Still thwarting Sloth's mind control... Circulation: 129,296,931 Issue: 201 | 29th day of Swimming, Y7
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Confessions of a Bookworm: Part Three


by shadowcristal

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Turning into someone cool was very easy; at least the first steps were. You just had to dress right, speak with certain coolness, pose in a special way... and all those bazillion other tiny details that defined someone as 'cool' at first glance.

     After that interesting little chat (as cool people call it) with Cassidy, my new friend took me out to get some cool clothes. But first we stopped by my home, and guess how impressed Lila was! When I saw her awed face and the fact that she was happy for me, I couldn't help but to feel joyous myself. However, I knew that there would be tough times ahead.

     If you've stayed at one place way too long and not moved once, you'll probably know that people see you in a certain way right from the beginning, and those views won't change as long as you're still there. That's the biggest problem one can encounter during a style change, and that's what happened to me.

     It all happened rather quickly, though. Our school is famous for being fast, and my classmates were the first to accept it. Whispers went around at lunch and so on, but I didn't really mind.

     Cassidy said that cool people have confidence, based on their own abilities and not just on what people think of them. However, other pets' opinions do matter to cool people, or they wouldn't be considered 'cool'. My friend told me to behave, in the same stern way I had told some pets off when they had tried drawing on the mirror in the public bathroom.

     That was yet another one of those little quirks that caught my attention, though I suspected that everyone else who hung out with Cassidy hadn't noticed. Somehow those things irritated me, though the Chomby was really nice as a person.

     Even though I was trying to be cool, I hadn't forgotten the past. I still said hi to my normal friends and sometimes I would sneak home alone to read some books. That bookworm part of me was something of a tradition, a part that had always been there and impossible to erase though it diminished because I was trying a new style.

     It was fun to have people surround you in school, asking you questions and wanting to know everything about you. I'm a pretty private person, so in some situations where I really felt uncomfortable telling the truth I decided to be creative.

     After one such session Cassidy had a lecture with me. I had just told a little adorable Kyrii how I had won the Jackpot of Dice-A-Roo in just fifteen minutes along with five different foods.

     "That's a little bit far-fetched, don't you think?" my friend commented after the pet left. I froze. Cassidy had never said anything about me lying before.

     "S-so..." I uttered, utterly shocked.

     "Please! That one wasn't very realistic. Then again, it isn't forbidden to be a tad bit creative in this branch." She grinned and her glasses reflected the sunlight in that cool way which had fascinated me from the first time I had met her.

     Coldness spread inside me and took over the coolness I had been feeling. Those words had jerked me out of the happy state I had been in, trying this... I had been so naive, hoping that something would be different. That wish had been fulfilled, but only now, after changing, I realized that I didn't like this change. Look at myself... I was lying, lying to a gullible little cute pet, just to survive... I wasn't really cool after all, lying my head off. It begun cheerfully with lots of excitement like a rollercoaster ride, but now the rollercoaster was swinging around, even upside-and-down... And I couldn't get off it, even if I tried.

     "Look," Cassidy said, "It's too late to call it off now. Just last through the week. Don't forget that you've had some fun, at least..." She looked at me and smiled wistfully, as if she had read my mind.

     I wanted to protest, but cool people and bookworms don't do that, so I closed my mouth. That Chomby was right. I had to keep trying to be cool, to last through the week. The realization that I was trying to be someone I wasn't hurt my heart, but I soothed it by remembering what fun I had in the beginning, shocking everyone in those dazzling new clothes...

     "See?" the Chomby asked kindly. "Everything is like a book, it isn't just good or bad but a mix of everything. The simpler version is the coin, having a good side and a flip side."

     That part about the book was philosophical, but it ticked me off in a way. I looked up at Cassidy, and saw a flash of something I couldn't put my finger on in her eyes. It wasn't anything happy, though. Maybe it was that flip side of coin I had seen.

     Then again, what had I expected? This was life, and in life everything had pros and cons.

     The coolness show continued, and soon I found myself enjoying some of the stuff I was doing. Still, I didn't feel like I was doing everything whole-heartedly because of the voices inside me. Something told me that it was wrong, faking it all and denying my true self. What was my true self, anyway?

     I picked up the book, and noticed that some pets scurried away. Cool people and books don't mix. With slow movements, I put the book down and resumed the charade. The whispers were there, and it was fun. I wasn't alone anymore, but somehow I missed all those rainy days when I could just curl up in my beanbag chair and read a nice book.

     Perhaps I had known it all along. I just wasn't cut out to be cool. But I could see the fun that Cassidy was having, guiding me in this new world. Delighted, she would drag me over to try some new things and acted like it was her first time too. I couldn't rob someone of joy like that, now could I?

     Three days had already passed by, and it was now Thursday. It felt like an eternity ago when Miss Lynch ran into the library and begged me like this. I looked down at the calendar. Cassidy the Cool would leave tomorrow! The promised week had almost disappeared in an instance, with many cool things and quite a bit of doubt.

     I wasn't very sentimental usually, but this time I felt like I had to do something. I flipped through a magazine that I had borrowed from Alyssa. After I had turned 'cool', she came begging on her knees and apologized for that time in the library. Some pets would always be the same...

     There! That was it! That... I looked at the page in amazement. It was perfect. However, I had to ask Lila and make sure that Cassidy was free tomorrow afternoon.

     Fortunately Lila gave me permission, and I bought two tickets for the Twisted Roses concert on Friday morning. Then I went to school.

     It was a rather drab day, with grey clouds looming over the whole area. I could just feel it in the air... Soon Cassidy would leave, and everyone was already getting ready to say goodbye. The teachers were all very nice too, and my friend's sunglasses weren't as bright as they usually were.

     "Goodbye," everyone said and hugged Cassidy when Miss Lynch announced that the class was dismissed. She was the last one to say goodbye to the Chomby.

     "You've been a wonderful student," the Kau teacher started, "And we've been very honored to have you here in our school. We hope that you enjoyed being here and wish you the best upon the return to your school. Thanks for giving us an insight on what it's like to be..." she trailed off and smiled. Everyone knew what Miss Lynch talked about. "Anyhow, this might not be the end. Maybe someday the schools can talk, and maybe we can send an exchange student over there?"

     "I'll mention it to my teacher," Cassidy said cooly, and we left the classroom.

     It took a while before I could gather the courage to tell my friend good-bye. In silence we walked to the large entrance of the school, and at the fountain outside I decided to say what I had been dreading for such a long time.

     "Um..." I mumbled, not sure how to start.

     "You wanna say goodbye, yes?" the Chomby said in her cool way. "Well, sometimes all that mushy stuff can be nice too..."

     "Well, first of all I just want to say good-bye. I hope you've had a nice stay at our school." I knew I sounded really lame, and I tried to be honest. "Also, thanks a lot for being my friend. Even though it was kind of odd, but fun in a way, still..." I faltered, searching for the right words. "It was an interesting experience, though I'd still like to be a bookworm..." Cassidy looked at me, and I suddenly had this feeling that I would give the traditional speech of gratitude for making me new friends.

     "Most of them are just prejudiced, anyway," Cassidy said before I continued.

     "Anyway, why did you choose me?" I asked, this time rather curious. I had this feeling that Cassidy didn't like mushy stuff dragged out too long.

     "That is..." Suddenly the cool Chomby didn't look all that cool anymore. "I guess I should be straightforward and tell you something I should've told you quite a while ago, since you've been very candid."

     "It's okay," I liked.

     With a swift movement, Cassidy took something off her glasses. When I looked at her again, I couldn't help but to gasp in surprise.

     "The reason I chose you," my friend begun, "is because you weren't all that prejudiced. You probably just thought of me as a cool and popular person, but you didn't dislike me for that. You were just neutral, trying to be nice and helpful." She smiled a little bit. "And you never asked a lot about or from me, which was pretty good."

     "S-so..." I whispered, shocked.

     "Most pets as this school know me as Cassidy the Cool, but those at my old school, where I'm returning, know me as Cassidy the Clever." She smiled and placed her glasses in a way that was unmistakably like a bookworm's. Now that the shades were gone, I could see that her glasses were actually a pair of traditional glasses, and the black parts she held in her left paw were what she used to make her glasses look like sunglasses. And she got away with it, too.

     "S-so..." I muttered, quickly taking memory stroll down the road of this week. Now it all made sense! Why she was caring, why she was nice to me and why she didn't seem to bother with those clique pets talking behind her back. We were both bookworms, deep in our hearts.

     "Consider this a confession of a bookworm," Cassidy smiled wryly. "Anyhow, this begun as a project by me and my teacher to see what prejudice and ideas of pets were made of, and perhaps how they would be change." She looked me in the eye. "And if you're wondering, no, you weren't an experiment. But it was rather interesting..."

     "Did you feel sorry for me?"

     "No." This time Cassidy's look was sincere. "You seem to have a lot of good friends." She smiled. "If only I had gone to a good school and gotten friends..."

     "Y-you mean," I uttered, surprised once more, "You don't have any friends?"

     "Not very good friends," she replied. "I like to read, and people just shun me..."

     I stared at Cassidy. The cool pet who everyone had admired so greatly in our school was an outcast in hers? I could see in her eyes that she was telling the truth.

     "I'm sorry," I whispered.

     "Well, I'll be going in just a few minutes," she said, pointing to the large school clock. Then Cassidy the Cool/Clever took a deep breath. "Anyhow, it's been real fun over here, acting cool and everything..."

     "You're very good at that. You seemed rather genuine when I think back and look at it..."

     She smiled and said, "Thanks."

     The soft wind that was blowing in our direction seemed to urge Cassidy to leave. She looked at me one last time, and I realized that I had forgotten about the tickets!

     "Wait!" I exclaimed and grabbed her paw, putting a Twisted Roses ticket in it. She looked at it, and I awkwardly stuttered, "Umm... Well, at that time when I thought you were cool... I thought you might like this, but..."

     "Thank you," she smiled, and I could see that it was a brave smile, and that she was at the brink of tears. "Thank you, Susan."

     "You're welcome," I said, and pulled Cassidy into a tight hug. As she walked away, waving to me and drying her tears, I started to ponder.

     It had been an interesting week, just as I had anticipated. I had gotten to know someone that I didn't really care about in the beginning, gotten to know her better and better, appreciated her and... now, this. I guess that's why I felt close to Cassidy, and not to pets like Isabella or Mary Alice. We were both bookworms, no matter how we hid it. Anyhow, bookworm had a nice number of definitions. I watched as the person who had contributed so much to my life in a week disappear out of my sight.

     Now it was over, but in a way, it had only begun. Cassidy had promised to meet me at the concert tonight, and I was pretty sure I'd see the real her. We had both been honest, and it was a positive experience with some downsides.

     I shook my head. Even though I had changed a little, I was surer than anything, of one thing. I would never give up books!

     As for Cassidy, it had been nice making a new and proper friend. She was rather special in her own way, and I was rather confident in my guess that I'd meet her again. I took a look at my book-filled bag and smiled. I mustn't forget to ask her to join my Book Circle!

The End

 
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» Confessions of a Bookworm: Part One
» Confessions of a Bookworm: Part Two



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