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Retirement


by jockylocky

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Writing for the Neopian Times is a wonderful job, and I'm not being biased here. I've worked many jobs, being a shopkeeper, a librarian, and even a bell hop for the Neolodge. Those were just tiring jobs I never really enjoyed. But writing, writing was my specialty. To escape the hardships of life and to dive in a brand new world was exhilarating, to say the least. Whatever I was writing, be it a diver searching for ancient artifacts in Old Maraqua, or a stranded Acara lost within the sands of the Lost Desert, I felt like I belonged there. It was my home and sanctuary. I had to sadly leave each world as I wrote "The End" on each and every story, but I never left empty handed. I gained experience, and lessons only life can teach you.

     Of course, the Neopian Times isn't always writing short stories. There are a bunch of experts on Neopia who work hard to complete the editorial and answer as much questions as possible, and artists who draw all the comics, as well as article writers to help and inform average people, such as writing a top ten list of the most rare items, or a guide to that newly released game that got everybody talking. It's not easy, writing or drawing, but it's fun and we all love it here.

     However, sometimes you can get a severe case of writer's block, and you spend all day trying to think of something to write. Just like me right now, really. Hopefully I can think of something soon...

     ***

     "Nova?"

     I turned my head from my cubicle and looked around, and right behind me was my friend, Mayela. She was a pink Kacheek, and loved her color. She absolutely without a doubt, loved pink. Which always made me smile for whatever reason, it was cool. So it wasn't really surprising when she was wearing a dark pink T-shirt with a heart on it. It was basically what she wore every day. "Oh hey!" I responded happily.

     "Hi," Mayela said in her sweet soft voice. "How are you, Mr. Shadow Draik?"

     I smiled. "I'm fine, what about you?"

      "I'm doing great! Although I have a question for you. Do you still have the book called The Yooyu? I need it for my article I'm writing."

     "Certainly! Um, let's see, it's around here somewhere..." I leaned under my desk a bit to grab my briefcase. After ruffling around a few papers inside, I found the gold colored book.

     She took the book from my black hand, and smiled sweetly. "Thanks, Nova!"

     I watched her as she left for her desk across the room, and then picked up my quill and paper. Still nothing. My mind was drawing a complete blank, as if it was on a hibernate setting. I decided to pick up an old issue of the Neopian Times that I had lying around my small cubicle, and read some of the stories. Reading sometimes helps my inspiration a little bit, but not always. I looked at the authors who wrote the stories and got a bit sad, since they had left the Neopian Times a long time ago. Stoneman, Nina, Sia, and how many more. We all had good memories together, but I guess everyone has to go at some point.

     I then realized my stomach was acting up, perhaps from that Bacon and Cheese Hot Dog I had at the Hubert's Hot Dogs yesterday afternoon. It was delicious, but that type of cheese my stomach can't take, or so I found out over the years.

     I grabbed my briefcase from under my desk, and packed it up with my belongings. I was having an off day since I woke up that morning, I might as well leave and try to salvage what little potential the day had left and I certainly wasn't going to make the most of it at work.

     As I left my desk and headed to my boss's office, I noticed the whole crew working hard. All my friends and coworkers, Carrie, Patjade, Craig, Komori and a whole lot more, were working hard trying to make the next few issues of the Neopian Times possible. No one really knew how much work it was, but we all enjoyed it.

     I came to a large brown wooden door, with the word 'EDITOR' in gold plated lettering. This was it, where our pieces we submitted ended up, either to get a held over or an acceptance, or an unfortunate rejection and thus, we have to re-do it. Everyone loved the feeling of getting a response soon, even though it was our living, and getting a held over was almost a sure sign of acceptance.

     My stomach felt like it kicked me or something, and it was a sharp pain. I wasn't very happy, so I just knocked twice on the door and immediately came in when I heard the words 'come on in'.

     I noticed the room was just stacked with papers, and three bins titled 'Accepted', 'Held Over' and 'Rejected'. Not sure if it was very efficient, since a paper could easily fall into one of the bins or get misplaced easily, but I haven't heard of many screw ups so far. The editor was very efficient.

     The end of the room was a fairly large rectangular desk. A circular lamp brightened the nose of the baby Kougra, whose name was Droplet. She was too busy reading entries to look up at me, but that was in her nature. She was a very good editor - we've had two other editors in the past, and she has done her well excellently since she first arrived here.

     "Droplet?" I asked.

     She looked up briefly, then continued reading her paper. "Hello, Nova. May I help you?"

     "I ask permission to take a sick day for the rest of today. I'm not exactly feeling well currently."

     The Kougra got up from her chair and walked to a shelf where she grabbed two pieces of paper. After surveying one, she gave me the other which I recognized as a form. "Yep, you got three paid sick days left this year. Fill that form out tonight, and give it to me tomorrow please. And, well, I know you don't want to hear this now, but I'm going to need a short story by this Friday at the latest."

     I let out a short sigh, but I nodded. "Sure thing, Droplet. Thanks."

     "No problem, feel better soon!"

     After I left her office, I walked to the exit door with my briefcase in my hand. I noticed my best friend, Samantha, get up from her desk and walked toward me. She was a faerie Pteri, although it was almost as if she's a different color. Just the way the color was on her, it was indescribable. She was one hundred percent unique.

     "Hey hey! Long time no talk!"

     "Hey, Sam. How've ya been?" I said with a small smile.

     She nodded. "Good good, just catching up on some work. How are you? You don't look too great; your face is flushed."

     "Yeah, I just asked Droplet for a sick day. Not sure if it's going to be exactly peaceful, however; I need to get a short story done yet."

     Sam felt my forehead, and nodded. "Yeah, you need to go home. After work, I'll drop by and check up on you. You didn't have another Bacon and Cheese Hot Dog, did you?"

     "You certainly know me inside out," I laughed lightly.

     "Can't be friends with someone for four years and walk away with nothing."

     "Has it really been four years? Man, time has flown by." I shook my head; it seemed like I met this girl yesterday.

     "It certainly has," she said, a bit quieter. Then I heard her tap her foot on the marble flooring, and she was looking at the corner of her eye. Instinctively, I knew she had something to say that wasn't exactly easy to say aloud.

     "Listen, when I come by later, I'm going to need to talk to you. I know you're not feeling all that great, but it is rather important and I really don't think it can wait."

     "Uh, sure thing. Is everything all right?"

     "Yeah," Sam replied, albeit with a hint of hesitation. "Everything's fine."

     "Alright then, I'll see you later."

     "Yep, I'll see you around five."

     She then went back to her desk, and I headed out the office door and down the three flights of stairs. Once outside, the light illuminated my shadowed skin, making me look much lighter than I was. It was a beautiful day to say the least, and half of me died because I wanted to enjoy it. But it was either at home, or inside the office. At least at home I could lie down on a couch and look outside the window. It was what I often did anyhow; it was so soothing for me.

     After a long trip of walking, I made my way to 5154 Magical Road. My home at last. I unlocked the front door, and headed into my nice clean Neohome . The smell was nice and pleasant, not sure what it was, but it was just that 'home' scent. I got myself a glass of water, and lay down on my leather sofa. I tried not to think of work, but what Sam had to say when she came over was almost consuming my every thought. Every other one was about work and my story I had to write.

     Before I even knew it, Sam knocked on my door and I called out saying the door was unlocked, so she let herself in.

     "Hey, Nova. Feeling any better?"

     "Not really," I muttered.

     "Well, I brought you some Cream of Tchea Soup. It's your favorite, right?"

     I got off the couch and into the kitchen where she was. The strong scent reached my nostrils and it was heavenly. "That's an understatement."

     Sam gave me the soup, and I gestured to her to come into the living room. We both sat down next to each other, and there was a bit of an awkward silence. Then she finally spoke.

     "You're probably wondering what I need to talk to you about, so I'll get to the point."

     I nodded, and she continued.

     "I've been with the Neopian Times for nearly five years now, as you know. I've enjoyed every success, obstacle, and failure I've seen, and I would do it all over again if I had the chance. That's even how we met, through this newspaper. I can't believe how we became such close friends, and I'm not exactly sure how I would've gotten through the things I did without you. You were with me every step of the way, and it meant so much to me that you have no idea."

     By this time, I was smiling so hard my cheeks hurt. I knew I could say the exact same thing about her, and I have throughout our friendship.

     "But now," she carried on, "I think my time is up. I think it's time for me to move on, so next week, I'm retiring from the Neopian Times."

     I stared blankly at her, not sure how to react. I always thought she'd be the one writing until the day she'd well, you know, pass on. But.. retire? Already? I felt I was in a dream. It couldn't be happening, no way. "I don't know what to say, Sam."

     "I know, I've been thinking about it for a while now, trying to think it was just a phase of mind and it would pass. But I'm not retiring from writing at all, though, just the newspaper."

     I felt a small surge of relief pass through me. "So what are you going to do then?"

     "Well, here's the next big blow: I'm going to be moving from Neopia Central."

     My jaw dropped instantly.

     "To Mystery Island, to be precise. I like it here, but... I never thought it was exactly for me. To be truthful, the only reason why I moved here from Meridell was to work here. But two summers ago, when I took that vacation to Mystery Island, I felt like it was home to me. The tribes, the archaeological feel of Geraptiku, everything made me feel so alive and young. I truly think it's the place for me to stretch my wings and soar - both literal and metaphorical."

     "Wow," was all I could say.

     "I know it's a lot to take in, and I feel really bad for dropping this all on you at the moment, but I don't think it could wait another moment. I wanted to tell you a long time ago, but I was really unsure."

     I nodded, but I was still dumbfounded. How could I not see this coming? We were friends, I should've sensed something like this coming, but I guess not. "So uh, what are you going to do out there in Mystery Island?"

     "I'm going to be writing children's books for baby Neopets, at least that's what I'm hoping to do. Most likely mystery books that involve saving kidnapped petpets."

     "That's definitely right up your alley, isn't it?"

     She smiled. "Yes, yes it is."

     "You're moving. You're moving away. Far, far, far away from here..."

     "Yeah, but we'll still keep in contact! Through Neomail, and we can visit each other every so often. I really don't want our friendship to fade; that's the last thing I want to happen."

     "Same here. I don't think I could afford to lose you, Sam, I really don't." A small tear ran down my cheek, and she wiped it off with her wing. "When do you move?"

     "Tenth day of Relaxing, so that's a little less than a month."

     "Less than a month," I repeated quietly. "If you need help packing or moving in, I'll be glad to help."

     "Thanks, I'm quite sure I could use it."

     We just sat there, quietly. Then it was like we read each others' minds, and we embraced in a hug. It was hard, knowing your best friend was going to live an ocean away. But yet, we both knew it was going to be alright. She was going to live out her dream, and that was what I wanted for her.

     ***

     Time had passed, and Sam had successfully moved into her house on Island Crescent. It had a beautiful view of the ocean; I was more than a bit envious. Fortunately I was able to get some time off work, and was able to help her move inside. But once all that was done, and we had to say our goodbyes, it was almost too much to handle. It was bittersweet, but we had to do it. I always stuck by Sam, no matter what her decision, and whatever she wanted to do in her life was what I wanted her to do.

     We neomail each other nearly every day, and we visit once a month. She even fulfilled her dream of writing a children's mystery book series, titled The Petpet Detectives. Each book is a bestseller, and I'm very proud of her. She was even talking about a book tour, which I'm sure will be largely successful.

     It was very tough to watch my friend move away, almost too hard at times, but I stuck by her side every step of the way. And that's what friendship is all about.

The End

 
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