There are ants in my Lucky Green Boots Circulation: 102,279,292 Issue: 202 | 5th day of Hiding, Y7
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One Better


by lady_of_the_rohirrim

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"Ugh, Mr. Sibilia's test was tougher than I thought!"

      "I know! Number 9 was really hard."

      "Was that the one about Tyrannia's egg supply?"

      "Yeah. As if we care about that!"

      Two young friends were walking down Neopia Central, chatting about their school. It was a lovely day. The sky was clear, and the sun shone freely down on the pavement, warming it under walker's feet. Stella, a red Gelert, hopped on down the sidewalk, while her yellow Uni friend trotted behind.

      "Hurry up, Claudia! I want to actually play Meerca Chase today!" Stella shouted impatiently. The Uni sighed, but smiled.

      "I bet I could beat you there!" Claudia responded, and started to sprint, passing Stella. The Gelert had to do a sort of pirouette to avoid getting trampled, then started running herself.

      The duo arrived at the Meerca Chase stand panting from exhaustion. Claudia did a jig. "I told you I'd beat 'cha!" she sang merrily.

      "You only won because you nearly killed me!" Stella responded hotly, but a smile still remained on her face, "C'mon, let's go play!"

      Claudia nodded in agreement. After a couple minutes of intense play, she shouted excitedly, "Yes! 634! A new high score!" Stella congratulated her, and started playing for herself.

      Claudia watched anxiously as Stella racked up more and more points. She quickly passed Claudia's score, and Claudia inwardly sighed.

      Why does she always happen to do better at me for everything? Claudia thought sadly. Stella finished her game and collected her neopoints, joining Claudia in the milling crowds.

      "Hey, wanna come over? We're having Roast Chestnut Pizza!" Stella asked, a hopeful smile on her face. Stella knew Claudia loved Roast Chestnut Pizza.

      "Not tonight. I promised Lily I'd be home to help clean the living room with her while Danny's gone," Claudia lied. Her owner would rather have meepits invade her house then clean it. Stella nodded sympathetically.

      "Hey, that's okay. I can understand." Stella made a gagging face. She had three brothers and an obsessive owner who had to have everything clean.

      Claudia stuck on a fake smile, "Bye!" Stella called as she turned onto Market Square.

      Claudia felt horrible that she lied, but she wasn't just up to pretending to be happy the whole evening. She trudged on down to Bracknell Road, where she wrenched open the door to her home. Her owner, Lily, waved in greeting. She was wearing paint-spattered jeans and t-shirt, and was holding a paint roller in her hand.

      "Want to help me re-do the dining room?" Lily asked, tucking a bit of dark hair behind her ear. Claudia shook her head no, and Lily shrugged. "Really, I thought you'd want to have paint fumes knock you out. But if you don't want to, that's okay."

      Claudia smiled. Lily could see that Claudia was not up to her best, and left her alone, and for that, Claudia was grateful. The Uni walked up the spiraling staircase to the second floor, and padded down the hallway, passing her brother's door. As much as she didn't want to admit it, she missed his obnoxious voice filling the house.

      She opened the door to her room, and flopped down on her bamboo bed, thinking hard. All she did was beat me at a game of Meerca Chase, Claudia thought sullenly. But it's not just Meerca Chase she beats you at, said a tiny, nagging voice in the back of her head. Claudia hastily shoved that thought away. She's my best friend! I shouldn't be jealous of her… she retorted. She gets better grades then you, has more friends then you, can talk to people better than you, plays games better than you, and lets face it, she's even better looking than you, persisted the little voice.

      Claudia couldn't think of anything to say to that. It was all true, in her perspective. Stella was just naturally better than her. Lowering her gaze from the ceiling, Claudia looked out to the slowly blackening sky, and drifted into troubled sleep.

     ---

      The next day in school, Claudia was handed back a test paper with the letter "A-" written in large blue block letters. She scanned the paper, seeing what she got wrong. Stella was sitting next to her, chattering away about how her brothers destroyed her living room.

      "…Yeah, and then Jack stuck his rainbow gun in the ceiling lamp and started controlling it by remote, and he blasted away part of the- oh!" But before Stella could say exactly what her Ixi brother had blasted apart, her test was handed back. "Oh, I got an A+! I didn't think I'd get that egg problem right, what did you get?" she said all in one breath.

      Claudia raised an eyebrow in her direction, "An A-," she said, adverting her gaze from Stella's direction.

      "Ooh, that's good! Well, like I was saying, Jack blasted a part the couch away, and Angie was furious…" Stella continued, not noticing the subdued silence from Claudia.

      For in fact, more unpleasant thoughts were swirling around Claudia's head. "Ooh, that's good!" Well, not as good as you… the Uni thought bitterly.

      As they were walking home, Stella made another inquiry as to whether Claudia wanted to come over for dinner. Claudia once again refused, and walked into her neohome, feeling as though a black cloud was hanging over her head. Lily obviously noticed this, for she stopped reading (which was very rare for her) and made two steaming cups of hot chocolate.

      "Now," Lily said, looking over the rim of her mug. "Am I going to have to guess what's wrong, or are you gonna tell me?"

      Claudia sighed rather audibly, and then launched into her story about feeling that she was in the shadow of Stella, swirling her hoof in her hot cocoa. Lily nodded sympathetically at the end, and drained her mug before speaking.

      "Well, you know what's wrong, but that doesn't mean it's a problem," she said bluntly, and without further explanation began washing her mug.

      "Um, excuse me?" Claudia asked, looking perplexed.

      "Well, there really is no problem. She may have talents that exceed yours in certain places, but you have talents too! Can Stella paint as well as you?" Lily looked over in Claudia's direction with a raised eyebrow.

      "Well, erm, no, but still…" Claudia said uncomfortably.

      "Can she write as well as you?"

      "Not that I know of, but-"

      "Can she fly?"

      "What does that have to do with anything?"

      "Well, you know, she might be jealous of you for that…"

      "Well, when you want to get your point across, call up the stairs, because I'll be in my room," Claudia stated irritably, and made to get up from the table.

      "All I'm trying to show to you is that you two have different talents, and you should be proud of what you have," Lily said reasonably, and went back into the living room to finish her book.

      Claudia went to bed that night with her spirits a bit higher than they were that morning. Re-thinking what Lily had said, she thought sleepily Maybe she isn't all that much better than me…

      The next day in school, Stella confronted Claudia at her locker. "You've been avoiding me," she said in her oh-so-blunt Stella way. Claudia smiled.

      "Yeah, you see, I was kinda, er, jealous of you…"

      Stella looked shocked. "Of ME? Why?"

      "I thought you were better at me than everything," said Claudia, still smiling.

      "Me? As if!" Stella retorted. Claudia laughed.

      "Yeah, it was pretty stupid of me."

      Stella shrugged, "Happens to everyone. Hey, wanna come over tonight?"

      Claudia smiled again. "Sure. As long as Jack had his rainbow gun confiscated."

      Stella laughed, "Oh, he won't be seeing one for a long time…"

      The two friends laughed, and walked onto Mr. Sibilia's class, for they were blissfully unaware that Jack had in fact gotten another rainbow gun.

      But that's another story.

The End

 
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