Wally and the 800th
"The 800th Edition, Wally! Can you believe it
The small Weewoo, affectionately named Wally, chirped excitedly and flew around the small Neohome, imaging himself delivering the highly anticipated Neopian Times edition, wearing that coveted blue postal cap. Even more so he wanted his owner, a petite, shy Acara named Belle, to have one of her stories featured. She wrote often, and her talent was unparalleled in Wally’s eyes; but she was fearful of rejection, and kept these stories locked away in her desk.
She patted his head and laughed at his antics. "Maybe one day I’ll have a story in there," she said, suddenly growing quiet. "Maybe one day I’ll be good enough."
Wally nipped at her finger, angrily reminding her of how talented he believed her to be. She made a face, sticking her tongue out. "Just because one Weewoo thinks I’m good doesn’t make me Neopian Times worthy! Especially not 800th Edition worthy."
Belle turned off the lamp and went to bed, leaving Wally alone in the dark to think about this situation. Belle deserved to be featured as an author—no, she HAD to be featured as an author. She had been working too hard to have this opportunity pass her by. There had to be a way for Wally to help her out … but how?
As he began to settle into his perch, he noticed moonlight from the window illuminating her desk. Peering over his shoulder to ensure Belle was asleep (or at least preoccupied), he hopped over and, careful to avoid making noise, tapped the desk drawer with his beak.
Amazingly, the drawer popped open, revealing all of Belle’s writing.
He had a plan, and knowing that, he slept very well.
The next morning, Belle awoke to the drawers in her desk all opened and a note left near the lamp. As she read it, she felt a mixture of anger, surprise, awe, and joy. In extremely scribbled, very poor writing, the note said, "You in 800."
Wally breathed in the fresh air with a renewed sense of purpose. He had Belle’s manuscripts stuffed into his shoulder bag (a replica of the Weewoo Postman’s, a gift he received a few Christmases prior) and was ready to have her piece published. As he flew around the bustling city, he had only one thought on his mind: getting Belle her well-deserved time in the spotlight.
He had been by The Neopian Times Headquarters once or twice before, usually while out on a stroll with his beloved Acara. It was always bustling with activity, writers old and new alike going in and out of the office, dropping off their work at the hands of editors who poured over it, critiquing and inspecting … Wally wondered how many of these articles, stories, and comics that got submitted were rejected? How many were submitted on a daily basis? How many were submitted once, twice, even three times? Pushing aside the fluttering feeling in his chest, he continued on towards those intimidating glass doors.
The wait outside was longer than usual, as everyone was hyped up for the upcoming 800th Edition. Wally wasn’t the only one who decided this was the day for submissions. He chirped loudly, announcing his presence, and took his place in line behind a tall, lanky Draik.
The Draik turned and gave him a strange look. Wally ruffled his feathers and the Draik gasped, quickly reverting his glance and muttering something weird about petpets learning to write.
Wally, being a Weewoo, wasn’t able to make very good conversation, so he waited patiently, daydreaming about the look on Belle’s face when she saw her article on the front page of The Neopian Times. He truly wanted to show her how much he appreciated her, and how much he believed in her. He wanted her to start believing in herself too, and if having her name in the 800th Edition was the only way to achieve that, he was certainly going to try.
A few minutes passed and the line began to move. Wally was growing impatient, nerves starting to get to him as the thought of Belle’s writing getting rejected crept into his mind. Of course she wouldn’t get rejected! She had worked so long and so hard, she’d get accepted without incident.
Still, the thought lingered …
"All articles go in this pile, comics here, short stories and series go in these piles, and questions you have can be stated directly to me."
The Kougra smiled dully, staring hard at the Draik in front of Wally. The Draik nervously handed over his manuscript, placing it in the articles section. "It’s a very important piece," he said, tapping his nails against the desk. "I’ve been working on it for months you see, it’s about the changing weather conditions of Moltara, and I—"
"Thank you," the Kougra drawled, waving him away. The Draik swallowed hard and Wally saw the anxiety on his face as he passed. More nervous than ever, Wally hopped onto the desk and pulled the pieces of paper. The Kougra’s face fell.
"What is this?"
Wally chirped, annoyed. Could she not tell it was a story?
"Are these pages even ordered?"
Wally chirped again, with less confidence. He didn’t think about organizing these papers. In fact, he wasn’t even sure what he had grabbed. He nervously began shuffling the papers, attempting to get them in the right order. Although, his inability to read made it more difficult to get everything in order and a very large vein in the Kougra’s forehead began to make an appearance.
"Okay, just stop!" She shouted, waving her arms and shooing Wally away from the papers. "Listen. I get it, okay? I do. You want to be featured in the 800th Edition. Everyone and their mothers do. What you can’t be doing is getting a bunch of random pieces of paper together and expect … me … to … ORGANIZE THEM!! I’m not even going to get started on why a Weewoo is submitting work, but at this point I don’t really care. I’m up to my ears in submissions and I don’t even want to think about what those poor editors are going through right now … but this?" She held up the now-crumpled pieces of paper. "This won’t cut it. I’m sorry."
Wally began flapping his wings uncontrollably, screeching and pecking at the desk. This was the opposite of what he had planned—Belle? Unable to cut it, just because the pages weren’t organized?
"Calm down!" She grabbed Wally by his bag and put a finger to her mouth. "Quiet down for a second, okay? Listen. I’m not saying the story is bad. But I don’t see the story is the problem. Look—this page is from the middle of an article, this piece looks like comic ideas, and these four pages are the ending to a story. There’s nothing cohesive here. There’s nothing worth printing here … I’m sorry. Come back next week when things have calmed down, and I’ll … see about pushing your work through. Okay?"
Wally collapsed, heart racing. He lowered his head and cooed woefully, upset at how he let Belle down. A good heart mixed with a frazzled mind doesn’t always equal success. He winced as the Kougra patted his head. "There’s always the 850th, you know? Another milestone. Even getting one submission is a big accomplishment, and it doesn’t need to be in some silly overhyped edition, okay?"
He knew she was saying that make him feel better about his failed endeavor, but he merely slumped off the desk, leaving all of Belle’s papers with her.
The Kougra sighed, compiling all the pieces of paper together. She watched solemnly as the small Weewoo flew out the door, bag hanging sadly from his shoulders. She snapped her fingers at the next Neopian in line, the image of that poor little guy stuck in her mind.
The day the 800th Edition was released, Wally sat on his perch and stared out the window, face snuggled into his cushions, avoiding Belle’s appreciative pats. When he returned that day, she shouted at him for stealing her manuscripts ("You didn’t even get them all together! What are they going to do with random pages of a story?!") and punished him by taking away his Weewoo Postman plushie for a few days.
However, she came around and began to make hopeful statements in passing; when washing the dishes, she would murmur, "It wouldn’t be so bad if they liked my article and thought it would be nice for the 800th." She’d then smile at Wally and say, "That is, if they had the whole article!" She would chuckle and her eyes would sparkle, but the corners of her mouth would quickly drop and she’d resume washing the dishes in silence. He knew she didn’t purposely intent to make his guilt worse, but it was like pouring cold water onto his head. All he wanted was for Belle’s work to be noticed and celebrated, but instead he embarrassed her deeply and made a mockery of her name. Why didn’t he ever think things through? Belle had always taken care of him, made sure he was comfortable and happy, and when he tried to do the same, he did the complete opposite.
He wished there was a way he could apologize, but all he could do was show his remorse by isolating himself on his little perch near the window. He watched as all the Neopians outside danced around with the 800th Edition, reading funny comics and conversing on articles … he wondered if the skittish Draik in front of him got published, then quickly shook his head and figured he probably didn’t … that Kougra didn’t seem very interested in pushing his article through.
Suddenly there was a violently loud fury of knocking on the door. It scared Wally out of his dazed state and Belle came rushing from the back of the house and threw open the door. "What is it?!"
"Have you read the newest issue?" a familiar voice came from the front door. Curious, Wally hopped off his perch and flew to Belle, hiding behind her leg and peering out to see her good friend, Melanie, standing in the arch. He hopped over and cuddled against her leg, and the bespectacled Korbat gave him a half-hearted pat before going back to her excitement. "You have to read this, Belle!"
"I can’t, not now," Belle said, voice quiet. "I’ll read it later."
"No," Melanie asserted, thrusting the issue into Belle’s hand. "You have to read it NOW. Bye, Wally!" She leaned down and whispered, "Flip to the middle, okay?"
When Melanie left, Belle tossed the paper onto her desk and went back to her bedroom. Wally flew onto her desk and, using his beak, was able to flip to the section Melanie had told him to look. Eyes widening, he flipped it back to the front page, stuffed it into his bag, put it over his shoulder, and flew into Belle’s room.
"Hey, Wally," she said, sitting on her bed with a yoyo in her hand. "I’m not in the mood to go for a walk right now, okay? Can you please close the door?"
Wally hopped onto her bed and ruffled his feathers. He pulled the paper out and dropped it by her feet.
"No, I’m not in the mood to read," she said, less patience. "Put this back on the desk, okay?"
The Weewoo chirped impatiently, pecking at the edge of the paper.
"Be careful! Fine, I’ll flip through it, okay? I’m not in the mood to read anything though." She grabbed it roughly and thumbed through the pages. "There. Happy?"
He ruffled his feathers again. This time, he hopped onto her stomach and pecked her fingers. She rolled her eyes, but turned each page until she reached the middle and Wally stopped pecking.
"Okay, let’s see what this says. Hmm … ‘How To Make Big on Stocks’, really good one, Wally. You’ve outdone yourself. ‘Moltara Weather Conditions’. Interesting."
Wally chirped quietly, surprised. He wondered how excited that Draik must’ve been.
The Weewoo looked up at Belle, head tilted to the side. Her eyes were filled with tears and she murmured, "I made it."
He looked back at the paper, and right in front of his eyes were those beautiful words: ‘The Poetic Pieces of Belle Acaran’. He tweeted excitedly, hopping up and down, as Belle placed her hand over her mouth to stop her from sobbing. "You did it, Wally. You did it."
He shook his head and lightly pecked her fingers, signaling his response that it was all her hard work.
"Oh my goodness … Wally! Look at this! There’s a note at the bottom of the article. ‘Note: These pieces are excerpts from larger pieces we are proud to feature in the next editions of The Neopian Times. Moreover, we would like to request that the little white Weewoo, who worked so hard to get this work pushed through, would make a stop by The Neopian Times Headquarters to accept the Honorary Postman Award. Thank you.’ You did it too, Wally … a postman for The Neopian Times. Who would’ve thought this day would ever come?"
Wally snuggled into Belle, breathing slowly and feeling more safe and loved than ever. He closed his eyes as Belle began to pat his head, and whispered for only him to hear, "Happy 800th Edition, Wally."
He snuggled in closer, his mind swirling in crazy loops.
Happy 800th Edition.