Neovision Superstar: Part Three
The next day passed without incident- actually, it was quite boring. Luke was subdued, and not once made a snarky comment to me. Then again, he didn’t even look at me, which I took to be a good thing.
“So how was school?” asked my mother when I tromped in the door from the second day.
“Fine,” I said, taking off my jacket and putting my knapsack in my room.
“Will you ever answer me with more than a monosyllabic word?” she asked, laughing.
“Nope,” I responded, taking off my wet boots from the rain. I threw them in the closet, and then faced her. She was sitting in the living room, reading a magazine under a lamp’s light. Twisting my head, I saw that it was my personal favorite- The Celebrity Style.
“Anything in there about Kenneth Kyrii?” I asked, realizing that it was a Wednesday, and therefore a new copy came out. I leaned over her shoulder, but she shut it closed.
“Actually...” she started.
“I don’t think you want to read it.”
“And why not?”
“Just... I don’t think you will. Do you have any homework?”
I could tell she wanted to change the subject. “Just a little bit for Health class...”
“You’d better get started, then,” she said. I put my paws on my hips.
“But it’s Kenneth Kyrii!”
She sighed and rolled her head. It was small for a Zafara, but it suited her. “Yes, it’s Kenneth Kyrii. Just don’t say I didn’t warn you.”
She held it out, and I took a glance at the cover. There were large, yellow letters over a red figure, whose paws were held behind him by a Defender of Neopia. The headline read: Kenneth Kyrii- Thief!
I quickly read the small paragraph: Only two days ago Kenneth Kyrii, the super sensation of Neovision, was caught stealing clothes from a top designer warehouse. The former star was in disguise, and previously only stole teenagers’ hearts, but now, judgment waits in the courts. More on page ten.
I gasped, and my mother refused to meet my eyes. I ran into my room, shutting the door quickly behind me. I fell on my bed and turned to page ten.
It was the same picture of Kenneth, but with different words covering two pages- it read: Kenneth, How Could You?
The article described how Kenneth, clad in all black, tried stuffing the clothes into a duffle bag. It suddenly occurred to me that he wasn’t the smartest Kyrii alive. The storeowner had the Defenders of Neopia come, and they promptly arrested him. He was quoted as saying, “My last singing album bombed. I needed to keep up my fashion reputation. I did nothing wrong.”
I threw the magazine onto the floor, and buried my face in my pillow. How could he do that? He did everything wrong! I had worshiped the ground he walked on for years. Was that how all celebrities ended up? Just... ending?
I refused to cry. I refused to cry. I refused to- oh, darn, I was crying.
The door creaked open, and my mother walked in. “How could he?” I whimpered.
“I know,” she whispered, coming to sit beside me. “What he did was awful. He broke my little girl’s heart.”
I sniffled. “I don’t want to be on Neovision anymore.”
She stiffened. “And why is that?”
Rolling to face her, my tears slid to one side of my face. “I’ll end up just like him. Obsessed with myself.”
“Don’t say that!” she said, not unkindly. “You decide who you want to be, nobody else! Don’t follow his steps; forge your own path. There are plenty other nice celebrities.”
I swallowed and thought. “You’re right...” I finally said.
“I know I am,” she smiled. “But nothing will help you get over him but you. Take your time.”
She slowly got off my bed, and went in to the kitchen.
I knew then that I still wanted to be on Neovision - Kenneth almost represented a challenge. A challenge to be myself, and not him.
Carefully avoiding the objects on the floor, I looked out of my window. It was dark, wet and gray outside, but on the far horizon I saw a streak of sunshine break through.
Waking up the next day was not as painful as usual. I threw on clothes that most likely didn’t match and scarfed down a small breakfast. Scowling at my unfinished homework, I jotted down the answers with a pencil lying on the table.
My father watched my routine with interest. As I was about to leave he asked, “Hillary? Are you... are you over the celebrity worshiping?”
I nodded, throwing the Health work into my knapsack. “Yes. I decided that if I put all of the effort of watching others into my own life, then I can probably get a lot further.”
He smiled and hugged me. “Good. I think you said something wise, which is both rare and scary.”
I frowned. “Father!”
He gave me another quick smile, and went to his work.
Throwing a lunch together consisting of... a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and an apple, I paused to say goodbye to my mother. She worked every other day at the vegetable shop down the street.
“Be home on time,” she reminded me.
“Yup. Bye!” I called over my shoulder as I began the walk to school.
Halfway through the forest, I heard the distant call of thunder. The rain was coming back. Starting into a run, wishing I were a Buzz so I could fly, I made it to the school in record time. I crossed the street, which was bare of Neopians, and quickly ran into the school as raindrops started coming down from the sky.
I stopped at my locker, putting my knapsack away and taking out the work I needed for the morning’s classes. I felt someone tap me on the back, but when I turned no one was there, or at least no one had waited for me to turn. The students were all rushing to their classes.
The morning bell rang, and I rushed to the classroom. I sat down happily, glad I made it on time.
“Hillary?” asked Cassy, warily.
“Hey Cassy! How are you?” I was still in a strangely perky mood.
“This may hurt.”
“What are you talking about?”
Suddenly, the fur on my back felt like it was being ripped out of me. I grasped the desk, grimacing.
“What was that?” I asked through the tears gathering in my eyes. “That felt terrible!”
“This,” said Michelle, holding up a paper sign that said, “Super-Stupid”. She turned it around- it was covered in glue with some of my blue fur stuck to it.
“I felt someone touch my back,” I admitted, my back starting to throb, “but didn’t think it was that. It’s awful! That’s below pranking- that hurt.”
My two friends nodded. “Sorry ‘bout ripping it off like that,” said Cassy.
“It was the only way.” I tried in vain to reach and massage my back, but couldn’t.
“Class!” barked Ms. Vanderbalk from the doorway. “Today we will be starting with twenty minutes of silent reading. Start!”
Neoschool always ended with math for my class, which meant that my day always ended with a positive note. However, when Ms. Vanderbalk announced that she wanted to see me again after school, I felt a sense of dread present in me.
Taking my time gathering my books, the entire class left with Cassy and Michelle dawdling behind. Ms. Vanderbalk shooed them out after five minutes, though, meaning she wanted to talk to me alone. She stood in front of the backboard, and motioned to me.
“Hillary,” she asked, “how exactly are you going to achieve your goal of being on Neovision?”
I opened my mouth, paused, shut it, and opened it again. “I... I’m not sure,” I admitted. That was a good question.
“Here,” she said, putting an envelope on the stack of books I carried. As she did, she accidentally wiped a file off of her desk. The papers came flying out over the floor.
“Oh, I’m sorry,” she said, blushing slightly.
“Here, I’ll pick them up,” I murmured. As I scoured the floor for the papers, I couldn’t help but noticed that they were yesterday’s math tests, already marked. As I picked them up, I couldn’t help but notice marks. I had gotten an A, Michelle had a B, Sarah had a B+, Luke had failed...
What! My eyes dug into the page, and indeed, there was a big fat ‘F’ on his. I couldn’t help but feel slightly guilty for seeing the mark. I picked up the remaining papers, my stomach not feeling quite normal. I set them neatly back into the folder onto her desk.
“Thank you,” she said, still blushing at her clumsiness. “Anyways, as I was saying. I know somebody who knows someone in the Neovision business. I thought you might be interested in that. The envelope contains some information you may find useful. You may go now.”
Her brisk manner shocked me. I thanked her and met Michelle and Cassy waiting for me.
“So?” was all Michelle asked.
“I don’t know. She gave me this envelope.”
“Open it!” said Cassy.
Setting my books to the ground, I opened the seal and pulled out a light-green piece of paper. It read:
Thinking of trying out for Neovision? Your chance is here! This Friday at 7 p.m. are tryouts for the new drama series “Neopian Chronicles”. Come on down to our station at 1734 Westing Street, downtown Neopia!”
I gasped. “This is exactly what I’ve been wanting!”
Cassy and Michelle beamed. “Friday- two more days,” Michelle commented, her Kougra eyes grinning.
“How will I live?” I groaned.
Thursday and Friday went by at a molasses-like rate: everything seemed to drag on and on. Every time the clock went another minute my heart rate got progressively faster and faster. Luke failing the math test was completely banished from my mind.
Finally, after what seemed like years, the bell rang for the end of school on Friday. I leaped out of my desk, sprinted for my locker, and ran home as fast as I could. I had told both Cassy and Michelle I wouldn’t- couldn’t- walk with them today.
“Let’s go, or we’ll be late!” I shouted the second I slammed the door behind me. I dropped my knapsack to the closet, and found my mother baking some sort of pastry.
“Hmm?” she asked, wiping flour off of her paws. Her apron was covered in all sorts of foods. “Where are we going?”
“To the Neovision studio!” I said, exasperated.
“But it’s three thirty. The audition isn’t until seven o’clock! You have three and a half hours.”
My jaw dropped. “So? What if we get lost? Or go to the wrong area? Or meet the wrong person? Or-”
“We’ll just have to risk it,” she said kindly. “We’ll leave in two and a half hours, enough time for you to get your homework done. Notice my hint?”
“Just maybe,” I replied, going into the kitchen. I took out a book of math problems that had been assigned, and tackled down to work on them.
After a few more years it seemed I finally shut the book closed and sat back in the chair. Apprehension and anxiety were the only two things on my mind; I was remarkably sure I had jotted random things down for answers.
“I guess we can go now,” my mother said, getting her jacket from the closet.
“Yes!” I shouted, rocketing to the door. I hadn’t bothered to take off my shoes or jacket earlier. I quickly opened the door, revealing bright sunlight filtering through the trees. I bounded down to the gate. “Come on, please hurry!”
My mother chuckled and took her purse from closet, then followed me outside.
The walk to downtown Neopia wasn’t long, luckily, so we made it there in only twenty minutes. The bustling merchants were slowing down for the end of the day, packing up their stands by the side of the road.
Further into Neopia, the buildings became denser. A large, gray building stuck out from them all, with black letters of “NEOVISION” spelled out on its side.
“There! There it is!” I yelled, grabbing my mother’s hand. There it was- my dream, and hopefully my future.
We first had to pass a guard booth, and the Kacheek listened to us as we explained why we were there. She gave us passes that said ‘Audition Visitor’ for me, and ‘Visitor’ for my mother.
When we got to the main entrance, the double doors beckoned to me.
I took a deep breath, and walked in.
To be continued...