Travis made his way through his parents’ bakery, carrying a large tray of freshly made chokato tarts. Although the small bakery wasn’t nearly as famous as the bakery in the bazaar, it still attracted quite a few customers, and the red Ixi had to make sure not to accidentally bump into one of the shoppers. Travis steadily walked through the store, and he placed the tray onto a display case. Then, he rushed back into the kitchen for more trays of whatever goods his father wanted him to carry.
This happened daily. Every morning, before dawn bathed Neopia Central in vibrant light, Travis was awaken by the banging of pots and pans downstairs as his parents hurried to start the day’s products. The smell of fresh bread and pastries would sneak upstairs and enter his nose as he wearily brushed his teeth. And then, as he stuffed down some unsold bread from the day before, his father would call him to start carrying trays to the display case.
Travis’s job was to transport trays of bread, pastries, and other products from the kitchen to the display case. He would also help out customers, clean up messes, and do an assortment of other small jobs that were needed. His mother overlooked the cash register, and his father was constantly making more fresh things to sell.
Aside from a few short breaks throughout the day, Travis couldn’t return upstairs to his room until the store closed at 6:00. Then, he would eat whatever things they failed to sell during the day, and then, he would have some precious time to himself.
Of course, Travis didn’t spend this time like his parents did. Instead of worrying over sales and thinking about business, he spent this time pouring over statistics of his favorite yooyuball players and, if it was Yooyuball season, reading about the games in the Neopian Times. It was his dream to be a Yooyuball player, and, though his parents didn’t know, the Ixi hoped to leave the hard life in his family’s bakery and sail to other lands to become a Yooyuball player. However, Travis knew that this was impossible. His parents thought of the bakery as very important, and they hoped to have Travis follow in their footsteps.
Besides the evenings, Travis also had Thursdays off; this was when the store closed, and he could chat about yooyuball with his friends or play a game of it. He wanted to join a junior team, but that was impossible, because one day a week was certainly not enough. Not only that, but most Thursdays, Travis’s father would teach him about the business and culinary aspects of the bakery. Despite his lack of enthusiasm, Travis’s father would always pretend not to notice.
As the weeks passed by, Travis became more and more frustrated with his life. He hated baking; it was hard, it was boring, and it was pretty much the opposite of what Travis wanted to be. To stay at the bakery and learn about what he hated was simply agonizing to him, especially when he compared it to the excitement of sport and the wonderful fresh air. Before, Travis was able to suppress his wishes, but his passion grew and grew. He could ask his parents, but they clearly wanted him to become a baker. He could steal money and run away, but that was immoral, and it would be like betrayal, because his parents were the ones that brought him up. But saying nothing and just wasting away his youth? That wasn’t possible anymore for the Ixi. His passion had grown to a point that he couldn’t just do nothing.
* * *
“Mother... I have something I, like, need to talk about.” Travis stood at the door of his parents’ room, where his mother was looking over some papers. Travis’s father was probably still downstairs, prepping for the next day or cleaning up.
“Sorry, honey, but I’m busy.” His mother didn’t even look up. Usually, Travis would have left, but this time was different. This time, Travis was taking a step towards his dream.
“But it’s urgent... Please?” Travis hoped with all of his might that talking at this undesirable time wouldn’t have a negative effect on his wishes.
Travis’s mother sighed. She turned her chair around and said, “What?”
The Ixi started, “I know you want me to become a baker, but like, I’ve thought about this a whole lot. Can you, umm... like, help me to become a Yooyuball star?” Travis, hearing himself say this aloud for the first time, thought that he probably sounded absolutely crazy to his mother.
Travis's mom didn't say anything. She just stared at him strangely, and an awkward silence formed in the room.
“Are you joking?” Travis’s mother finally broke the silence.
“No, of course not! I wouldn’t, like, disturb you just for fun!”
Travis’s mother sighed. “Honey, can’t you just be normal and do what you’re supposed to do? And I’m sure that if you think about it, you don’t want to be a Yooyuball player that much. Good night.” She started to turn around.
“Mother! I really, truly, do want to be a Yooyuball player! I’ve thought about this for months; don’t think that I just, like, came up with this yesterday! Please?”
“Oh honey.” Travis’s mother suddenly smiled very sweetly. “Calm down, let me talk to you.” She indicated to Travis that he should sit down in the chair next to her, which he did. “Baking is our tradition. This bakery has been in our family for generations. We belong here; it’s not right to go anywhere else.”
“But I really want this...” said Travis.
She continued, despite the interruption. “And not only that, but there’s really no chance for you to be a Yooyuball player. Everyone wants to be one, you’re just one little person out of everyone. But being a baker is guaranteed for you if you stay with us. I understand it’s hard, but you just have to stick with it, alright?”
“Mother, I can’t. I just really, really want to go be a Yooyuball player,” replied Travis. He realized how feeble his argument was, but that was, basically, the reason his heart had been in such turmoil.
“Honey, I know how you feel, but –”
“No you don’t know how I feel!”
Travis himself was shocked at his own outburst, but his mother was shocked even more. Her smile instantly faded, all displays of kindness were gone.
“Travis.” Her voice was now icy cold. “I knew it was bad of me to buy all of those Yooyuball cards and stuffs for you. Please forget about this, and don’t make me tell Father. We won’t give you neopoints and let you go try to be a Yooyuball star, understand? Don’t bring this up any further.”
“But Mother...” Travis had to try one last time. “I’ve never wanted anything else more. Please...”
“Not even your parents’ happiness? You would want to have your parents worried and unhappy, just for yourself?”
Travis stopped, and thought. How much did he really want this? He wanted this more than he had wanted anything else, but was it worth it to upset his parents? They were the ones who gave him love, and he loved them back. His parents were the ones who brought him up. They were kind to him, and therefore, Travis should be kind to them.
But then, he thought about what life would be like without Yooyuball. Every day, he would have to wake up to a life of baking, which was, in his opinion, the most dreadful task ever. He would fantasize about his Yooyuball career every day, while knowing it would never come true. He would have to live in the bakery, the place where he dreaded, all while knowing he didn’t try his hardest at living out his dream.
His thoughts were interrupted by an ignorant “Hmm?”
Travis took a deep breath, and choosing the path he would take, he said, “Yes, Mother. I really do want this more than anything else.”
His mother scowled. “Leave. Get out of my sight!”
* * *
The next morning, Travis woke up just like usual. He brushed his teeth, did his hair, and all of his other morning activities, just like usual. But when he sat down to eat his usual breakfast of leftovers, his father came and brought him a chokato tart.
Travis looked up. He only had one chokato tart before in his life. They were the bakery’s best product, and they almost always sold out before the day ended.
“Honey, Mother told me that you want to be a Yooyuball star, but that’s just impossible. I’m sorry.” Travis’s father set down the tart before him. “Please, just be happy. It’s not the best life possible, but it’s not the worst, either. Okay?”
Travis knew that it was not okay. His passion, which had accumulated through years, was bashed down in one evening. And he knew that he would never be happy to be a baker. But instead of complaining, he replied, “Okay.”
He didn’t want to make anything worse, not for his parents, and especially not for himself. Travis, in misery, satisfied his broken heart for the rest of his youth by saying to it: “I have tried my best.”
* * *
It was evening, and Travis was looking over some papers, just like his parents did all those years before him. This bakery was his now. He could have closed the bakery down and went to pursue his Yooyuball dreams, but he was much too old. Also, he now had a duty to his children to have a steady income from the bakery. Yes, he had his own children now. One was a quiet, blue Wocky named Suzie, and the other was a lighthearted, red Xweetok named Quinton.
“Dad, can I ask you something?”
He turned around to face Quinton. The Xweetok was nervous, which was surprising, because Quinton was, usually, very confident and outgoing.
“What is it, honey?”
“Umm... well,” Quinton gulped. “I want to go to a writer’s school, you know, and I want to become a reporter for the Neopian Times!”
“Are you sure you want to?”
“Yeah! I’ve been thinking about it for months...”
Travis started to talk about how the bakery was important, how it was a tradition, but suddenly, he stopped himself. True, the bakery was a tradition, but traditions can be changed. He had lived all his life in the bakery, but that didn’t mean that his children had to do the same. He remembered the misery that he had felt when he was young, and he decided that he would prevent his children from living through the pain that he had lived through. The bakery didn’t have to be the only future for them.
And that’s why Travis smiled, and said, “I’ll contact them right away. Honey, you know I’ll support you in whatever you do.”
And then, Quinton smiled back.