Earning Back Friendship
The last thing I wanted to do was to sit next to Dayla.
By the look on the spotted Gelert's face, she felt the same about me. But we had
no choice; it'd be a far worse fate to stall the week-and-a-half field trip to
Mystery Island. So we grudgingly took our seats on the ferry. Our teacher called
for attention at the front of the boat. She was a brown Wocky who always wore
gold hoops in her ears. She refused to be called Mrs. Samson and insisted that
we called her Judy.
"All right, you guys," she said, surveying the
class. "I'm sure I'm not the only one to say that those final exams were really
draining." There was a murmur of agreement at these words. "So Principal Gretenko
and I have both agreed to this vacation from schoolwork! Whaddaya say?" We all
cheered. The captain, a Blue Yurble steering the ferry, grinned and started
her up. Judy slid into her seat in front of us, behind the captain. Soon The
Sunset Rider had set sail.
I got out a book and started reading. Dayla got
out a Shimmery Notebook and began sketching. I started to hum a song from M*YNCI.
After a few minutes, I heard an irritated voice. "Stop it," muttered Dayla.
"A Lupe's got a right to hum," I said indignantly.
"You're lucky I'm not singing."
"You know it bugs me, Kay," she barked. "It always
did and always will." In front of us, Judy shifted uncomfortably. You'd think
a teacher would put a stop to fighting, and she usually did. But no matter how
many times she tried to break up our bickering, we'd always start right back
in. So she had given up on trying to make peace between us.
I couldn't believe it! We used to be best friends;
the kind that had been together since kindergarten. Then some time a little
after the beginning of the new school year, we got into a really big fight.
Now the end of the school year was beginning to rear its head and we still hadn't
We continued the voyage in silence. It took a
day of solid travel, but we made it. And it was worth it. The soft white sand
felt warm underneath my blue paws as I attempted to balance a beach ball on
Soon I and my friend Alex, a yellow Kougra,
were engaged in a game of catch, only batting it to each other with our noses.
A few of my classmates watched with interest while others explored the Rock
Pool. It wasn't long until the sounds of splashing and shrieks of laughter and
delight could be heard from the shore.
Judy took refuge near the top where the sand
began to fade into jungle and began reading a novel. Every now and then she
would look up at the shore. How did I know this? Every time she looked up, the
sun caught her hoops and glinted out of the corner of my eye.
When Alex's and my nose started to feel numb,
we set down the beach ball and flopped down on the sand to make out shapes in
the puffy white clouds that seemed like intruders against the dazzling, brilliantly
"That one there," said Alex, pointing. "Looks
like a JubJub."
"That's not a JubJub," I argued playfully. "It's
"You never seem to get tired of that, do you?"
"What can I say? It never gets old!" I protested
teasingly. Then there was a gale of mirth to our right. I turned my head to
see Dayla expressing her tinkling laugh in the shade of a palm tree with her
friend, a disco Aisha named Tanya. Apparently she had just told a joke. Dayla
caught my eye and looked at me the way you'd look at dung.
"Kay, what's goin' on with you and that chick?"
Alex asked me.
"You've been at each others' throats all year!"
he said reasonably.
"We're just having a little fight, that's all,"
"This 'little fight' has lasted almost the whole
school year. I mean, when we were all in the same class in kindergarten, you
two always sat at the same table!"
I shifted uncomfortably and changed the subject.
All too soon the week-and-a-half was almost over,
and it was time to board the ship. Normally, I'd detail the vacation, but that's
not what this tale is about. So again we took our seats, Dayla and I just as
uncomfortable as the first journey. She gazed out of the window forcefully,
refusing to meet my gaze.
I had to say something. "Why do you hate me?"
I blurted. She looked at me incredulously.
"Isn't it obvious?" she asked in a minty tone.
"No," I replied.
"Do the words 'Talent Show' ring a bell?"
"The Neoschool Talent Show!" she exploded. "I
actually won! And you never showed up! I wanted to share one of the best moments
of my life with you." She practically spit the last word. "And you never
I was surprised-well, actually, I was stunned-shocked!
Yes, I was shocked. "Where did you get that Spotted Paint Brush for your fur?"
I asked suddenly.
"Don't change the subject, you swine!" she snapped.
"Just tell me. I promise this'll make sense."
She bit her lip and obliged. "My mom gave it
to me and wouldn't tell me who sent it. Why?" she said quickly, recovering.
"You had the guts to stand up there and sing,"
I said, heavily emphasizing the last word. "I wanted to get you something special
whether or not you won. Take a look at those spots; that paint brush came from
my own earned Neopoints."
Despite herself Dayla looked down. She looked
back up and I could tell she didn't fully buy my story. "That still doesn't
explain why you didn't show," she said suspiciously.
"I got held up major," I admitted. "This dude
at the Trading Post was puzzling over whom to give the paint brush to: me or
this other pet who had offered the same amount. When he finally chose, the talent
show was halfway through. That's when I realized-I'd forgotten my ticket at
the Trading Post.
"They wouldn't let me in without a ticket and
it was too late to buy one," I sighed. "I had to miss out. So I dropped the
paint brush off at your house before you came home and told your mom not to
tell you who gave it to you. That way I'd be able to tell you myself at Neoschool
the next day.
"But you arrived all huffy and refused to talk
to me," I finished with my own regrets. "I guess it was my own fault for forgetting
my ticket." Dayla looked at me, clearly arguing with herself on what to believe.
She turned to look out the window and said, "Don't
think you've gotten off easy." It was the best I could've hoped for at that
I awoke in my seat in the middle of the night.
We were still on The Sunset Rider with the night shift working the crew.
I looked around at all my sleeping classmates; one of Judy's hoops was unlatched
and dangling precariously as she snored softly. Gently I set it back into place;
last time she lost her earring, she overturned a desk looking for it.
I sensed a weight on my shoulder and looked to
my left. There was Dayla with her head rolled onto my shoulder. I smiled and
went back to sleep gently resting my head on hers. I had earned back my best