Yo, Jerry," he smiled, patting me on the back. "I hear you did some good work today?"

     Not one to be modest, I told Stitches what had happened during the day. By the time I was finished, I was at the turn in to my road and had to leave Stitches to walk by himself so I could head home.

     ---

     I could hear wings flapping and the whirring of gears as soon as I flung the door open. My robot buzzer Gyro flapped over to me as I hooked my coat on the hanger.

     "I had a good day at work today," I said to Gyro. He didn't understand me, but I liked talking to him anyway. "Between you and me, I have a feeling I'm going to win employee of the month tomorrow! It's so exciting!"

     Sensing my excitement, Gyro started flying around in circles over my head. He ended up crashing into the light. I reattached his wing and put him in bed before heading to bed myself.

     ---

     The next morning I was up well before my alarm. Considering today was such a special day, I decided to wear something nice. I chose my suit because I didn't want to look silly when going up to claim my prize. Furthermore, I took extra care in the brushing of my hair (meaning I actually bothered to do it.) It wasn't long before I was downstairs ready for breakfast. The light still wasn't working, but with the curtains open there was just enough light to eat my meal. Quickly finishing my bacon and eggs, I said goodbye to Gyro before heading out the door. As I was about to close the door behind me I heard my bedside alarm go off. Wasting no time in turning it off, I eventually was out of the door and on my way to work.

     ---

     Rather unlike what would happen on a normal day, when I arrived at work I headed to the large hall at the back of the employment agency. This was where the employee of the month was being awarded. Having left so early I was the first person to arrive, and had first pick of where to sit. Naturally I chose a seat right at the front.

     It wasn't long before the hall started filling up. Stitches was one of the last to enter and he came to sit next to me when he arrived. A hush fell over the crowd like a Skeith doing a belly flop as a smart looking Grarrl walked onto the stage.

     "Greetings, employees," the Grarrl addressed the assembly. "Undoubtedly you know that today we shall be recognising the employee amongst us who has performed exceptionally well over the last month. The employee of the month award is presented to the worker who is more hardworking, loyal, trustworthy and reliable than all of their colleagues. This month's winner, I'm glad to say, embodies all of these qualities. The name of this worker is..."

     I adjusted my tie. I didn't want to look untidy when I got my prize.

     "... Sitcha!"

     At this, Stitches stood up. Sitcha was, after all, his real name. He smiled at me, and I forced myself to smile back.

     How could he win? I thought. I've done much more work than him. Just because he's Plushie he gets all the attention.

     I wasn't really listening to what the Grarrl said next. It was some nonsense about the fact that Stitches had done loads of hard work. What about me? Wasn't it me who had been coming to work every day for the last month? Wasn't it me who had completed more jobs in the month than any other employee?

     ---

     Later that day, I was sitting at home reading my books. I'd skipped the lunch after the assembly and hadn't bothered to go back to work in the afternoon. The fact was, I just couldn't face Stitches after he'd yanked the prize from under my nose like that. I placed my book down on my knee and reached out to the table. My lunchbox was lying there unopened. I took some sandwiches and started eating them whilst continuing to read my book.

     My life was much like this for the next three days. I didn't feel like going to work and had disabled my alarm. The only task I did during those few days was replacing the light Gyro had broken.

     ---

     It was to my great surprise that on the fourth day since employee of the month was decided the doorbell rang. It was even more surprising that Aevia was waiting for me when I opened the door.

     "Hello, Jerry," she smiled at me. "Where have you been? If I didn't know better, I'd have thought you had dropped of the face of Neopia!"

     "I've been at home for the last few days," I replied. "Why are you here?"

     "I've been worried about you," Aevia spoke softly. "Why aren't you coming to work anymore?"

     "It's just ..." I sighed. "Well, I really thought I deserved to be employee of the month. I couldn't believe it when Stitches won! He'd done much less work than me. I didn't come to work because I didn't want to have to see him."

     Aevia laughed. "Is that all? You Neopets get so worked up about nothing. He is your friend! He'll understand if you just tell him. We all know you're doing so much work at the agency, you don't need a silly badge to prove that!"

     ---

     My eyes scanned the room, looking for Stitches. After talking with Aevia I realised I was stupid to fall out with Stitches about who got the prize. I just hoped he would forgive my idiocy. I eventually spotted him and hurriedly made my way over to the table he was seated at.

     "Oh! Hello, Jerry!" Stitches said excitedly, looking at us as I approached the table.

     "Hi, Stitches," I said as I sat down.

     "I haven't seen you since employee of the month was awarded, what happened to you?"

     "About that ... I've been really silly. You see, I worked really hard and was expecting to be employee of the month myself. It was a surprise when you won and to be honest I was quite jealous. I stayed at home because I didn't want to talk to you. I know I overreacted and I hope you'll forgive me!"

     "Of course I'll forgive you, Jerry. If I were to tell the truth then I'd have to say I was expecting that you'd win as well. I know you deserve it much more than I do."

     Stitches stood up and started fiddling with his jumper. As I realised what he was doing he took his badge and pinned it onto my shirt.

     At the end of the day it doesn't matter if people I don't know aren't coming up and congratulating me. What matters is that I'm with my friends, because I know that no matter where I am, as long as I'm with them I'll be happy.

     "There's the real employee of the month," Stitches said, smiling as he dropped back into his seat.

The End

 
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