Delma Harrence: The Younger Days - Part Two
“This is horrible!”
“Delma, you’re playing this up. Being Baby isn’t that bad!”
“It is when you can’t fit into your Yooyuball Gear!”
“Calm down, Delma! If Lilo had been zapped, he wouldn’t be complaining.”
That last sentence set Delma off. Janet constantly used phrases like that. ‘Lilo wouldn’t do this...’ or ‘Lilo wouldn’t do that...’ constantly rang through her head. Yet here her oldest pet was, freaking out over being caught by Boochi, and not even caring about her feelings at all.
“I am NOT Lilo!” Delma squeaked. “I am Delma, your super-athletic Zafara! Sure I’m not polite, sure I don’t have super cool grades, but I’m still Delma, and you can’t do anything to change it! If I go to school tomorrow, not only will nobody want me on their team, my reputation will be ruined! Plus, this skinny little stick of an arm can’t fit into the yooyuball flinger!”
While she’d been ranting, she’d flung her little arms up into the air, and now she was breathing heavily, staring at Janet with a self-righteous glare. She sat on a pillow on the kitchen counter with Lilo snickering on a nearby couch and Janet having just tried to convince her to stay baby.
“I’m sorry, Delma,” Janet said. “I guess I figured that when I created Lilo, you’d transform into the caring older sister who only thought of the welfare of her little brother. I guess I was wrong. Forgive me? I’ll go tomorrow to pick up a mini set of yooyuball equipment, and I’ll try the hardest I can to get you green again.”
Ooh... the offer was really tantalizing. Delma still harbored some dark feelings in her heart, but when it came to anything that had to do with yooyuball, she was always a sucker. Plus, the small Zafara couldn’t wait to feel the strain of her flinger on her arm again. She’d do practically everything possible to get back into her normal swing of things.
“Okay,” Delma squeaked again. “But one more thing. Can you please buy tickets for the game this weekend? I wanna see them beat Krawk Island!”
Janet smiled. “Alright.”
The next morning, Delma shivered as she waddled up the school steps, a half an hour early so that she could get the shock and humiliation over all that sooner. No doubt the ‘nerdy pet whom she’d supposedly beaten up on a daily basis’ would see this as a chance to wreak revenge on her, even though she’d never done that. Today was going to be a wonderful day.
She wandered in to her seat in her class room, and pretended to be reading the weekly issue of the NT that happened to be in the desk of every pet in the classroom. By the time everyone else was in there, and the bell rang, she’d read through every section except for the articles, and she was really loath to do so. The teacher, like the day before, strode up to the front of the class and picked up a piece of paper with all of the names on it, and he began to call off names.
“Hairy... Janice... Where’s Delma?” the teacher asked as he read off role call. “Did she skip school again?”
Very hesitantly and very shakily, Delma raised her tiny blue paw. She opened her mouth, and in a very tight, high pitched voice she said, “H-here sir!”
Laughter started up in the room. Even the teacher was holding his stomach, trying to drag in a deep breath. Delma’s cheeks flushed, and she clenched her tiny fists at her side, trying to keep her temper under control. She hadn’t thought they’d react like this. This was humiliating, like she’d thought it would be.
“No really,” said Luke, the person who’d chosen her for his team yesterday. “Who are you?”
“I am Delma!” she squeaked. “Like it or not, this is what happened to me! Janet’s working hard to get me normal again, and even if that doesn’t happen soon, I’m still gonna do what I normally do.”
She almost thought that they’d start laughing again. As it was, there was another rumble of laughter, even though there were fewer neopets joined in it. The teacher was wiping tears from his eyes as he finished the role call, and most of her classmates were glancing at her and then turning to snicker to their friends. Delma hoped her owner would get the green paint brush, and soon.
P.E. was even worse. Mr. Grunell laughed even harder at her than her classmates this morning had, and when two of the neopets chose teams, Delma was the last to join one, and even then she had to sit on the bench while some other neopet played. This was like a huge smack in the face. She had to bite her lip in order to keep back her tears.
By the time school got out, Delma was more than ready to leave. She couldn’t believe that she’d actually been able to force herself to go through what she did even though she knew what was coming. It was hard to believe that yesterday she’d thought it was horrible that she’d had to borrow the notes from her classmates. Now she was baby! What a life.
Now she was running back to the Faerieland Practice field, not caring what Janet had said yesterday about going home before here, and the small yooyuball equipment she’d promised. She wanted to soothe her hurt pride by forgetting herself while she watched the practice. Maybe she’d even be able to talk to the players themselves!
Kakoni Worrill sat on the bench right outside of the locker room, lacing up his shoes as he looked around, taking in the sights. It was hard to believe that he was here, after all of his hard work. None of his friends could believe him when he said he wanted to be on the team when he was growing up.
His owner had been a millionaire, and everything he’d wanted had been basically handed to him on a silver platter, such as his anubis, his paint brush, the most delicate foods Kelp could offer, and much, much more. The pets he’d hung out with thought he was a stuck up pet who didn’t have to work hard for anything.
But then he saw his first yooyuball game, and everything had changed. He immediately got his own set of equipment, a personal trainer, and had pushed himself so hard that at the end of every session he’d been exhausted. He worked his best to get himself here, and now that he was, Kakoni was elated. Not only would he be doing something he loved, but he’d be famous, too.
A little flash of blue caught the corner of his eye. He looked over to the stands and saw a little baby Zafara barely able to climb up into a seat, who had an extremely sad look on its face. Every once and a while, the little creature closed her eyes as if fighting back tears, and it was only when she saw the yooyuball players on the field that her eyes lit up.
He realized that this was the same Zafara who’d been watching them practice the day before. Obviously she’d been caught by Boochi, because she looked awfully upset, and no pet who’d been painted that way would look like that.
“Hey Ehonio,” he said, looking over to a faerie Xweetok who was busy adjusting his equipment.
“What, rookie?” asked the captain, looking over to him.
“There’s a Zafara in the audience who was here yesterday,” he said.
“It looks like she enjoys the game an awful lot, so I was wondering if we could let her practice with us,” Kakoni said, surprised that the words were leaving his beak. Normally he would be frightened to suggest such a thing to the rugged Xweetok. “It couldn’t harm us that much, and it’d be awful great for her. And I’m sure we have equipment her size in the shed.”
“What do you mean, ‘her size’?” asked Ehonio, standing up and peering into the audience. He caught sight of the little Zafara sitting in the stands. “She’s baby? Kakoni, how could you suggest such a thing? She’d be squashed out here!”
“Not with the way she was watching us yesterday,” Kakoni said, shaking his head. “You should’ve seen it. It was like the only people in her world were her and that yooyu we were practicing with. Come on, let her play.”
Ehonio sighed, his hands resting on his waist for a second before he said, “Alright, but if she gets hurt, you get to pay the bills and explain to the owner.”
“Sure!” Kakoni said, leaping off of the bench. He was elated that Ehonio would actually consider this, let alone let it happen! At the beginning of the season, the Xweetok captain wouldn’t talk to him at all unless it was something drastic.
Delma could hardly believe it when she saw the right forward of the Faerieland team flying towards her. She wriggled in her seat and closed her eyes, thinking that this was a dream. Yet when she opened them, he was still there! But closer!
“Hey kid,” said Kakoni, landing on the ground in front of her. “Would you like to play with the Faerieland Team?”
“Would I?” Delma asked, not even believing her ears. Sure she’d hoped to talk to one of them today, but only in her wildest dreams had she believed she’d actually get to practice with them! This was amazing. “Can I?”
Kakoni smiled and laughed a little. “Of course. Captain Ehonio’s allowing it. Just try not to get hurt, or it’s going to be on my hide.”
Her jaw dropped, and she practically flew off of the seat.
Delma stood stock still as she stood next to her idols. Her muscles quivered as she kept her gaze locked on the Faerie Yooyu, but it was only because she was so amazed. She was actually going to practice with them!
“Okay, team,” said Ehonio. “We’re going to practice the Jump Shoot maneuver. Handiri’s going to fly over to the net on the other side as fast as he can, while Kakoni’s going to drop back and wait for the Yooyu. I’m gonna catch it and pass it to Delma who’s going to run towards Kakoni. She’s gonna pass it to him, and he’ll fly up and fling it towards Handiri who will score. Got it?”
“Got it!” everyone chorused. Delma knew he only explained it for her to understand, and she’d been startled when Ehonio said he was going to pass the Yooyu to her! Could this day get any better?
The yooyu was tossed up into the air by the team manager, who supervised all of their training. Ehonio jumped up like a Virtupets rocket and scooped it up. Delma backed up, knowing what was going to happen next, and nearly fell over her own tail. A rush of shock fled through her body as she realized she’d bumbled.
She picked herself up as fast as she could, and had barely enough time to look for Ehonio before he tossed the Yooyu at her. She jumped up as high as she could—only a few inches off the ground—and felt the strain of her flinger against her arm as the yooyu fell into it.
But it made her fall backwards again, and she tossed her tail out behind her to stop herself from hitting the ground. She moved her right leg back, turned around, and let the yooyuball fly. Kakoni jumped up and caught it, and started to fly towards Handiri. A flood of relief filled her body as she realized that she not only completed her part of the movement, but she’d done it while she was in this tiny form.
She’d sure show those boys at school what she was made of tomorrow!
The captain kept on having them practice movements that got harder and harder as the minutes wore on. Delma didn’t know this, but he was testing her to see how far she could go before she messed the play up so bad that they had to restart it. But Delma kept on catching the yooyu and completing her part with barely any flaws at all. Ehonio was impressed.
The yooyu fell into the net for the last time, and Delma leaned down to put her paws on her knees, trying to catch her breath. Somebody handed her a water bottle, and she accepted it gratefully, letting the cool liquid flow down to soothe her parched throat.
“You were good, kid,” said the Xweetok, patting her on the back. “I honestly didn’t think you’d do very well, but you aced everything we put you through. If you weren’t in neoschool still, I’d honestly think about putting you on the team.”
Delma nearly choked on her water. Captain Ehonio of the Faerieland Yooyuball Team was giving her a compliment! And what he’d said completely shocked her. She was good enough to join?
“Don’t let the words go to your head, kid,” he said. “Just come to auditions in a few years and we’ll see how you do then. I’m not promising you’re going to join, either.”
“Thanks for letting me play!”
“Don’t mention it, and thank Kakoni. He suggested it.”
The baby Zafara waddled over to where the faerie Bruce was unlatching his yooyuball flinger. He was breathing heavily with the intense workout, and a pile of his equipment was sitting at his side already.
“Thank you, sir,” she said. “I couldn’t pay you back enough to show how much this meant to me.”
“Don’t bother,” said Kakoni, looking over at her. “It was nice playing with somebody who enjoys this sport as much as I do. I’ll see you again sometime.”
“You will,” said Delma, beginning to take off her own equipment. “I know it.”
As she’d suspected, Janet was a little furious when she came home. She gave her another lecture about responsibilities, but this time Delma could sense something different. As Janet finished talking, the look of excitement began to fill her face.
“Oh, and Delly?” she said. “I was over at the bank checking our balance when the Rainbow Faerie showed up. She wanted me to get her an item, and when I went to go see how expensive it was, I found out we have enough! We’re going to get you back to normal size later.
“Oh, and are you sure you still want to be green?”