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Rhyme Time!

by kacheeklover3579


     You don't keep him company

     Because he's just a toy?

     And go on with your business

     And your taken-for-granted joys?

     Maybe you should try to think

     Just what life may be like

     If you were left abandoned

     By some foolish careless tike?

     He's just sitting there right on that cloud

     And stays in that same place

     Throughout every day of every week

     He displays his cheerless face

     To random selfish by-passers

     Who just could not care less

     Not even I have cared for him

     I sadly must confess

     So that poor, depressing, loyal thing

     Just waits and never learns

     Hoping maybe, maybe someday

     His owner will return

     But of course they don't come back

     They forget his very existence

     But maybe, maybe someday

     Someone will come and make a difference

     No one even clapped. No one really cared. They were all too busy doodling stick figure Faeries on their homework or staring out the window looking for who knows what. Why did no one appreciate fine arts? Was I the only one? And my talents would get me nowhere, except maybe into the Neopian Times, but what good does that do me? I've been published once before for a short story written in verse, and I have to admit I did pretty well. But, big surprise, I received zero Neomails complimenting my work. Not a "good job" or a "nice work" or a "well done," just some trophy that might sell in the Igloo Garage Sale for 500 Neopoints.

      "Okay, Ember, thank you for sharing," said the Neoschool teacher. She never really said it was good, she just said thank you because I was the only one in the class that volunteered to read their poem aloud to the class.

      "You're welcome, Miss Crystal," I mumbled as I went back to my seat.

      Well, let me fill you in on… me! I'm a Red Aisha, and I'm named after a Fire Faerie. I absolutely love to write poems, but it seems like I'm the only one. It's so sad. I'd really love to find someone who shared my interests, but I just can't seem to. Oh, well. I guess I'll just go make friends with TDMBGPOP. Maybe he'd appreciate my poem.

      So anyway, I go to Neoschool every day. In all my free time I write. And write and write and write. I must have tons of pages of poems by now. Maybe someday I'll publish my own book! But for now I'm just the school nerd who writes dumb rhyming things.

      It wasn't until the afternoon of April 19th that I finally got my big chance. The last school bell had just rung after my last period class, which was my writing class, and I had just recited another poem and gotten the same amount of praise as last time - none. But just as I was leaving the classroom my teacher called me back. "Ember? May I speak to you for a moment?"

      I slowly turned around to see Miss Crystal with a very serious look on her face. I remember thinking to myself, "Oh no, what did I do now? Am I in trouble or something?"

      But I was surprised to hear my teacher say, "I've noticed your poems are getting better every day. I love how you write. You have a very creative mind."

      I smiled and blushed. "Thank you," I replied shyly.

      "Yes, and I think you will be eligible to participate in this, that is, if you are interested."

     She held out a flyer that read in big bubble letters: "Poetry Competition! Teachers: Please send your most creative student to participate in Neopia's First Annual Poetry Competition! Enter by April 29th and your student could win 10,000 Neopoints and a shiny trophy awarded to the winner by Fyora the Faerie Queen herself!" Underneath the text was a huge picture of a golden trophy with a plaque attached to the base that said "YOUR NAME HERE - First Place Winner - Neopia's First Annual Poetry Competition CHAMPION!!!"

      I gazed at the trophy in awe. As soon as I laid eyes on it I was determined to win it, no matter what it took.

      I must have stood there staring at the paper in my paws for a long time, because Miss Crystal eventually said, "Ember? Hello? So do you think you would like to go?"

      "Yes!" I yelled, my eyes still glued to the flyer. "Yes! Of course! I would love to! This is great!" I kept shouting out random phrases of approval until finally I pulled myself together and asked, "So when is it? And where?" As soon as I said it I prayed it would be somewhere nearby. I could never make it if it was too far away.

      "Here, read, at the bottom." She pointed to the small text at the very bottom of the flyer. I read it: "Competition to be held in Faerie City, Faerieland in the Faerie Library at noon on May 5th." My heart sank.

      Miss Crystal saw my sad face and said, "What's wrong, Ember? Don't you want to go? I thought you might.…"

      I shook my head. "No, no, I'd love to go, I really would, but… we live in Neopia Central, and Faerieland is halfway across Neopia. I can't possibly -"

      Miss Crystal stopped me. "Don't worry about it. If you really want to go, I know we can find a way to get you there."

      I flashed her a huge smile and gave a hearty, "Thank you so much, Miss Crystal!" and rushed out of school and headed for my Neohome to tell my mum.

      Now, my mum isn't really the poetry type, so I didn't expect her to be that excited for me. In fact, she barely heard me when I told her. Had she not noticed the enthusiasm in my voice? Had she not realized that I was genuinely happy for once in a very long time?

      "Oh, yeah, honey that's great," she said absent-mindedly, trying to cook dinner and listen to me at the same time.

      "If you care, I'll be leaving for Faerieland on the 5th!" I yelled, trying to get her to hear me.

      "Could you hold on for a second?" she said, and continued her cooking.

      I went upstairs to my room to try and write some new material. I needed something to blow the other contestants out of the water! Something really creative, something -

      "Ember!" my mother called from downstairs. I put down the pencil and paper I had grabbed from the desk in my room and walked down the staircase to see what my mom wanted.

      When I got there, she said, "Ember! Why didn't you tell me you were going to a Poetry Competition in Faerieland?"

      "Uh, I did… just now when you so rudely ignored me," I muttered, losing track of my manners. When I realized what I had said and that I was going to be in big trouble, I quickly added, "Wait, I didn't mean that, it's just that -"

      "It's okay, sweetie," she replied. I was amazed, though relieved, that she wasn't angry with me. "I'm sorry for not listening. Your teacher just sent me a Neomail and told me the good news. But anyway, this is such a huge deal! Wow, you are so lucky to have this opportunity. And think what those Neopoints will do for us. I can finally buy you all those plushies you wanted, and a Petpet… this is so great! I am so proud of you."

      I smiled. So she did care after all. Well, now that I have her support, hopefully it'll be much easier.


     The day of the competition finally arrived. I was so excited. On the way there I was just talking and practicing non-stop. I had some new ideas in my head, but I was afraid they wouldn't be good enough. I just had to win. I just had to.

     I had never imagined the Faerie Library being so big. It was filled with books of every genre, every book imaginable was there. Wow. That's all I can say. But I hadn't come here to admire the books. I had come to compete, and that's exactly what I was going to do.

     For the first round we just had to recite a rhyming free verse, between 10 and 30 lines long. My Discarded Magical Blue Grundo Plushie of Prosperity poem fit those requirements, so I decided to recite that. I beamed at the applause I got after I finished. I remembered that day in class when I had recited the same poem for so much less appreciation. Now I was with people who enjoyed my same hobbies. I was happy. I bet back in Neopia Central when people told them the amazing poem I had recited they would say, "Where have I heard that before? I didn't know it had so much potential as to qualify in a competition such as that," only they wouldn't talk so sophisticatedly, they would talk more like n00bs and be like, "OMGz! Wuzn't that Ember's poem?!? She gots in a poetry thingy ong!..." Well, I think you get the picture so anyway…

     The other contestants were really good in the first round, too. I was kind of nervous, but I tried to just relax and enjoy the experience.

     The second round was where we had to fit a poem we had written to the melody of an already existing song. I used my poem to fit to "Yankee Poogle":

     Fi-re, Earth, Air, Negg, and Water

     Queen, Light, Grey, and Island

     With all these Faeries guarding me

     I sure feel safe in my land

     Water, Space, Tooth, Snow, and Soup

     Jhuidah and Illusen

     I'm not scared, so day and night

     Neopia I'll be cruisin'

     It was really embarrassing to sing it in front of everyone, because I don't have the best voice. But they didn't seem to mind too much. They clapped as they did for everyone else.

     Next came the final round. Round Two was the elimination round. There would only be two contestants left in the final round. I was so nervous. What if I didn't get picked? What if my poems hadn't been good enough? What if after all this excitement I returned home with nothing?

     They were about to announce the winners that would advance to the final round. I closed my eyes tight and prayed to the Faerie Queen. Just, please, let me make it this far…

     "It's time for the judges to decide which two pets will advance to the final round!" they announced over the loudspeaker. "And the winners are… Karina the Blue Cybunny!"

     There was a large round of applause, especially from this one corner of the room where many older Cybunnies were cheering extremely loudly holding up tons of posters that read, "Go Karina!" in enormous rainbow-coloured letters. Yeah, just a guess, but that was her family…

     I sat again with my paws crossed and my eyes shut hoping they'd announce my name as the second finalist. After the applause faded for Karina they started up again on the loudspeaker.

     "And now, the second finalist… Ember the Red Aisha!"

     "Yes!" I nearly hopped out of my seat in excitement. I had made it! Now just to beat Karina….

     "Okay, congratulations, finalists! For this last round, we are going to have a Rhyme-Off! This is how it works: You just take turns reciting short quartets or couplets and whoever can come up with the most wins! You have 5 minutes to think about it before we get started, then it's on to the finals!"

     Off the top of my head?? I was awful at making things up on the spot. I always wanted to concentrate before writing. There's no way I could beat Karina with poems I made up in five minutes!

     My heart was pounding. I was thinking hard. Anything good, anything meaningful, anything that would help me win. I came up with nothing.

     "All right, your five minutes are officially over! Contestants, in the center to begin our Rhyme-Off!"

     I was so nervous. So many things raced across my mind. I wanted to win for my mum, who had been so proud of me. I wanted to win for my teacher, Miss Crystal, who had believed in me and that I was good enough to even be here. I wanted to win for my classmates, to show them who I really was, that I wasn't just the school nerd, that I was somebody special. And most of all, I wanted to win to prove something to myself.

     I slowly walked to the center of the room. "First up is Karina! Show us what you've got!"

     Thank Fyora I wasn't first. At least I would hear what she did and maybe it would give me some ideas.

      She began, with her sweaty little white paws clutching the microphone. She looked as nervous as I was. That made me feel a little better.

     Peaceful as Kacheeks

     Hopping through the lush green flowers

     The night sky shines with stars of gold

     That you could gaze upon for hours

     The audience and the judges clapped. That was really good. But her rhythm wasn't perfect. That meant mine didn't have to be. That took a little pressure off. But I still didn't know what to say. I remembered her poem. It was just some kind of metaphor or simile to something poetic and peaceful. I could do that. At least I hoped I could.

     "Okay, that was great! Go ahead, Ember, now it's your turn! Go for it!"

     I just stood there looking out at the audience. I had to come up with something quick.

     "Ember? Come on! If you don't begin your poem in thirty seconds, you have to forfeit and that would mean Karina is the champion!"

     Oh, great, more pressure. I couldn't do this. But…but I had to!

     "Ten, nine, eight…"

     Ugh, a countdown. Even worse. It was now or never.

     "Six, five, four, three, two…"

     I just can't think! I just can't think! I cannot concentrate

     But I just have to win this thing, it is my very fate!

     I need that shiny trophy, and I need respect and fame!

     I've dreamed about this all my life; poetry is my game!

     I had just shouted that out. I cannot believe I just shouted that out. But it rhymed. I did not have to forfeit. They thought that was my poem. This was great.

      "Wow, great, Ember! Karina, it's your turn again!"

      She seemed ready. How can she be ready? How can she think under all this pressure?

     I don't need the glory

     And I don't need esteem

     I just love to write and recite

     This has also been my dream

      Oh, fabulous! Now she was making me look bad! She was going to win. I felt a pang of jealously and hatred. She could not win. I had worked too long and too hard for this for no credit and now I deserved it. I was going to win this thing no matter what it took. I turned to Karina with an evil look on my face.

     The Rubbish Dump

     It's a smelly place

     And it's ugly, too

     It reminds me of your face!

      Oh my gosh. Had I just said that? I had not just said that. I heard a couple of "ooh…"s and "dang"s and "harsh"es from the judges and audience. I cannot believe I had just said that.

      Karina got a hurt and surprised look on her face. I felt horrible. But, strangely, though I wasn't usually evil like that, I was happy at what I had said because it might make her forfeit and I would win. I would get what I always wanted. Respect. And a trophy as a sweet added bonus.

      …But at what cost? Hurting an innocent Cybunny's feelings for no reason? Now I felt even worse. This was not worth it.

     Karina cleared her throat.

     Please, I do not want to fight

     I do not want to argue

     I came here to fulfill my dream

     And maybe make friends with you…

     Oh, please, I already felt bad; she didn't have to go and say that! Tears started in my eyes and I threw down my microphone and ran out of the Faerie Library.

      So, Karina ended up winning. As much as I hate to admit it, she deserved it a lot more than I did. As I watched the Faerie Queen award Karina with her trophy, I could not help but wish that it was me up there instead of her. But, nonetheless, I clapped for her, and congratulated her afterwards. I had not won a trophy, but at least I had made a new friend who appreciated poetry as much as I did.

      But of course, we had to part eventually. I went back to Neopia Central. She remained in Faerieland where she lived. However, we still kept in contact through Neomail. I shared my poems with her, and vice versa. We critiqued and complimented each other. And best of all, we had fun.

      Well, I guess a new friend is better than some trophy. A trophy might get lost or broken, but friendships can last forever.

      Besides… there's always next year.

The End

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