Dedicated to anyone who isn’t sure of who they are.
Who was I? Why wasn’t I good at anything? I mean, everyone’s good at one thing or another. Everyone has a calling—that’s the word Mom uses. She says that your calling is the one thing that you were born to do. What was my calling?
“Mom,” I asked at dinner, swallowing a bit of my slice of Negg Pizza, “what am I good at?”
“Well... no offense, but you’re kind of sharp-tongued... erm, is sarcasm a talent?”
Paj laughed at Mom. “You’re nice... on the inside.” I didn’t get mad or anything, because I was pretty sarcastic.
“Well,” Calico offered, “you’re a faerie Cybunny... you’re good at flying.”
I sighed. Calico was a pirate Draik who’d cost my owner barely a Neopoint. He was created on Draik Day, that one year where some glitch allowed people to create Draiks. He was painted in the Rainbow Fountain. He was definitely the nicest of us all—not that we weren’t nice. Paj was a pirate Gelert who wasn’t one of those obnoxious, showy brothers. I was nice—aside from the sarcasm...
Paj was also kindly and generous. I mean, he definitely had the biggest conscience. He felt bad for every small bad deed he did. He was also honest—he was great at lying, but, as I said, he had a conscience. He always feels bad after lying, and that causes him to blurt out the truth.
Anyway, Paj’s full name was Pajama_Overalls (kind of a twist on the phrase “pajama pants.”) His talent was acting, because, as I mentioned before, he’s an exceedingly good actor.
Calico’s full name is Calicotion. He’s great with numbers and science. I’m thinking that he’ll be a physicist working with Neopia’s greatest minds.
I was a bookworm. I was nothing more. I was only good at English. I didn’t have a knack for drama or math or science. Now, my mom does everything—she’s probably memorized whole history books, and she’s the best artist I’ve ever seen. I mean, her drawings look so real, with all the shading and all.
I sighed. “But you guys all have a talent, and I don’t.”
Calico assured me, “You’ll find it eventually.”
“You take band, right?” Paj asked.
“Yes,” I replied, “and I sound like a dying Cobrall.” My family giggled at this. “They lied and told me that our next concert was cancelled, probably just so I won’t come. Everyone there hates me.”
“Don’t be so quick to judge. What about art?” Mom wondered. “Or sports or science or acting or... maybe writing? My best friend is a great writer. You and she are both bookworms, and my friend’s always saying that all good writers are bookworms.”
“That doesn’t mean that bookworms are authors.”
Mom frowned. “Just try it. Write a piece for the Storytelling Contest or the Poem Gallery... maybe even the Neopian Times!!”
My face brightened. “I love the newspaper!” I took a deep breath. “Spring break’s coming up. Maybe I’ll work on a piece then.”
That was probably the best decision I’d ever made.
“Alright... so, this guide says that I just get you guys to say something random, and then I work from there.”
“Okay!” Mom said eagerly. “I’m practically the Queen of Randomness.”
Paj chimed in, “Yeah, she is!”
“Erm... how about you write... about... erm...” Calico looked around the room. “Ooh! There’s, like, this key hidden in someone’s room, and they try to find out what it does, and...”
“Go on!” I urged, scribbling onto my notepad.
In fifteen minutes, I was typing away on my VirtuScreen. The keys clacked as my fingers flew across the keyboard.
“‘And then he realized that it wasn’t some treasure chest on Mystery Island,’” I murmured as I typed the story. I was nearing the end of my two- part series. “‘He inserted the key, and it opened...’” I stopped. What would I write at the end? “Erm... ooh! Maybe a... a long-lost artifact of some sort...”
I typed the last few paragraphs. At first, I was ending with the whole, “And they all became honored heroes, yadda, yadda,” thing. Then I changed it to a cliffhanger and printed.
“Mom!” I called to my owner, who was hunched over a sketch of hers in the kitchen.
She looked up from the breakfast table and took a look at the paper in my hand. “Submitting it to the Neopian Times?”
“Good luck, Kayla.”
I nodded, the hope swelling up in me like water in a kettle. Mom’s smile made me feel like the hope had reached her, too.
The bored-looking blue Xweetok at the front desk sighed and adjusted her spring dress. A stack of three books sat next to her. “Stupid dress... this thing must have been designed in Y3.” She looked up at me through her glasses. “Oh, hi,” she said to me. “Are you here to submit something?”
I nodded eagerly as I zoomed up to the desk. As my twilight-purple paws hit the ground, I stated, “It’s a two-part series.”
The Xweetok nodded and shoved the books aside to reach into a drawer and pull out a key. The poor little key was trapped deeply (like, very deeply) under a layer of rust. I absently tapped my paws and gave the room a once-over. It was a dimly-lit office. There was a hall leading down to the left. Behind the front office were many cubicles, side-by-side. The room was choked with the ever-present scent of coffee and the clacking of keys on a keyboard.
“Did you read these?” I wondered absently.
The Xweetok nodded and typed something on her VirtuScreen. She took my paper and placed it into a yellow folder in the file cabinet.
“Thank you. If we select your piece, you’ll receive a Neomail... and stuff...” Her head snapped back to her screen. She was tapping keys madly, occasionally muttering, “Dang it!”
I hadn’t left yet. “What are you doing?”
“Playing Bumble Beams. This is quite a tedious job.”
I grinned and stepped outside. I’d always thought that the Neopian Times office would be all fancy and stuff. I wondered how the TNT building looked.
I’d soon be typing over a thousand words a day on my VirtuScreen, trying (and failing most of the time) to get published. Today was a Thursday. I was anxiously waiting for news on my entry.
“Mom, did you get any Neomail?” I’d ask about five times a day. Mom would shake her head, causing stray locks of auburn hair to scatter over her face.
“Be patient, okay? And...” She slowed down, sounding reluctant to say this. “Don’t feel offended, but there’s a good chance you won’t get in. Don’t feel bad if you’re rejected. I mean, I must have entered a good eighteen times before I got into the Art Gallery.”
I nodded. “I see what you mean. I’ll try not to feel bad. I mean, it is just my first try.” That was a lie, of course. I didn’t like it when people said, “No.” I tried not to think of what I’d do upon being rejected.
“OOH!! COME HERE!!!” I hollered abruptly at a Weewoo whizzing toward our front door. I whipped my head away from the window and dashed toward the front door. I flung it open and grabbed the Weewoo, ignoring its shriek.
I practically ripped the Neomail out of the poor petpet’s clutches. I skimmed the Neomail and tried not to show my feelings as I read it. This would be a surprise.
“Mom,” I said excitedly, “there’s another Weewoo coming here.” I pointed out the window and let the other Weewoo in. This time, I spared the poor thing and waited for it to drop its brown package in my paws. “This contains a thousand Neopoints and a trophy.”
Within seconds, my mom put it together. “You got in?!”
I nodded excitedly. “I GOT INTO THE NEOPIAN TIMES!!!” I ripped the package open and held up my gleaming gold trophy triumphantly.
“What?!” cried my brothers at the same time. They clambered down the stairs.
“You got in?”
My family practically squeezed the breath out of me with their embrace.
I’d found it. Writing was what I was good at. It was my talent, my passion... I’d found my calling.