Chase the Morning
A young orange Lutari with messy black hair sat on his bed, watching as his parents walked down the long driveway of their home in the suburbs of Neopia Central, suitcases in tow.
Mr. and Mrs. Colchester were leaving for some sort of business meeting. Roxton wasn't really sure; he had tuned them out once they had mentioned that they would be gone for several days. His parents were important pets, and were always departing for business trips and the like; often leaving their son at home under the watch of the neighbour's daughter – a chubby Lupe named Lucy who preferred to spend the time talking to her friends via instant-message-neomail.
Roxton waited until his parents were out of sight before reaching under his pillow to retrieve the book that he had been keeping there. It was an adventure book, full of stories about brave explorers and exotic lands. Roxton's parents didn't approve of him reading such books – they were convinced that he would grow up to become a successful business man like his father, Roxton Colchester the Second. However, there was little they could do to stop him from reading them – especially since they weren't even at home half of the time.
Home wasn't the only place where Roxton could read his adventure books. The library at the private school he went to was full of them, and Roxton would spend much of his time there reading them. He had found his own little corner in the library to read in, and would hide some of his favourite adventure books there. This served a dual purpose – others couldn't take them home to read them, and Roxton wouldn't have to waste precious reading time searching for them.
Having a reading spot did have its downfalls, though. His classmates had quickly found it, and would sometimes opt for spending their free time teasing Roxton rather than fooling around on the playground outside the school.
Today was a rainy day, and therefore the best day for the kids to tease Roxton. He had only been in his reading spot for five minutes before he heard footsteps approaching.
"Hey, dork," he heard one of his classmates, a shadow Acara, call out. "What are you reading today?" The Acara didn't wait for Roxton to answer, and simply snatched the book from his hands.
"I'm surprised he hasn't gone through the entire library already," one of the other kids said.
"Please give me my book back," Roxton said with a sigh, ignoring their comments. He was tired of their teasing, and wondered why they couldn't just find some other pet to pick on.
"Sure," the shadow Acara replied, holding the book so that it was just out of Roxton's reach. "On one condition," he added, smirking.
"And what would that be?" Roxton asked, crossing his arms over my chest.
"Do my math homework," the Acara replied, dropping his school bag to the ground at Roxton's feet. The bag landed with a loud thud.
His constant reading him the reputation of being a nerd, but Roxton didn't really care much about schoolwork. His parents expected him to do well in school, as most parents do, and while they didn't notice many of his accomplishments they certainly did notice his failures. If he couldn't even do his own math work at times, how in Neopia was he supposed to do his classmate's?
"I... I don't want to," Roxton stammered, and quickly blocked his face with his hands, fearing that the Acara might try to punch him or something for refusing to do what he asked.
The shadow Acara simply laughed. "I guess I'll be keeping this, then," he announced, unzipping his backpack and placing the book inside. He then slung his backpack over his shoulder, and gestured for his friends to follow him out of the library. "By the way," he said, turning back to Roxton, "I'm very forgetful, so it's not very likely that I'll return this on time. Since the book's taken out under your name, I suggest that you ask your mommy and daddy for some money to pay the overdue fee."
"If they haven't left him at home all by himself again," one of the Acara's friends added.
Roxton watched as the group walked away with his library book. He remained curled up in the library's chair until the school bell rang, wondering how he was supposed to ask his parents for the money. They weren't going to be very happy with him once he told them.
In his teen years, Roxton spent less time in the library, and more time out in the school yard with the rest of his peers. He had managed to ditch his old reputation by impressing his classmates with his sarcasm and wit.
His teachers, who had once tried their best to help the quiet, shy boy with the below average grades, had given up on him now that he seemed intent on disrupting their lesson in order to give his classmates a laugh. One of his favourite methods was to raise his hand during a lesson, and ask an arbitrary question that often had nothing to do with the topic.
"Yes, Mister Colchester?" his history teacher asked when he saw the Lutari's hand go up during the lesson that day.
"Why do Kikos float?" Roxton demanded to know, trying to keep a straight face as he did so. The classroom erupted in laughter, and the history teacher let out a frustrated sigh. The shadow Acara who had once spent his free time teasing Roxton leaned over, and gave him a high-four.
Roxton quickly learned that having friends meant having a place to stay when his parents left on business trips. Though he did feel bad for giving his teachers such a hard time, having friends was better than staying at home by himself, that was for sure.
Not that he didn't enjoy reading anymore. Roxton still enjoyed adventure books as much as his childhood self did. He used to fantasize about becoming an explorer, and exploring all of Neopia like the characters in his books. Now he wondered if he really could live out his fantasy. There would be no more need to impress his parents. He'd be able to meet new people, and see places outside of his neighbourhood.
He put his thoughts into action one morning. Roxton had finished school, and figured there was no better time to see the world than now. He packed a duffle bag with his belongings, maps, and books on the different lands in Neopia, as well as the birthday money he had saved up over the years. He had swapped his usual dress pants and sweater vest for cargo pants, hiking boots, and an explorer's jacket – complete with plenty of pockets for holding things.
He wrote a quick note to his parents, explaining what he was planning on doing, slung his duffle bag over his shoulder, and then climbed onto his bed to open his window. He clambered out of it, and dropped onto the ground below. It was a good thing he had a bedroom on the first story.
Roxton took one last look at his childhood home before setting out into the morning to chase his dreams. He hoped that his parents would check his bedroom once they had gotten back from their trip.