This story is sad for me. Today I discovered that my favorite fanfiction writer isn't posting stories anymore. In fact, she deleted all of them and left the fandom... clearly unhappy. This... really made me sad. Her work inspired me to post my first ever story (Arnold Management with Dr. Bliss) and to keep writing. And whenever I'd feel like giving up on a story, I'd go and read her stuff and just sit in awe at how wonderful her stories were and how all of the emotions came through so clearly that during one of her works in particular, I was crying to hard I had to stop to recollect myself.
She will be greatly missed in this fandom. Some of the best fanfics I've ever seen were hers. I looked online for a good hour with no such luck as to finding her, because I only wish I could tell her how greatly she has inspired and impacted me as fanfiction writer. Even if she no longer wishes to be a part of this fandom.
Anyways, this story is based on that. It's just a little oneshot, and not nearly as good as anything she could have written I'm sure, but it is what I can give to express my thanks, even if she never sees it.
This ones for you.
***I don't own Hey Arnold!
***Let me know what you guys think
Something hurt me that day.
Some part of me ripped at the seams and fluttered to the ground like the page I carefully ripped from my textbook as I sat in my Science class. I stared ahead, my brow furrowed so tightly that my head began to pound; forcing a headache to ensue.
I wanted to FEEL the pain. FEEL how bad my heart was hurting. FEEL how ANGRY I felt for what they had done.
I wanted to KNOW what was happening inside my heart wasn't a fluke. It was REAL.
How. DARE. They.
"WHAT." I practically spit out at Mr. Nelson as his eyes widened, clearly taken aback at my tone.
"Could you... answer the question?"
"And why should I?" I retorted, crossing my arms and leaning backward against the chair's back rest.
"Helga..." Arnold whispered beside me, "what are you doing?"
I scoffed at his question and remained rooted in my spot.
"Because," Mr. Nelson quickly said, the tension tight in his throat as he stood up to my anger that was easily unleashed upon people like him. "this is MY classroom and you need to abide by MY rules, Miss Pataki."
Rolling my eyes, I leaned forward slightly and placed my palms lightly on the desk.
"Does it LOOK like I give a shi-"
"Out of my classroom." I stood up, grabbing my backpack and slinging it over my shoulder.
"And BUTT OUT, Arno-"
"OUT, Miss Pataki. NOW."
Bowing to his request, I stomped my way to the door; just barely hearing Mr. Nelson continue with his lesson while the attention of the class followed me out the door.
I had never been more mad.
I had never been so FURIOUS.
"How could you DO this? How could you... how could you just give UP?" I practically yelled in the hallway, chucking my backpack at a nearby red locker; it's door already dented from other infuriated teens I could only guess.
Simple, a voice rang in her head, It was time.
"No, it WASN'T." I muttered under my breath as I rested my head back against the wall I was leaning against now, having no idea how it was I had gotten to that spot in the first place.
Growing up, I had always adored the typical people you'd expect a budding writer to adore. Emily Dickinson, William Shakespeare, Edgar Allen Poe... Like I said... the expected.
And then... then there was Margaret Shimton. She knew how to tell a story.
I read her books so quickly, I sat for MONTHS awaiting the next book. Naturally, the moment it came out, I snatched it up and devoured it up, drooling for another piece of her perfect literary skills.
That woman was the reason I began to write.
Her poem books lined my bookshelf and her novels shadowed any other book without her name gracing the cover.
In her descriptions, you felt such a vivid taste of how her characters were feeling. Their pain... their turmoil and heartbreak. Their laughter and their joy all entwined with their hopes and dreams and wishes and fears. It was beautiful.
But more than that... it was REAL. It made the very idea of fiction... fiction. It had me angry, and sad and happy and ALIVE.
Through Margaret Shimpton's words, I learned about my OWN writing. And at the age of 7 began my first (poor) attempts at writing poetry.
Granted... I'd only just learned how to write, but I didn't give up. I would look back at her very first book and think to myself, "I could be that one day."
And with that... I would keep on going. I began to write better poems... with big words... words my classmates didn't even understand (except Phoebe that is). My poems became longer and tackled all kinds of varieties. Sonnets, Limericks, Free-Verse, you name it, I wrote it.
It wasn't until her first novel was published that I even BEGAN to consider writing a story. I had read in an interview somewhere that she liked to write off of personal experiences... she found that it made her characters more real and believable. She said, "Since they ARE real, it makes the reader invest their emotions into them. They BELIEVE in them... they BELIEVE in the story itself, and they BELIEVE in me as an author to combine two very different worlds into one they can directly put themselves into. Writing is the closest thing to magic that we have, that we can directly use."
I kept that article. Still had it until age 14 when Miriam through it out thinking it was a cooking recipe for scallops.
But it didn't take the feeling away from me. I had memorized those words.
That was about when I wrote my first story. First story that wasn't an assignment that is. It was about a girl, hidden in the basement of her supposed best friend. But her supposed friend's brother knew better. He'd bring her food, and even tell her what it was like outside... but mostly he made her fall in love with him. And when his sister discovers the hope he's bringing to the girl, she attempts to hurt him, only hurting the girl instead. It's in that pain that she finds the strength to save his life; risking her own. It was a morbid tale, yeah, but it was the first try I ever had. I even showed it to my teacher at the time Ms. McCarter who helped me edit it and post it to a magazine. It ended up not getting published... but the rush I felt at creating a world that was real, and not was invigorating. I began to write more and more stories. Even stories that were only sentences long. I LIVED in my writing.
I BECAME my writing.
But, by Margaret's advice to all her fans... I most of all BELIEVED in my writing.
And because of that, I started a blog online around age 16. There I was, publicly posting my stories for the world to criticize.
I was lucky if I got one hit A DAY, but I didn't care.
Every now and again, I'd find myself getting stuck. I'd sit and tap my pencil on my desk and chew on my eraser and curse and rip pages out and swear to give up writing all together; swear to give up on all my stories already in progress.
Then I'd think... "Maybe if I just peak at one of her books... maybe it'll give me an idea."
Sometimes it did. But mostly it gave me this urge to become as good of a writer as she was so I could inspire girls like me years on down the road and say, "I have Margaret Shimpton to thank for that."
Maybe even one day, I'd meet her and get the chance to thank her for all she'd unknowingly done for that little lost girl with all the emotions and no way of letting them out constructively.
I opened my eyes as the bell rang and the talkative teenagers tumbled out of the doorways of each classroom, eager to tell the hottest gossip (no doubt spread by the ever infamous Rhonda Lloyd herself) to their friends and meander their way to their classes.
However, I stayed seated on the dirty floor with my thoughts spinning laps around my brain.
How could she do this to us?
I glanced up, now more empty than angry as I had been moments before.
"Are you okay? You seemed... pretty mad back there."
"What was your first hint, football-head?"
He swung his backpack off of his shoulder and gently placed it on the floor; sliding down the wall to accompany me on the cold floor. Crossing his legs, he shrugged and watched as the people passed us by seeming to be completely oblivious to the two idiots sitting in the hallway.
"Even madder than when you threw punch in Rhonda's face at her last party."
"You had to bring that up?"
"It got you to smile."
"I'm not smiling."
"Just a little?"
"Arnold." My face struggling to stay stoic.
"I think I see it. Just a LIIIIITTLE bit. Hiding. Right there."
"I'm not a baby. Knock it off!" I said, chuckling slightly and blushing instantly. I turned my face away to hide from him, but he knew he'd already won.
I was powerless.
"So are you going to tell me what the deal was back there?"
"Why would I do something like THAT?"
He shrugged again, returning his attention to the dwindling crowd of peers that were now bee-lining their way to their classrooms.
"Everyone needs someone to talk to. Even you, Helga."
"You're gonna be late for class. So get up get that weird shaped head of yours to class."
The bell rang and I crossed my arms, leaning my head against the wall once more, sighing deeply and waiting to hear his footsteps walk away from me.
"And why would I do something like THAT?" He mimicked, a smile wide on his face.
"Since when did YOU become a smart ass?"
"Since I discovered that was the only way to get Helga G. Pataki to talk to me."
I could feel his eyes on me but I kept my eyes locked on a nearby poster asking for coat donations to help keep the homeless warm over the cold winter.
"Do you know Margaret Shimpton? The writer?"
He seemed to take that name in almost twirling it around his fingers like the pencil he usually did when he thought deeply during a pop quiz or test.
"Didn't think so." I mumbled, grabbing my backpack and quickly standing, the anger filling my steps as I took long strides away from where Arnold continued to sit.
"Hey," he called out, soon getting to his feet and quickly catching up to me. Curse that soccer team he was on, "hey Helga, wait."
"She's DEAD, Arnold." I said, my voice breaking on the word. As I spun around to meet his gaze, I watched the sympathy fill his eyes. "Dead as in GONE. Dead as in NOT COMING BACK. No more writing. No more stories or poems. NOTHING."
For a moment, his eyes searching the air around him; grasping for the thought that would make this all better.
And then it hit him.
"Margaret Shimpton... That's right. She was the author you wrote about in 4th grade when we did the reports on-"
"Our favorite authors." I finished for him. "Yeah. That's right. Congratulations. You win a prize."
"Helga... It's okay to be... hurt about losing somebody you admire-"
"I'm not HURT. I'm ENRAGED."
"Sometimes people... sometimes it's just their time-"
"What do you not UNDERSTAND here? She KILLED herself. She let EVERYONE down."
The silence suspended itself between us for what felt like lifetimes.
"You don't... you don't have to SAY anything, Arnold." I said at last, my voice trailing off to a quiet and somber tone, a wash of cold realization sinking into my skin.
"Does... anybody know why?"
I shrugged, my arms entangling themselves around one another while I chewed on my lip for a moment.
"She just... had had enough I guess."
"Of what? Wasn't she an acclaimed author?"
"Doi. She was one of the best out there. I knew it. Her fans knew it. SHE knew it."
"I don't know, Arnold. Maybe she just didn't want to keep going anymore. Maybe she decided to keep all of her words... all of her ideas... to herself."
A scratch over the intercom filled the hallway, our attention instantly adjusted to the booming voice that was coming through the speakers loud and clear.
"Will Arnold Shortman please report to the main office. Arnold Shortman to the main office. Thank you."
I shoved a loose strand of hair back up and into my cap and smirked.
"Guess that's your cue, football-head. Better make your grand entrance."
He smiled, carefully putting his hand on my shoulder and making me inwardly swoon from his touch.
"It'll get better. I know that sounds really overused and generic, but I mean it. It always does."
"But it'll never be the same."
Dropping his hand from my shoulder, he rubbed the back of his neck and sighed.
"It never is. It just...changes. Life always changes. I mean, look at us, right now. Just now I touched your shoulder and you didn't punch me call me a name or push me over."
I rolled my eyes and nudged his arm with my fist gently.
"Who says I still won't, yutz?"
A chuckle escaped his lips then and he shook his head while making his way to the office.
I watched for a moment before noticing his pace slow to that of a stop until he turned around to face me yet again.
"Yeah?" I asked, almost hopeful.
"Don't stop writing just because she's gone. Even if she isn't making new stuff, she can still inspire you. And always will. You're a great writer. And not just because she was, too."
Taken aback, I stood silently as he flashed a smile once more and jogged off for the office only to leave me stunned and nearly glued to the floor.
"How did... How did he..." I mumbled, before wandering back to where I had started; sliding back down the wall to sit beside my backpack once more.
"Helga? Helga... honey is that you?"
"That would be why I yelled, 'I'm home.'"
"Helga... Helga come here for a second..."
Per usual, Miriam was lying on the couch with a lukewarm Bloody Mary sitting on the table beside the armrest that was acting as Miriam's pillow. The television was on, and on very low volume at that, and the remote was lying a few feet away from the couch, clearly from her dropping it once she passed out what must have been hours before.
"What, mom. I'm not making you another drink. You still have one right here. Now if you don't MIND I'm-"
"Would you... would you just wait for a moment? Did you know... did you hear that your favorite author... now what was her name... Meridith-"
"Oh right! Margaret Shampton-"
"Shimpton..." I fed her.
"Right, right. Margaret Shimpton died this morning?"
"Yeah, mom. I know." I muttered, dropping my backpack to the floor with a loud thump.
"Isn't that just... awful?"
"What's awful, Miriam? Oh. Hi Olga."
"It's Helga, dad. And nothing."
"Helga's favorite author died, B." Miriam said with almost a hint sympathy.
Bob shut the door and tossed his coat towards the coat rack, completely missing, and then stretching his back.
"She'll get over it. It's not like she new the woman for Christ's sake."
"Really? That's your comment. I can't be unhappy that somebody DIED unless I KNOW them? What the hell kind of logic is THAT?"
"Hey now!" He said, his voice getting louder as he took a few steps in my direction, "You don't speak to your father like that, you go that little lady?"
"Sure, Bob. I got that. I got that loud and clear."
I brushed my fingers over the cover that read, Sky Writer in bold lettering over the white backdrop. The script was in a cursive font, just large enough to be considered bigger than the name beneath it.
I smiled to myself, remembering the first time I finished the book that lay worn and overused in my hands. As promised, she had taken me to a world that was so familiar, I found it to be real; found it to be just as heart-wrenching as the world we knew to be truth.
It was hard to imagine no more stories or elegant poems. Hard to think that I wouldn't be waking up early anymore to buy her brand new novel and soak up the story it would weave.
But as I quietly placed the book beside it's self-mates, I found myself thinking back to what Arnold had told me in the hallway.
And after all, I knew her stories like the back of my hand. I knew the feelings she had me feel and the characters she had me fall in love with. I knew the universes she created and the tales she had me think about for hours long after I'd finished them.
Like the newscasters said, she would be missed.
And she would. I'd forever wish that I had been able to tell her how grateful I was for all she helped me feel I could do. I would love to thank her for inspiring me to become as good as her one day, with luck. I just knew that I couldn't give up writing. I couldn't let the fact that she was no longer writing affect me and my writing when it was continuing to take me places I'd never thought I could go before.
Dr. Bliss always said I had a knack for words.
All I could do is miss the way she could tell a story, and keep trying to be as good as her one day.
And as for Arnold...
Well, he always had to be right, doesn't he?
Let me know what you guys think, kay?
Dedicated to the writer I will dearly miss being in the fandom. I hope that you continue to write, even if it's just for yourself. Your words are too beautiful to be forgotten, and your stories will forever inspire me to continue with my own.