Soup Faerie Appreciation Day
They were moving.
X and Nisha had discussed their future and came to the conclusion that it did not lay in Neopia Central. They did not want to begin their family in the hustle and bustle of N.C. So, the search for a new home began. It was easy to narrow down the choices. They had settled on Faerieland; it seemed the ideal place for a young family.
“You know, there is only one thing I’ll miss,” X said.
Nisha smiled, knowing exactly what the spotted Gelert meant. “The Soup Kitchen.”
X turned to look at the eventide Aisha, returning her warm smile. “It is where we met. I was practically raised there, you know. Without the Soup Faerie,” X grimaced, “who knows what would have happened to me.”
Nisha took a step forward, placing a hand on X’s forearm. They both owed much to faeries, which was why they were drawn to Faerieland. They wanted their future children raised in a place where such goodness was in evidence everywhere you looked. They knew they were making the right choice. Now, there was only one thing left to do.
They went to say goodbye.
X waited until the Soup Kitchen was closed for the evening. He knew full well how busy the place could be. There was always a rush during the meal hours. The Soup Faerie and her dedicated volunteers never had a moment to themselves then. It was a blur of motion and sound.
Not an ideal time for goodbyes.
As they approached the quaint soup pot shaped building in the fading light, walking past the empty picnic tables that held hungry Neopets, it suddenly felt unfamiliar to X. He wasn’t used to the quiet and stillness of a place usually full of life. He hesitated before the round wooden door, propped open during business hours. This was harder than he thought it would be. He was swamped with memories.
The spotted Gelert could remember the first day he had come to the Soup Kitchen: lost, alone and hungry. The Soup Faerie’s soup-he couldn’t remember the flavor-was really the best he had ever tasted. The Soup Faerie did not just fill the young Gelert’s belly. She had also helped to guide him in numerous areas. That was what had stayed with him over the years.
Even after X had no longer needed to eat there, he had returned as a volunteer. He had soon become the most dedicated, hard-working and passionate volunteer the Soup Faerie had ever had. Like her, he inspired others to be their best selves. He helped to keep the peace with the many hungry Neopets that came to the Kitchen, served soup, made supply runs, cleaned dirty dishes, counters and tables, and encouraged other more fortunate Neopians to give of their time and money to this worthy cause. Now, it was all coming to an end.
Without having to say a word, Nisha understood what X was feeling. She reached for his hand, squeezing it tightly. He squeezed back, glancing at her for a moment.
“Well, we can’t stay out here till dawn,” X said with a small smile before he pushed open the door.
The main room was bathed in shadow but the spotted Gelert and eventide Aisha walked confidently through it. The large kitchen in the back was well lit and this was where they found the Soup Faerie. Again, X felt a strange sensation, as if he were seeing the benevolent faerie for the first time. She was sitting on a stool, beautiful brown eyes tired, hands dry and cracked, hair loose around her face. If she weren’t a faerie, she would probably have wrinkly skin, gray hair and swollen ankles but she still did not have the elegance that most other faeries had.
The Soup Faerie was plain in looks in word and in deed. She often got overlooked for more glamorous faeries. Ask the average Neopian to name their favorite faerie and the Soup Faerie wouldn’t make it into the top five. Unlike Illusen, Taelia or Jhuidah, the Soup Faerie did not have questers lining up at her door or a loyal fan base or even her own special day. Yet, she worked tirelessly to help the poor and needy by feeding them delicious and nutritious soup.
As X and Nisha approached her, the Soup Faerie turned with her familiar warm smile to greet them. “You’ve come to say goodbye.”
X nodded his head, dark blue eyes sad. “Yeah, we have.”
“We will miss you but you’re making the right choice. Faerieland is always beautiful and you’ll be welcomed there. It will become your home sooner than you imagine.”
The spotted Gelert smiled, recognizing that the Soup Faerie was proud of him, who he had become. Yet, she would hardly take credit for it. She would say she had only fed him, nothing more. X disagreed but he never argued with her. Instead, he moved to hug the faerie.
“I’m going to miss you, too. I won’t forget you or what you taught me. I’ll come back to visit as often as I can,” X said, speaking in a rush before his voice cracked with his emotion.
“I know you’ll be fine,” the Soup Faerie said, pulling back to look at the Gelert she had seen mature from a helpless child to a competent adult.
X took a deep steadying breath, squeezing the Soup Faerie’s hands before he and Nisha left the Kitchen. They were walking hand in hand but hadn’t gotten very far until X stopped and spun to face Nisha.
“The Soup Faerie deserves more than what she’s getting,” X said, a gleam in his dark eyes.
Nisha could tell that this was important to X. “What are you thinking?”
Seeing that Nisha supported him meant a lot to X. They continued walking as he shook his head slowly. “I’m not really sure. I just know I want to do something for her. Something special. Big and just for her.” X suddenly laughed, beginning to get carried away with his thoughts. “I want everyone in Neopia to know about it. About her, rather. How truly deserving of recognition she is.”
“It sounds like a lot of planning. Too much for one Neopet to take on,” Nisha pointed out.
“Yes,” X conceded, “I had no intentions of doing this alone. I’m going to talk to Legend. He’s an expert event planner and has contacts all over Neopia. If anyone can help work it all out, he can.”
That week, X managed to travel to Meridell, where Legend made his home. Walking in the woodland Uni’s vast gardens was where the spotted Gelert shared his idea. Legend, used to working with bare bones in concepts helped flesh out what X wanted.
“How about a Soup Faerie Appreciation Day?” Legend suggested.
X nodded his head, beaming. “Yes! That would be awesome. How long would it take to pull together?”
“A month. I can get the flowers and food. I can get interest in it but you’ll have to contact anyone who would be interested in honoring her.”
“Of course. The big time donors. The other Neopets who, like me, got the help they needed thanks to her. I’m sure they’ll be willing to participate. I’ll also ask some of the current regulars if they’d like to contribute with handmade cards.”
They continued their walk, discussing plans. When they finished, X felt confident that Soup Faerie Appreciation Day would be a success. It would be a lot of work but it could be done. He wagged his tail just thinking about it. He couldn’t wait to get started.
Finally, the day arrived.
Needless to say, the entire thing had been kept secret from the Soup Faerie. So, she was none the wiser when X arrived early that morning. It had been the first time they had seen one another since he had said goodbye. She welcome him with a hug, all ready to begin the long work day ahead of her. Just as X had planned, he stopped the Soup Faerie in her tracks.
“Please, come with me. There’s something I’d like to show you,” X said, unable to keep from grinning.
Clearly perplexed, the Soup Faerie couldn’t help herself from smiling back at the Gelert. “Alright but only for a moment. I hate to keep anyone waiting.”
X linked his arm through the Soup Faerie’s and walked with her outside. The moment they did, a crowd of Neopets greeted them with a round of applause. A banner read Soup Faerie Appreciation Day. Two Neopets stepped forward, one with a bouquet of flowers and the other with a bundle of envelopes. Speechless, the Soup Faerie accepted these gifts.
X stepped back to face the faerie. “We’ve all gathered here today to honor you for everything you do so selflessly. With your dedication to feeding the poor and hungry, you’ve inspired and touched so many lives. So, thank you.”
The Soup Faerie could only shake her head, as if still denying what the young Gelert told her. Yet, it could not be denied. She sat at one of the outdoor tables and opened the envelopes. They contained cards that expressed what X had said and more. Neopets kept coming up to her, telling her how her work had helped them.
“Don’t worry. There are volunteers still feeding the hungry that come,” X murmured to the Soup Faerie as she sat idly for the first time in her life.
The faerie looked appreciatively at the spotted Gelert. She was beginning to relax and enjoy truly spending time with the Neopets that she had done so much for. She was starting to accept that her pure generosity had had an immense influence on those that came to the Soup Kitchen. She felt a warm glow to see all of the effects of her actions. It was amazing because she had never imagined that her passion for soup could blossom into all of this.
At the end of the day, the crowds had thinned and things were all packed up. Only X, Nisha and the Soup Faerie remained.
The faerie approached the Gelert. “Thank you, X. Working in my Kitchen, my goal is to feed the hungry. I didn’t know the ripple effect my actions would cause. Now I know.”
X wagged his tail. “Then I declare Soup Faerie Appreciation Day a success!”