The Perfect Poem
Author's Note: This is the sequel to ‘Poetry for Avaio’. You’d probably understand more of the story if you read it. Thanks! :)
P.S. Avaio NEVER got entered into the poetry gallery. One, he’s a neopet. Two, I’ve never won myself, but I want to! :)
* * * *
I opened the door to my brother’s room. A huge stack of books collapsed on top of me. I thrashed around, kicking the books off me.
“KNOWLEDGE IS ATTACKING ME!” I screamed at the top of my lungs.
“Draunt, shut up!” Avaio hissed. “What do you want?”
“You’re late for lunch,” I grunted, heaving myself to my feet. “and this is just my opinion, but, you probably have more books in here than a library!”
“I’ll sort it out later,” Avaio murmured, flipping a page of an old book. “I’ll be down in a while.”
“It’s been weeks! Haven’t you found the perfect idea yet?” I groaned, exasperated.
“Poetry can’t be rushed,” Avaio explained. “Just like art. Poetry is art, in a way.”
“Well, you know what?” I said irritably, jerking his chair away from the desk towards me. I widened my eyes seriously. “King Skarl is a Skeith.”
“Yeah, I kinda knew that already,” Avaio said nervously, scooting his chair away.
In case you didn’t know, I am the King of Randomness. There are many random users and neopets out there, but none as random as me. Or so I think. I dunno.
“Okay, fine.” Avaio sighed, putting in his book mark. “Let’s go downstairs for lunch.”
* * * *
“Avaio, you’re using up all our money on books,” Mable said worriedly. “You’ve got enough, I’m pretty sure. Or else we can’t go to Mystery Island this summer.”
“Yeah, really!” Love_Heart snapped. “You’ve got hundreds of books! Only for an idea for a stupid poem!”
“Well, we could sell them in the shop,” Avaio suggested. “We could make thousands!”
“Yeah, as if anyone would read a century old book,” I muttered quietly to myself.
“What’d you say?” Avaio asked.
“Oh, nothing,” I answered hastily. “Talking turkeys that dance in chocolate pudding taste like raspberry jam.”
There was a stunned silence. Mable cleared her throat after a while. “Riiiight, Draunt. Anyway, yeah, I think that’s a great idea, Avaio!”
“Well, if you put it that way,” Love_Heart agreed, taking one last bite of her sandwich.
“But I can’t just yet,” Avaio reminded us quickly. “I’m not done. I might reread a few, but I don’t know which ones yet.”
I noticed an unsettling flicker in his eyes. He gave Mable a half smile, and quickly turned his gaze to his egg salad in front of him. What was that flicker? Fear? Regret? I narrowed my eyes suspiciously, and took my plate to the sink.
* * * *
My bedroom door suddenly swung open, and light was clicked on. I winced and covered my eyes.
“What?!” I snarled, checking my clock. 11:54 pm. Avaio stood in the doorway, his eyes wide with panic.
“Draunt! I can’t find my books anywhere!” Avaio gasped, rushing over. “All of them! They’re all gone!”
“All of them?” I echoed, confused. “There’s hundreds of them. It’s hard to imagine they’re all gone... did you hear anything?”
“No!” Avaio shook his head. “Not a sound. When I came out of the bathroom after brushing my teeth, every single book was gone!”
“Wait, how long were you in the bathroom?” I asked.
“Not long,” Avaio answered in a shaky voice. “When I came out of my room, every book was accounted for. But when I came back, they were gone! Every single one of them, gone! All-”
“Okay! I get the point,” I groaned, rolling my eyes. “Chombies are a limited edition species. Go away...”
“No! You’ve got to help me!” Avaio’s voice was so thick with concern, you could spread it on toast. “Please, Draunt! I’m begging you!”
“Okay, okay!” I said in disgust. “It sounds like you’ve lost a million neopoints!”
I threw the covers off myself and followed him downstairs. Well, this certainly wasn’t a trick. Trust me, I could tell if Avaio was lying. He has no poker face, I tell you. He’s always holding back a snicker, or trying to hide a smile.
I quietly leapt down the last two stairs. Avaio seemed uncomfortable about my red eyes. Ghost Kougras like me had blood-red eyes. However, I’ve always wondered how Avaio can get around the house so well. He was a Maraquan Gelert, and had only his two front legs.
“They’re not anywhere!” Avaio moaned in dismay. “Where can you hide a hundred books in only a couple of minutes?”
“Er, Avaio?” I laughed nervously, opening a cupboard. “They might not be all together, you know...”
I pulled out a cybunny book. My friend Jangoe and I found it in Love_Heart’s room. But whoever could hide over a hundred books in a few minutes sure was crafty. Especially if they got away without anyone hearing!
“Oh great.” Avaio sighed deeply. “A treasure hunt! I hope you’re not too tired, Draunt-”
“Whoa, whoa, whoa!” I snapped angrily. “They’re not my books. This is not my problem. Who says I’m staying up all night?”
“Draunt, please,” Avaio begged, eyes desperate. “You’ve got to help me.”
* * * *
We checked that whole night. The only book we found was the cybunny one. We gave up around 3:47 am. Well, I did anyway. The next morning, Avaio shook me awake.
“Now what?” I complained. “You sure seem determined that I don’t get any rest around here!”
“I’ve checked every nook and cranny,” Avaio explained, “except for the shop.”
“So? Check there!” I growled, running out of patience. “Besides, it’s a Saturday! I want to sleep in.”
“Draunt, we have a mystery on our hands, and I need your help,” Avaio pleaded.
“Fine, but two things.” I sat up in bed, a cross expression on my face. “First of all, what do I get out of it?”
“Anything.” Avaio sighed. “Wait, how about a large pizza?”
“Sounds good.” I smiled. “And second of all... my tooth paste is mint flavored.”
“Heh, that’s... er, nice.” Avaio laughed nervously. “C’mon, let’s go check the shop.”
* * * *
I opened the shop door. It was a nice day out, a clear blue spring sky with a warm breeze. I loved Neopia Central. The stores were close, the food was great, and-
“My books!” Avaio screeched, yanking me back to earth. “They’re on all the shelves!”
The Maraquan Gelert scrambled up from behind me and dove for a shelf. He grabbed one of his books, and read the price tag. “100 neopoints? It’s worth way more than that!”
Love_Heart and Mable came out from the back. Mable had a clipboard in hand. There were many customers looking through the books.
“Avaio, the sales are through the roof!” the starry Acara exclaimed, checking the clipboard. “Everyone wants some of your books, you know. You’re making many Neopians smarter!”
“Not to mention that you’re cleaning out your room!” Love_Heart giggled. “It’s a good cause for everyone!”
“Yeah, but not me!” Avaio snapped. “I told you I wasn’t ready to give them up yet! I wasn’t even done with some of them.”
“Cheer up, Avaio!” I slapped him playfully on the shoulder. “Flying birthday cakes all around!”
That's me, the King of Randomness, to settle the atmosphere. Avaio gave us a half smile. Then, his eyes lit up. He shook me off, and gasped excitedly.
“That’s it!” he exclaimed. “the idea for my poem! I have to get back home, quick!”
Without another word, as fast as he could, Avaio dragged himself home. A yellow Meerca approached, with one of Avaio’s Lupe books in his hands.
“Excuse me, ma’am,” he asked Mable timidly, “how much is this?”
“Oh, right this way.” Mable smiled down on him, leading the Meerca to the front table.
“And another thing, how’d you get all the books out of the house, down the street, to our shop in less than ten minutes?” I asked Love_Heart. “And without anyone hearing you?”
“Well, Mable and I got some of our friends.” Love_Heart shrugged. “We wanted to surprise Avaio.”
“If you knew him well enough, you’d know he’d be upset,” I sighed, shaking my head.
As I walked home, I wondered. What was Avaio’s idea?
* * * *
“So, he’s been in there how long?” Jangoe said in disbelief.
“I know, he rarely ever comes out these two days.” I sighed, shaking my head. “Hey, how about we go into his room?”
“Sure,” Jangoe agreed, heaving himself lazily off my bed. He was a blue Skeith, and wore a red bandana around his eyes.
“Hey, Avaio?” I called out, opening the door.
“I’m done!” Avaio exclaimed. “Here, let me read you my poem:
Winners and losers
Are two different categories,
Everyone falls into one of them
But everyone has to tell their own stories.
I was saving up books
Selfishly for myself,
Though I was completely surprised
When I found them for sale on the shelf.
Then I thought of those who really needed them
And of those who wanted to learn more,
So I smiled happily
As they walked with them out the door.
Many are happy with my books
And my family got more money from each sale,
And so this summer at Mystery Island
We’ll give out postcards through the mail.”
“Hey, that one makes sense this time,” I pointed out mildly.
“Yeah, and it speaks of the truth,” Jangoe agreed. “But...”
“But what?” Avaio asked, his smiling slightly falling.
“Oh, no, it’s nothing!” I laughed, elbowing Jangoe on the arm. “You know what they say about honey garlic sauce!”
“I just need to send it in now!” Avaio smiled, laughing happily. “This one, and I’m almost positive, will get in!”
As Avaio rushed towards the stairs, I wished I could share his happiness. The judges at the poetry competition were tough. Would our two opinions really make a difference? Besides, I didn’t really like the poem myself, but hey, what could I do?
* * * *
It was dinner the next night. We were having a large pizza, just as Avaio promised. I took a delicious bite out of mine.
“I can’t wait to see if I got in!” Avaio exclaimed. He could hardly sit still after he came back. It was very annoying.
“Avaio, look at me,” I said seriously. Avaio looked into my eyes. I cleared my throat. And in a serious tone, I replied, “Look at me, and listen closely. The word put rhymes with soot.”
“Draunt!” Avaio groaned, pulling away.
“We made like, 30,000 neopoints!” Love_Heart added, through a mouthful of pizza.
“Swallow, then talk!” I laughed. That’s what she told me last time.
The fire Grarrl narrowed her eyes and swallowed. “Anyway, Avaio, now we get to go for a lot of shopping with the extra money!”
“And I got the perfect idea I wanted!” Avaio smiled proudly. “Hopefully it’ll get in!”
“I hope so,” I mumbled, drinking some of my milk. “You’ve been up there for the last ten years or so!”
But I really wanted him to win. That way he could play with me in the pool in the backyard. I missed that. But ever since he read his first poetry book, he was sucked right into the whole thing. Like slurping a drink through a straw. I cast a weary glance at him. I wanted the old Avaio back so bad.
* * * *
The next morning, after what seemed like hours of waiting, Avaio returned home. He had the biggest smile in Neopia on his face.
“I made it in!” he exclaimed, grabbing my arm. He danced around the room, laughing with happiness. “I made it! I really, really made it! Ha ha!”
“Yeah.” I smiled nervously, yanking my arm from his grasp. “That was really, really, really scary. Don’t do that ever again.”
“Er, sorry.” Avaio ducked him head in embarrassment.
“So, will you quit this whole poetry obsession?” I asked hopefully. And more glumly, I added, “Or will you go back to your room, and write more boring old poems?”
“Poems aren’t boring!” Avaio chuckled. “And I’ve only just begun!”
“But you already got in,” I pointed out pleadingly. “Oh please, Avaio. I want my old brother back. The one who was fun and didn’t make a huge fuss over poems. Can I have that brother back?”
Avaio stared hard at me for the longest time. I prayed silently that he would end this poetry madness. Avaio sighed and closed his eyes.
“Draunt, I can’t,” he sighed deeply. “now that I’ve finally made it into the poetry competition, I want to make more. It’s fun for me. I want to try new ideas.”
I shook my head. “So, in other words, I’m not getting my brother back?”
“Draunt, I’ll always be here,” Avaio reassured me.
“No, you won’t,” I went on, turning my back on him. “You’re gone. All you care about are your stupid poems.” And more angrily, I spat, “A brother isn’t someone who shuns himself from the rest of the family! A real brother cares for his family, and doesn’t focus all his attention on a hobby!”
I turned and left without waiting for a reply. I wanted him to think about it. Would he really consider my words? Or would he simply ignore them and resume his life’s work?
* * * *
I laid down on the sofa, watching the rain attack the window. I was bored out of my mind, and in this weather, Jangoe wasn’t able to come over. I could hear Mable and Love_Heart laughing over some joke upstairs in one of the bedrooms.
Love_Heart had a temper to match her blazing exterior, but underneath all that hot air, she was a real good friend. Mable was the head of the household. She was kind and caring and loved watching the stars. Mainly the reason why she was painted starry.
And Avaio was... I don’t know anymore. I sighed and pulled myself lazily away from the couch. I slumped onto the floor. After a while, I saw Avaio drag himself down the stairs.
“Oh great, what do you want?” I groaned.
“I wanted to play checkers.” Avaio smiled.
I sat up straight with joy. “You mean it?” More suspiciously, I added, “Or are you just doing this ‘cause you can’t think of anything to write right now?”
“Red or black?” Avaio answered back, grinning. “No, poems aren’t important to me anymore.”
“I’m black, like I always am!” I smiled.
For the first time in what seemed like years, I was racing up the stairs to Avaio’s room. Not to find him far off in his wanderings, but to play a favorite game. And not to find hundreds of books.
“You’re gonna lose!” I yelled as we entered the room.
“Not on your lifetime, pal!” Avaio chuckled, getting out the board.
“HONEY GARLIC SAUCE!” I screamed. That was my last random statement for this story; the story that truly made a difference in both of our lives.