Behind Her Stars: Part Two
I don’t have many childhood memories at all that don’t revolve around me being picked on for who I was. Of course, when I was younger I didn’t really understand why other pets would pick on me when I was much bigger than them but now it’s all pretty simple to understand. When we’re younger we recoil from things that are different, and I guess I was just that ‘thing’ that was different. I was starrier, hungrier and, to put it simply, fatter than the other pets but it never really worried me. I loved being who I was and I still do. Even when I was taunted I simply learnt to ignore, but there was always a part of me that loved proving others wrong.
It’s that mindset that led to me once devour a Continuous Meat because a Wocky said I wouldn’t be able to do it, and it’s that mindset that drove me to pursue a career in journalism when the Faerie at the Employment Agency said it wasn’t the job for me.
The first thing I did when I reached my Neohome was to check if anyone else was home, and I was pleasantly unsurprised to find two of my siblings reclining in the dining room. My sister Sadinei and brother Alex were happily chatting away, but the chatter quickly faded away when I entered the room.
“How was your job search?” Sadinei asked, her usual wide smile plastered on her face.
Sadinei is a red Skeith with black hair who dreams of being a rock star but is terrible at playing any instrument. I guess it’s just lucky that she has such a great singing voice. Alex, on the other hand, is a grey Skeith. He loves all things green... and reading. It’s rare to see Alex without a book or a copy of the Neopian Times on hand, and even now as he took mouthfuls of soup the latest Neopian Times was propped on the table in front of him.
“It wasn’t too bad...” I muttered, reaching for Alex’s copy of the Times. “Mind if I borrow this?”
“Go ahead,” he replied, pushing it closer to my hand, “I’ve finished reading it anyway.”
Grasping the paper, I took a seat at the table beside Sadinei and began flicking through its pages. She looked at me curiously, but it took her at least a minute before she began firing questions. This was unusual for Sadinei.
“Not ‘too’ bad, eh? What’s that supposed to mean?”
I sighed, still flicking through the Neopian Times in front of me.
“Well, it didn’t go exactly to plan. I thought it would be so easy, just go in there and come out with a job.”
Sadinei laughed, and Alex tried his hardest not to snort into his soup.
“Getting a job is never that simple, Raejun.” Sadinei said, placing her soup spoon down. “So, what have they got you looking at?”
“They gave me a list of possible jobs, but... I threw it away,” I replied, finally stopping on the page of the Neopian Times I was looking for. “This is the job I want to apply for, though.”
Sadinei glanced at the page while Alex stood and peered over my shoulder.
“Journalist? For the Neopian Times?” Alex said and I could hear the disbelief in his voice.
“Don’t tell me you don’t think I can do it, either,” I said, my voice firm.
“No, it’s not that,” my brother responded, still gazing at the page. “It’s just not exactly what I thought you would choose.”
I scoffed, reaching into my bag and pulling out an apple. Taking a bite, I took a moment to reflect on my decision.
“I never really knew what I wanted to choose, and there’s just something about journalism that really jumps out to me.”
Alex just shrugged, returning to his seat. “Whatever you want, you should go for.”
Sadinei picked up her empty soup bowl and stood, heading for the kitchen.
“Why are you eating an apple? Don’t you want any soup?” she asked, pausing for a moment in the door way.
“No, I’m not very hungry,” I replied, also standing. “Plus, I’ve got to go and pick an outfit to wear to my interview...”
I trailed off, taking a bite from my apple. I chewed slowly, mulling over thoughts in my head.
“The interviews are this afternoon?” Alex asked, picking up the Neopian Times. “I thought they were tomorrow.”
“They are tomorrow,” I replied, “but you can never take too long to choose the perfect outfit!”
I giggled, standing up from my seat and heading towards my room.
Brushing the last tangle from my hair, I reached for a hair tie. The tie was black, and I used it to pull my hair into a neat bun.
“There,” I said, admiring my look in the bathroom mirror. “You’re the cutest little wannabe journalist there ever was!”
Slipping on my favourite white shirt and black skirt, I took a brief moment to make sure I looked my very best. There was no chance of flunking out now; when I had my heart set on something, I refused to back down. Taking in my appearance in the mirror, I decided this was the best I was going to look. In my eyes I looked great, but as to what anyone else would think... I shook my head, dispelling those negative thoughts.
You’ll never get anywhere with thoughts like those, I thought to myself as I opened the bathroom door and peered out.
The house was silent, a sign that Sadinei and Alex had probably already left. As I crept out of the bathroom and headed down the hallway towards my bedroom, I couldn’t help but reflect on my decision. Was I really only trying to get this job because I wanted to prove someone wrong, or did I now actually feel something for it?
Shrugging, I picked up my dress shoes from beside my bed. Sitting down on the blue covers I began to pull them on, taking my sweet time to lace them up to perfection. Sighing as I tied the last knot, I glanced out my bedroom window. It was a sunny day, with not a cloud to be seen. Leaves fell gently from trees, and younger neopets happily frolicked in the sun. A slight breeze ruffled through the foliage.
“That’s not going to be me again,” I said to myself, remembering the days of having not a care in the world, “Being a child was all fun and games...”
I stood, reaching for my bag that was sitting on my bed side table.
“I guess it’s now or never.”
Heading towards the front door of the house, I could feel a familiar sense of nervousness setting in. Could I really do this? I smiled, pushing open the door, stepping out and locking it behind me. Whatever happened, I was determined that today would be a good day. There was no point frowning when the weather was so fantastic.
As I entered the Neopian Times Headquarters, I couldn’t help but compare the shabby building with the Employment Agency. This building lacked all the awe-inspiring beauty that the Faerieland building had, but there was a unique air of homeliness about it. While the Employment Agency had been made from magnificent purple stone, the Neopian Times building was a simple wooden structure sitting in a quiet street of Neopia Central. However, the inside was not so quiet. The building was full of the sound of many voices chatting away as well as the fierce scribbling of pens that echoed dully in the reception area. Sitting at the reception counter was a brown Mynci. A white weewoo sat on her shoulder, watching her every movement in silence. The Mynci was furiously shuffling through papers, obviously looking for something important. While I waited for her to acknowledge me, several other employees of the Neopian Times came up and handed her notes. The last of these was an orange Blumaroo.
“What do you want, Harold?” the Mynci snapped, obviously frustrated.
I noted that it was Thursday, and a new edition of the Neopian Times was due out tomorrow.
“I need you to get this message to Sally in the Editorial department—” the Blumaroo began to say, but the Mynci cut him off.
“Do it yourself, Harold. I don’t care how important it is, I’m much too busy to be delivering messages right now.” She returned to shuffling through papers, and I could almost swear the Weewoo on her shoulder was giving Harold the ‘evil eye’.
“Come on, Lulu, I really need you to do this for me.”
Harold edged a little closer to the Mynci, waving a slip of paper in her face.
“I told you, Harold, I can’t! The New Series department has got me looking for a story they’ve lost and I can’t find it anywhere. Look, if you’ve got enough time to be wasting here talking to me surely you can deliver your own message.”
The Blumaroo sighed, giving up. He bounced away from the desk, probably headed towards the Editorial department. When he reached where I was standing, he paused for a moment.
“Why are you here?” he asked.
“I’m here for the job interviews,” I replied, pretending I hadn’t been watching his confrontation with the receptionist.
“Get out why you still can,” Harold muttered, bouncing away.
“Whatever,” I said, inching closer to the reception desk. “Excuse me, but could you tell me where the job interviews are?”
Lulu looked up, a look of frustration plastered across her face.
“What’s your name?” she asked, pulling a piece of paper towards her from the top of the stack in front of her. It was a list of names.
“Uh, Raejun. My name’s Raejun.”
The Mynci carefully read down the list, before turning back to me.
“Your name isn’t on the list,” she said matter-of-factly.
“There’s a... list?” I said slowly, my heart pounding. Were my dreams already over?
“Of course there’s a list!” Lulu snapped, pulling a pen from a pocket on her shirt. “Now do you want to be on it or not? There’s a place left, since someone just pulled out.”
Breathing a breath of relief, I nodded.
“I’d love to be on the list.”
“Well, good for you. The line for interviews is over there. You’re last.” Lulu pointed to the left, and my gaze followed her hand. The line contained at least twenty other pets.
“There are so many others...” I whispered.
“Well, go and take a place... Raejun,” Lulu said, still pointing to the line, “Now, if you could excuse me, I’ve got work to do.”
She returned to shuffling through papers and as I walked off the Weewoo’s beady eyes followed me.
Heading towards the line my heart sunk. All the other pets waiting for an interview looked so perfect for the job and I couldn’t help but think that my dream of being a journalist might already be over.
To be continued...