Mrs. Owen's First Day
Mrs. Owen sighed. After many long years, Neoschool was about to open. She had been looking forward to this job her whole life. Many years ago, when Neoschool was first announced, she had been chosen to be the grammar and language teacher. Her! Out of dozens of applicants, she had been the one chosen. It had been the happiest day of her life.
But due to miscellaneous reasons, Neoschool had been delayed. The plumbing wasn’t working, or there was an infestation of Scamanders, or there was a hostile takeover by Dr. Sloth... True, everything eventually was fixed, but with each delay, the first day of school had been pushed back even further...
The first few weeks had seemed like years. The contractors had said it would just be a few more days, but it never was. But while the building was delayed, people began to lose interest. After a few years, most people didn’t even know what Neoschool was.
But now Neoschool was opening. The first day of school was in just a few days. Mrs. Owen had expected it to never happen, but then again, she supposed that even teachers could be wrong.
After grabbing her favorite food, a Wormy Rotten Apple, for an afternoon snack, Mrs. Owen walked from her house to the School Supply Store in Neopia Central. The only thing that had been in the store for years had been dust, but with Neoschool opening, Mrs. Owen figured that she ought to get some supplies for herself.
“Ah, Mrs. Owen! I haven’t seen you in years,” said the shopkeeper, a blue Techo. “You’re the first person that’s come in here all day.”
“Really?” asked Mrs. Owen. “Why? With Neoschool opening, I would have thought there would have been a bunch of students in already.”
“Well, a few were in yesterday, but no, not really. I had expected more people to be in the store too, but... Anyway, may I ask why you have that rotten apple with you? There’s a trash can over there if you need it,” said the shopkeeper, pointing.
Mrs. Owen glared. She had gotten full marks on her glaring in teacher school. “Why do you think?” she asked. “It’s nutritious and delicious. The worm is an excellent source of protein, and the apple is a good source of vitamins and minerals.”
The shopkeeper gagged, saw Mrs. Owen’s glare, and looked at the floor. “Yes, of course... Sorry, Mrs. Owen. We have a special on Erasers of the Dark Faerie, if you’re interested...” he mumbled.
“All right then...”
An hour later, Mrs. Owen exited the store, clutching a bag of erasers, pens, pencils, and papers. As a language and grammar teacher, she used a lot of supplies, and took full advantage of her teacher discount.
But what about the news she had heard? Why was it that barely anyone had bought any supplies? Maybe no one really wanted to learn. After all, it had been years since Neoschool was first supposed to open. Since then, dozens of things had happened. The Battledome had become more popular, and many Neopians valued brawn over brains. Even writers for the Neopian Times, who believed that the pen was mightier than the sword, admitted that they’d still prefer to use a Battle Quill. Avatar collectors were too busy bothering that orange Blumaroo in Shenkuu to read books, and everyone on the Neoboards... well, they were too busy ‘lawling’ and ‘roffling’ and ‘ohemgeeing’ to worry about grammar. Did people really care about knowledge anymore?
It seemed like knowledge was no longer power. All anyone cared about was being the strongest, or the richest, or the best. People spent too much time playing games and not enough time reading.
Mrs. Owen spotted a group of kids playing Gormball.
“Hey, shouldn’t you kids be doing something?” asked Mrs. Owen.
“Roffle, like what?” asked one of the kids, a purple Blumaroo.
“I don’t know... like reading a book?”
“Lawls! Only nerds read books... and besides, books always disappear before you finish. How are you supposed to read like that?”
Mrs. Owen sighed. She supposed that no one really cared about knowledge anymore. Perhaps it wasn’t as glamorous to be a teacher as she had hoped. Oh, well... She still had more errands to do, so she headed over to the Book Shop.
“Why, hello, Mrs. Owen! What can I do for you today?” asked the shopkeeper, a blue Nimmo.
“Oh, just looking for a book. Do you have any in stock?” replied Mrs. Owen.
“Gosh, no! I just sold out. All those people just love getting books.”
“Really? I was just at the School Supply Store and the shopkeeper there said no one had been there since yesterday. I thought everyone forgot about Neoschool opening tomorrow.”
“Tomorrow, you say? Huh. It’s always busy here at the Book Shop.”
“Really? So it’s just a usual day?”
“Well, yes! Why wouldn’t it be? The students haven’t been assigned anything to read yet, have they?”
“No, no, they haven’t. I suppose that seems reasonable. Well, if you have no books, I’ll just go then. Thanks anyway!”
With all her errands done, Mrs. Owen went to the Neoschool to prepare for the first day. On the way in, she spotted an orange Yurble scowling.
“Sir, what’s wrong?” she asked.
The Yurble scowled at her. “It’s the first day of school tomorrow, and I have to clean this entire building by tomorrow! I shouldn’t have left my job in Altador for this... But at least this place doesn’t have pesky kids walking all over it every day...”
“You realize this is a school, right? That’s pretty much what a school is. Young pets come here, walk around, and learn.”
“Jelly! Really? Well, it shouldn’t be much of a problem. We’re the only ones that have been here all day. Everyone else must have forgotten all about it opening tomorrow.”
Mrs. Owen glared. “If you hate people walking around on your clean floors, then why did you become a janitor here?”
“I am not a janitor! I am a custodian. Which is totally different,” declared the Yurble.
“No, no, it’s not. The two mean the same thing.”
“Really? I wish there was Neoschool when I was growing up then...”
Mrs. Owen smiled. It looked like at least a few people realized the importance of a good education.
The next day, Mrs. Owen woke up and ate another wormy apple.
“Well, it’s the big day,” she told herself.
She walked to the Neoschool and was surprised to see that it was full of young pets. She walked to her classroom, which was full of pets as well.
Mrs. Owen walked to the front of the room and said, “Ahem! I am Mrs. Owen. I will be your teacher for this class, Grammar and Language. Now you all know me, but I don’t know any of you. Please introduce yourselves.”
A green Shoyru stood up. “Hi, I’m Byron. I collect avatars. I’m here because... well, King Hagan won’t give me his avatar because he says I’m not wise enough yet. Also, I’m having trouble with Math’s Nightmare, and...”
“That’s enough,” replied Mrs. Owen. “Next.”
A faerie Quiggle stood up next. “Hi everyone, I’m Melissa. I’m here because I need to be smarter for some of my Battledome equipment from Brightvale to work.”
After most of the students had introduced themselves, Mrs. Owen spotted a figure trying to hide in the back row.
“Mr. Janitor! What are you doing here?”
The orange Yurble stood up and said, “I am here to learn. Perhaps then I won’t be swindled into taking jobs like this one. Not that it’s a bad job, of course. Kids, just remember to wipe your shoes before you come in!”
Mrs. Owen smiled. It was going to be a good year.