Slippery Soup: Part Four
The sunlight slowly peeked in and licked me awake. I slowly got myself up and thought about what the day ahead would bring. Yesterday's failure with the soup still lingered in my thoughts. What I feared even more was repeating history again today. Then I remembered Fyora's advice. I needed to get help, but from where? Before I knew it, I was out the door on the way to the Neopian Hospital to visit Srelena, the Soup Faerie.
"May I visit Srelena today?" I asked the Lenny at the front desk.
"Please pardon me, miss, I've got to look at the schedule. She could be in an operation or napping," replied the Lenny.
The Lenny thumbed through a filing cabinet and pulled out Srelena's file.
"Hmm... it appears that she is open for visitation currently. Go right on upstairs to room 211 and knock. Oh and take this paper with you; it authorizes your visit. Just show this to the nurse on duty upstairs."
The nurse on duty showed me Srelena's room after I showed her the papers. The Soup Faerie was now in a walker, trying to exercise the previously immobilized hip joint.
"Hello, how are the soups coming along? I hope my recipes are clear enough," the Soup Faerie greeted me.
"Oh um... not so well. Your recipes are clear, but I just made a mistake last night and now all the neopets know that I'm horrible at soup-making."
"It's a long story."
"That's okay, I have plenty of time. I don't have any place to be right now."
I sighed. "Well, I guess I did not read your recipe carefully and decided to hurry along the process. I didn't properly desiccate the bagguss and I also didn't follow the instructions regarding the fruits and vegetables... it was just horrible. And then this Wocky pointed out it was horrible and that made it worse. Now the whole Neopia Central knows I'm a failure."
"Aww, there is no need to despair. When I first took up the job, I had a lot of struggles too. I actually had to start from scratch, experimenting with different flavors. Unfortunately, some of those experiments were rather catastrophic for the taste buds. There were several days where Neopets did not show up at my doorstep because one of my experiments went terribly wrong and well, I was left with a cauldron of sludge that nobody, not even I, would go near. Why don't we go for stroll outside and I'll tell you everything on my mind about soups?"
"Aren't you hurt, though? Shouldn't you be resting?"
"Nonsense, the doctors want me to move it now that it can move. I have this walker and my wings are also recovering."
"I see. Well, I guess we can have a little stroll then. After all, I'm going to need all the help I'm going to get."
"Where are you going?" the nurse on duty asked me.
"May I take her for a stroll outside?"
"Well... she definitely should move the hip or it'll atrophy from non-use. I suppose it'll be alright. Take good care of her."
"I will. At least that's not as difficult as making soup."
We exited out the back doors of the Neopian hospital into the gardens of Neopia Central. Srelena gripped her walker tightly and took a long stride forward. Slowly but steadily, she walked on.
"Where were we at? Oh yes, the sludge. Well, I realized that it was because I had burned the bagguss a bit while I was desiccating it. So I adjusted the recipe and pretty soon, the Neopets came back. They must have smelled something good on that day. I felt horrible, though. Those Neopets must have starved while I was only cooking sludge."
"How did you deal with that horrible feeling?"
"Well, I did have a nervous breakdown. Apparently Fyora knew I was in trouble and came down to see what was going on. She saw a kitchen with pots and pans all over the place and the sludge spilled on the floor. I was so upset that I wasn't paying attention to the cauldron and it boiled over in sludge."
"Didn't you want to be independent, though? I'm sure Fyora meant well but don't you think sometimes she gets in the way with her stubborn willingness and persistence? I mean sometimes I feel pestered."
"Wow, that's a bit harsh, especially for the queen. However, I'm sure she wouldn't mind if she heard that comment. She gets that a lot. I guess in those situations, it's best to just tell Fyora how you feel. I was desperate for any sort of help, though, so Fyora coming down was like a miracle. She helped me clean up the place and left a few recipes. I used those recipes as a launchpad into the world of creating other soups."
"Well, she came down to see what I was up to also. She left a bottle of her faerie dust in the kitchen as a line of communication. I was angry and upset that I didn't even want to speak to her so I threw the bottle and it shattered and Fyora left a few harsh words of wisdom before leaving."
"Hmm... sounds like you were just rightfully upset. However, I think you owe Fyora an apology."
"Oh, and I also yelled at Hubert; his hot dog stand is down the street and he heard the commotion at my doorstep. He offered some tips too and I sort of just shooed him away."
"I see that taking up this job was important to you and you were unwilling to accept failure. Fair enough."
Just then, Hubert pushed his cart nearby.
"Hey, still needin' some help with that new job of yours?" he asked.
"Actually I think I might be able to use some assistance."
"Ah... I see... you're learning well. And... Srelena... I thought you were still in the hospital."
"Oh the doctor said I needed to exercise this hip," Srelena replied.
"Alright, well, I'll be over in the afternoon to help you... Miss... might I ask your name... air faerie?"
"I will see you in the afternoon, Miss Alysanne," Hubert replied with a bow.
"We should probably get back, Srelena. It's almost noon," I said, looking at the clock tower at the center of Neopia Central.
I helped the Soup Faerie back to the hospital and into her room where doctors were ready to examine the hip.
"Hmm... it appears that it is safe to apply more weight to the hip now. I'd say in about two days, you should be ready and walking without that walker," commented one doctor.
"I wouldn't return to soup making that soon, though. You do stand for awfully a long time when cooking. I'm not sure your hip is ready for that much pressure yet," another doctor said.
"That's quite alright; my apprentice outside the door will handle everything. She messed up once but I just have this feeling that today will bring her success," replied Srelena confidently.
I suddenly remembered that I was quite hungry. I didn't eat breakfast and it was almost noon. I ran outside to look for the giant hot dog that Hubert always carted around and saw it near the Soup Faerie's house again. Hungrily, I made my way towards the large hot dog stand. Nearing the stand, I could smell and hear the hot dogs sizzling on the hot grill.
"Hot dogs! Hot dogs! Get 'em while they are hot!" shouted Hubert.
"Excuse me, I'd like a chili hot dog and a Neocola," I asked.
"Well, if it isn't Miss Alysanne. You look awfully hungry. Here's your order. Hot and fresh."
In about a minute, I had gobbled down the chili hot dog and chugged down the Neocola. I sat there and watched Hubert as he grilled the hot dogs with skill and mixed the different sauces for different flavors. Then came the strangest thing. Hubert put a banana and a batch of spinach on the grill.
"What are you doing? That's not a hot dog!" I exclaimed.
"No, it's just my creativity. Vegetarians need to eat too, you know. And besides, Banana and Spinach Hot Dogs are popular menu items. They are... WHOA!"
Hubert quickly took out a squirt bottle and put the small fire out. A burnt hot dog was the end result.
"You can't really take your eyes off at any moment. If you do, you might make a mistake. Believe it or not, cooking does take some degree of focus. Without focus, you end up with something undesirable." He pitched the burnt hot dog into the waste barrel.
After an hour of being mesmerized by the Hot Dog Hero, I finally went into Srelena's house to get ready for dinner. This time, I was determined to get it right. I got out the same recipe when a knock came at the door.
"Thought I'd drop by and help," said Hubert.
"Come on in. I'm trying to fix what happened yesterday."
"Ah, I see, what soup were you trying to make anyway, that was so difficult?"
"Tchea Fruit Soup... and no, it wasn't difficult. Like you said, I lost focus and never gained it back."
"Well, let's see here. Let me read this."
5 chopped and skinned Tchea Fruits
1 chopped and desiccated bagguss
4 cups of brown sauce
3 Cheops berries, no stalk
1 Ummagine Core
1. Fill the cauldron three-fourths full of cold water and bring to a boil.
2. Add the chopped and skinned Tchea Fruits one by one, counting exactly sixty seconds between adding each fruit. It is imperative that exactly sixty seconds pass.
3. To desiccate the bagguss, poke it with a stick and bring close to the flame under the cauldron but do not touch the flame or you'll end up with a damaged bagguss. Add this as soon as it is finished desiccating and ONLY after you have added the five Tchea Fruits.
4. Slowly add the brown sauce while stirring the soup for about ten minutes. Adding it too quickly will result in an imbalance of flavor.
5. Shave an ummagine down to the core. Do not add any of the flesh into the soup. It will completely throw off the flavor.
6. Put out the flame under the cauldron completely. Then add the three cheops berries without the stalks. Make sure they are chopped completely. Let stand for five minutes and then serve immediately.
"Did you skin the Tchea Fruits? Good. I will watch the clock. The water is boiling," Hubert said.
"Alright, I'm adding the first one."
Hubert then counted off sixty seconds.
"Adding the next one!"
This continued until all fruits were added exactly at the right moment.
"Alright, you've got the... yes, you do have the bagguss. Put it to the flame gently, that's it... steady... take it out now and chop it up."
I sliced the bagguss carefully and dumped it into the soup.
"The brown sauce... slowly adding it now, Hubert... and stirring."
"You've got the hang of this now."
"Alright, I've removed the core from the ummagine and I'm adding it now. Get ready to blow out the fire, Hubert."
*whoosh* The fire went out.
"Quick! Cheops berries with no stalk... no stalk, I said! Whew... that was close!"
"Thanks, Hubert, you saved me there."
"No problem, ma'am, just doing my job."
The doorbell rang and several Neopets came in.
"Wow! It smells good in here. Wasn't it just yesterday when you messed up the soup?"
"Well... I learned a few things. I wasn't focused last night and I thought I could do everything on my own but I couldn't. Today, I realized that I did need help and I was not afraid to ask for help. Hubert was kind enough to lend a hand."
"Ahh... I see. Will you be here long?"
"Only for a few more days I suppose."
I turned around and saw Hubert gone. He had gone back to take care of his dinner shift of hot dogs. The Neopets streamed in, this time leaving with smiles on their faces and food in their stomachs, good food, proper food, delicious food.
A few days later, the Soup Faerie returned and so did Fyora, to pick me up and transport me back to Faerieland. Fyora arrived early in the morning, before Srelena checked out of the hospital.
"Well, how are we doing today, Alysanne?" Fyora asked.
"I'm doing great. How are you? What brings you back to Neopia Central?"
"I'm doing splendid. I'm here to transport you back to Faerieland, of course."
"Isn't the Soup Faerie still in the hospital, though?"
"Didn't you know? She's checking out this morning and will be headed out soon. Here, I'll help you pack."
A queen helping a subordinate faerie pack? That seemed unheard of.
"No, no, no, Fyora, I'll do it myself."
"Well, aren't you quite the stubborn one, wanting to do everything yourself."
Suddenly I remembered what I had done to Fyora.
"I'm sorry, Fyora, I shouldn't have lost my patience with you. You are the queen; I should have listened to you," I said.
"Oh... it's alright, really. You didn't hurt me. Well... I take that back... I worried about you, Alysanne. I really did want to help you out of your mess, but I guess you didn't. Somehow, though, I knew things would be alright in the end. Now let's get packed."
I went upstairs, threw all my clothing into the suitcase.
"I'll carry that," Fyora offered.
"Oh no, I'll carry it."
"No, I'm carrying it and that's that," Fyora shot back fiercely.
The kitchen was clean and orderly; it looked the same as when we first arrived.
"Who cleaned all this up?"
"I did... with a wave of my scepter, so I didn't really do any back breaking work."
Fyora and I went outside to Fyora's cloud racer. I got in, and Fyora loaded the suitcase into the back. We were about to fly off when we heard some shouting.
"No flight! We are not ready for flight! Disengage your vehicle!" came a familiar voice.
"What is going on?! I'm the Queen of Faerieland, for goodness sakes. They can't ground... oh, it's Srelena!"
"Just who do you think you are? Taking away my apprentice like that!" Srelena exclaimed.
"Your apprentice? What are you talking about? She's one of my secretaries," Fyora replied.
"Not anymore, she's not. I would love a helping hand around the kitchen though. She's skilled enough, that's for sure. I'm sure she's up to the challenge too."
"But I need her just as much as you do."
"No, you don't; your employment agency could just hire another secretary. However, a faerie with skills like Alysanne's is hard to come by."
"Hey now, Srelena, you've forgotten that I am the queen. You can't tell me what to do."
"No, but that was just a 'suggestion'." The Soup Faerie winked.
"Alright alright! Alysanne, if you do agree to this, I will allow you to quit your secretary job and be the Soup Faerie's assistant. It is up to you. I won't be upset if you want to leave."
"Oh, that would be wonderful! I want to help you, Srelena!"
"Alright, I guess I came all the way for nothing... only to see a young faerie grow up. That's all." She sniffed a bit. "Goodbye, Alysanne, goodbye, Srelena. Continue to persevere in your mission of feeding Neopia!"
With that, I stepped off the racer with my suitcase and Fyora zoomed off into the air. On top of my suitcase was another bottle of Fyora's faerie dust. This time, the bottle was made of plastic with the label "DO NOT THROW". I smiled and looked up at the large cloud that was slowly floating away. Fyora would always be there for me, and so would the Soup Faerie, as long as she doesn't slip and fall again. Perhaps I was also sent to protect the Soup Faerie.
"Looking for something?" Srelena asked.
"No, just staring at Faerieland."
"Oh... well, it's time for breakfast anyway."
I go into the house where Srelena was already cooking... or was she experimenting? I couldn't tell, she didn't use a recipe book. Suddenly, something didn't seem right.
"NO, that's a fresh bagguss, don't!"
But it was too late; Srelena had created a bucket of sludge again.
"Oops... maybe you should cook today, Alysanne. The doctor did say to stay off the hip for a few more days. I can't focus with a bad hip."
I laughed, dumped out the sludge, and got out the recipe book.