Bad Hair Days
She hummed to herself a familiar tune while adoringly brushing her long, glossy fur. If there was one thing Tsukino loved about her physical appearance, it was her tail. It was the pride and joy of the Xweetok.
Long, ebony black fur, like ink, ran through her fingers. Hair as soft as silk clung to the long slender appendage as it gracefully moved through the air. Once she was satisfied with her appearance, she grabbed her book bag and made her way to school.
That day was hot, and because of the perfect weather, Tsukino was ecstatic. Today, it was open try-outs for the track team. Being an Xweetok, Tsukino was naturally one of the fastest in the school, falling only second to her elder cousin, Yamada.
Once she arrived at the school, she hastily set her book bag in her locker and pulled out the appropriate items needed. Tsukino made her way to the classroom earning several harsh glares from her fellow female schoolmates as she elegantly swayed her tail behind her. If one of her peers could use a single word to describe Tsukino, it was vain. She spent hours in front of her pink vanity mirror admiring her lush, black coat and she spent thousands of neopoints on unnecessary shampoos and conditioners and brushes.
She strummed her fingers on the desk while the class filled in with her classmates.
“Okay, class,” the teacher, Mrs. B, said, “I want you to take out the math worksheet I have given you yesterday. This sheet is worth participation, homework, and overall performance points, so if you did not finish it, I’m sad to say that you will lose at least 7% of your overall average.”
Tsukino let out a groan. She had been too busy watching Better Than You last night and she had completely forgot about the homework her teacher assigned the class.
She rather reluctantly pulled out an empty work sheet. Mrs. B (a green Aisha) walked passed several desks giving a quick scan to each student's sheet. She would absolutely horrified if she were to find out Tsukino hadn’t done her homework. If there was one thing Mrs B. was known for, it was her punctuality.
Tsukino let out a small whimper. If she received detention, she wouldn’t be able to try out for the team!
A slap of a ruler echoed through the classroom. Tsukino looked up at Mrs. B and stroked her slender tail in a vain effort to calm herself down.
“Tsukino, I’m afraid I have to ask you why you did not finish your homework,” Mrs. B said in a strained voice.
Sadly, Tsukino was one of the students known to have scarcely handed in her homework. Her love for Better Than You and her fur had completely absorbed her time and she was scarcely able to finish her homework. Her priorities were just never in order.
“W-well,” she stuttered, “I-I guess I just forgot.” She looked back down into her lap, while Mrs. B’s face softened in disappointment.
“Tsukino,” she said, “I’m afraid that your negligent behavior can not be tolerated any longer. We two will be going over all the homework you’ve missed. I’m sad to say your grades have been steadily dropping over the past couple of months. You have a detention after school.”
Tsukino looked up at her teacher with wide eyes. D-detention? She couldn’t have detention! If she had a detention after class, she would have to miss the track tryouts!
“But, Mrs. B!” she exclaimed. “The track try-outs are after school! If I miss this, then I won’t be able to join the team! You know how much the school needs me on this!”
Mrs. B furrowed her brows in contemplation. Faeland School had been known to have the worst track records until Tsukino and Yamada arrived. Mrs. B twiddled around with her antenna and bit her lip in frustration.
“Well,” she said rather quietly, “then you will have to come here right after the meet is finished, understand?” Mrs. B sighed in defeat.
Tsukino nodded rather happily. At least she didn’t have to miss the track meet! Not to mention, she noticed as well her grades were significantly dropping and a good hard study session had been in order.
The rest of the day passed in a blur and as soon as the shrill ring sounded through the school Tsukino booked it out the door. She hastily ran outside where her gym teacher, Mr. Boo, a blue Grundo, waited rather impatiently for the students wanting to try out. As soon as the rest of the students filled in, Mr. Boo blew on his cherry-red whistle.
“So, you all want to be on the track team, huh? Well, five minutes for stretching for ya. Wouldn’t want you to pull any muscles!” he exclaimed with a hearty laugh. “Once you’re done, give me twenty laps around the field.
“Twenty laps?” Yamada yelled. “That’s easy!”
Mr. Boo laughed again. “Don’t push you luck, sonny! If you say that, it’s thirty for all of ya! Now go on! Get!”
Tsukino did a couple of stretches and jogged around a bit before heading to the starting line. As soon as the rest of the students were ready Mr. Boo let a long, hard blow from his whistle. Tsukino winced to myself at how high pitched the sound was, but she knew for a fact that the Gelert beside her had it much worse.
Her breath caught in my throat and the raw stinging pain pulsed in the back of her mouth. Just a little longer, Tsukino told herself. She only had two more laps left, and her legs felt like they were going to turn into jelly and fall off. Each breath she took made her wince. A couple of students had already dropped, claiming being on the team wasn’t worth it. Her feet thudded on the hard asphalt of the sidewalk and she kept on running.
One more lap.
She started running faster again. The sooner she got to the finish line, the faster the pain would stop. This was a test of endurance. She wiped the sticky sweat off of her forehead and caught herself in a sprint. Just a couple more meters.
Finally she crossed the starting point and let herself drop onto the cool green grass. Her throat was raw, her legs sore, and her body profusely sweating, but it all didn’t compare to how she felt at that very moment. She did it.
Thirty laps around the school of non-stop running.
Once Mr. Boo had congratulated her and her cousin, Yamada, she made her way back to the classroom. Even if she was tired, it still didn’t change promised Mrs. B that she’d attend her detention.
She trudged at the pace of a turtle towards the classroom. Tsukino never wanted a shower more than this time in her life. Her fur was disheveled and damp with sweat and dirt clung to the area around her feet.
“Hi, Mrs. B,” she said in a guttural voice.
Mrs. B smiled and gave her a curt nod while she trifled with a couple of papers on her oak desk.
“Now, Tsukino,” she said, “There are quite a few topics in which your grades have been falling...”
As soon as Tsukino got home, she trudged herself to her bed and with a plop she fell asleep. She was never so happy that the next day was Saturday. She needed a bath badly but sleep seemed to be her priority right then.
Tsukino woke up to an annoying itch. She scratched behind her ears, but it was quickly replaced with a spot on her back, then her leg, then her belly, then her head and her tail. That wasn’t normal. She made her way to the bathroom and turned the tap to the appropriate temperature. As she waited for the water to change temperature, she started itching again. When the water was finally ready, she stepped in and started lathering her fur with shampoos, conditioners and other special creams.
When she had finally finished, Tsukino realized that the incessant itching had never stopped. She started brushing away at her glossy black fur, but it changed nothing. She tried to see her skin and found it flaking away since she had been scratching so much. Her fur was no longer a glossy black; it was salt and peppery because of the skin that had flaked off. She looked terrible.
When they had reached the hospital, the doctor did the standard checkup and looked closely at Tsukino’s fur. They waited outside the office after the doctor had taken a test of the flakey skin.
The secretary of the clinic waved her father in and brought him to the doctor. A couple of inaudible mutters were heard from inside the office and Tsukino strained herself to hear what on earth was happening. Her skin was still itching like crazy.
When the murmurs stopped, her father, a burly looking brown Xweetok, walked out with a grim look on his face.
“Honey,” he said. He never said ‘honey’ that unless it was serious. “I’m afraid you have NeoMites. Your fur has been infected with dozens of lurgees. You probably caught them since you didn’t shower last night.”
“O-Oh!” she exclaimed. “That’s all? I thought it was serious! Well, when do I get my shot?”
Tsukino didn’t understand. All she needed was a NeoMites Injection and she’d be fine!
“I’m afraid we just don’t have the money for that kind of cure.”
Her eyes widened in realization.
“I’m quite reluctant to say that... well, we have to shave your fur.”
Tsukino fainted right there.