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
"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
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 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
"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
But I just have to win this thing, it is my
I need that shiny trophy, and I need respect
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
…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.