Table for Three: Part Two
“Sweet Fyora, what is wrong with that girl?”
It was Monday night, and I was sitting up in the guest room, Salba right next to me with a silk bathrobe on. My lower hooves were nestled comfortably under the covers of my bed. A sliver of moonlight danced across the carpeted floor of the room, and part of it shone in one of Salba’s eyes, making it seem as if it was always moving.
“Nothing is wrong with Ellie, Jhinni. She’s perfectly fine.” The Quiggle sighed, lying down on the floor.
“What do you mean nothing is wrong with her? Why don’t I list some of the things she did to us today for reinforcement, because you obviously don’t remember. Um... she gave us a tour of your house. Yours, Salba, not hers, YOURS!”
“But she’s known this house for longer than I have. The house was vacant for a long time, and she used to explore a lot!”
“And then, when we went to go eat lunch, she told us what to eat!” I fidgeted a little bit, ruffling the covers and fluffing up the pillows.
“Her brother is the head chef at La Paloma Nevada, one of the best restaurants in Faerieland! Of course she’s going to know what’s ripe and what’s really good! It runs in the family!” I had never seen Salba so defensive, but I knew that if it had to do with her friends, she really cared. Until the year before, friends had been a dream to her, something that she didn’t have.
“And then told me all about you, Salba! Like I didn’t even know you or something. It’s almost like... it’s almost like she considers you her best friend.” I looked down at the covers, feeling Salba’s three eyes blink in my direction.
“She is my best friend, Jhinni. Don’t you see that?”
“I mean your best best friend. You know, like, all-time best friend.” I looked over at her, and she was not happy. Her lips were curled into a frown and her eyes were a bit narrow. Her skin also seemed a little paler, which meant she was either worried or angry, and in this situation, I knew she was angry.
“All of my best friends are my best friends. Let’s just leave it at that. I know that you and Ellie clash. I know that what she said to you about your color was wrong, I know that! Don’t you think I’ve been made fun about that? But she’s really a nice girl! You have to give her a chance, Jhinni; she’s only trying to be welcoming. She did the same thing with me when I got here, but once she gets to know you, you’ll love each other. Please, just give her a second chance.” Salba was really tired, and the sheer fatigue was manifesting in her voice. I was tired too, and I wanted to get to sleep really badly, so I looked down at my covers and nodded.
“Thank you, Jhinni. Now, let’s try and get some sleep. We have to be up early, because I’ve got something special planned for breakfast tomorrow morning.”
The next morning Salba shook me awake at 7:30, and I crawled out of bed. As always, my fur was matted in several different places, and my hooves ached. My eyes drooped and I yawned as I clopped over to the bathroom. “Morning!” I called, and Salba saluted as she went down the stairs and into the lobby.
“Be down and ready in half an hour. We need to be at The Breakfast Place at 8:30!”
I quickly washed up while humming an old tune that I remembered from my childhood. Things like that tend to stick with me (I don’t know why, but they do). I rushed downstairs, feeling a lot better that morning than I had since I had met Ellie. There was something about her that made me really tired, like she wore me out or something. It was as if she was using my energy when she did things, if that makes any sense.
It was a beautiful day outside. The sun was shining, and, although it was cold, I could feel the holiday warmth in the air. Faerieland was decorated all over the place. Pink and purple lights were strung out along most of the shops, and lots of houses held decorations and Christmas trees. My eyes lit up when I saw one house that was lit up with Ixi pulling a sled full of presents. Salba just laughed. “Yeah, I don’t know where they got the idea, but they think that on Christmas, a strange old Chia rides in an Ixi-pulled sled and delivers all of the presents. Strange, isn’t it?”
Finally we arrived at our destination. It was a cute little corner restaurant called The Breakfast Place, where the only seats were outside. We seated ourselves at one of the closest tables and picked up the menus. I smiled. I was finally having some quality time with my best friend. “This is nice,” I whispered.
“Yeah. Ellie should be here soon, so then we’ll have the whole gang.”
“Ellie?” I asked, startled. I was a little loud, and the family at the table over glanced at us. “She’s coming too? She’ll probably tell us what to order, or something.”
Salba giggled. We were both in a really good mood, and I was lucky for that too. If I had been a bad mood, things might have been even worse.
In a few minutes, Ellie indeed arrived. She was dressed in a loose T-shirt and some pretty nice khaki pants, a huge contrast to the dress she had worn the day before. She yawned and swung the purse she carried back and forth as she sat down at the table. Without saying hello, she started leafing through the menu, her eyes dancing across the page, and she looked up at Salba.
“You would like the Belgian waffles with a hint of mint,” she said to the Quiggle, looking back down at the menu immediately after, “and you would like the fruit salad with rye toast and butter on the side.”
I giggled for a second, and then realized that I did want to order the fruit salad with rye toast and butter on the side. I had to admit, she was pretty good.
“How are you this morning, Ellie?” I asked, pushing down her menu a little so that she would actually make eye contact with us. It annoyed me that she hadn’t even greeted us when she came in, because I thought that to be incredibly rude, but I remembered the talk I had with Salba the night before.
“Fine. Here comes the waiter now.” Despite the fact that she didn’t ask me how I was doing this morning, I smiled at her and watched as a friendly looking Gnorbu walked over to our table.
“How are you three this morning?” he said with an accent I couldn’t place.
“Fine, thank you,” we answered (not including Ellie, but I think that’s a given), and he went on to ask us what we wanted to have.
“Well,” Ellie started before Salba and I could get in a word edgewise, “I’ll have the buttermilk pancakes, no syrup or butter please, and a tall glass of milk. Salba, here, will be having the Belgian waffles with a hint of mint and a glass of orange juice without pulp. And this young Ixi will be having the fruit salad with rye toast and butter on the side, and to drink she would like water with extra ice. Try and be quick this time, because the last time I came here you were awfully slow, and I was beginning to get impatient.”
The waiter appeared startled after Ellie’s long order. He quickly jotted down our order and gulped as he looked over at the Bruce. “We will be sure to make this one snappy, miss. Have a good meal.” He trotted away, almost bumping into another waiter carrying an empty tray.
I glared at the Bruce, who didn’t even seem to notice me. “Ah, I love it when the waiters actually listen,” she said.
My mouth dropped in disgust. Did she actually say that? Even now I wonder if it was a figment of my imagination, or if Ellie actually uttered those nine words with that playful, contented tone in her voice.
Apart from that, breakfast was uneventful. And, even though I really wish it wasn’t, the fruits salad with rye toast and a side of butter and water with extra ice was really good.
“Did you hear her back there? Tell me you heard her back there!” We were walking home from The Breakfast Place, a receipt curled up in Salba’s coat pocket, and Salba was staring at the cobbled streets, little puffs of mist emanating from her mouth every so often.
“Yes, I heard her back there. She was probably trying to impress you.”
“What? She was so spoiled I could have easily mistaken her for Ary! And were you friends with Ary back at school? I don’t think so!” Ary was an incredibly bratty royal Cybunny back in Neopia Central who used to tease Salba non-stop. I was really glad I wasn’t friends with her anymore, because she was really mean.
“You’re accusing Ellie of being ARY? Ellie is nothing like that stuck-up brat!” Salba glared at me as we turned onto her street, passing by a young Tuskaninny.
“I don’t know about you, but I could totally see Ary sitting there, saying, ‘I love it when the waiters listen.’”
“Ellie is nothing like that! I just think that you both have to warm up to each other, and that she’s jealous that I’m giving a lot of attention to you, that’s all! Ellie has been my best friend for, like, seven months, and she’s the only one I’ve given attention to. You’re just a change, that’s it. Nothing more to it!” There was her house again, looming up above us, and we clambered up the stone steps, lingering in front of her door for a few moments.
“I’m just a change? You should stop being friends with Ellie! She’s corrupted your mind!” Salba opened the door and sighed as they walked in, hanging up her coat and heading for the staircase.
“You can think what you want, but this conversation is over. Let’s just drop the topic, okay? You only have to deal with her until Wednesday. Next time, I’ll go down to Neopia Central.” I nodded and followed her to the staircase, waiting for her to start going up.
“Oh, and one more thing,” she said, her eyes darting right and left, as if she were hiding something, “Ellie’s coming back over this afternoon.”
To be continued...